Objective To evaluate the performance of a sphere-templated poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (poly[HEMA]) tissue scaffold as a subcutaneous implant by comparing it with widely used high-density porous polyethylene (HDPPE) implant material.
Design We implanted sphere-templated porous poly-(HEMA) and HDPPE disks into the dorsal subcutis of C57BL/6 mice for 4 and 9 weeks. Excisional biopsy specimens of the implants and surrounding tissue were assessed for host inflammatory response, tissue ingrowth, and neovascularization using trichrome, picrosirius red, and anti–endothelial cell antibody staining.
Results The poly(HEMA) and HDPPE implants showed resistance to extrusion and elicited a minimal inflammatory response. Both implants supported cellular and collagen ingrowth, but ingrowth within the HDPPE implant was thicker owing to the larger porous structure (>100 μm) of HDPPE, whereas the poly(HEMA) implant had much thinner collagen fibrils within much smaller (40-μm) pores, suggestive of less scar-type reaction. Neovascularization was supported by both implants. Blood vessels were identified within the fibrous ingrowth of the HDPPE and within individual pores of the poly(HEMA).
Conclusions Sphere-templated poly(HEMA) implanted as a subcutaneous tissue scaffold stimulates a minimal inflammatory response and supports cellular infiltration, collagen formation, and neovascularization. Because of its tightly controlled porous structure, poly-(HEMA) appears to induce less scar-type ingrowth compared with HDPPE.