Among the most crucial rheological characteristics of blood cells within the vasculature is their ability to undergo the shape change (i.e., deform). The significance of cellular deformability is readily apparent based solely on the disparate mean size of human erythrocytes (~8 μm) and leukocytes (10–25 μm) compared to the minimum luminal size of capillaries (4–5 μm) and splenic interendothelial clefts (0.5–1.0 μm) they must transit. Changes in the deformability of either cell will result in their premature mechanical clearance as well as an enhanced possibility of intravascular lysis. In this chapter, we will demonstrate how microfluidic devices can be used to examine the vascular deformability of erythrocytes and agranular leukocytes. Moreover, we will compare microfluidic assays with previous studies utilizing micropipettes, ektacytometry and micropore cell transit times. As will be discussed, microfluidics-based devices offer a low-cost, high throughput alternative to these previous, and now rather ancient, technologies.
Part of the book: Current and Future Aspects of Nanomedicine