Computational Parametric Analysis of the Mechanical Response of Structurally Varying Pacinian Corpuscles

[+] Author and Article Information
Julia C. Quindlen

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Burak Güçlü

Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey

Eric A. Schepis

Institute for Sensory Research, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Victor H. Barocas

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4036603 History: Received December 12, 2016; Revised April 26, 2017


The Pacinian corpuscle (PC) is a cutaneous mechanoreceptor that senses low-amplitude, high-frequency vibrations. The PC contains a nerve fiber surrounded by alternating layers of solid lamellae and interlamellar fluid, and this structure is hypothesized to contribute to the PC's role as a band-pass filter for vibrations. In this study, we sought to evaluate the relationship between the PC's material and geometric parameters and its response to vibration. We used a spherical finite-element mechanical model based on shell theory and lubrication theory to model the PC's outer core. Specifically, we analyzed the effect of the following structural properties on the PC's frequency sensitivity: lamellar modulus (E), lamellar thickness (h), fluid viscosity (µ), PC outer radius (Ro), and number of lamellae (N). The frequency of peak strain amplification (henceforth “peak frequency”) and frequency range over which strain amplification occurred (henceforth “bandwidth”) increased with lamellar modulus or lamellar thickness, and decreased with an increase in fluid viscosity and radius. All five structural parameters were combined into expressions for the relationship between the parameters and peak frequency or bandwidth. Although further work is needed to understand how mechanical variability contributes to functional variability in PCs and how factors such as PC eccentricity also affect PC behavior, this study provides two simple expressions that can be used to predict the impact of structural or material changes with aging or disease on the frequency response of the PC.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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