A key for long-term survival and function of biomaterials is that they do not elicit a detrimental immune response. As biomaterials can have profound impacts on the host immune response the concept emerged to design biomaterials that are able to trigger desired immunological outcomes and thus support the healing process. However, engineering such biomaterials requires an in-depth understanding of the host inflammatory and wound healing response to implanted materials. One focus of this review is to outline the up-to-date knowledge on immune responses to biomaterials. Understanding the complex interactions of host response and material implants reveals the need for and also the potential of "immunomodulating" biomaterials. Based on this knowledge, we discuss strategies of triggering appropriate immune responses by functional biomaterials and highlight recent approaches of biomaterials that mimic the physiological extracellular matrix and modify cellular immune responses.
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