Key players in the immune response to biomaterial scaffolds for regenerative medicine

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2017 May 15:114:184-192. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Jul 13.


The compatibility of biomaterials is critical to their structural and biological function in medical applications. The immune system is the first responder to tissue trauma and to a biomaterial implant. The innate immune effector cells, most notably macrophages, play a significant role in the defense against foreign bodies and the formation of a fibrous capsule around synthetic implants. Alternatively, macrophages participate in the pro-regenerative capacity of tissue-derived biological scaffolds. Research is now elucidating the role of the adaptive immune system, and T cells in particular, in directing macrophage response to synthetic and biological materials. Here, we review basic immune cell types and discuss recent research on the role of the immune system in tissue repair and its potential relevance to scaffold design. We will also discuss new emerging immune cell types relevant to biomaterial responses and tissue repair. Finally, prospects for specifically targeting and modulating the immune response to biomaterial scaffolds for enhancing tissue repair and regeneration will be presented.

Keywords: Adaptive immune response; ECM; Fibrosis; Immunoengineering; Innate immune response; Interleukin expression; Regenerative medicine; T cells; Wound healing; Wound repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / adverse effects*
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Regeneration / immunology
  • Regenerative Medicine* / methods
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / adverse effects*


  • Biocompatible Materials