Lumen formation plays an essential role in the morphogenesis of tissues during development. Here we review the physical principles that play a role in the growth and coarsening of lumens. Solute pumping by the cell, hydraulic flows driven by differences of osmotic and hydrostatic pressures, balance of forces between extracellular fluids and cell-generated cytoskeletal forces, and electro-osmotic effects have been implicated in determining the dynamics and steady-state of lumens. We use the framework of linear irreversible thermodynamics to discuss the relevant force, time and length scales involved in these processes. We focus on order of magnitude estimates of physical parameters controlling lumen formation and coarsening.
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