Local vs. Global Blood Flow Modulation in Artificial Microvascular Networks: Effects on Red Blood Cell Distribution and Partitioning

Mantegazza, Alberto; Ungari, Matteo; Clavica, Francesco; Obrist, Dominik (2020). Local vs. Global Blood Flow Modulation in Artificial Microvascular Networks: Effects on Red Blood Cell Distribution and Partitioning. Frontiers in physiology, 11 Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fphys.2020.566273

Mantegazza et al. 2020 - Frontiers.pdf - Published Version
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Our understanding of cerebral blood flow (CBF) regulation during functional activation is still limited. Alongside with the accepted role of smooth muscle cells in controlling the arteriolar diameter, a new hypothesis has been recently formulated suggesting that CBF may be modulated by capillary diameter changes mediated by pericytes. In this study, we developed in vitro microvascular network models featuring a valve enabling the dilation of a specific micro-channel. This allowed us to investigate the non-uniform red blood cell (RBC) partitioning at microvascular bifurcations (phase separation) and the hematocrit distribution at rest and for two scenarios modeling capillary and arteriolar dilation. RBC partitioning showed similar phase separation behavior during baseline and activation. Results indicated that the RBCs at diverging bifurcations generally enter the high-flow branch (classical partitioning). Inverse behavior (reverse partitioning) was observed for skewed hematocrit profiles in the parent vessel of bifurcations, especially for high RBC velocity (i.e., arteriolar activation). Moreover, results revealed that a local capillary dilation, as it may be mediated in vivo by pericytes, led to a localized increase of RBC flow and a heterogeneous hematocrit redistribution within the whole network. In case of a global increase of the blood flow, as it may be achieved by dilating an arteriole, a homogeneous increase of RBC flow was observed in the whole network and the RBCs were concentrated along preferential pathways. In conclusion, overall increase of RBC flow could be obtained by arteriolar and capillary dilation, but only capillary dilation was found to alter the perfusion locally and heterogeneously.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Mantegazza, Alberto, Clavica, Francesco, Obrist, Dominik


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Frontiers Research Foundation


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Alberto Mantegazza

Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2020 16:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:40

Publisher DOI:






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