Computational Modeling of Intracapillary Bacteria Transport in Tumor Microvasculature

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Virginia Tech


The delivery of drugs into solid tumors is not trivial due to obstructions in the tumor microenvironment. Innovative drug delivery vehicles are currently being designed to overcome this challenge. In this research, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations were used to evaluate the behavior of several drug delivery vectors in tumor capillaries—specifically motile bacteria, non-motile bacteria, and nanoparticles. Red blood cells, bacteria, and nanoparticles were imposed in the flow using the immersed boundary method. A human capillary model was developed using a novel method of handling deformable red blood cells (RBC). The capillary model was validated with experimental data from the literature. A stochastic model of bacteria motility was defined based on experimentally observed run and tumble behavior. The capillary and bacteria models were combined to simulate the intracapillary transport of bacteria. Non-motile bacteria and nanoparticles of 200 nm, 300 nm, and 405 nm were also simulated in capillary flow for comparison to motile bacteria. Motile bacteria tended to swim into the plasma layer near the capillary wall, while non-motile bacteria tended to get caught in the bolus flow between the RBCs. The nanoparticles were more impacted by Brownian motion and small scale fluid fluctuations, so they did not trend toward a single region of the flow. Motile bacteria were found to have the longest residence time in a 1 mm long capillary as well as the highest average radial velocity. This suggests motile bacteria may enter the interstitium at a higher rate than non-motile bacteria or nanoparticles of diameters between 200–405 nm.



computational fluid dynamics, bacteria, capillary, immersed boundary method, drug delivery, red blood cell, computational biology, microvasculature