The Role of Erythrocyte Size and Shape in Microchannel Fluid Dynamics [BPN732]
The unique properties of blood flow in microchannels have been studied for nearly a
century; much of the observed blood-specific dynamics is attributed to the biconcave shape of red
blood cells. However, for almost twice as long biologists have observed and characterized the
differences in the size and shape of red blood cells among vertebrates. With a few exceptions,
mammals share the denucleated biconcave shape of erythrocytes but vary in size; oviparous
vertebrates have nucleated ovoid red blood cells with size variations of a full order of magnitude.
We utilize micro-PIV and pressure drop measurements to analyze blood flow of vertebrate species in
microchannels, with a focus on understanding how cell size and shape alter the cell-free layer and
velocity profile of whole blood. The results offer insight into the Fahraeus-Lindqvist effect and
the selection of animal blood for the design and evaluation of biological microfluidic devices.