Microfluidics and Coagulation Biology

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2013;15:283-303. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071812-152406. Epub 2013 May 3.


The study of blood ex vivo can occur in closed or open systems, with or without flow. Microfluidic devices, which constrain fluids to a small (typically submillimeter) scale, facilitate analysis of platelet function, coagulation biology, cellular biorheology, adhesion dynamics, and pharmacology and, as a result, can be an invaluable tool for clinical diagnostics. An experimental session can accommodate hundreds to thousands of unique clotting, or thrombotic, events. Using microfluidics, thrombotic events can be studied on defined surfaces of biopolymers, matrix proteins, and tissue factor, under constant flow rate or constant pressure drop conditions. Distinct shear rates can be generated on a device using a single perfusion pump. Microfluidics facilitated both the determination of intraluminal thrombus permeability and the discovery that platelet contractility can be activated by a sudden decrease in flow. Microfluidic devices are ideal for multicolor imaging of platelets, fibrin, and phosphatidylserine and provide a human blood analog to mouse injury models. Overall, microfluidic advances offer many opportunities for research, drug testing under relevant hemodynamic conditions, and clinical diagnostics.