Nanomedicine is a burgeoning industry but an understanding of the interaction of nanomaterials with the immune system is critical for clinical translation. Macrophages play a fundamental role in the immune system by engulfing foreign particulates such as nanoparticles. When activated, macrophages form distinct phenotypic populations with unique immune functions, however the mechanism by which these polarized macrophages react to nanoparticles is unclear. Furthermore, strategies to selectively evade activated macrophage subpopulations are lacking. Here we demonstrate that stimulated macrophages possess higher phagocytic activities and that classically activated (M1) macrophages exhibit greater phagocytic capacity than alternatively activated (M2) macrophages. We show that modification of nanoparticles with polyethylene-glycol results in decreased clearance by all macrophage phenotypes, but importantly, coating nanoparticles with CD47 preferentially lowers phagocytic activity by the M1 phenotype. These results suggest that bio-inspired nanoparticle surface design may enable evasion of specific components of the immune system and provide a rational approach for developing immune tolerant nanomedicines.
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