Microscopic investigation of erythrocyte deformation dynamics.Biorheology 2006; 43(6):747-65B
The understanding of erythrocyte deformation under conditions of high shear stress and short exposure time is central to the study of hemorheology and hemolysis within prosthetic blood contacting devices. A combined computational and experimental microscopic study was conducted to investigate the erythrocyte deformation and its relation to transient stress fields. A microfluidic channel system with small channels fabricated using polydimethylsiloxane on the order of 100 mum was designed to generate transient stress fields through which the erythrocytes were forced to flow. The shear stress fields were analyzed by three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics. Microscopic images of deforming erythrocytes were experimentally recorded to obtain the changes in cell morphology over a wide range of fluid dynamic stresses. The erythrocyte elongation index (EI) increased from 0 to 0.54 with increasing shear stress up to 123 Pa. In this shear stress range, erythrocytes behaved like fluid droplets, and deformed and flowed following the surrounding fluid. Cells exposed to shear stress beyond 123 Pa (up to 5170 Pa) did not exhibit additional elongation beyond EI=0.54. Two-stage deformation of erythrocytes in response to shear stress was observed: an initial linear elongation with increasing shear stress and a plateau beyond a critical shear stress.