Supramolecular polymeric materials are of increasing interest for the use as drug delivery carriers. A thorough insight in the biocompatibility and the degradation of these materials in vivo are of fundamental importance to further their development and application in medical practice. Molecular imaging techniques are powerful tools that enable the elucidation of molecular distributions in and around such polymer implants. A supramolecular polymeric hydrogel was implanted under the renal capsule to study its biocompatibility with TOF-SIMS. This results in a molecular cartography of the polymer implant combined with the cellular signature of the implantation environment. In this experiment, molecular signals are observed from cells that are involved in the biological response to the implant, e.g., macrophages. These molecular signatures are compared with macrophage standards cultured in different polarization environments. On the basis of this comparison, information can be acquired on the various macrophage differentiations that are connected to different stages in the foreign body response. Mass spectrometric imaging techniques offer the opportunity to visualize different histological phenomena in a single experiment without the need for specific immunohistochemical markers. Cellular infiltration into the polymer is visualized, offering a clear view on both biological and polymer features in a single imaging experiment.

P.G. Kistemaker
Anal. Chem.

Klerk, L. A., Dankers, P., Popa, E. R., Bosman, A. W., Sanders, M. E., Reedquist, K. A., & Heeren, R. (2010). TOF-Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry imaging of polymeric scaffolds with surrounding tissue after in vivo implantation. Anal. Chem., 82(11), 4337–4343. doi:10.1021/ac100837n