, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 368-387
Date: 12 Oct 2013

Computational Biorheology of Human Blood Flow in Health and Disease

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Abstract

Hematologic disorders arising from infectious diseases, hereditary factors and environmental influences can lead to, and can be influenced by, significant changes in the shape, mechanical and physical properties of red blood cells (RBCs), and the biorheology of blood flow. Hence, modeling of hematologic disorders should take into account the multiphase nature of blood flow, especially in arterioles and capillaries. We present here an overview of a general computational framework based on dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) which has broad applicability in cell biophysics with implications for diagnostics, therapeutics and drug efficacy assessments for a wide variety of human diseases. This computational approach, validated by independent experimental results, is capable of modeling the biorheology of whole blood and its individual components during blood flow so as to investigate cell mechanistic processes in health and disease. DPD is a Lagrangian method that can be derived from systematic coarse-graining of molecular dynamics but can scale efficiently up to arterioles and can also be used to model RBCs down to the spectrin level. We start from experimental measurements of a single RBC to extract the relevant biophysical parameters, using single-cell measurements involving such methods as optical tweezers, atomic force microscopy and micropipette aspiration, and cell-population experiments involving microfluidic devices. We then use these validated RBC models to predict the biorheological behavior of whole blood in healthy or pathological states, and compare the simulations with experimental results involving apparent viscosity and other relevant parameters. While the approach discussed here is sufficiently general to address a broad spectrum of hematologic disorders including certain types of cancer, this paper specifically deals with results obtained using this computational framework for blood flow in malaria and sickle cell anemia.

Associate Editor Gang Bao oversaw the review of this article.