Dynamical clustering of red blood cells in capillary vessels

Krzysztof Boryczko, Witold Dzwinel, David A Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


We have modeled the dynamics of a 3-D system consisting of red blood cells (RBCs), plasma and capillary walls using a discrete-particle approach. The blood cells and capillary walls are composed of a mesh of particles interacting with harmonic forces between nearest neighbors. We employ classical mechanics to mimic the elastic properties of RBCs with a biconcave disk composed of a mesh of spring-like particles. The fluid particle method allows for modeling the plasma as a particle ensemble, where each particle represents a collective unit of fluid, which is defined by its mass, moment of inertia, translational and angular momenta. Realistic behavior of blood cells is modeled by considering RBCs and plasma flowing through capillaries of various shapes. Three types of vessels are employed: a pipe with a choking point, a curved vessel and bifurcating capillaries. There is a strong tendency to produce RBC clusters in capillaries. The choking points and other irregularities in geometry influence both the flow and RBC shapes, considerably increasing the clotting effect. We also discuss other clotting factors coming from the physical properties of blood, such as the viscosity of the plasma and the elasticity of the RBCs. Modeling has been carried out with adequate resolution by using 1 to 10 million particles. Discrete particle simulations open a new pathway for modeling the dynamics of complex, viscoelastic fluids at the microscale, where both liquid and solid phases are treated with discrete particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-33
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Molecular Modeling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 20 2003


  • Blood flow
  • Capillaries
  • Clustering
  • Computer simulation
  • Discrete-particle model
  • Fluid-particle model


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