Bioengineering thermodynamics of biological cells

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? 2015 Lucia.Background: Cells are open complex thermodynamic systems. They can be also regarded as complex engines that execute a series of chemical reactions. Energy transformations, thermo-electro-chemical processes and transports phenomena can occur across the cells membranes. Moreover, cells can also actively modify their behaviours in relation to changes in their environment. Methods: Different thermo-electro-biochemical behaviours occur between health and disease states. But, all the living systems waste heat, which is no more than the result of their internal irreversibility. This heat is dissipated into the environment. But, this wasted heat represent also a sort of information, which outflows from the cell toward its environment, completely accessible to any observer. Results: The analysis of irreversibility related to this wasted heat can represent a new approach to study the behaviour of the cells themselves and to control their behaviours. So, this approach allows us to consider the living systems as black boxes and analyze only the inflows and outflows and their changes in relation to the modification of the environment. Therefore, information on the systems can be obtained by analyzing the changes in the cell heat wasted in relation to external perturbations. Conclusions: The bioengineering thermodynamics bases are summarized and used to analyse possible controls of the calls behaviours based on the control of the ions fluxes across the cells membranes.




Lucia, U. (2015). Bioengineering thermodynamics of biological cells. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, 12(1).

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