Whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity and erythrocyte aggregation in nine mammalian species: reference values and comparison of data

Exp Physiol. 2003 May;88(3):431-40. doi: 10.1113/eph8802496.


In this study species-specific values for whole blood viscosity (WBV), plasma viscosity (PV) and erythrocyte aggregation (EA) were determined in a total of 360 animals. We used 40 individual adult animals of nine mammalian species: horse, pig, dog, cat, rat, cattle, sheep, rabbit and mouse. WBV measurements were carried out using a LS30 viscometer, PV was measured using OCR-D and EA was measured using a Myrenne aggregometer and the LS30 (aggregation index at low shear rate). At low shear rates (0.7 s(-1) and 2.4 s(-1)) haematocrit (Hct)-standardized (40 % Hct) samples showed a higher value of WBV and EA in horse, pig, dog and cat. In cattle, sheep, rabbit and mouse, EA and WBV were markedly decreased and EA was almost undetectable, although the plasma fibrinogen concentration was higher in these animals. Rats showed the highest WBV at low shear rate in native blood and WBV was not different from horse in Hct-standardized blood; however, EA was very low in the rat, a result that might be explained by mechanical or geometrical properties of the red blood cell. EA correlated with the plasma protein concentration in each species except dog and mouse. In horse, cattle and pig, EA correlated with the plasma fibrinogen concentration. At high shear rate (94 s(-1)), WBV was higher in cattle than cat and rat, and dog had higher values than horse, suggesting specific interspecies differences depending on low shear and high shear values of WBV, as a result of mechanisms that influence RBC flexibility. PV was highest in cattle and lowest in rabbit and mouse and did not correlate with WBV. Haemorheological parameters differed between the species. Each species has its own rheological fingerprint. The physiological significance of these variations among mammalian species has not yet been established. Viscosity contributes to endothelial cell shear stress. While haemorheological parameters differ across the species it may be postulated that factors influencing flow-mediated endothelial cell signal transduction are different among the species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Viscosity / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Cattle
  • Dogs
  • Erythrocyte Aggregation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hemorheology / standards*
  • Horses
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plasma / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Reference Values
  • Sheep
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Swine