Concluding Remarks and Emerging Applications in the Biological Sciences
In closing, we discuss emerging applications in bioelectromagnetics to Red Blood Cells (RBCs), which are responsible for the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and are the most prevalent type of cells in human blood. The average cellular volume of each cell (82-96 femtoliters) is occupied by a high concentration of the oxygen carrying protein hemoglobin at a concentration of 30-36 %. The lifespan of the human RBCs is approximately 120 days after they are released from the bone marrow as reticulocytes. Typically 4-6 million RBCs per cubic millimeter occupy 41-52 % of blood volume (hematocrit). The typical biconcave shape of RBCs endows the cell with ideal deformability characteristics. This allows RBCs to efficiently perform their function in small capillaries. Alterations in RBC properties, including shape, volume and membrane characteristics will lead to a decreased lifespan and when not compensated by increased production, a lower volume and anemia. Genetic disorders in cytoskeletal proteins (the cell wall “scaffolding”) results in RBC pathologies, such as hereditary spherocytosis and hereditary elliptocytosis (Eber and Lux , and Gallagher,  and ). Deviations in cytosolic and membrane proteins may affect the state of hydration of the cell and thereby its characteristics. Figure 10.1 illustrates some examples of unhealthy cell morphologies. In normal blood, echinocytes and stomatocytes can be observed, in addition to discocytes. Acanthocytes are observed in acquired hepatic syndromes, codocytes are found in thalassemia. In sickle cell disease, hemoglobin polymers will distort the shape of the cell and drepanocytes are observed. Elliptocytes are the result of membrane disorders where interactions in the horizontal direction (e.g., spectrin-spectin interactions) are disrupted, and spherocytes are observed in membrane disorders where the interaction between the lipid bilayer and the underlying membrane skeleton is dysfunctional. The number of humans that are affected by Sickle cell disease, Thalassemia and other hemoglobinopathies, runs in the millions (Forget and Cohen  and Steinberg et al. ). Such disorders lead to altered hemoglobin and result in changes in RBC properties, which is related to blood pathology, including anemia.
KeywordsSickle Cell Disease Direct Numerical Simulation Representative Volume Element Relative Permittivity High Volume Fraction
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