Erythrocyte margination and sedimentation in skeletal muscle venules

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Previous studies in skeletal muscle of the dog and cat have shown that venous vascular resistance changes inversely with blood flow and may be due mainly to red blood cell aggregation, a phenomenon present in these species. To determine whether red blood cell axial migration and sedimentation contribute to this effect, we viewed either vertically or horizontally oriented venules of the rat spinotrapezius muscle with a horizontally oriented microscope during acute arterial pressure reduction. With normal (nonaggregating) rat blood, reduction of arterial pressure did not significantly change the relative diameter of the red blood cell column with respect to the venular wall. After induction of red blood cell aggregation in the rat by infusion of Dextran 500, red blood cell column diameter decreased up to 35% at low pseudoshear rates (below ∼5 s-1); the magnitude was independent of venular orientation. In vertically oriented venules, the plasma layer was symmetrical, whereas in horizontally oriented venules, the plasma layer formed near the upper wall. We conclude that, although red blood cell axial migration and sedimentation develop in vivo, they occur only for larger flow reductions than are needed to elicit changes in venous resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H951-H958
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 50-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Blood sludging
  • In vivo blood rheology
  • Low shear flow
  • Red blood cell core
  • Venous resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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