The margination propensity of spherical particles for vascular targeting in the microcirculation

Francesco Gentile, Antonio Curcio, Ciro Indolfi, Mauro Ferrari, Paolo Decuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The propensity of circulating particles to drift laterally towards the vessel walls (margination) in the microcirculation has been experimentally studied using a parallel plate flow chamber. Fluorescent polystyrene particles, with a relative density to water of just 50 g/ cm3comparable with that of liposomal or polymeric nanoparticles used in drug delivery and bio-imaging, have been used with a diameter spanning over three order of magnitudes from 50 nm up to 10 μm. The number ñs of particles marginating per unit surface have been measured through confocal fluorescent microscopy for a horizontal chamber, and the corresponding total volume Ṽs of particles has been calculated. Scaling laws have been derived as a function of the particle diameter d. In horizontal capillaries, margination is mainly due to the gravitational force for particles with d > 200 nm and Ṽss increases with d3. In vertical capillaries, since the particles are heavier than the fluid they would tend to marginate towards the walls in downward flows and towards the center in upward flows, with Ṽs increasing with d9/2. However, the margination in vertical capillaries is predicted to be much smaller than in horizontal capillaries. These results suggest that, for particles circulating in an external field of volume forces (gravitation or magnetic), the strategy of using larger particles designed to marginate and adhere firmly to the vascular walls under flow could be more effective than that of using particles sufficiently small (d < 200 nm) to hopefully cross a discontinuous endothelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
StatePublished - Aug 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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