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University of Connecticut School of Engineering Cellular Mechanics Laboratory

Viscoelastic properties of RBCs

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder caused by a single point mutation in one of the genes encoding hemoglobin, which results to polymerization of deoxygenated Hb and to formation of long stiff rodlike fibers which force red blood cells (RBCs) to assume a sickle shape. The abnormal morphology and rheology of sickle RBCs triggers the obstruction of the microvasculature resulting to the development of hypoxia, vaso-occlusive crisis and organ damage. In this study, we are working to characterize the viscoelastic properties of erythrocytes from patients with SCD, using normal human subjects as a control and subjects with sickle cell trait (SCT) as comparison. Specifically, we intend to quantify the Young’s modulus, E, as well as the dynamic modulus, G, composed of the storage modulus, G’, and loss modulus, G’’, to further investigate the pathophysiology and pharmacological treatments of SCD.