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Phys Biol. 2012 Apr 4;9(2):026010. [Epub ahead of print]

Blood-plasma separation in Y-shaped bifurcating microfluidic channels: a dissipative particle dynamics simulation study.

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Division of Applied Mathematics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


The motion of a suspension of red blood cells (RBCs) flowing in a Y-shaped bifurcating microfluidic channel is investigated using a validated low-dimensional RBC model based on dissipative particle dynamics. Specifically, the RBC is represented as a closed torus-like ring of ten colloidal particles, which leads to efficient simulations of blood flow in microcirculation over a wide range of hematocrits. Adaptive no-slip wall boundary conditions were implemented to model hydrodynamic flow within a specific wall structure of diverging three-dimensional microfluidic channels, paying attention to controlling density fluctuations. Plasma skimming and the all-or-nothing phenomenon of RBCs in a bifurcating microfluidic channel have been investigated in our simulations for healthy and diseased blood, including the size of a cell-free layer on the daughter branches. The feed hematocrit level in the parent channel has considerable influence on blood-plasma separation. Compared to the blood-plasma separation efficiencies of healthy RBCs, malaria-infected stiff RBCs (iRBCs) have a tendency to travel into the low flow-rate daughter branch because of their different initial distribution in the parent channel. Our simulation results are consistent with previously published experimental results and theoretical predictions.

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