Effects of erythrocyte aggregation and venous network geometry on red blood cell axial migration

Jeffrey J. Bishop, Aleksander S. Popel, Marcos Intaglietta, Paul C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Axial migration of red blood cells in small glass tubes can cause blood viscosity to be effectively independent of shear rate. However, this phase separation may not occur to the same degree in the venous network due to infusion of cells and aggregates at branch points. To investigate this hypothesis, we followed trajectories of fluorescently labeled red blood cells in the venular network of the rat spinotrapezius muscle at normal and reduced flow with and without red blood cell aggregation. Cells traveling near the wall of an unbranched venular segment migrated ∼1% of the longitudinal path length without aggregation and migrated slightly more with aggregation. Venular segment length between branch points averaged three to five times the diameter. Cells in the main vessel were shifted centrally by up to 20% of diameter at branch points, reducing the migration rate of cells near the opposite wall to <1% even in the presence of aggregation. We conclude that formation of a cell-free marginal layer in the venular network is attenuated due to the time dependence of axial migration and the frequent branching of the network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H939-H950
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 50-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • In vivo fluorescence microscopy
  • Radial migration
  • Red blood cell aggregation
  • Venous network topology
  • Venous resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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