NYMC Faculty Publications

Cross Talk Between Endothelial and Red Blood Cell Glycocalyces via Near-Field Flow

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Biophysical Journal

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Vascular endothelial cells and circulating red blood cell (RBC) surfaces are both covered by a layer of bushy glycocalyx. The interplay between these glycocalyx layers is hardly measurable and insufficiently understood. This study aims to investigate and qualify the possible interactions between the glycocalyces of RBCs and endothelial cells using mathematical modeling and numerical simulation. Dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) simulations are conducted to investigate the response of the endothelial glycocalyx (EG) to varying ambient conditions. A two-compartment model including EG and flow and a three-compartment model comprising EG, RBC glycocalyx, and flow are established. The two-compartment analysis shows that a relatively fast flow is associated with a predominantly bending motion of the EG, whereas oscillatory motions are predominant in a relatively slow flow. Results show that circulating RBCs cause the contactless deformation of EG. Its deformation is dependent on the chain layout, chain length, bending stiffness, RBC-to-EG distance, and RBC velocities. Specifically, shorter EG chains or RBC-to-EG distance leads to greater relative deflections of EG. Deformation of EG is enhanced when the EG chains are rarefied or RBCs move faster. The bending stiffness maintains stretching conformation of EG. Moreover, a compact EG chain layout and shedding EG chains disturb the neighboring flow field, causing disordered flow velocity distributions. In contrast, the movement of EG chains on RBC surfaces exerts a marginal driving force on RBCs. The DPD method is used for the first time, to our knowledge, in the three-compartment system to explore the cross talk between EG and RBC glycocalyx. This study suggests that RBCs drive the EG deformation via the near-field flow, whereas marginal propulsion of RBCs by the EG is observed. These new, to our knowledge, findings provide a new angle to understand the roles of glycocalyx in mechanotransduction and microvascular permeability and their perturbations under idealized pathophysiologic conditions associated with EG degradation.