Flow-induced membrane tension contributes to the release of molecules by red blood cells (RBCs), and extremely high tension may cause haemolysis. Here, we investigated the membrane tension of RBCs during pairwise interactions in simple shear flow, given that pairwise interactions form the basis of many-body interactions. RBCs were modelled as capsules with a two-dimensional hyperelastic membrane, and large deformations were solved by the finite element method. Due to the small size of the RBCs, surrounding fluid motion was estimated as a Stokes flow and solved by the boundary element method. The results showed that the maximum isotropic tension appeared around the dimple of the biconcave surface and not around the rim. A comparison of the results with solitary cases indicated that the maximum principal tension and isotropic tension were significantly increased by cell-cell interaction effects. As the volume fraction of RBCs is large under physiological conditions, as well as in blood flow in vitro, cell-cell interactions must be analysed carefully when considering mechanotransduction and haemolysis in blood flow.
ASJC Scopus subject areas