Biotin–avidin interactions have been explored for decades as a technique to functionalize biomaterials, as well as for in vivo targeting, but whether changes in these interactions can be leveraged for immunomodulation remain unknown. The goal of this study was to investigate how biotin density and avidin variant can be used to deliver the immunomodulatory cytokine, interleukin 4 (IL4), from a porous gelatin scaffold, Gelfoam, to primary human macrophages in vitro. Here, we demonstrate that the degree of scaffold biotinylation controlled the binding of two different avidin variants, streptavidin and CaptAvidin. Biotinylated scaffolds were also loaded with streptavidin and biotinylated IL4 under flow, suggesting a potential use for targeting this biomaterial in vivo. While biotin–avidin interactions did not appear to influence the protein release in this system, increasing degrees of biotinylation did lead to increased M2-like polarization of primary human macrophages over time in vitro, highlighting the capability to leverage biotin–avidin interactions to modulate the macrophage phenotype. These results demonstrate a versatile and modular strategy to impart immunomodulatory activity to biomaterials.
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