Sickle cell biomechanics

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2010 Aug 15:12:345-67. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-070909-105339.


As the predominant cell type in blood, red blood cells (RBCs) and their biomechanical properties largely determine the rheological and hemodynamic behavior of blood in normal and disease states. In sickle cell disease (SCD), mechanically fragile, poorly deformable RBCs contribute to impaired blood flow and other pathophysiological aspects of the disease. The major underlying cause of this altered blood rheology and hemodynamics is hemoglobin S (HbS) polymerization and RBC sickling under deoxygenated conditions. This review discusses the characterization of the biomechanical properties of sickle RBCs and sickle blood as well as their implications toward a better understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Erythrocyte Deformability*
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / physiology
  • Erythrocytes, Abnormal / pathology
  • Erythrocytes, Abnormal / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Rabbits
  • Rats


  • Hemoglobin, Sickle