Annals of biomedical engineering

Microfluidic system for facilitated quantification of nanoparticle accumulation to cells under laminar flow.

PMID 22855121


The identification of novel, synthetic targeting ligands to endothelial receptors has led to the rapid development of targeted nanoparticles for drug, gene and imaging probe delivery. Central to development and optimization are effective models for assessing particle binding in vitro. Here, we developed a simple and cost effective method to quantitatively assess nanoparticle accumulation under physiologically-relevant laminar flow. We designed reversibly vacuum-sealed PDMS microfluidic chambers compatible with 35 mm petri dishes, which deliver uniform or gradient shear stress. These chambers have sufficient surface area for facile cell collection for particle accumulation quantitation through FACS. We tested this model by synthesizing and flowing liposomes coated with APN (K (D) ~ 300 μM) and VCAM-1-targeting (K (D) ~ 30 μM) peptides over HUVEC. Particle binding significantly increased with ligand concentration (up to 6 mol%) and decreased with excess PEG. While the accumulation of particles with the lower affinity ligand decreased with shear, accumulation of those with the higher affinity ligand was highest in a low shear environment (2.4 dyne/cm(2)), as compared with greater shear or the absence of shear. We describe here a robust flow chamber model that is applied to optimize the properties of 100 nm liposomes targeted to inflamed endothelium.