Predictive modelling of thrombus formation in diabetic retinal microaneurysms

He Li, Konstantina Sampani, Xiaoning Zheng, Dimitrios P Papageorgiou, Alireza Yazdani, Miguel O Bernabeu, George E Karniadakis, Jennifer K Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microaneurysms (MAs) are one of the earliest clinically visible signs of diabetic retinopathy (DR). Vision can be reduced at any stage of DR by MAs, which may enlarge, rupture and leak fluid into the neural retina. Recent advances in ophthalmic imaging techniques enable reconstruction of the geometries of MAs and quantification of the corresponding haemodynamic metrics, such as shear rate and wall shear stress, but there is lack of computational models that can predict thrombus formation in individual MAs. In this study, we couple a particle model to a continuum model to simulate the platelet aggregation in MAs with different shapes. Our simulation results show that under a physiologically relevant blood flow rate, thrombosis is more pronounced in saccular-shaped MAs than fusiform-shaped MAs, in agreement with recent clinical findings. Our model predictions of the size and shape of the thrombi in MAs are consistent with experimental observations, suggesting that our model is capable of predicting the formation of thrombus for newly detected MAs. This is the first quantitative study of thrombosis in MAs through simulating platelet aggregation, and our results suggest that computational models can be used to predict initiation and development of intraluminal thrombus in MAs as well as provide insights into their role in the pathophysiology of DR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201102
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020


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