Our work on assessing the chage in deformability of red blood cells from patients with the condition diabetic retinopathy has been published as R. Agrawal et al. 'Assessment of red blood cell deformability in type 2 diabetes mellitus and diabetic retinopathy by dual optical tweezers stretching technique', Scientific Reports 6 15873, doi:10.1038/srep15873 (2016).
From the abstract: A pilot cross sectional study was conducted to investigate the role of red blood cells (RBC) deformability in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) without and with diabetic retinopathy (DR) using a dual optical tweezers stretching technique. A dual optical tweezers was made by splitting and recombining a single Nd:YAG laser beam. RBCs were trapped directly (i.e., without microbead handles) in the dual optical tweezers where they were observed to adopt a “side-on” orientation. RBC initial and final lengths after stretching were measured by digital video microscopy, and a Deformability index (DI) calculated. Blood from 8 healthy controls, 5 T2DM and 7 DR patients with respective mean age of 52.4yrs, 51.6 yrs and 52 yrs was analysed. Initial average length of RBCs for control group was 8.45 ± 0.25 μm, 8.68 ± 0.49 μm for DM RBCs and 8.82 ± 0.32 μm for DR RBCs (p < 0.001). The DI for control group was 0.0698 ± 0.0224, and that for DM RBCs was 0.0645 ± 0.03 and 0.0635 ± 0.028 (p < 0.001) for DR group. DI was inversely related to basal length of RBCs (p = 0.02). DI of RBC from DM and DR patients was significantly lower in comparison with normal healthy controls. A dual optical tweezers method can hence be reliably used to assess RBC deformability.
The movie below shows a red blood cell being stretched using our optical tweezers.