Fluid Mechanics of Blood Clot Formation

Annu Rev Fluid Mech. 2015 Jan 1;47:377-403. doi: 10.1146/annurev-fluid-010814-014513.


Intravascular blood clots form in an environment in which hydrodynamic forces dominate and in which fluid-mediated transport is the primary means of moving material. The clotting system has evolved to exploit fluid dynamic mechanisms and to overcome fluid dynamic challenges to ensure that clots that preserve vascular integrity can form over the wide range of flow conditions found in the circulation. Fluid-mediated interactions between the many large deformable red blood cells and the few small rigid platelets lead to high platelet concentrations near vessel walls where platelets contribute to clotting. Receptor-ligand pairs with diverse kinetic and mechanical characteristics work synergistically to arrest rapidly flowing cells on an injured vessel. Variations in hydrodynamic stresses switch on and off the function of key clotting polymers. Protein transport to, from, and within a developing clot determines whether and how fast it grows. We review ongoing experimental and modeling research to understand these and related phenomena.

Keywords: biorheology; biotransport; coagulation; platelets; thrombosis.