In vitro particulate analogue fluids for experimental studies of rheological and hemorheological behavior of glucose-rich RBC suspensions

Biomicrofluidics. 2017 Sep 21;11(5):054105. doi: 10.1063/1.4998190. eCollection 2017 Sep.


Suspensions of healthy and pathological red blood cells (RBC) flowing in microfluidic devices are frequently used to perform in vitro blood experiments for a better understanding of human microcirculation hemodynamic phenomena. This work reports the development of particulate viscoelastic analogue fluids able to mimic the rheological and hemorheological behavior of pathological RBC suspensions flowing in microfluidic systems. The pathological RBCs were obtained by an incubation of healthy RBCs at a high concentration of glucose, representing the pathological stage of hyperglycaemia in diabetic complications, and analyses of their deformability and aggregation were carried out. Overall, the developed in vitro analogue fluids were composed of a suspension of semi-rigid microbeads in a carrier viscoelastic fluid made of dextran 40 and xanthan gum. All suspensions of healthy and pathological RBCs, as well as their particulate analogue fluids, were extensively characterized in steady shear flow, as well as in small and large amplitude oscillatory shear flow. In addition, the well-known cell-free layer (CFL) phenomenon occurring in microchannels was investigated in detail to provide comparisons between healthy and pathological in vitro RBC suspensions and their corresponding analogue fluids at different volume concentrations (5% and 20%). The experimental results have shown a similar rheological behavior between the samples containing a suspension of pathological RBCs and the proposed analogue fluids. Moreover, this work shows that the particulate in vitro analogue fluids used have the ability to mimic well the CFL phenomenon occurring downstream of a microchannel contraction for pathological RBC suspensions. The proposed particulate fluids provide a more realistic behavior of the flow properties of suspended RBCs when compared with existing non-particulate blood analogues, and consequently, they are advantageous for detailed investigations of microcirculation.