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J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2018 Mar;12(3):e1433-e1440. doi: 10.1002/term.2560. Epub 2017 Nov 26.

A co-culture system with three different primary human cell populations reveals that biomaterials and MSC modulate macrophage-driven fibroblast recruitment.

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i3S-Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.
INEB-Instituto de Engenharia Biomédica, Porto, Portugal.
ICBAS-Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Department of Medical Sciences and Institute for Biomedicine-iBiMED, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal.


The biological response to implanted biomaterials is a complex and highly coordinated phenomenon involving many different cell types that interact within 3D microenvironments. Here, we increased the complexity of a 3D platform to include at least 3 cell types that play a role in the host response upon scaffold implantation. With this system, it was possible to address how immune responses triggered by 3D biomaterials mediate recruitment of stromal cells that promote tissue regeneration, mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC), or a foreign body response, fibroblasts. Primary human macrophages yielded the highest fibroblast recruitment when interacting with chitosan scaffolds but not polylactic acid. Interestingly, when there were MSC and fibroblasts in the same environment, macrophages in chitosan scaffolds again promoted a significant increase on fibroblast recruitment, but not of MSC. However, macrophages that were firstly allowed to interact with MSC within the scaffolds were no longer able to recruit fibroblasts. This study illustrates the potential to use different scaffolds to regulate the dynamics of recruitment of proregenerative or fibrotic cell types through immunomodulation. Overall, this work strengths the idea that ex vivo predictive systems need to consider the different players involved in the biological response to biomaterials and that timing of arrival of specific cell types will affect the outcome.


3D biomaterials; fibroblasts; inflammation; macrophage; mesenchymal stem cell; recruitment


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