Effects of different shear rates on the attachment and detachment of platelet thrombi


  • Xiaofeng Shi
  • Jichun Yang
  • Jiansong Huang
  • Zhangbiao Long
  • Zheng Ruan
  • Bing Xiao
  • Xiaodong Xi 


Thrombosis and hemostasis take place in flowing blood, which generates shear forces. The effect of different shear rates, particularly pathological forces, on platelet thrombus formation remains to be fully elucidated. The present study observed the morphological characteristics and hierarchical structure of thrombi on the collagen surface at a wide range of wall shear rates (WSRs) and examined the underlying mechanisms. Calcein AM‑labeled whole blood was perfused over a collagen‑coated surface at different shear rates set by a Bioflux 200 microfluidic device and the thrombi formed were assessed for area coverage, the height and the hierarchical structure defined by the extent of platelet activation and packing density. The factors that affect thrombus formation were also investigated. Platelet thrombus formation varied under different WSRs, for example, dispersed platelet adhesion mixed with erythrocytes was observed at 125‑250 s‑1, extensive and thin platelet thrombi were observed at 500‑1,500 s‑1, and sporadic, thick thrombi were observed at pathological WSRs of 2,500‑5,000 s‑1, which showed a tendency to be shed. With increasing WSRs, the height of the thrombi showed an increasing linear trend, whereas the total fluorescence intensity and area of the thrombi exhibited a parabolic curve‑like change, with a turning point at a WSR of 2,500 s‑1. The number of thrombi, the average fluorescence intensity and the area per thrombus showed similar trends, with an initial upwards incline followed by a decline. The thrombi formed at higher WSRs had a thicker shell, which led to a more densely packed core. Platelet thrombus formation under shear‑flow was regulated by the adhesive strength, which was mediated by receptor‑ligand interaction, the platelet deposition induced by shear rates and the detachment by the dynamic force of flow. This resulted in a balance between thrombus attachment, including adhesion and aggregation, and detachment. Collectively, compared with physiological low WSRs, pathological high WSRs caused thicker and more easily shed thrombi with more condensed cores, which was regulated by an attachment‑detachment balance. These results provide novel insights into the properties of thrombus formation on collagen at different WSRs, and offers possible explanations for certain clinical physiopathological phenomena, including physical hemostasis and pathological thrombosis.