Immune Modulation by Design: Using Topography to Control Human Monocyte Attachment and Macrophage Differentiation

Matthew J. Vassey, Grazziela P. Figueredo, David J. Scurr, Aliaksei S. Vasilevich, Steven Vermeulen, Aurelie Carlier, Jeni Luckett, Nick R. M. Beijer, Paul Williams, David A. Winkler, Jan de Boer, Amir M. Ghaemmaghami*, Morgan R. Alexander*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Macrophages play a central role in orchestrating immune responses to foreign materials, which are often responsible for the failure of implanted medical devices. Material topography is known to influence macrophage attachment and phenotype, providing opportunities for the rational design of “immune-instructive” topographies to modulate macrophage function and thus foreign body responses to biomaterials. However, no generalizable understanding of the inter-relationship between topography and cell response exists. A high throughput screening approach is therefore utilized to investigate the relationship between topography and human monocyte–derived macrophage attachment and phenotype, using a diverse library of 2176 micropatterns generated by an algorithm. This reveals that micropillars 5–10 µm in diameter play a dominant role in driving macrophage attachment compared to the many other topographies screened, an observation that aligns with studies of the interaction of macrophages with particles. Combining the pillar size with the micropillar density is found to be key in modulation of cell phenotype from pro to anti-inflammatory states. Machine learning is used to successfully build a model that correlates cell attachment and phenotype with a selection of descriptors, illustrating that materials can potentially be designed to modulate inflammatory responses for future applications in the fight against foreign body rejection of medical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1903392
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • biomaterials
  • high-throughput screening
  • immune-modulation
  • topography


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