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Soft Matter. 2019 Feb 27;15(9):2009-2019. doi: 10.1039/c8sm02136h.

Human blood platelets contract in perpendicular direction to shear flow.

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Institute for X-Ray Physics, University of Goettingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.


In their physiological environment, blood platelets are permanently exposed to shear forces caused by blood flow. Within this surrounding, they generate contractile forces that eventually lead to a compaction of the blood clot. Here, we present a microfluidic chamber that combines hydrogel-based traction force microscopy with a controlled shear environment, and investigate the force fields platelets generate when exposed to shear flow in a spatio-temporally resolved manner. We find that for shear rates between 14 s-1 to 33 s-1, the general contraction behavior in terms of force distribution and magnitude does not differ from no-flow conditions. The main direction of contraction, however, does respond to the externally applied stress. At high shear stress, we observe an angle of about 90° between flow direction and main contraction axis. We explain this observation by the distribution of the stress acting on the adherent cell: the observed angle provides the most stable situation for the cell experiencing the shear flow, as supported by a finite element method simulation of the stresses along the platelet boundary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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