Indexed on: 01 May '87Published on: 01 May '87Published in: Biophysical Journal
The disaggregation behavior of erythrocytes in dextran saline solution was investigated by a light reflectometry technique in a Couette flow and in a plane Poiseuille flow. Dextran concentration and mass average molecular weight of the polymer fraction strongly influence the shear stress dependence of the erythrocyte suspension reflectivity in shear flow and the critical hydrodynamic conditions (shear rate or shear stress) for near-complete cell dispersion. We investigated the influence of cell volume fraction and membrane deformability (heat treatment of the erythrocytes) on the reflectivity of the flowing suspension. This study indicates that the intercell adhesiveness and the shear stress are the only parameters that influence rouleau break-up in steady uniform shear flow, thus eliminating cell volume fraction and membrane deformability as possible factors. However, the critical cross-sectional average shear stress for near-complete cell dispersion through the flow cross-section is shown to depend on the flow pattern. The rotation of cells in a shear flow or the nonuniform shear field in Poiseuille flow indeed increases the flow resistance of cell aggregates. We give a theoretical description of the shear-induced cell disaggregation process in Couette flow and in plane Poiseuille flow. The quantitation of shear forces for cell dispersion provides a way for estimating the surface adhesive energy of the bridging membranes by fluid mechanical technique.