Lymphocytes and the foreign body response: lymphocyte enhancement of macrophage adhesion and fusion

J Biomed Mater Res A. 2005 Aug 1;74(2):222-9. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.30313.


The host foreign body response ensues immediately following implantation of medical devices and prostheses. We have previously identified the role of macrophages in adhering to biomaterial surfaces and guiding the foreign body response while fusing into foreign body giant cells (FBGCs) and concentrating degradative and phagocytic activities. Despite their early and transient presence around implanted biomaterials, few studies have focused on the role of lymphocytes in the foreign body response and biocompatibility. To address this, an in vitro human lymphocyte/macrophage coculture system has been developed. Using this system, it has been shown that when lymphocytes are present during the initial adhesion of monocytes, the rate of monocyte adhesion and fusion is significantly increased (1,500 cells/mm2 and 60%, respectively) when compared to either no lymphocytes present (500 cells/mm2 adhesion and 0% fusion). Although lymphocytes adhered to the tissue culture polystyrene surface, 90% of the lymphocytes were associated with adherent macrophages. However, these cell-cell direct interactions were not necessary to influence macrophage adhesion or fusion as separating the two cell types by a Transwell insert still resulted in significantly increased levels of macrophage adhesion (p < 0.05 when compared to macrophage only cultures). Conversely, the presence of macrophages in Transwell experiments increased lymphocyte proliferation rates at all time points tested. These studies begin to detail the interactions between lymphocytes and macrophages in the absence of known antigen that appropriately relates to the scenarios experienced upon implantation of biomedical devices and the initiation of the foreign body response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Fusion*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning