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Zwitterionic hydrogels implanted in mice resist the foreign-body reaction


The performance of implantable biomedical devices is impeded by the foreign-body reaction, which results in formation of a dense collagenous capsule that blocks mass transport and/or electric communication between the implant and the body. No known materials or coatings can completely prevent capsule formation. Here we demonstrate that ultra-low-fouling zwitterionic hydrogels can resist the formation of a capsule for at least 3 months after subcutaneous implantation in mice. Zwitterionic hydrogels also promote angiogenesis in surrounding tissue, perhaps owing to the presence of macrophages exhibiting phenotypes associated with anti-inflammatory, pro-healing functions. Thus, zwitterionic hydrogels may be useful in a broad range of applications, including generation of biocompatible implantable medical devices and tissue scaffolds.

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Figure 1: Components of PCBMA and PHEMA hydrogels and H&E stain images of samples implanted subcutaneously in mice for one week.
Figure 2: Collagen and blood vessel formation in tissues near subcutaneously implanted PCBMA and PHEMA hydrogels.
Figure 3: Phenotypes of macrophages in the tissue surrounding the hydrogels.


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We thank E. Sussman, M. Takeno, H. Ma and K. Hauch in Bioengineering Department at the University of Washington for their help with histological staining and image analysis. This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research (N000140910137), University of Washington and Boeing-Roundhill Professorship.

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L.Z., Z.C., T.B., L.C., J.-R.E.-M. and C.I. conducted the experiments. L.Z., Z.C., B.D.R. and S.J. designed the study and wrote the paper. All authors read the paper and contributed to its final form.

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Correspondence to Shaoyi Jiang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Zhang, L., Cao, Z., Bai, T. et al. Zwitterionic hydrogels implanted in mice resist the foreign-body reaction. Nat Biotechnol 31, 553–556 (2013).

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