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Detection of red cell aggregation by low shear rate viscometry in whole blood with elevated plasma viscosity

TitleDetection of red cell aggregation by low shear rate viscometry in whole blood with elevated plasma viscosity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsJanzen, J, Elliott, TG, Carter, CJ, Brooks, DE
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0006-355X

The viscosity of whole blood measured at low shear rates is determined partly by shear resistance of the red cell aggregates present, stronger aggregation increasing the viscosity in the absence of other changes. Effects of cell deformability can confound interpretation and comparison in terms of aggregation, however, particularly when the plasma viscosity is high. We illustrate the problem with a comparison of hematocrit-adjusted blood from type 1 diabetes patients and controls in which it is found the apparent and relative viscosities at a true shear rate of 0.20 s(-1) are lower in the patient samples than age matched controls, in spite of reports that aggregation is increased in such populations. Because the plasma viscosities of the patients were higher on average than controls, we performed a series of experiments to examine the effect of plasma protein concentration and viscosity on normal blood viscosity. Dilution or concentration by ultrafiltration of autologous plasma and viscosity measurements at low shear on constant hematocrit red cell suspensions showed (a) suspension viscosity at 0.25 and 3 s(-1) increased monotonically with plasma protein concentration and viscosity but (b) the relative viscosity increased, in concert with the microscopic aggregation grade, up to a viscosity of approximately 1.25 mPa-s but above this the value the relative viscosity no longer increased as the degree of aggregation increased in concentrated plasmas. It is suggested that in order to reduce cell deformation effects in hyperviscous pathological plasmas, patient and control plasmas should be systematically diluted before hematocrit is adjusted and rheological measurements are made. True shear rates should be calculated. Comparison of relative viscosities at low true shear rates appears to allow the effects of red cell aggregation to be distinguished by variable shear rate viscometry in clinical blood samples.

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