The understanding of the foreign-body responses to implanted biomaterials would benefit from the reconstruction of intracellular and intercellular signalling networks in the microenvironment surrounding the implant. Here, by leveraging single-cell RNA-sequencing data from 42,156 cells collected from the site of implantation of either polycaprolactone or an extracellular-matrix-derived scaffold in a mouse model of volumetric muscle loss, we report a computational analysis of intercellular signalling networks reconstructed from predictions of transcription-factor activation. We found that intercellular signalling networks can be clustered into modules associated with specific cell subsets, and that biomaterial-specific responses can be characterized by interactions between signalling modules for immune, fibroblast and tissue-specific cells. In a Il17ra-/- mouse model, we validated that predicted interleukin-17-linked transcriptional targets led to concomitant changes in gene expression. Moreover, we identified cell subsets that had not been implicated in the responses to implanted biomaterials. Single-cell atlases of the cellular responses to implanted biomaterials will facilitate the design of implantable biomaterials and the understanding of the ensuing cellular responses.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.