Dynamics of neutrophil aggregation in couette flow revealed by videomicroscopy: Effect of shear rate on two-body collision efficiency and doublet lifetime

Harry L. Goldsmith, T. Alexander Quinn, Gillian Drury, Constantina Spanos, Fiona A. McIntosh, Scott I. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


During inflammation, neutrophil capture by vascular endothelial cells is dependent on L-selectin and β2-integrin adhesion receptors. One of us (S.I.S.) previously demonstrated that homotypic neutrophil aggregation is analogous to this process in that it is also mediated by these receptors, thus providing a model for studying the dynamics of neutrophil adhesion. In the present work, we set out to confirm the hypothesis that cell-cell adhesion via selectins serves to increase the lifetimes of neutrophil doublets formed through shear-induced two-body collisions. In turn, this would facilitate the engagement of more stable β2-integrin bonds and thus increase the two-body collision efficiency (fraction of collisions resulting in the formation of nonseparating doublets). To this end, suspensions of unstimulated neutrophils were subjected to a uniform shear field in a transparent counter-rotating cone and plate rheoscope, and the formation of doublets and growth of aggregates recorded using high-speed videomicroscopy. The dependence of neutrophil doublet lifetime and two-body collision-capture efficiency on shear rate, G, from 14 to 220 s-1 was investigated. Bond formation during a two-body collision was indicated by doublets rotating well past the orientation predicted for break-up of doublets of inert spheres. A striking dependence of doublet lifetime on shear rate was observed. At low shear (G=14 s-1), no collision capture occurred, and doublet lifetimes were no different from those of neutrophils pretreated with a blocking antibody to L-selectin, or in Ca++-depleted EDTA buffers. At G≥66 s-1, doublet lifetimes increased, with increasing G reaching values twice those for the L-selectin-blocked controls. This correlated with capture efficiencies in excess of 20%, and, at G≥110 s-1, led to the rapid formation of large aggregates, and this in the absence of exogenous chemotactic stimuli. Moreover, the aggregates almost completely broke up when the shear rate was reduced below 66 s-1. Partial inhibition of aggregate formation was achieved by blocking β2-integrin receptors with antibody. By direct observation of the shear-induced interactions between neutrophils, these data reveal that steady application of a threshold level of shear rate is sufficient to support homotypic neutrophil aggregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2020-2034
Number of pages15
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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