Association between erythrocyte dynamics and vessel remodelling in developmental vascular networks

Qi Zhou, Tijana Perovic, Ines Fechner, Lowell Edgar, Peter R Hoskins, Holger Gerhardt, Timm Krüger, Miguel O. Bernabeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sprouting angiogenesis is an essential vascularisation mechanism consisting of sprouting and remodelling. The remodelling phase is driven by rearrangements of endothelial cells (ECs) within the post-sprouting vascular plexus. Prior work has uncovered how ECs polarise and migrate in response to flow-induced wall shear stress (WSS). However, the question of how the presence of erythrocytes (well-known as RBCs) and their haemodynamics impact affects vascular remodelling remains unanswered. Here, we devise a computational framework to model cellular blood flow in developmental mouse retina. We demonstrate a previously unreported highly heterogeneous distribution of RBCs in primitive vasculature. Furthermore, we report a strong association between vessel regression and RBC hypoperfusion, and identify plasma skimming as the driving mechanism. Live imaging in a developmental zebrafish model confirms this association. Taken together, our results indicate that RBC dynamics are fundamental to establishing the regional WSS differences driving vascular remodelling via their ability to modulate effective viscosity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Society, Interface
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 May 2021


  • Angiogenesis
  • Haemodynamics
  • Microcirculation
  • Vascular Remodelling
  • Wall Shear Stress
  • Red Blood Cells

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