Protecting damaged tissues with immunomodulatory biomaterials



After a traumatic injury, missing and damaged tissue impairs the body's functioning. To regrow these tissues, we need to better understand the way the immune system responds to both injury and the implantation of materials that help with healing. One of the first steps to this investigation is examining how the body prevents overzealous immune system activity from damaging the body in the early stages of traumatic injury.


By studying traumatic muscle injuries, IRP researchers identified a specific pathway by which a particular class of immune cells, called cDC1 dendritic cells, is recruited to the site of injuries in order to prevent a damaging autoimmune reaction. When injuries were treated with materials that help heal, versus those that result in inflammation and scarring, there were more of these cells present. Digging deeper, they found that these cells were recruited to an injury site by natural killer cells, another type of immune cell that is also implicated in the body's response to cancer.


This research reveals a new role in wound healing for a pathway that prior research had shown is used by tumors to avoid attack by the immune system. Using this knowledge, engineers can begin to develop materials to help grow back tissue around medical device implants and prevent a damaging autoimmune reaction them. Eventually, the study's findings may contribute to the larger goal of developing a therapeutic wound healing vaccine.


Lokwani R, Josyula A, Ngo TB, DeStefano S, Fertil D, Faust M, Adusei KM, Bhuiyan M, Lin A, Karkanitsa M, Maclean E, Fathi P, Su Y, Liu J, Vishwasrao HD, Sadtler K. Pro-regenerative biomaterials recruit immunoregulatory dendritic cells after traumatic injury.(external link) Nat Mater. 2023 Oct 23. doi: 10.1038/s41563-023-01689-9.

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This page was last updated on Thursday, May 23, 2024