Vaso-occlusive crisis, a common painful complication of sickle cell disease, is a complex process triggered by intercellular adhesive interactions among blood cells and the endothelium in all human organs (e.g., the oxygen-rich lung as well as hypoxic systems such as liver and kidneys). We present a combined experimental-computational study to quantify the adhesive characteristics of sickle mature erythrocytes (SMEs) and irreversibly sickled cells (ISCs) under flow conditions mimicking those in postcapillary venules. We employed an in vitro microfluidic cell adherence assay, which is coated uniformly with fibronectin. We investigated the adhesion dynamics of SMEs and ISCs in pulsatile flow under well-controlled hypoxic conditions, inferring the cell adhesion strength by increasing the flow rate (or wall shear stress (WSS)) until the onset of cell detachment. In parallel, we performed simulations of individual SMEs and ISCs under shear. We introduced two metrics to quantify the adhesion process, the cell aspect ratio (AR) as a function of WSS and its rate of change (the dynamic deformability index). We found that the AR of SMEs decreases significantly with the increase of WSS, consistent between the experiments and simulations. In contrast, the AR of ISCs remains constant in time and independent of the flow rate. The critical WSS value for detaching a single SME in oxygenated state is in the range of 3.9–5.5 Pa depending on the number of adhesion sites; the critical WSS value for ISCs is lower than that of SMEs. Our simulations show that the critical WSS value for SMEs in deoxygenated state is above 6.2 Pa (multiple adhesion sites), which is greater than their oxygenated counterparts. We investigated the effect of cell shear modulus on the detachment process; we found that for the same cell adhesion spring constant, the higher shear modulus leads to an earlier cell detachment from the functionalized surface. These findings may aid in the understanding of individual roles of sickle cell types in sickle cell disease vaso-occlusion.
Deng, Y., Papageorgiou, D. P., Chang, H. Y., Abidi, S. Z., Li, X., Dao, M., & Karniadakis, G. E. (2019). Quantifying Shear-Induced Deformation and Detachment of Individual Adherent Sickle Red Blood Cells. Biophysical Journal, 116(2), 360–371. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2018.12.008