Brain aneurysms can be treated with embolic coils using minimally invasive approaches. It is advantageous to modulate the biologic response of platinum embolic coils. Our previous studies demonstrated that shape memory polymer (SMP) foam coated embolization coils (FCC) devices demonstrate enhanced healing responses in animal models compared with standard bare platinum coil (BPC) devices. Macrophages are the most prevalent immune cell type that coordinate the greater immune response to implanted materials. Hence, we hypothesized that the highly porous SMP foam coatings on embolic coils activate a pro-regenerative healing phenotype. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the number and type of infiltrating macrophages in FCC or BPC devices implanted in a rabbit elastase aneurysm model. FCC devices elicited a great number of infiltration macrophages, skewed significantly to a pro-regenerative M2-like phenotype 90 days following implantation. We devised an in vitro assay, where monocyte-derived macrophages were placed in close association with FCC or BPC devices for 6-72 h. Macrophages encountering SMP FCC-devices demonstrated highly mixed activation phenotypes at 6 h, heavily skewing toward an M2-like phenotype by 72 h, compared with macrophages encountering BPC devices. Macrophage activation was evaluated using gene expression analysis, and secreted cytokine evaluation. Together, our results demonstrate that FCC devices promoted a pro-regenerative macrophage activation phenotype, compared with BPC devices. Our in vitro findings corroborate with in vivo observations that SMP-based modification of embolic coils can promote better healing of the aneurysm site, by sustaining a pro-healing macrophage phenotype.
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