Numerical analysis of a red blood cell flowing through a thin micropore.Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 2014; 89(1):013008PR
Red blood cell (RBC) deformability plays a key role in microcirculation, especially in vessels that have diameters even smaller than the nominal cell size. In this study, we numerically investigate the dynamics of an RBC in a thin micropore. The RBC is modeled as a capsule with a thin hyperelastic membrane. In a numerical simulation, we employ a boundary element method for fluid mechanics and a finite element method for membrane mechanics. The resulting RBC deformation towards the flow direction is suppressed considerably by increased cytoplasm viscosity, whereas the gap between the cell membrane and solid wall becomes smaller with higher cytoplasm viscosity. We also measure the transit time of the RBC and find that nondimensional transit time increases nonlinearly with respect to the viscosity ratio, whereas it is invariant to the capillary number. In conclusion, cytoplasmic viscosity plays a key role in the dynamics of an RBC in a thin pore. The results of this study will be useful for designing a microfluidic device to measure cytoplasmic viscosity.