Recent in-vivo and in-vitro evidence indicates that fluid shear stress on the membrane of leukocytes has a powerful control over several aspects of their cell function. This evidence raises a question about the magnitude of the fluid shear stress on leukocytes in the circulation. The flow of plasma on the surface of a leukocyte at a very low Reynolds number is governed by the Stokes equation for the motion of a Newtonian fluid. We numerically estimated the distribution of fluid shear stress on a leukocyte membrane in a microvessel for the cases when the leukocyte is freely suspended, as well as rolling along or attached to a microvessel wall. The results indicate that the fluid shear stress distribution on the leukocyte membrane is nonuniform with a sharp increase when the leukocyte makes membrane attachment to the microvessel wall. In a microvessel (10 μm diameter), the fluid shear stress on the membrane of a freely suspended leukocyte (8 μm diameter) is estimated to be several times larger than the wall shear stress exerted by the undisturbed Poiseuille flow, and increases on an adherent leukocyte up to ten times. High temporal stress gradients are present in freely suspended leukocytes in shear flow due to cell rotation, which are proportional to the local shear rate. In comparison, the temporal stress gradients are reduced on the membrane of leukocytes that are rolling or firmly adhered to the endothelium. High temporal gradients of shear stress are also present on the endothelial wall. At a plasma viscosity of 1 cPoise, the peak shear stresses for suspended and adherent leukocytes are of the order of 10 dyn/cm2 and 100 dyn/cm2, respectively.
The Fluid Shear Stress Distribution on the Membrane of Leukocytes in the Microcirculation
Contributed by the Bioengineering Division for publication in the JOURNAL OF BIOMECHANICAL ENGINEERING. Manuscript received by the Bioengineering Division January 7 2003; revision received April 29, 2003. Associate Editor: C. Dong.
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Sugihara-Seki, M., and Schmid-Scho¨nbein, G. W. (October 9, 2003). "The Fluid Shear Stress Distribution on the Membrane of Leukocytes in the Microcirculation ." ASME. J Biomech Eng. October 2003; 125(5): 628–638. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1611515
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