Repetitive Supra-Physiological Shear Stress Impairs Red Blood Cell Deformability and Induces Hemolysis
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The supra‐physiological shear stress that blood is exposed to while traversing mechanical circulatory assist devices affects the physical properties of red blood cells (RBCs), impairs RBC deformability, and may induce hemolysis. Previous studies exploring RBC damage following exposure to supra‐physiological shear stress have employed durations exceeding clinical instrumentation, thus we explored changes in RBC deformability following exposure to shear stress below the reported “hemolytic threshold” using shear exposure durations per minute (i.e., duty‐cycles) reflective of that employed by circulatory assist devices. Blood collected from 20 male donors, aged 18–38 years, was suspended in a viscous medium and exposed to an intermittent shear stress protocol of 1 s at 100 Pa, every 60 s for 60 duty‐cycles. During the remaining 59 s/min, the cells were left at stasis until the subsequent duty‐cycle commenced. At discrete time points (15/30/45/60 duty‐cycles), an ektacytometer measured RBC deformability immediately after shear exposure at 100 Pa. Plasma‐free hemoglobin, a measurement of hemolysis, was quantified via spectrophotometry. Supra‐physiological shear stress impaired RBC properties, as indicated by: (1) decreased maximal elongation of RBCs at infinite shear stress following 15 duty‐cycles (P <0.05); (2) increased real‐time RBC deformability during application of the supra‐physiological shear stress protocol (100 Pa) following exposure to 1 duty‐cycle (F (1.891, 32.15) = 12.21, P = 0.0001); and (3) increased plasma‐free hemoglobin following 60 duty‐cycles (P < 0.01). The present study indicates that exposure of RBCs to short‐term, repeated supra‐physiological shear stress, impairs RBC deformability, with the extent of impairment exacerbated with each duty‐cycle, and ultimately precipitates hemolysis.
Biomedical Engineering not elsewhere classified