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Keywords:

  • immunotherapy;
  • composite scaffold;
  • PEG;
  • collagen;
  • cell migration

Abstract

Immunotherapies harness the inherent potential of the body to destroy foreign or infected cells, and are currently being investigated as treatments for cancer. One way to boost native immune responses might be to engineer ectopic lymphoid tissue, providing a supportive microenvironment for immune cell priming, and/or bringing together immune cells at a desired location (e.g., solid tumor sites). Here we describe the development and in vitro testing of composite macroporous poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel scaffolds infused with collagen as a tissue engineering platform for immunotherapy. The PEG hydrogel with ordered, interconnected pores provided mechanical stability and the potential to depot supporting cytokines/chemokines, while an infused collagen matrix supported intra-scaffold migration of loaded T cells and dendritic cells. Rapid, nearly unconstrained T cell migration through scaffolds was achieved by using inverse opal supporting structures with 80 μm macropores. In addition, we demonstrated that the lymphoid tissue chemokine CCL21 could be bound to the inverse opal gel walls of these scaffolds, to provide motility-inducing cues for T cells within these structures. This hybrid scaffold approach combines the strengths of the synthetic and biopolymer hydrogels used in a highly synergistic fashion, allowing each material to compensate for limiting properties of its partner. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2008