Probing Biophysical Characteristics of Red Blood Cells in Microvasculature Mimicking Microfluidic Channels

Alapan, Yunus ;   Little, Jane ;   Gurkan, Umut A.

Red blood cell (RBC) adhesion and deformability are critical biophysical factors in vaso-occlusion and correlate with sickle cell disease (SCD) severity. These factors have been studied in isolation due to technological barriers faced in directly analyzing blood samples. This challenge has posed limitations to the cogent integration of complex biophysical phenomena into our understanding of a heterogeneous multi-faceted clinical condition, such as SCD. Here, we present a microfluidic system that allows simultaneous interrogation of RBC properties in physiological flow at single cell level by using whole blood. We have analyzed healthy hemoglobin A (HbA) and sickle hemoglobin S (HbS) containing RBCs from 12 subjects. We report for the first time that HbS RBCs are heterogeneous in terms of adhesion and deformability in physiological flow conditions.