Human red blood cells deformed under thermal fluid flow.Biomed Mater 2006; 1(1):1-7BM
The flow-induced mechanical deformation of a human red blood cell (RBC) during thermal transition between room temperature and 42.0 degrees C is interrogated by laser tweezer experiments. Based on the experimental geometry of the deformed RBC, the surface stresses are determined with the aid of computational fluid dynamics simulation. It is found that the RBC is more deformable while heating through 37.0 degrees C to 42.0 degrees C, especially at a higher flow velocity due to a thermal-fluid effect. More importantly, the degree of RBC deformation is irreversible and becomes softer, and finally reaches a plateau (at a uniform flow velocity U > 60 microm s(-1)) after the heat treatment, which is similar to a strain-hardening dominated process. In addition, computational simulated stress is found to be dependent on the progression of thermotropic phase transition. Overall, the current study provides new insights into the highly coupled temperature and hydrodynamic effects on the biomechanical properties of human erythrocyte in a model hydrodynamic flow system.