Deformability of Normal and Sickle Erythrocytes in a Pressure-flow Filtration System

  • Lawrence S. Lessin
  • Joseph Kurantsin-Mills
  • Henri B. Weems
Conference paper


In order to measure resistance of erythrocyte suspensions to flow through nuclepore filters, a positive pressure cell filtration system has heen developed and applied to measure the deformability of erythrocytes from normal (AA) individuals and patients with sickle cell trait (AS), sickle cell anemia (SS) and hereditary spherocytosis (HS). The pressure flow filtration system permits manipulation of flow rate (Q̇), hematocrit, pO2, pH, filter pore size and other metabolic parameters. Erythrocyte deformability is defined in this system as the reciprocal of “relative resistance” (Rr) to flow of a given cell suspension. Resistance is derived as the quotient of the pressure generated in response to a specific flow rate; and Rr is the ratio of actual resistance due to the cell suspension to the resistance of the medium alone. Utilizing this system, the following observations have been made: 1. Increase in hematocrit produces an increase in Rr particularly at low flow rates with a direct relationship between hematocrit and resistance until the cell concentration exceeds the filter pore density, resulting in an exponential rise in the pressure generated by increase in Q̇ 2. With 5 μ filters, at low Q̇ and under ambient pO2, AA and AS cells show slight increase in Rr, whereas, SS and HS cells show almost 10-fold greater Rr; 3. Plots of Rr vs. Q̇ simulate a standard viscometric plot and thus data derived from this positive pressure filtration system is comparable to data obtained from cone-plate viscometry; 4. Reduction of pO2 from 165 to 50 mm Hg produces no effect on Rr vs. Q̇ for normal cells, moderate increase for AS cells and marked increase for SS cells; 5. Scanning electron microscopy of the Nucleopore filters fixed during filtration flow depicts cell deformation and pore occlusion by various cell suspensions providing a morphologic basis for the observed resistance-flow kinetics.

Key Words

Positive pressure Flow Deformability Sickle cells Stereoscan microscopy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence S. Lessin
    • 1
  • Joseph Kurantsin-Mills
    • 1
  • Henri B. Weems
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of MedicineThe George Washington University Medical CenterUSA

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