Theory of myelin coiling

J. R. Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


A new model is proposed to explain coiling of myelins composed of fluid bilayers. This model allows the constituent bilayer cylinders of a myelin to be non-coaxial and the bilayer lateral tension to vary from bilayer to bilayer. The calculations show that a myelin would bend or coil to lower its free energy when the bilayer lateral tension is sufficiently large. From a mechanical point of view, the proposed coiling mechanism is analogous to the classical Euler buckling of a thin elastic rod under axial compression. The analysis of a simple two-bilayer case suggests that a bilayer lateral tension of about 1 dyne/cm can easily induce coiling of myelins of typical lipid bilayers. This model signifies the importance of bilayer lateral tension in determining the morphology of myelinic structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-412
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Apr
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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