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Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most abundant cellular element suspended in blood. Together with the usual biconcave-shaped RBCs, i.e., discocytes, unusual-shaped RBCs are also observed under physiological and experimental conditions, e.g., stomatocytes and echinocytes. Stomatocytes and echinocytes are formed from discocytes and in addition can revert back to being discocytes; this shape change is known as the stomatocyte–discocyte–echinocyte (SDE) transformation. To-date, limited research has been conducted on the numerical prediction of the full SDE transformation. Spring- particle RBC (SP-RBC) models are commonly used to numerically predict RBC mechanics and rheology. However, these models are incapable of predicting the full SDE transformation because the typically employed bending model always leads to numerical instability with severely deformed shapes. In this work, an enhanced SP-RBC model is proposed in order to extend the capability of this model type and so that the full SDE transformation can be reproduced. This is achieved through the leveraging of an advanced bending model. Transformed vesicle and RBC shapes are predicted for a range of reduced volume and reduced membrane area difference (MAD), and very good agreement is obtained in the comparison of predicted shapes with experimental observations. Through these predictions, vesicle and SDE transformation phase diagrams are developed and, importantly, in the SDE case, shape boundaries are proposed for the first time relating RBC shape categories to RBC reduced volume and reduced MAD.
Chen, M. & Boyle, F. (2017)An Enhanced Spring-Particle Model for Red Blood Cell Structural Mechanics: Application to the Stomatocyte–Discocyte– Echinocyte Transformation, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 19-August-17. DOI: 10.1115/1.4037590