High-Throughput Microfluidic Characterization of Erythrocyte Shapes and Mechanical Variability

F Reichel and J Mauer and AA Nawaz and G Gompper and J Guck and DA Fedosov, BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 117, 14-24 (2019).

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2019.05.022

The motion of red blood cells (RBCs) in microchannels is important for microvascular blood flow and biomedical applications such as blood analysis in microfluidics. The current understanding of the complexity of RBC shapes and dynamics in microchannels is mainly based on several simulation studies, but there are a few systematic experimental investigations. Here, we present a combined study that systematically characterizes RBC behavior for a wide range of flow rates and channel sizes. Even though simulations and experiments generally show good agreement, experimental observations demonstrate that there is no single well-defined RBC state for fixed flow conditions but rather a broad distribution of states. This result can be attributed to the inherent variability in RBC mechanical properties, which is confirmed by a model that takes the variation in RBC shear elasticity into account This represents a significant step toward a quantitative connection between RBC behavior in microfluidic devices and their mechanical properties, which is essential for a high-throughput characterization of diseased cells.

Return to Publications page