Mucus liquid crystallinity: Is function related to microstructural domain size?

C. Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The size of liquid crystalline domains formed in partially dried giraffe saliva is found to be an order of magnitude greater than that previously documented for slug pedal mucus. A correlation between (a) intrinsic liquid crystalline domain Size and (b) the scale of surface topography over which the mucus is required to provide lubrication is postulated. The scale mucus microstructure can be related, via a simple model, to two significant material constants: the elastic constant K for distortion of molecular alignment in the liquid crystalline state, and the anchoring energy I at the liquid crystal/substrate interface. In turn, the quantity K is expected to depend on fundamental molecular characteristics of the constituent mucin, such as molecular weight and degree of glycosylation. The possibility that observations of mucus microstructure might serve as a diagnostic tool for mucus defects at the molecular level is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-323
Number of pages5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Birefringence
  • Giraffe
  • Liquid crystal
  • Microstructure
  • Mucus
  • Saliva


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