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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 853516, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/853516
Research Article

Interstitial Fluid Flow: The Mechanical Environment of Cells and Foundation of Meridians

Department of Mechanics and Engineering Science, Shanghai Research Center of Acupuncture, Fudan University, 220 Handan Road, Shanghai 200433, China

Received 5 July 2012; Revised 3 October 2012; Accepted 20 October 2012

Academic Editor: Wolfgang Schwarz

Copyright © 2012 Wei Yao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Using information from the deep dissection, microobservation, and measurement of acupoints in the upper and lower limbs of the human body, we developed a three-dimensional porous medium model to simulate the flow field using FLUENT software and to study the shear stress on the surface of interstitial cells (mast cells) caused by interstitial fluid flow. The numerical simulation results show the following: (i) the parallel nature of capillaries will lead to directional interstitial fluid flow, which may explain the long interstitial tissue channels or meridians observed in some experiments; (ii) when the distribution of capillaries is staggered, increases in the velocity alternate, and the velocity tends to be uniform, which is beneficial for substance exchange; (iii) interstitial fluid flow induces a shear stress, with magnitude of several Pa, on interstitial cell membranes, which will activate cells and lead to a biological response; (iv) capillary and interstitial parameters, such as capillary density, blood pressure, capillary permeability, interstitial pressure, and interstitial porosity, affect the shear stress on cell surfaces. The numerical simulation results suggest that in vivo interstitial fluid flow constitutes the mechanical environment of cells and plays a key role in guiding cell activities, which may explain the meridian phenomena and the acupuncture effects observed in experiments.