Studies in animal models have shown that plasminogen activators bound to erythrocytes (RBC-PA) have an extended lifetime in the circulation and are safer than free PAs. RBC-PAs incorporate into nascent thrombi, which are focally lysed from within, an attractive thromboprophylactic option. In static systems, RBC-PAs cleave surrounding fibrin fibers, forming pores larger than the cells themselves, and move around the pore edges, enlarging them until eventual clot dissolution. We hypothesized that under flow in blood vessels, RBC-PAs form functional patent channels before clot dissolution. Here we used perfusion chambers to study clot lysis by RBC-PAs under static versus arterial and venous flow conditions. We found that flow decelerates bulk clot lysis but quickly generates patent channels filled with passing RBCs, via pore enlargement and merging in the direction of flow. Formation of such channels by RBC-PAs may help rescue ischemic tissue before bulk dissolution of potentially occlusive clots
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