Effect of blood flow on near-the-wall mass transport of drugs and other bioactive agents: A simple formula to estimate boundary layer concentrations

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7 Scopus citations


Transport of bioactive agents through the blood is essential for cardiovascular regulatory processes and drug delivery. Bioactive agents and other solutes infused into the blood through the wall of a blood vessel or released into the blood from an area in the vessel wall spread downstream of the infusion/release region and form a thin boundary layer in which solute concentration is higher than in the rest of the blood. Bioactive agents distributed along the vessel wall affect endothelial cells and regulate biological processes, such as thrombus formation, atherogenesis, and vascular remodeling. To calculate the concentration of solutes in the boundary layer, researchers have generally used numerical simulations. However, to investigate the effect of blood flow, infusion rate, and vessel geometry on the concentration of different solutes, many simulations are needed, leading to a time-consuming effort. In this paper, a relatively simple formula to quantify concentrations in a tube downstream of an infusion/release region is presented. Given known blood-flow rates, tube radius, solute diffusivity, and the length of the infusion region, this formula can be used to quickly estimate solute concentrations when infusion rates are known or to estimate infusion rates when solute concentrations at a point downstream of the infusion region are known. The developed formula is based on boundary layer theory and physical principles. The formula is an approximate solution of the advection-diffusion equations in the boundary layer region when solute concentration is small (dilute solution), infusion rate is modeled as a mass flux, and there is no transport of solute through the wall or chemical reactions downstream of the infusion region. Wall concentrations calculated using the formula developed in this paper were compared to the results from finite element models. Agreement between the results was within 10%. The developed formula could be used in experimental procedures to evaluate drug efficacy, in the design of drug-eluting stents, and to calculate rates of release of bioactive substances at active surfaces using downstream concentration measurements. In addition to being simple and fast to use, the formula gives accurate quantifications of concentrations and infusion rates under steady-state and oscillatory flow conditions, and therefore can be used to estimate boundary layer concentrations under physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021010
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Boundary layer
  • Drug evaluation models
  • Drug-eluting stents
  • Hemodynamics
  • Local drug delivery
  • Mass transfer
  • Thrombus formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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