The dorsal skinfold chamber: window into the dynamic interaction of biomaterials with their surrounding host tissue

Eur Cell Mater. 2011 Sep 20;22:147-64; discussion 164-7. doi: 10.22203/ecm.v022a12.


The implantation of biomaterials into the human body has become an indispensable part of almost all fields of modern medicine. Accordingly, there is an increasing need for appropriate approaches, which can be used to evaluate the suitability of different biomaterials for distinct clinical indications. The dorsal skinfold chamber is a sophisticated experimental model, which has been proven to be extremely valuable for the systematic in vivo analysis of the dynamic interaction of small biomaterial implants with the surrounding host tissue in rats, hamsters and mice. By means of intravital fluorescence microscopy, this chronic model allows for repeated analyses of various cellular, molecular and microvascular mechanisms, which are involved in the early inflammatory and angiogenic host tissue response to biomaterials during the initial 2-3 weeks after implantation. Therefore, the dorsal skinfold chamber has been broadly used during the last two decades to assess the in vivo performance of prosthetic vascular grafts, metallic implants, surgical meshes, bone substitutes, scaffolds for tissue engineering, as well as for locally or systemically applied drug delivery systems. These studies have contributed to identify basic material properties determining the biocompatibility of the implants and vascular ingrowth into their surface or internal structures. Thus, the dorsal skinfold chamber model does not only provide deep insights into the complex interactions of biomaterials with the surrounding soft tissues of the host but also represents an important tool for the future development of novel biomaterials aiming at an optimisation of their biofunctionality in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials* / chemistry
  • Bone Substitutes
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Rats
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Bone Substitutes