Biomaterial based modulation of macrophage polarization: a review and suggested design principles

Macrophages have long been known for their phagocytic capabilities and immune defence; however, their role in healing is being increasingly recognized in recent years due to their ability to polarize into pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory phenotypes. Historically, biomaterials were designed to be inert to minimize the host response. More recently, the emergence of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine has led to the design of biomaterials that interact with the host through tailored mechanical, chemical and temporal characteristics. Due to such advances in biomaterial functionality and an improved understanding of macrophage responses to implanted materials, it is now possible to identify biomaterial design characteristics that dictate the host response and contribute to successful tissue integration. Herein, we begin by briefly reviewing macrophage cell origin and the key cytokine/chemokine markers of macrophage polarization and then describe which responses are favorable for both replacement and regenerative biomaterials. The body of the review focuses on macrophage polarization in response to inherent cues directly provided by biomaterials and the consequent cuesthat result from events related to biomaterial implantation. To conclude, a section on potential design principles for both replacement and regenerative biomaterials is presented. An in depth understanding of biomaterial cues to selectively polarize macrophages may prove beneficial in the design of a new generation of ‘immuno-informed’ biomaterials that can positively interact with the immune system to dictate a favorable macrophage response following implantation.

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CC BY-NC-SA 4.0