Journal article

Surface area-to-volume ratio, not cellular viscoelasticity, is the major determinant of red blood cell traversal through small channels.

Arman Namvar, Adam J Blanch, Matthew W Dixon, Olivia MS Carmo, Boyin Liu, Snigdha Tiash, Oliver Looker, Dean Andrew, Li-Jin Chan, Wai-Hong Tham, Peter VS Lee, Vijay Rajagopal, Leann Tilley

Cellular Microbiology | Wiley | Published : 2020


The remarkable deformability of red blood cells (RBCs) depends on the viscoelasticity of the plasma membrane and cell contents and the surface area to volume (SA:V) ratio; however, it remains unclear which of these factors is the key determinant for passage through small capillaries. We used a microfluidic device to examine the traversal of normal, stiffened, swollen, parasitised and immature RBCs. We show that dramatic stiffening of RBCs had no measurable effect on their ability to traverse small channels. By contrast, a moderate decrease in the SA:V ratio had a marked effect on the equivalent cylinder diameter that is traversable by RBCs of similar cellular viscoelasticity. We developed a ..

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