Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA; Department of Surgery, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA; Beckman Laser Institute, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA; Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Mitigation of the foreign body response (FBR) and successful tissue integration are essential to ensuring the longevity of implanted devices and biomaterials. The use of porous materials and coatings has been shown to have an impact, as the textured surfaces can mediate macrophage interactions with the implant and influence the FBR, and the pores can provide space for vascularization and tissue integration. In this study, we use a new class of implantable porous biomaterials templated from bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gels (bijels), which offer a fully percolating, non-constricting porous network with a uniform pore diameter on the order of tens of micrometers, and surfaces with consistent curvature. We demonstrate that these unique morphological features, inherent to bijel-templated materials (BTMs), can enhance tissue integration and vascularization, and reduce the FBR. Cylindrical polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) BTMs, along with PEGDA particle-templated materials (PTMs), and non-templated materials (NTMs), were implanted into the subcutaneous space of athymic nude mice. After 28 days, implants were retrieved and analyzed via histological techniques. Within BTMs, blood vessels of increased size and depth, changes in collagen deposition, and increased presence of pro-healing macrophages were observed compared to that of PTM and NTM implants. Bijel templating offers a new route to biomaterials that can improve the function and longevity of implantable devices. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: All implanted biomaterials are subject to the foreign body response (FBR) which can have a detrimental effect on their efficacy. Altering the surface chemistry can decrease the FBR by limiting the amount of proteins adsorbed to the implant. This effect can be enhanced by including pores in the biomaterial to allow new tissue growth as the implant becomes integrated in the body. Here, we introduce a new class of self-assembled biomaterials comprising a fully penetrating, non-constricting pore phase with hyperbolic (saddle) surfaces for enhanced tissue integration. These unique morphological characteristics result in dense blood vessel formation and favorable tissue response properties demonstrated in a four-week implantation study.