Effects of red blood cells and shear rate on thrombus growth
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Thrombosis formation upon rupture or erosion of an atherosclerotic plaque can lead to occlusion of arteries. An occlusive thrombus is the most common cause of clinical events such as angina, myocardial infarction, ischemic attacks and strokes. Occlusive thrombi can cause ischemic cardiac arrest in less than an hour. Thrombosis formation requires rapid platelet accumulation rates exceeding thrombosis lysis and embolization rates. Hemodynamics greatly affects platelet accumulation rate through affecting platelet transport to the surface of a growing thrombus. The presence of red blood cells (RBCs) in blood increases platelet transport rate by several orders of magnitude compared to transport due to Brownian motion. Margination of platelets towards the vessel walls also results in higher platelet concentration at the RBC-depleted layer relative to the bulk. In this thesis, we studied the effects of hemodynamics on thrombus growth. We investigated the effects of important flow and particle properties on margination of particles in RBC suspensions by direct numerical simulation (DNS) of cellar blood flow. We derived a scaling law for margination length. Based on this scaling law, margination length increases cubically with channel height and is independent of shear rate. Using DNS, we verified the proposed scaling law for margination length in straight channels. We also showed that rigidity and size both lead to particle margination. We show that platelet margination can be explained by RBC-enhanced shear-induced diffusion of platelets in the RBC-filled region combined with platelet trapping in the RBC-free region. A simple continuum model is introduced based on the proposed mechanism. Using an experimental correlation for effective diffusivity in blood, the continuum model can recover experimental results from the literature over a wide range of tube diameters. We created an in vitro experimental model of thrombosis with and without RBCs. Surprisingly, we found that rapid thrombus growth does not require enhanced platelet transport in the presence of RBCs at high shear. Instead, our results suggest that thrombus growth rate at high shear is dependent on the availability of vWF-A1 domains as opposed to convective transport of platelets. Finally, we obtained empirical correlations for thrombus growth and lag time based on flow parameters by using an in vitro model of thrombosis. We developed a simple model for predicting thrombus formation using the obtained empirical correlations. We demonstrated the capability of the model in predicting thrombus formation over a wide range of experimental geometries. This model may be useful for designing blood-contacting devices to avoid unwanted thrombosis.