Elastic light scattering by mature red blood cells (RBCs) was theoretically and experimentally analyzed by use of the discrete dipole approximation (DDA) and scanning flow cytometry (SFC), respectively. SFC permits measurement of the angular dependence of the light-scattering intensity (indicatrix) of single particles. A mature RBC is modeled as a biconcave disk in DDA simulations of light scattering. We have studied the effect of RBC orientation related to the direction of the light incident upon the indicatrix. Numerical calculations of indicatrices for several axis ratios and volumes of RBC have been carried out. Comparison of the simulated indicatrices and indicatrices measured by SFC showed good agreement, validating the biconcave disk model for a mature RBC. We simulated the light-scattering output signals from the SFC with the DDA for RBCs modeled as a disk–sphere and as an oblate spheroid. The biconcave disk, the disk–sphere, and the oblate spheroid models have been compared for two orientations, i.e., face-on and rim-on incidence, relative to the direction of the incident beam. Only the oblate spheroid model for rim-on incidence gives results similar to those of the rigorous biconcave disk model.
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