The mechanism of hydrodynamic transport of nanoparticles in living tissues by intrinsic lymphatic pumping remains one of the fundamental questions in the field of nanomedicine. However, despite its importance, direct visualization of the nanofluid transport mechanism has not been achieved. In this article, we report a novel in situ fluorescence bioimaging method for observing real-time microflow patterns of nanofluids confined in a contracting and expanding soft microtube. This method allows for physiological monitoring of spatiotemporally resolved microfluidic behaviour and channel undulation during the peristaltic transport of fluorescent nanoparticle suspensions by lymph vessels embedded in bulky tissues at the location of the hindlimb. The fluorescent nanofluid conferred a high optical contrast for the visualization of the lymphatic microtube, with which the concentration and viscosity of the nanofluid could be determined. The nanofluid and microtube mechanics of the hindlimb lymph vessels exhibited similar behaviours as the previously described base fluid flow of peristaltic mesenteric lymph vessels. Specifically, the microtube contraction and expansion induced increased forward flows, and a reverse flow developed at the maximum contraction, all of which corresponded to Poiseuille flow and implied that higher tube wall shear stress was related to increased axial flow velocity. On the other hand, our study identified a highly heterogeneous flow pattern that could appear during the microtube expansion phase, whose axial velocity profile remarkably deviated from the Hagen-Poiseuille equation. In addition, the peristaltic pumping power was estimated to be on the nanowatt order of magnitude. Finally, we discuss the possible applications of this nanofluidic model system in the context of nanobiotechnology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films