Combined Simulation and Experimental Study of Large Deformation of Red Blood Cells in Microfluidic Systems
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We investigate the biophysical characteristics of healthy human red blood cells (RBCs) traversing microfluidic channels with cross-sectional areas as small as 2.7 × 3 μm. We combine single RBC optical tweezers and flow experiments with corresponding simulations based on dissipative particle dynamics (DPD), and upon validation of the DPD model, predictive simulations and companion experiments are performed in order to quantify cell deformation and pressure–velocity relationships for different channel sizes and physiologically relevant temperatures. We discuss conditions associated with the shape transitions of RBCs along with the relative effects of membrane and cytosol viscosity, plasma environments, and geometry on flow through microfluidic systems at physiological temperatures. In particular, we identify a cross-sectional area threshold below which the RBC membrane properties begin to dominate its flow behavior at room temperature; at physiological temperatures this effect is less profound.
KeywordsErythrocyte Deformability Temperature-dependent rheology
This work was done as a part of the interdisciplinary research group on Infectious Diseases which is supported by the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and was also partially supported by NIH/NHLBI award number R01HL094270. This work made use of MRSEC Shared Facilities supported by the National Science Foundation under Award Number DMR-0213282. Simulations were performed using the NSF NICS supercomputing center.
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