The host response to biomaterials has been studied for decades. Largely, the interaction of host immune cells, macrophages in particular, with implanted materials has been considered to be a precursor to granulation tissue formation, the classic foreign body reaction, and eventual encapsulation with associated negative impacts upon device functionality. However, more recently, it has been shown that macrophages, depending upon context dependent polarization profiles, are capable of affecting both detrimental and beneficial outcomes in a number of disease processes and in tissue remodeling following injury. Herein, the diverse roles played by macrophages in these processes are discussed in addition to the potential manipulation of macrophage effector mechanisms as a strategy for promoting site-appropriate and constructive tissue remodeling as opposed to deleterious persistent inflammation and scar tissue formation.
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