Determinants of leukocyte margination in rectangular microchannels.
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Microfabrication of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) devices has provided a new set of tools for studying fluid dynamics of blood at the scale of real microvessels. However, we are only starting to understand the power and limitations of this technology. To determine the applicability of PDMS microchannels for blood flow analysis, we studied white blood cell (WBC) margination in channels of various geometries and blood compositions. We found that WBCs prefer to marginate downstream of sudden expansions, and that red blood cell (RBC) aggregation facilitates the process. In contrast to tubes, WBC margination was restricted to the sidewalls in our low aspect ratio, pseudo-2D rectangular channels and consequently, margination efficiencies of more than 95% were achieved in a variety of channel geometries. In these pseudo-2D channels blood rheology and cell integrity were preserved over a range of flow rates, with the upper range limited by the shear in the vertical direction. We conclude that, with certain limitations, rectangular PDMS microfluidic channels are useful tools for quantitative studies of blood rheology.