Challenge in particle delivery to cells in a microfluidic device
Micro and nanotechnology can potentially revolutionize drug delivery systems. Novel microfluidic systems have been employed for the cell culture applications and drug delivery by micro and nanocarriers. Cells in the microchannels are under static and dynamic flow perfusion of culture media that provides nutrition and removes waste from the cells. This exerts hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces on the cells. These forces can considerably affect the functions of the living cells. In this paper, we simulated the flow of air, culture medium, and the particle transport and deposition in the microchannels under different angles of connection inlet. It was found that the shear stress induced by the medium culture flow is not so high to damage the cells and that it is roughly uniform in the cell culture section (CCS). However, the local shear stresses in the other parts of the microchip differ by changing the angles of the connection inlet. The results showed that the particle deposition was a function of the particle size, the properties of the fluid, and the flow rate. At a lower air flow rate, both small and large particles deposited in the entrance region and none of them reached the CCS. Once the airflow rate increased, the drag of the flow could overcome the diffusion of the small particles and deliver them to the CCS so that more than 88% of the 100 nm and 98% of the 200 nm particles deposited in the CCS. However, larger particles with average diameters in micrometers could not reach the CCS by the airflow even at high flow rate. In contrast, our findings indicated that both small and large particles could be delivered to the CCS by liquid flow. Our experimental data confirm that microparticles (with diameters of 5 and 20 μm) suspended in a liquid can reach the CCS at a well-adjusted flow rate. Consequently, a liquid carrier is suggested to transport large particles through microchannels. As a powerful tool, these numerical simulations provide a nearly complete understanding of the flow field and particle patterns in microchips which can significantly lower the trial and error in the experiment tests and accordingly save researchers considerable cost and time for drug delivery to the cell in the microchip by micro/nanocarriers. © Controlled Release Society 2017.