The distribution of blood rheological parameters in the microvasculature of cat mesentery

H. H. Lipowsky, S. Kovalcheck, B. W. Zweifach

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In vivo studies of the rheological behavior of blood in the microcirculation were conducted by direct in situ measurements in cat mesentery. Upstream to downstream pressure drops were measured in unbranched arterioles, capillaries, and venules, with diameters from 7 to 58 μm. Simultaneous measurements of red cell velocity and vessel geometry facilitated computation of bulk velocity, pressure gradient, apparent viscosity, wall shear stress, and resistance. Arteriovenous distributions of these parameters revealed the following. Maximum pressure gradient (0.015 cm H2O/μm) occurs in the true capillaries (7 μm in diameter); intravascular wall shear stress averaged 47.1 dynes/cm2 in arterioles and 29.0 dynes/cm2 in venules. Extreme values as great as 200 dynes/cm2 were observed in a few shunting arterioles. Apparent viscosity averaged 3.59 cP in arterioles, 5.15 cP in venules, and 4.22 cP overall. Intravascular resistance per unit length of microvessel varied with luminal diameter as a power law functon with exponents of -4.04 for arterioles, -3.94 for venules, and -3.99 for all vessels combined. This apparent maintenance of Poiseuille's law is attributed to the opposing processes of hematocrit reduction and decreasing shear rate as blood is dispersed in successive arteriolar segments, and the converse action of these processes in the venous confluences which lessen the extent of network variations in apparent viscosity. Reductions in bulk velocity from the normal flow state to below 0.5 mm/sec resulted in increases in apparent viscosity by a factor of 2 to 10, which are attributed primarily to obstruction of the lumen by leukocyte-endothelium adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-749
Number of pages12
JournalCirculation research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1978

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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