The pathology of the foreign body reaction against biomaterials


The healing process after implantation of biomaterials involves the interaction of many contributing factors. Besides their in vivo functionality, biomaterials also require characteristics that allow their integration into the designated tissue without eliciting an overshooting foreign body reaction (FBR). The targeted design of biomaterials with these features, thus, needs understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the FBR. Much effort has been put into research on the interaction of engineered materials and the host tissue. This elucidated many aspects of the five FBR phases, that is protein adsorption, acute inflammation, chronic inflammation, foreign body giant cell formation, and fibrous capsule formation. However, in practice, it is still difficult to predict the response against a newly designed biomaterial purely based on the knowledge of its physical–chemical surface features. This insufficient knowledge leads to a high number of factors potentially influencing the FBR, which have to be analyzed in complex animal experiments including appropriate data-based sample sizes. This review is focused on the current knowledge on the general mechanisms of the FBR against biomaterials and the influence of biomaterial surface topography and chemical and physical features on the quality and quantity of the reaction.
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