AbstractThe effect of non-spherical particle shapes on cellular uptake has been reported as a general design parameter to control cellular recognition of particulate drug carriers. Beside shape, also size and cell-particle ratio should mutually effect phagocytosis. Here, the capability to control cellular uptake of poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL) based polymer micronetwork colloids (MNC), a carrier system that can be transferred to various shapes, is explored in vitro at test conditions allowing multiple cell-particle contacts. PCL-based MNC were synthesized as spheres with a diameter of ∼6, ∼10, and 13 µm, loaded with a fluorescent dye by a specific technique of swelling, re-dispersion and drying, and transferred into different ellipsoidal shapes by a phantom stretching method. The boundaries of MNC deformability to prolate ellipsoid target shapes were systematically analyzed and found to be at an aspect ratio AR of ∼4 as obtained by a phantom elongation εph of ∼150%. Uptake studies with a murine macrophages cell line showed shape dependency of phagocytosis for selected conditions when varying particle sizes (∼6 and 10 μm),and shapes (εph: 0, 75 or 150%), cell-particle ratios (1:1, 1:2, 1:10, 1:50), and time points (1–24 h). For larger-sized MNC, there was no significant shape effect on phagocytosis as these particles may associate with more than one cell, thus increasing the possibility of phagocytosis by any of these cells. Accordingly, controlling shape effects on phagocytosis for carriers made from degradable polymers relevant for medical applications requires considering further parameters besides shape, such as kinetic aspects of the exposure and uptake by cells.