Flow of a circulating tumor cell and red blood cells in microvessels

Naoki Takeishi, Yohsuke Imai, Takami Yamaguchi, Takuji Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Quantifying the behavior of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood stream is of fundamental importance for understanding metastasis. Here, we investigate the flow mode and velocity of CTCs interacting with red blood cells (RBCs) in various sized microvessels. The flow of leukocytes in microvessels has been described previously; a leukocyte forms a train with RBCs in small microvessels and exhibits margination in large microvessels. Important differences in the physical properties of leukocytes and CTCs result from size. The dimensions of leukocytes are similar to those of RBCs, but CTCs are significantly larger. We investigate numerically the size effects on the flow mode and the cell velocity, and we identify similarities and differences between leukocytes and CTCs. We find that a transition from train formation to margination occurs when (R-a)/tR≈1, where R is the vessel radius, a is the cell radius, and tR is the thickness of RBCs, but that the motion of RBCs differs from the case of leukocytes. Our results also show that the velocities of CTCs and leukocytes are larger than the average blood velocity, but only CTCs move faster than RBCs for microvessels of R/a≈1.5-2.0. These findings are expected to be useful not only for understanding metastasis, but also for developing microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063011
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 9


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