Novel stenotic microchannels to study thrombus formation in shear gradients: influence of shear forces and human platelet-related factors

Mathew Lui, Elizabeth E. Gardiner, Jane F. Arthur, Isaac Pinar, Woei Ming Lee, Kris Ryan, Josie Carberry, Robert K. Andrews

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Thrombus formation in hemostasis or thrombotic disease is initiated by the rapid adhesion, activation, and aggregation of circulating platelets in flowing blood. At arterial or pathological shear rates, for example due to vascular stenosis or circulatory support devices, platelets may be exposed to highly pulsatile blood flow, while even under constant flow platelets are exposed to pulsation due to thrombus growth or changes in vessel geometry. The aim of this study is to investigate platelet thrombus formation dynamics within flow conditions consisting of either constant or variable shear. Human platelets in anticoagulated whole blood were exposed ex vivo to collagen type I-coated microchannels subjected to constant shear in straight channels or variable shear gradients using different stenosis geometries (50%, 70%, and 90% by area). Base wall shears between 1800 and 6600 s-1, and peak wall shears of 3700 to 29,000 s-1 within stenoses were investigated, representing arterial-pathological shear conditions. Computational flow-field simulations and stenosis platelet thrombi total volume, average volume, and surface coverage were analysed. Interestingly, shear gradients dramatically changed platelet thrombi formation compared to constant base shear alone. Such shear gradients extended the range of shear at which thrombi were formed, that is, platelets became hyperthrombotic within shear gradients. Furthermore, individual healthy donors displayed quantifiable differences in extent/formation of thrombi within shear gradients, with implications for future development and testing of antiplatelet agents. In conclusion, here, we demonstrate a specific contribution of blood flow shear gradients to thrombus formation, and provide a novel platform for platelet functional testing under shear conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2967
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019


  • platelets
  • shear gradients
  • stenosis
  • thrombosis

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