Redistribution of red blood cell flow in microcirculatory networks by hemodilution

A. R. Pries, A. Fritzsche, K. Ley, P. Gaehtgens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The effect of isovolemic hemodilution on red blood cell flow distribution was studied in complete self-contained microvessel networks of the rat mesentery. Hematocrit, diameter, and length of all vessel segments as well as the topological structure were determined in control networks (systemic hematocrit, 0.54) and after hemodilution (systemic hematocrit, 0.30). Hemodilution was performed by exchanging blood with hydroxyethyl starch (MW 450,000; 6%) or homologous plasma. With hemodilution, the decrease of microvessel hematocrit exceeded that of systemic hematocrit. The average discharge hematocrit in capillaries was 79% of systemic hematocrit in the control group and 73% with hemodilution (p<0.001). The heterogeneity of capillary hematocrit within the network, expressed by the coefficient of variation, increased from 0.4 to 0.7. By using the morphological and topological data of four networks, the distribution of hematocrits was also calculated using a hydrodynamic flow model. The modeling results were found to be in close agreement with the experimental data. This indicates that the observed changes can be deduced from established rheological phenomena, most of all phase separation at arteriolar bifurcations. The changes in hematocrit distribution after hemodilution are accompanied by a redistribution of red blood cell flow within the network: relative to total red blood cell flow, red blood cell flow in the distal capillaries of the network increases by about 40% at the expense of the proximal capillaries that are close to the feeding arteriole and that exhibit the highest red blood cell flow under control conditions. This redistribution leads to a more homogeneous red blood cell flow distribution between proximal and distal regions of vessel networks with hemodilution, which might serve to increase tissue oxygenation in regions endangered by underperfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1121
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • flow pathways
  • hematocrit
  • hemodilution
  • microcirculation
  • networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Redistribution of red blood cell flow in microcirculatory networks by hemodilution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this