Pries, A. R., K. Ley, M. Claassen and P. Gaehtgens. Red cell distribution at microvascular bifurcations. Microvasc Res. 38:81-101, 1989.

The distribution of red cell and blood volume flow was studied at 65 arteriolar bifurcations in the rat mesentery. Hematocrit and flow velocity were measured simultaneously in all three vessel segments constituting a bifurcation. Blood flow distribution was manipulated by irreversibly occluding downstream side branches of one of the daughter vessels. The dependence of fractional red cell volume flow on fractional blood flow was described using a three-parameter (X0, B, A) logit function. The critical volume flow fraction below which only plasma enters a downstream branch (X0), the nonlinearity of the relation between red cell and blood volume flow (B), and the asymmetry of that relation which is described by the parameter A decrease with increasing diameter of the vessel feeding the bifurcation. At diameters above 30 microns, phase separation is very limited. In addition, the nonlinearity parameter B decreases with decreasing hematocrit in the feeding vessel. The asymmetry parameter A strongly depends on the diameter ratio between the two daughter branches: For a given fractional blood flow, the smaller branch receives more red cells than the larger branch. Using a model for plasma skimming based on the assumption of a planar separating surface, the shape of the radial hematocrit profile in the feeding vessel has been calculated. The model predicts a decrease in local hematocrit from the vessel axis toward the wall with a distinct marginal zone free from cell centers. With increasing vessel diameter the hematocrit profile becomes more blunted while the width of the marginal zone increases.