Distinct release strategies are required to modulate macrophage phenotype in young versus aged animals

J Control Release. 2019 Jul 10:305:65-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.05.020. Epub 2019 May 17.


The role of innate immunity and macrophages in the host response to biomaterials has received renewed attention. A context-dependent spectrum of macrophage phenotypes are shown to affect tissue integration and performance of implanted biomaterials and medical devices. Recent studies by our group demonstrated that the host response in aged animals was characterized by delayed macrophage recruitment, differences in marker expression and a shifted pro-inflammatory (M1) response, associated with an unresolved host response in the long-term. The present work sought to study the effects of single and sequential cytokine delivery regimens in aged mice to restore delayed recruitment of macrophages and shift the inflammatory host response towards an M2-like phenotype, using MCP-1 (macrophage chemotactic protein-1) and IL-4 (interleukin-4), respectively. Implantation of cytokine-eluting implants showed a preserved response to MCP-1 in both young and aged animals, restoring delayed macrophage recruitment in aged mice. However, the response elicited by IL-4, sequential delivery of MCP-1/IL-4 and coating components was distinct in young versus aged mice. While single delivery of IL-4 did not counteract the high inflammatory response observed in aged mice, the sequential delivery of MCP-1/IL-4 was capable of restoring both recruitment and shifting the macrophage response towards an M2-like phenotype, associated with decreased implant scarring in the long-term. In young mice, sequential delivery was not as effective as IL-4 alone at promoting an M2-like response, but did result in a reduction of M1 macrophages and capsule deposition downstream. These results demonstrate that a proper understanding of patient/context-dependent biological responses are needed to design biomaterial-based therapies with improved outcomes in the setting of aging.

Keywords: Aging; Biomaterials; Cytokine; Delivery; Host response; IL-4; MCP-1; Macrophage; Sequential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Chemokine CCL2 / administration & dosage*
  • Chemokine CCL2 / pharmacology
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Drug Liberation
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Interleukin-4 / administration & dosage*
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Prostheses and Implants


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Interleukin-4