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The objective of this study was to isolate the impact of hydrodynamics on selectin-mediated cell rolling in branched microvessels. Significant advancements have been made in furthering the understanding of complex interactions between biochemical and physical factors in the inflammatory cascade in simplified planar geometries. However, few studies have sought to quantify the effects of branched configurations and to isolate the effects of associated fluid forces. Experimental techniques were developed to perform in vitro adhesion experiments in Y-shaped micro-slides. The micro-slides were coated with P-selectin and microspheres coated with Sialyl-Lewis were observed as they rolled in the chambers at different wall shear stresses. Study results revealed that microsphere rolling velocities and rolling flux were lowest in regions closest to the apex of a junctional region and were dependent on both branch angle and wall shear stress. The regions closest to the junctional region were shown to have low bulk flow velocities and shear stresses using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling. Collectively, the study demonstrates that despite the presence of a uniform coating of P-selectin, hydrodynamic factors associated with the chamber geometry yield non-uniform effects on particle behavior. These findings could explain why cells have been observed to preferentially adhere or transmigrate near junctional regions. Future characterization of inflammatory processes in microvascular network configurations is therefore crucial for furthering our fundamental understanding of inflammation.
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