Red blood cell motion and deformation in a curved microvessel.J Biomech 2017; 65:12-22JB
The flow of cells through curved vessels is often encountered in various biomedical and bioengineering applications, such as red blood cells (RBCs) passing through the curved arteries in circulation, and cells sorting through a shear-induced migration in a curved channels. Most of past numerical studies focused on the cell deformation in small straight microvessels, or on the flow pattern in large curved vessels without considering the cell deformation. However, there have been few attempts to study the cell deformation and the associated flow pattern in a curved microvessel. In this work, a particle-based method, smoothed dissipative particle dynamics (SDPD), is used to simulate the motion and deformation of a RBC in a curved microvessel of diameter comparable to the RBC diameter. The emphasis is on the effects of the curvature, the type and the size of the curved microvessel on the RBC deformation and the flow pattern. The simulation results show that a small curved shape of the microvessel has negligible effect on the RBC behavior and the flow pattern which are similar to those in a straight microvessel. When the microvessel is high in curvature, the secondary flow comes into being with a pair of Dean vortices, and the velocity profile of the primary flow is skewed toward the inner wall of the microvessel. The RBC also loses the axisymmetric deformation, and it is stretched first and then shrinks when passing through the curved part of the microvessel with the large curvature. It is also found that a pair of Dean vortices arise only under the condition of De>1 (De is the Dean number, a ratio of centrifugal to viscous competition). The Dean vortices are more easily observed in the larger or more curved microvessels. Finally, it is observed that the velocity profile of primary flow is skewed toward the inner wall of curved microvessel, i.e., the fluid close to the inner wall flows faster than that close to the outer wall. This is contrary to the common sense in large curved vessels. This velocity skewness was found to depend on the curvature of the microvessel, as well as the viscous and inertial forces.