The mechanism of erythrocyte sedimentation. Part 1: Channeling in sedimenting blood

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2010 Jan 1;75(1):214-23. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2009.08.036. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Despite extensive efforts to elucidate the mechanism of erythrocyte sedimentation, the understanding of this mechanism still remains obscure. In attempt to clarify this issue, we studied the effect of hematocrit (Hct) on the complex admittance of quiescent blood measured at different axial positions of the 2 mm x 2 mm cross-section chambers. It was found that after the aggregation process is completed, the admittance reveals delayed changes caused by the formation of cell-free zones within the settling dispersed phase. The delay time (tau(d)) correlates positively with Hct and the distance between the axial position where measurements were performed and the bottom and is unaffected by the gravitational load. These findings and literature reports for colloidal gels suggest that erythrocytes in aggregating media form a network followed by the formation of plasma channels within it. The cell-free zones form initially near the bottom and then propagate toward the top until they reach the plasma/blood interface. These channels increase the permeability of a network and, as a result, accelerate the sedimentation velocity. The energy of the flow field in channels is sufficiently strong to erode their walls. The upward movement of network fragments in channels is manifested by erratic fluctuations of the conductivity. The main conclusion, which may be drawn from the results of this study, is that the phase separation of blood is associated with the formation of plasma channels within the sedimenting dispersed phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Sedimentation / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Dextrans / pharmacology
  • Electric Capacitance
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Erythrocyte Aggregation / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / cytology*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Suspensions
  • Time Factors


  • Dextrans
  • Suspensions