The non-specific host response to implanted biomaterials is often a key challenge of medical device design. To evaluate biocompatibility, measuring the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by inflammatory cells in response to biomaterial surfaces is a well-established method. However, the detection of ROS in response to materials implanted in vivo has not yet been demonstrated. Here, we develop a bioluminescence whole animal imaging approach to observe ROS released in response to subcutaneously-implanted materials in live animals. We compared the real-time generation of ROS in response to two representative materials, polystyrene and alginate, over the course of 28 days. High levels of ROS were observed near polystyrene, but not alginate implants, and persisted throughout the course of 28 days. Histological analysis revealed that high levels of ROS correlated not only with the presence of phagocytic cells at early timepoints, but also fibrosis at later timepoints, suggesting that ROS may be involved in both the acute and chronic phase of the foreign body response. These data are the first in vivo demonstration of ROS generation in response to implanted materials, and describe a novel technique to evaluate the host response.
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