Neutrophils are known to be retained in narrow pulmonary capillaries, even in normal lungs, due to their low deformability, resulting in a higher concentration than that in systemic circulation. In this study, to obtain a fundamental understanding of the behavior of neutrophils, we simplified an alveolar capillary network to a rectangular grid of short capillary segments and numerically investigated the flow of a suspension of neutrophils and plasma through the capillary network for various concentrations of the suspension, Csus, injected into the network. The cells traveled limited preferential paths in the network while Csus was low. Retention of a cell or cells induced plugging of the segment with a cessation of blood flow, and as the result of the changed plasma flow field caused by such plugging, the cells took various routes differing from the preferential paths. A low incidence of plugging helped to accelerate the cells flowing in the network with tight segments, resulting in a decrease in their mean transit time through the network as compared with the case of a single-cell transit. On the contrary, however, an increasing incidence of plugging induced backward motion of the cells and a resultant increase in the mean transit time. The time-averaged number of cells in the network increased with the increase in Csus, and the fractional residence time of cells in individual segments approached a constant. This means that a high concentration of neutrophils facilitates their uniform distribution in the network. However, the ratio between the time-averaged concentration of the cells in the network and Csus decreased and our numerical simulation did not reach the experimentally obtained value. This implies that, in a real alveolar capillary bed, plasma leaks through the plugged segments or that the capillary network has bypasses through which the plasma can flow.
ASJC Scopus subject areas