Although bulk changes in red blood cell concentration between vessels have been well characterised, local distributions are generally overlooked. Red blood cells aggregate, deform and migrate within vessels, forming heterogeneous distributions which have considerable effect on local haemodynamics. The present study reports data on the local distribution of human red blood cells in a sequentially bifurcating microchannel, representing the branching geometry of the microvasculature. Imaging methodologies with simple extrapolations are used to infer three dimensional, time-averaged velocity and haematocrit distributions under a range of flow conditions. Strong correlation between the bluntness of the velocity and haematocrit profiles in the parent branch of the geometry is observed and red blood cell aggregation has a notable effect on the observed trends. The two branches of the first bifurcation show similar characteristics in terms of the shapes of the profiles and the extent of plasma skimming, despite the difference in geometric configuration. In the second bifurcation, considerable asymmetry between the branches in the plasma skimming relationship is observed, and elucidated by considering individual haematocrit profiles. The results of the study highlight the importance of considering local haematocrit distributions in the analysis of blood flow and could lead to more accurate computational models of blood flow in microvascular networks. The experimental approaches developed in this work provide a foundation for further examining the characteristics of microhaemodynamics.
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