Effects of flowing RBCs on adhesion of a circulating tumor cell in microvessels

L. L. Xiao, Y. Liu, S. Chen, B. M. Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Adhesion of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) to the microvessel wall largely depends on the blood hydrodynamic conditions, one of which is the blood viscosity. Since blood is a non-Newtonian fluid, whose viscosity increases with hematocrit, in the microvessels at low shear rate. In this study, the effects of hematocrit, vessel size, flow rate and red blood cell (RBC) aggregation on adhesion of a CTC in the microvessels were numerically investigated using dissipative particle dynamics. The membrane of cells was represented by a spring-based network connected by elastic springs to characterize its deformation. RBC aggregation was modeled by a Morse potential function based on depletion-mediated assumption, and the adhesion of the CTC to the vessel wall was achieved by the interactions between receptors and ligands at the CTC and those at the endothelial cells forming the vessel wall. The results demonstrated that in the microvessel of 15μm diameter, the CTC has an increasing probability of adhesion with the hematocrit due to a growing wall-directed force, resulting in a larger number of receptor–ligand bonds formed on the cell surface. However, with the increase in microvessel size, an enhanced lift force at higher hematocrit detaches the initial adherent CTC quickly. If the microvessel is comparable to the CTC in diameter, CTC adhesion is independent of Hct. In addition, the velocity of CTC is larger than the average blood flow velocity in smaller microvessels and the relative velocity of CTC decreases with the increase in microvessel size. An increased blood flow resistance in the presence of CTC was also found. Moreover, it was found that the large deformation induced by high flow rate and the presence of aggregation promote the adhesion of CTC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-610
Number of pages14
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Adhesion
  • Aggregation
  • Circulating tumor cell
  • Dissipative particle dynamics
  • Red blood cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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