Point-particle method to compute diffusion-limited cellular uptake

A. Sozza, F. Piazza, M. Cencini, F. De Lillo, and G. Boffetta
Physical Review E 97, 023301 (2018)

We present an efficient point-particle approach to simulate reaction-diffusion processes of spherical absorbing particles in the diffusion-limited regime, as simple models of cellular uptake. The exact solution for a single absorber is used to calibrate the method, linking the numerical parameters to the physical particle radius and uptake rate. We study the configurations of multiple absorbers of increasing complexity to examine the performance of the method by comparing our simulations with available exact analytical or numerical results. We demonstrate the potential of the method to resolve the complex diffusive interactions, here quantified by the Sherwood number, measuring the uptake rate in terms of that of isolated absorbers. We implement the method in a pseudospectral solver that can be generalized to include fluid motion and fluid-particle interactions. As a test case of the presence of a flow, we consider the uptake rate by a particle in a linear shear flow. Overall, our method represents a powerful and flexible computational tool that can be employed to investigate many complex situations in biology, chemistry, and related sciences.

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