The dynamics of blood flow in the smallest vessels and passages of the human body, where the cellular character of blood becomes prominent, plays a dominant role in the transport and exchange of solutes. Recent studies have revealed that the micro-haemodynamics of a vascular network is underpinned by its interconnected structure, and certain structural alterations such as capillary dilation and blockage can substantially change blood flow patterns. However, for extravascular media with disordered microstructure (e.g., the porous intervillous space in the placenta), it remains unclear how the medium's structure affects the haemodynamics. Here, we simulate cellular blood flow in simple models of canonical porous media representative of extravascular biological tissue, with corroborative microfluidic experiments performed for validation purposes. For the media considered here, we observe three main effects: first, the relative apparent viscosity of blood increases with the structural disorder of the medium; second, the presence of red blood cells (RBCs) dynamically alters the flow distribution in the medium; third, symmetry breaking introduced by moderate structural disorder can promote more homogeneous distribution of RBCs. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the cell-scale haemodynamics that mediates the relationship linking the function of certain biological tissues to their microstructure.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2 Sep 2022|
- Red blood cells
- Biological tissues
- Porous media