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The plasma protein fibrinogen stabilizes clusters of red blood cells in microcapillary flows.

Brust M, Aouane O, Thiébaud M, Flormann D, Verdier C, Kaestner L, Laschke MW, Selmi H, Benyoussef A, Podgorski T, Coupier G, Misbah C,Wagner C.

Sci Rep. 2014 Mar 11;4:4348.

1] Experimental Physics, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany [2] Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique, CNRS – UMR 5588, Université Grenoble I, B.P. 87, 38402 Saint Martin d’Hères Cedex, France [3] and

1] Experimental Physics, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany [2] Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique, CNRS – UMR 5588, Université Grenoble I, B.P. 87, 38402 Saint Martin d’Hères Cedex, France [3] LMPHE, URAC 12, Faculté des Sciences, Université Mohammed V- Agdal, Rabat, Morocco [4] and

1] Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique, CNRS – UMR 5588, Université Grenoble I, B.P. 87, 38402 Saint Martin d’Hères Cedex, France [2] and

Experimental Physics, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany and

Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique, CNRS – UMR 5588, Université Grenoble I, B.P. 87, 38402 Saint Martin d’Hères Cedex, France and

Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Research Centre for Molecular Imaging and Screening, School of Medicine, Saarland University, Building 61, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany and

Institute for Clinical & Experimental Surgery, Saarland University, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany and

1] Laboratoire d’Ingénierie Mathématique, Ecole Polytechnique de Tunisie B.P. 743 – 2078 La Marsa, Tunisia [2] Riyadh College of Technology, Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, Riyadh 12433, Saudi Arabia and

LMPHE, URAC 12, Faculté des Sciences, Université Mohammed V- Agdal, Rabat, Morocco.

 

Abstract

 

The supply of oxygen and nutrients and the disposal of metabolic waste in the organs depend strongly on how blood, especially red blood cells, flow through the microvascular network. Macromolecular plasma proteins such as fibrinogen cause red blood cells to form large aggregates, called rouleaux, which are usually assumed to be disaggregated in the circulation due to the shear forces present in bulk flow. This leads to the assumption that rouleaux formation is only relevant in the venule network and in arterioles at low shear rates or stasis. Thanks to an excellent agreement between combined experimental and numerical approaches, we show that despite the large shear rates present in microcapillaries, the presence of either fibrinogen or the synthetic polymer dextran leads to an enhanced formation of robust clusters of red blood cells, even at haematocrits as low as 1%. Robust aggregates are shown to exist in microcapillaries even for fibrinogen concentrations within the healthy physiological range. These persistent aggregates should strongly affect cell distribution and blood perfusion in the microvasculature, with putative implications for blood disorders even within apparently asymptomatic subjects.

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