Microfluidic interactions between red blood cells and drug carriers by image analysis techniques

Rosa D'Apolito, Francesca Taraballi, Silvia Minardi, Xuewu Liu, Sergio Caserta, Armando Cevenini, Ennio Tasciotti, Giovanna Tomaiuolo, Stefano Guido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Blood is a complex biological fluid composed of deformable cells and platelets suspended in plasma, a protein-rich liquid. The peculiar nature of blood needs to be considered when designing a drug delivery strategy based on systemically administered carriers. Here, we report on an in vitro fluid dynamic investigation of the influence of the microcapillary flow of red blood cells (RBCs) on micron-sized carriers by high-speed imaging methods. The experiments were carried out in a 50 μm diameter glass capillary that mimicked the hydrodynamic conditions of human microcirculation. Spherical μ-particles (μ-Ps), with sizes ranging between 0.5 and 3 μm, were tested. Images of the flowing RBCs and μ-Ps were acquired by a high- speed/high-magnification microscopy. The transport and distribution of rigid particles in a suspension of RBCs under shear flow were investigated by analyzing: (i) the velocity profile of both μ-Ps and RBCs in the capillary; (ii) the radial distribution of μ-Ps in the presence of RBCs; (iii) the migration of μ-Ps towards the vessel wall due to their hydrodynamic interactions with RBCs. This study suggests that the therapeutic efficacy of μ-Ps could be ultimately affected by their interactions with the flowing RBCs in the vasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Drug delivery
  • Microcirculation
  • Red blood cells
  • μ-particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biophysics


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