Neutrophil transit times through pulmonary capillaries: the effects of capillary geometry and fMLP-stimulation

Biophys J. 2002 Oct;83(4):1917-33. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(02)73955-6.


The deformations of neutrophils as they pass through the pulmonary microcirculation affect their transit time, their tendency to contact and interact with the endothelial surface, and potentially their degree of activation. Here we model the cell as a viscoelastic Maxwell material bounded by constant surface tension and simulate indentation experiments to quantify the effects of (N-formyl-L-methionyl-L-leucyl-L-phenylalanine (fMLP)-stimulation on its mechanical properties (elastic shear modulus and viscosity). We then simulate neutrophil transit through individual pulmonary capillary segments to determine the relative effects of capillary geometry and fMLP-stimulation on transit time. Indentation results indicate that neutrophil viscosity and shear modulus increase by factors of 3.4, for 10(-9) M fMLP, and 7.3, for 10(-6) M fMLP, over nonstimulated cell values, determined to be 30.8 Pa.s and 185 Pa, respectively. Capillary flow results indicate that capillary entrance radius of curvature has a significant effect on cell transit time, in addition to minimum capillary radius and neutrophil stimulation level. The relative effects of capillary geometry and fMLP on neutrophil transit time are presented as a simple dimensionless expression and their physiological significance is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Blood Circulation*
  • Capillaries / metabolism*
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Cell Movement
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Models, Theoretical
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Viscosity


  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine