The flow of anisotropic nanoparticles in solution and in blood

There is an increased interest in the use of non-spherical nanoparticles for drug delivery as they often display better blood circulation time. However, there is little understanding of the behaviour of these nanoparticles in blood flow. Microfluidic devices can now gain better insight as alignment of anisotropic nanoparticles as well as their margination towards the blood vessel wall can be directly observed.


The alignment of anisotropic nanoparticles in flow has been used for a range of applications such as the preparation of strong fibres and the assembly of in-plane aligned 1D-nanoobjects that are used for electronic devices, sensors, energy and biological application. Important is also the flow behaviour of nanoparticles that were designed for nanomedical applications such as drug delivery. It is widely observed that non-spherical nanoparticles have longer circulation times and a more favourable biodistribution. To be able to understand this behaviour, researchers have turned to analyzing the flow of non-spherical nanoparticles in the blood stream. In this review, an overview of microfluidic techniques that are used to monitor the alignment of anisotropic nanoparticles in solution will be provided, which includes analysis by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and polarized light microscopy. The flow of these nanoparticles in blood is then discussed as the presence of red blood cells causes margination of some nanoparticles. Using fluorescence microscopy, the extent of margination can be identified, which coincides with the ability of nanoparticles to adhere to the cells grown along the wall. While these studies are mainly carried out in vitro using blood, initial investigations in vivo were able to confirm the unusual flow of anisotropic nanoparticles.

Author list:

Jordan Thomas Lovegrove, Ben Kent, Stephan Förster, Christopher J. Garvey, Martina H. Stenzel*

How to cite:

J. T. Lovegrove, B. Kent, S. Förster, C. J. Garvey, M. H. Stenzel, Exploration 2023, 3, 20220075.