American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology

Effect of erythrocyte aggregation and flow rate on cell-free layer formation in arterioles.

PMID 20348228


Formation of a cell-free layer is an important dynamic feature of microcirculatory blood flow, which can be influenced by rheological parameters, such as red blood cell aggregation and flow rate. In this study, we investigate the effect of these two rheological parameters on cell-free layer characteristics in the arterioles (20-60 mum inner diameter). For the first time, we provide here the detailed temporal information of the arteriolar cell-free layer in various rheological conditions to better describe the characteristics of the layer variation. The rat cremaster muscle was used to visualize arteriolar flows, and the extent of aggregation was raised by dextran 500 infusion to levels seen in normal human blood. Our results show that cell-free layer formation in the arterioles is enhanced by a combination of flow reduction and red blood cell aggregation. A positive relation (P < 0.005) was found between mean cell-free layer widths and their corresponding SDs for all conditions. An analysis of the frequency and magnitudes of cell-free layer variation from their mean value revealed that the layer deviated with significantly larger magnitudes into the red blood cell core after flow reduction and dextran infusion (P < 0.05). In accordance, the disparity of cell-free layer width distribution found in opposite radial directions from its mean became greater with aggregation in reduced flow conditions. This study shows that the cell-free layer width in arterioles is dependent on both flow rate and red blood cell aggregability, and that the temporal variations in width are asymmetric with a greater excursion into the red blood cell core than toward the vessel wall.

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31392 Dextran from Leuconostoc spp., Mr 450,000-650,000