Mechanism of biomaterial adjuvant effect: Phenotype of dendritic cells upon biomaterial contact
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Development of combination products such as tissue engineered constructs which combine biomaterials with biologics has prompted the need to clarify the role of biomaterial in potentiating the immune response towards the biological component due to adjuvant effect. In tissue engineering applications, immune responses are to be minimized while vaccine strategies seek to enhance the protective immune response. Thesis project presented herein showed that adjuvant effect of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is mediated in part by maturation of dendritic cells (DCs), immune cells that orchestrate adaptive immune response. Maturation of human peripheral blood monocyte-derived DCs in response to PLGA contact was demonstrated in vitro and in vivo by increased co-stimulatory and MHC molecule expression, mixed lymphocyte reaction, cytokine release, and delayed type hypersensitivity reaction. In contrast to PLGA, agarose did not induce DC maturation, in accordance with its low inflammatory effect. Roles of various receptors involved in DC maturation and recognition of biomaterials were assessed by in vitro receptor blocking studies. In particular, role of Toll-like receptors were further investigated using DCs derived from bone marrows of murine model of Toll-like receptor 4 deficiency (C3H/HeJ). While PLGA induced maturation of DCs from C57BL6 mice, maturation was not observed in DCs from C3H/HeJ strain or control strain, C3H/HeOuJ, perhaps due to particular haplotypes of these animals. Collectively, these results establish the differential adjuvant effects of agarose and PLGA on the level of DC maturation, and begin to elucidate the mechanisms of biomaterial adjuvant effect. In addition, assays developed herein provide methods to screen for biomaterials to be used in combination products, such that biomaterials with desired levels of adjuvanticity as measured by DC maturation effects may be selected for given application.