A multiscale red blood cell model with accurate mechanics, rheology, and dynamics.Biophys J 2010; 98(10):2215-25BJ
Red blood cells (RBCs) have highly deformable viscoelastic membranes exhibiting complex rheological response and rich hydrodynamic behavior governed by special elastic and bending properties and by the external/internal fluid and membrane viscosities. We present a multiscale RBC model that is able to predict RBC mechanics, rheology, and dynamics in agreement with experiments. Based on an analytic theory, the modeled membrane properties can be uniquely related to the experimentally established RBC macroscopic properties without any adjustment of parameters. The RBC linear and nonlinear elastic deformations match those obtained in optical-tweezers experiments. The rheological properties of the membrane are compared with those obtained in optical magnetic twisting cytometry, membrane thermal fluctuations, and creep followed by cell recovery. The dynamics of RBCs in shear and Poiseuille flows is tested against experiments and theoretical predictions, and the applicability of the latter is discussed. Our findings clearly indicate that a purely elastic model for the membrane cannot accurately represent the RBC's rheological properties and its dynamics, and therefore accurate modeling of a viscoelastic membrane is necessary.