Shape and Biomechanical Characteristics of Human Red Blood Cells in Health and Disease

MRS Bull. 2010 May;35(5):382-388. doi: 10.1557/mrs2010.571.


The biconcave shape and corresponding deformability of the human red blood cell (RBC) is an essential feature of its biological function. This feature of RBCs can be critically affected by genetic or acquired pathological conditions. In this review, we highlight new dynamic in vitro assays that explore various hereditary blood disorders and parasitic infectious diseases that cause disruption of RBC morphology and mechanics. In particular, recent advances in high-throughput microfluidic devices make it possible to sort/identify healthy and pathological human RBCs with different mechanobiological characteristics.