The dynamics of a healthy and infected red blood cell in flow through constricted channels: A DPD simulation.Int J Numer Method Biomed Eng 2018; 34(9):e3105IJ
Understanding the dynamics of red blood cell (RBC) motion under in silico conditions is central to the development of cost-effective diagnostic tools. Specifically, unraveling the relationship between the rheological properties and the nature of shape change in the RBC (healthy or infected) can be extremely useful. In case of malarial infection, RBC progressively loses its deformability and tends to occlude the microvessel. In the present study, detailed mesoscopic simulations are performed to investigate the deformation dynamics of an RBC in flow through a constricted channel. Specifically, the manifestation of viscous forces (through flow rates) on the passage and blockage characteristics of a healthy red blood cell (hRBC) vis-á-vis an infected red blood cell (iRBC) are investigated. A finite-sized dissipative particle dynamics framework is used to model plasma in conjunction with a discrete model for the RBC. Instantaneous wall boundary method was used to model no-slip wall boundary conditions with a good control on the near-wall density fluctuations and compressibility effects. To investigate the microvascular occlusion, the RBC motion through 2 types of constricted channels, viz, (1) a tapered microchannel and (2) a stenosed-type microchannel, were simulated. It was observed that the deformation of an infected cell was much less compared with a healthy cell, with an attendant increase in the passage time. Apart from the qualitative features, deformation indices were obtained. The deformation of hRBC was sudden, while the iRBC deformed slowly as it traversed through the constriction. For higher flow rates, both hRBC and iRBC were found to undergo severe deformation. Even under low flow rates, hRBC could easily traverse past the constricted channel. However, for sufficiently slow flow rates (eg, capillary flows), the microchannel was found to be completely blocked by the iRBC.