Microfluidic Examination of the "hard" Biomolecular Corona Formed on Engineered Particles in Different Biological Milieu

Alessia C.G. Weiss, Kristian Kempe, Stephan Förster, Frank Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The formation of a biomolecular corona around engineered particles determines, in large part, their biological behavior in vitro and in vivo. To gain a fundamental understanding of how particle design and the biological milieu influence the formation of the "hard" biomolecular corona, we conduct a series of in vitro studies using microfluidics. This setup allows the generation of a dynamic incubation environment with precise control over the applied flow rate, stream orientation, and channel dimensions, thus allowing accurate control of the fluid flow and the shear applied to the proteins and particles. We used mesoporous silica particles, poly(2-methacryloyloxyethylphosphorylcholine) (PMPC)-coated silica hybrid particles, and PMPC replica particles (obtained by removal of the silica particle templates), representing high-, intermediate-, and low-fouling particle systems, respectively. The protein source used in the experiments was either human serum or human full blood. The effects of flow, particle surface properties, incubation medium, and incubation time on the formation of the biomolecular corona formation are examined. Our data show that protein adhesion on particles is enhanced after incubation in human blood compared to human serum and that dynamic incubation leads to a more complex corona. By varying the incubation time from 2 s to 15 min, we demonstrate that the "hard" biomolecular corona is kinetically subdivided into two phases comprising a tightly bound layer of proteins interacting directly with the particle surface and a loosely associated protein layer. Understanding the influence of particle design parameters and biological factors on the corona composition, as well as its dynamic assembly, may facilitate more accurate prediction of corona formation and therefore assist in the design of advanced drug delivery vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2580-2594
Number of pages15
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2018

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