The relation between capillary transit times and hemoglobin saturation heterogeneity. Part 2: Capillary networks

Adrien Lücker, Timothy W. Secomb, Matthew J.P. Barrett, Bruno Weber, Patrick Jenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Brain metabolism is highly dependent on continuous oxygen supply. Cortical microvascular networks exhibit heterogeneous blood flow, leading to non-uniform tissue oxygenation and capillary hemoglobin saturation. We recently proposed capillary outflow saturation heterogeneity (COSH) to represent effects of heterogeneity on oxygen supply to tissue regions most vulnerable to hypoxia, and showed that diffusive oxygen exchange among red blood cells within capillaries and among capillaries (diffusive interaction) significantly reduces COSH in simplified geometrical configurations. Here, numerical simulations of oxygen transport in capillary network geometries derived from mouse somatosensory cortex are presented. Diffusive interaction was found to reduce COSH by 41 to 62% compared to simulations where diffusive interaction was excluded. Hemoglobin saturation drop across the microvascular network is strongly correlated with red blood cell transit time, but the coefficient of variation of saturation drop is approximately one third lower. Unexpectedly, the radius of the tissue cylinder supplied by a capillary correlates weakly with the anatomical tissue cylinder radius, but strongly with hemoglobin saturation. Thus, diffusive interaction contributes greatly to the microcirculation's ability to achieve tissue oxygenation, despite heterogeneous capillary transit time and hematocrit distribution. These findings provide insight into the effects of cerebral small vessel disease on tissue oxygenation and brain function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1296
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - Sep 21 2018


  • Blood flow
  • Capillary transit time heterogeneity
  • Computational modeling
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobin saturation
  • Microcirculation
  • Oxygen transport
  • Red blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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