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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059416. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Numerical simulation of passage of a neutrophil through a rectangular channel with a moderate constriction.

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Institute of Fluid Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.


The authors have previously presented a mathematical model to predict transit time of a neutrophil through an alveolar capillary segment which was modeled as an axisymmetric arc-shaped constriction settled in a cylindrical straight pipe to investigate the influence of entrance curvature of a capillary on passage of the cell. The axially asymmetric cross section of a capillary also influences the transit time because it requires three-dimensional deformation of a cell when it passes through the capillary and could lead to plasma leakage between the cell surface and the capillary wall. In this study, a rectangular channel was introduced, the side walls of which were moderately constricted, as a representative of axially asymmetric capillaries. Dependence of transit time of a neutrophil passing through the constriction on the constriction geometry, i.e., channel height, throat width and curvature radius of the constriction, was numerically investigated, the transit time being compared with that through the axisymmetric model. It was found that the transit time is dominated by the throat hydraulic diameter and curvature radius of the constriction and that the throat aspect ratio little affects the transit time with a certain limitation, indicating that if an appropriate curvature radius is chosen, such a rectangular channel model can be substituted for an axisymmetric capillary model having the same throat hydraulic diameter in terms of the transit time by choosing an appropriate curvature radius. Thus, microchannels fabricated by the photolithography technique, whose cross section is generally rectangular, are expected to be applicable to in vitro model experiments of neutrophil retention and passage in the alveolar capillaries.

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