Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 40, 2018
Previous Article Next Article

Morphology of depletant-induced erythrocyte aggregates

Author affiliations


Red blood cells suspended in quiescent plasma tend to aggregate into multicellular assemblages, including linearly stacked columnar rouleaux, which can reversibly form more complex clusters or branching networks. While these aggregates play an essential role in establishing hemorheological and pathological properties, the biophysics behind their self-assembly into dynamic mesoscopic structures remains under-explored. We employ coarse-grained molecular simulations to model low-hematocrit erythrocytes subject to short-range implicit depletion forces, and demonstrate not only that depletion interactions are sufficient to account for a sudden dispersion–aggregate transition, but also that the volume fraction of depletant macromolecules controls small aggregate morphology. We observe a sudden transition from a dispersion to a linear column rouleau, followed by a slow emergence of disorderly amorphous clusters of many short rouleaux at larger volume fractions. This work demonstrates how discocyte topology and short-range, non-specific, physical interactions are sufficient to self-assemble erythrocytes into various aggregate structures, with markedly different morphologies and biomedical consequences.

Graphical abstract: Morphology of depletant-induced erythrocyte aggregates

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 18 May 2018, accepted on 08 Sep 2018 and first published on 18 Sep 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01026A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018,14, 8160-8171

  •   Request permissions

    Morphology of depletant-induced erythrocyte aggregates

    A. Nehring, T. N. Shendruk and H. W. de Haan, Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 8160
    DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01026A

Search articles by author