Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

John Ryan

Second Advisor

Barbara Boyan

Third Advisor

Rebecca Heise

Fourth Advisor

Jamie Sturgill

Fifth Advisor

Chris Lemmon


Implanted biomaterials often induce inflammation that frequently leads to the foreign body response, fibrosis, and the failure of the implant. Thus, it is important to evaluate how cells interact with materials to promote a more regenerative response. It is critical to determine how to modulate the response of tissue resident innate immune cells, as they are among the first cells to interact with implanted materials. Among tissue resident innate immune cells are mast cells, which are inflammatory sentinels that degranulate and orchestrate the fate of other cell populations, such as monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes. Mast cells have also been reported to play a vital role in the foreign body response of implanted biomaterials as well as angiogenesis. The goal of this study was to determine how to modulate mast cell responses to electrospun scaffolds by altering scaffold architecture and composition to promote anti-inflammatory and regenerative cell-scaffold interactions. Scaffold architecture was manipulated by changing either fiber diameter or pore diameter and mast cell responses were mediated by endogenous and exogenous DAMPs (i.e. IL-33 and LPS, respectively). Particularly in response to IL-33, scaffolds with increased fiber and pore diameter promoted less inflammatory cytokine and chemokine release while increasing angiogenic cytokine release. Additionally, taking scaffolds that promoted increased inflammatory cytokine expression and increasing the pore diameter alone dampened inflammatory cytokine expression. The next question we wanted to answer was how might the degradative byproducts of scaffolds alter mast cell inflammatory responses. Given the widespread use of polylactic acid, we decided to investigate this question using lactic acid as a degradative byproduct. In the presence of physiologically relevant levels of lactic acid, IL-33- and IgE-mediated inflammatory cytokines and chemokines are suppressed, while angiogenic cytokines are enhanced. This response was shown to be pH- and MCT1-dependent and was recapitulated in primary human skin mast cells as well as in vivo. In summary, scaffold architecture and the presence of select polymer degradative byproducts have the potential of selectively suppressing inflammatory cytokines and enhancing angiogenic cytokines.


© Daniel Abebayehu

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