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Red blood cell dynamics in polymer brush-coated microcapillaries: A model of endothelial glycocalyx in vitro.

ABSTRACT: The confined flow of red blood cells (RBCs) in microvasculature is essential for oxygen delivery to body tissues and has been extensively investigated in the literature, both in vivo and in vitro. One of the main problems still open in microcirculation is that flow resistance in microcapillaries in vivo is higher than that in vitro. This discrepancy has been attributed to the glycocalyx, a macromolecular layer lining the inner walls of vessels in vivo, but no direct experimental evidence of this hypothesis has been provided so far. Here, we investigate the flow behavior of RBCs in glass microcapillaries coated with a polymer brush (referred to as "hairy" microcapillaries as opposed to "bare" ones with no coating), an experimental model system of the glycocalyx. By high-speed microscopy imaging and image analysis, a velocity reduction of RBCs flowing in hairy microcapillaries as compared to bare ones is indeed found at the same pressure drop. Interestingly, such slowing down is larger than expected from lumen reduction due to the polymer brush and displays an on-off trend with a threshold around 70 nm of polymer brush dry thickness. Above this threshold, the presence of the polymer brush is associated with an increased RBC deformation, and RBC velocity is independent on polymer brush thickness (at the same pressure drop). In conclusion, this work provides direct support to the hypothesis that the glycocalyx is the main factor responsible of the higher flow resistance found in microcapillaries in vivo.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC3977877 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 10.1063/1.4863723

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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