Nanoparticles tethered with vasculature-binding epitopes have been used to deliver the drug into injured or diseased tissues via the bloodstream. However, the extent that blood flow dynamics affects nanoparticle retention at the target site after adhesion needs to be better understood. This knowledge gap potentially underlies significantly different therapeutic efficacies between animal models and humans. An experimentally validated mathematical model that accurately simulates the effects of blood flow on nanoparticle adhesion and retention, thus circumventing the limitations of conventional trial-and-error-based drug design in animal models, is lacking. This paper addresses this technical bottleneck and presents an integrated mathematical method that derives heavily from a unique combination of a mechanics-based dispersion model for nanoparticle transport and diffusion in the boundary layers, an asperity model to account for surface roughness of endothelium, and an experimentally calibrated stochastic nanoparticle–cell adhesion model to describe nanoparticle adhesion and subsequent retention at the target site under external flow. PLGA-b-HA nanoparticles tethered with VHSPNKK peptides that specifically bind to vascular cell adhesion molecules on the inflamed vascular wall were investigated. The computational model revealed that larger particles perform better in adhesion and retention at the endothelium for the particle sizes suitable for drug delivery applications and within physiologically relevant shear rates. The computational model corresponded closely to the in vitro experiments which demonstrates the impact that model-based simulations can have on optimizing nanocarriers in vascular microenvironments, thereby substantially reducing in vivo experimentation as well as the development costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2314533121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 28 2024


  • computational drug delivery
  • ligand-coated nanoparticles
  • mathematical modeling
  • nanoparticle transport and adhesion
  • particle–endothelial cell binding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling of spatiotemporal dynamics of ligand-coated particle flow in targeted drug delivery processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this