It sounds like an action potential: Unification of electrical, chemical and mechanical aspects of acoustic pulses in lipids

Matan Mussel, Matthias F. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In an ongoing debate on the physical nature of the action potential (AP), one group adheres to the electrical model of Hodgkin and Huxley, while the other describes the AP as a nonlinear acoustic pulse propagating within an interface near a transition. However, despite remarkable similarities, acoustics remains a non-intuitive mechanism for APs for the following reason. While acoustic pulses are typically associated with the propagation of density, pressure and temperature variation, APs are most commonly measured electrically. Here, we show that this discrepancy is lifted upon considering the electrical and chemical aspects of the interface, in addition to its mechanical properties. Specifically, we demonstrate how electrical and pH aspects of acoustic pulses emerge from an idealized description of the lipid interface, which is based on classical physical principles and contains no fit parameters. The pulses that emerge from the model show similarities to APs not only in qualitative shape and scales (time, velocity and voltage), but also demonstrate saturation of amplitude and annihilation upon collision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180743
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume16
Issue number151
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Acoustics
  • Action potential
  • Lipid interface
  • Phase transition
  • Transmembrane potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials

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