Deformation and dynamics of red blood cells in flow through cylindrical microchannels

Soft Matter
Dmitry A FedosovGerhard Gompper


The motion of red blood cells (RBCs) in microcirculation plays an important role in blood flow resistance and in the cell partitioning within a microvascular network. Different shapes and dynamics of RBCs in microvessels have been previously observed experimentally including the parachute and slipper shapes. We employ mesoscale hydrodynamic simulations to predict the phase diagram of shapes and dynamics of RBCs in cylindrical microchannels, which serve as idealized microvessels, for a wide range of channel confinements and flow rates. A rich dynamical behavior is found, with snaking and tumbling discocytes, slippers performing a swinging motion, and stationary parachutes. We discuss the effects of different RBC states on the flow resistance, and the influence of RBC properties, characterized by the Föppl-von Kármán number, on the shape diagram. The simulations are performed using the same viscosity for both external and internal fluids surrounding a RBC; however, we discuss how the viscosity contrast would affect the shape diagram.


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