Microfluidic devices for modeling cell-cell and particle-cell interactions in the microvasculature.

Prabhakarpandian B et al.

Microvasc Res. 2011 Nov;82(3):210-20. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2011.06.013. Epub 2011 Jul 2.


Cell-fluid and cell-cell interactions are critical components of many physiological and pathological conditions in the microvasculature. Similarly, particle-cell interactions play an important role in targeted delivery of therapeutics to tissue. Development of in vitro fluidic devices to mimic these microcirculatory processes has been a critical step forward in our understanding of the inflammatory process, developing of nano-particulate drug carriers, and developing realistic in vitro models of the microvasculature and its surrounding tissue. However, widely used parallel plate flow based devices and assays have a number of important limitations for studying the physiological conditions in vivo. In addition, these devices are resource hungry and time consuming for performing various assays. Recently developed, more realistic, microfluidic based devices have been able to overcome many of these limitations. In this review, an overview of the fluidic devices and their use in studying the effects of shear forces on cell-cell and cell-particle interactions is presented. In addition, use of mathematical models and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) based models for interpreting the complex flow patterns in the microvasculature is highlighted. Finally, the potential of 3D microfluidic devices and imaging for better representing in vivo conditions under which cell-cell and cell-particle interactions take place is discussed.