Author(s): Castellini M, Elsner R, Baskurt OK, Wenby RB, Meiselman HJ
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Red blood cell (RBC) aggregation and blood viscosity are important determinants of in vivo blood flow dynamics and, in marine mammals, these parameters may impact diving physiology by altering blood oxygen delivery during the diving response. Weddell seals are superb divers and exhibit age-related patterns in blood oxygen chemistry and diving ability. By contrast, bowhead whales are not long duration divers, and little is known of their blood properties relative to diving. The present study was designed to compare rheological characteristics of blood from Weddell seal pups, Weddell seal adults, and from adult bowhead whales: blood viscosity and RBC aggregation in plasma and in polymer solutions (i.e., RBC "aggregability") were measured. Salient findings included: (1) significant 4- to 8-fold greater aggregation in blood from adult seals compared with pups and human subjects; (2) 2-to 8-fold greater aggregation in bowhead whale blood compared with human blood; (3) compared to human red cells, enhanced RBC aggregability of RBC from adult seals and whales as determined by their greater aggregation in polymer solutions; (4) increasing RBC aggregation and aggregability of seal pup blood over a seven day period following birth; (5) significantly greater blood viscosity for adult seals compared with pups at both native and standardized hematocrits. These results indicate that, for both species, hemorheological parameters differ markedly from those of humans, and suggest progressive changes with seal age; the physiological implications of these differences have yet to be fully defined.
This article was published in Biorheology
and referenced in Applied Microbiology: Open Access