Biomaterials for regenerative therapies


Elisabeth Engel López | Group Leader
Oscar Castaño Linares | Senior Researcher
Miguel Angel Mateos Timoneda | Senior Researcher
Soledad Pérez Amodio | Senior Researcher
Irene Cano Torres | PhD Student
Jesús Ordoño Fernández | PhD Student
Gerard Rubí Sans | PhD Student
Michel Augustin | Masters Student
Carla Cofiño Fabrés | Masters Student
Alejandro Martínez Codes | Masters Student
Celia Ximenes Carballo | Masters Student
Sergi Rey Viñolas | Laboratory Assistant

Former Member

Prof. Josep Planell | Director, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

About

Research in the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group is devoted to the development and knowledge transfer to industry of innovative biomaterials and scaffolds for tissue regeneration.

PLA nanofibers coated with Silicon nanoparticles (Joan Martí)

We design, fabricate and characterize bioactive and biodegradable materials and investigate their interactions with biological entities, both in terms of their fundamental aspects and with specific applications for tissue engineering purposes in mind. The aim is the repair and functional restoration of tissues or organs by means of 3D scaffolds, cells and signals.

Different research areas are being developed in the group:

The production of polymeric biomaterials using different fabrication techniques: by using a polymer nanoprecipitation technique, the group produced nanoparticles for antibiotic drug delivery that effectively treated persistent bacterial infections. The use of a jet break-up polymer precipitation technique together with protein/peptide functionalization allowed the group to produce micro particles for effective cell delivery.

Human Mesenchymal Stem cells forming networks within a functionalized Polyethylene Glycol Hydrogel containing calcium-phosphate particles. (Claudia Navarro)

The production of structured bioactive nanocomposites that can enhance vascularization, bone and skin regeneration, either by electrospinning, rapid prototyping or micro-particles production. In 2016 we were awarded by a CAIXAIMPULSE first edition project to bring our “Dermoglass” project to a closer commercialization stage. Thus, within the IBEC-LaCaixa Joint program we are developing new nanoparticles that have an antimicrobial effect to add this property to the dressing. This project also obtained an award by EIT Health to enhance IP protection and scalability for further commercialization.

Recent advances describe a novel hybrid material which faithfully mimics the structure of bone’s extracellular matrix, recreating the molecular architecture and biochemical environment to surround cells with the proper stimuli to spread and grow (Sachot N et al., 2016, J Mater Chem B). Other biomaterials developed in the group such as hybrid fibrous mats with different contents of calcium-releasing nanoparticles are able to induce angiogenesis in in vivo models (Oliveira H. et al., 2016, Acta Biomaterialia).

Microtiusses formed with rMSC cells on polylactic acid microparticle scaffolds. (Irene Cano)

In collaboration with the group of Prof. Rodriguez-Cabello from the University of Valladolid, the group developed microstructured biomimetic hydrogels using new crosslink methods that induce bone formation in vivo. These biomaterials have also been combined with 3D printed hydroxyapatite scaffolds to enhance bone formation in collaboration with Prof. Vallet and Prof. Bujan (Vila et al. Acta Biomaterialia 2016).

In collaboration with Prof. del Rio and Prof. Trepat at IBEC and Prof. Kevin Healy at Berkeley, fabrication of customized biomaterials and/or microfluidics based platforms for the fundamental study of biological systems related to angiogenesis processes and neural regeneration have been developed. We have used signalling gradients of concentration to address progenitor cells to the desired target.

Cardiac fibroblasts integrate within the PLA fibers ECM-like matrix (Jesús Ordoño)

A new project awarded by MINECO has started. We have been working on microparticles to produce new bioinks to print organs such as bone and produce microtissues as systems to model pathologies like cancer. This microtissues can be created inside a bioreactor and use this bioreactor to decellullarize and recellularize with the appropriate cells and can be controlled by means of bioluminescence.

Finally, we have started a project to develop instructive matrices to activate cardiac cells to promote cardiac regeneration.
 
 
 

Estos equipos y servicios constituyen la unidad U5 de NANBIOSIS, a infraestructura integrada de producción y caracterización de nanomateriales, biomateriales y sistemas en biomedicina, del CIBER-BBN y el Centro de Cirugía de Mínima invasión Jesús Usón, que ha sido reconocida por el MINECO como Infraestructura Científico-Tecnológica Singular (ICTS).

 

News/Jobs

3D printing biocompatible hydrogels
08/03/17

IBEC researchers have laid the groundwork for faster advances in 3D bioprinting for regenerative medicine by creating a system of ink and matrices that offers a solid basis for tissue regeneration.


IBEC at the Mobile World Congress
01/03/17

This week IBEC is taking part in the Youth Mobile Festival (YOMO) of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, with an interactive stand about bioengineering for cardiac regeneration.


IBEC researchers win EIT Health awards
19/12/16

IBEC group leaders Eduard Torrents and Elisabeth Engel both received awards at last week’s EIT Health Spain event at the PCB.


Strengthening links with Singapore
30/09/16

This week IBEC director Josep Samitier, group leaders Elisabeth Engel, Xavier Trepat and Pere Roca-Cusachs, and Ester Sánchez, representing the Strategic Initiatives Unit, are in Singapore to take part in the first IBEC-MBI Joint Symposium, which took place on 26th September.


BIYSC: helping students unlock their potential
13/07/16

This month IBEC is taking part in the Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC 2016), a new initiative that aims to stimulate scientific talent among young people from all over the world.


IBEC group presents 4th generation biomaterial that mimics bone
03/09/15

IBEC researchers have published a paper in Nanoscale elucidating a brand new biomaterial that paves the way towards a fourth generation of effective structures for tissue regeneration.


IBEC groups join forces to combat chronic bacterial infections
28/04/15

A study published today in the Journal of Controlled Release describes a new nanoparticle strategy able to target hard-to tackle infections caused by biofilm-forming bacteria.


CIBER-BBN YSF in Biomaterials Award goes to IBEC researcher
14/11/14

Oscar Castaño, a senior researcher in IBEC’s Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group, has been awarded the CIBER-BBN YSF in Biomaterials prize for 2012-2014.


Televisió L’H: L’Informatiu 13-11-2014
14/11/14

Miguel Angel Mateos from the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group was interviewed for Televisió L’Hospitalet after his participation in this year’s Setmana de la Ciència, for which he gave a talk entitled “Regeneració de teixits : com nou” at the Centre Cultural Sant Josep on Wednesday.


“Inversió de Futur”
8/10/14

Josep A. Planell, rector of the UOC and Research Fellow at IBEC, appears in a new documentary about technology transfer in Catalonia, Inversió de Futur.


“Implants per autoregenerar el cervell”
30/06/14

The Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group has appeared on science programme ‘El problema de Gettier’. Junior group leader Elisabeth Engel talks about the group’s development of a tuned implant that could aid the regeneration of brain tissue, particularly in cases of pre- and postnatal injury.


Position for a PhD candidate to apply for the next 2014 FI call
25/08/14

Now closed


IBEC winner to give address at RecerCaixa ceremony
26/03/14

At Friday 28th March’s official ceremony for the 2013 round of RecerCaixa funding, IBEC junior group leader Elisabeth Engel will represent all the winners and centres as the investigator chosen to speak at the event.


Helping the brain rebuild itself
25/03/14

Tissue regeneration researchers at IBEC, UB and the UPC have developed an implant that could aid the regeneration of brain tissue, particularly in cases of pre- and postnatal injury.


RecerCaixa funding for IBEC projects
29.01.14

Awards will support researchers’ work on a system to aid rehabilitation in children, and improved healing in shoulder injuries.


Position for a PhD candidate to apply for the next 2013 FPU call of the Ministerio
27/11/2013

Now closed


Media coverage of Dermoglass
10/2013 to 12/2013

Follow the media coverage of the Dermoglass crowdfunding project in the IBEC in the Media section of the web.


IBEC crowdfunding project now accepting donations!
14/10/2013

IBEC’s very first venture into crowdfunding, which has come about as an initiative of the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group, goes live today on the crowdfunding website www.goteo.org.


Josep A. Planell first Spanish scientist to receive European biomaterials prize
12/09/2013

Josep A. Planell, founding director of IBEC, was presented with the European Society of Biomaterials’ prestigious George Winter prize at their annual conference held in Madrid on Tuesday.


Engineering biomaterials at the nanoscale
28/08/2013

IBEC researchers have come up with a groundbreaking new approach to create a tough, biodegradable, bioactive and entirely new material, heralding a major milestone in the production of artificial matrices for tissue engineering. In a letter published today in the Royal Society journal Interface, the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group describes a new, easy and cheap method for producing glass-coated fibrous scaffolds which not only faithfully mimic the extracellular matrix of bone, but also aim to direct stem cell fate through physical and chemical interactions.


A step towards repairing the central nervous system
22/01/2013

Researchers from IBEC and the University of Barcelona have revealed a promising new strategy for regenerating the central nervous system, in a paper published in the journal Biomaterials.


Smart biomaterial promotes angiogenesis
25/07/2012

IBEC researchers have stuck tissue engineering gold with the creation of a new ‘smart’ biomaterial that triggers angiogenesis by providing the biochemical and mechanical cues needed for the process to begin.


Developing a new solution to treat atherosclerosis
27/02/2012

We’ve all eaten rich meals or fatty foods and joked that we can feel our ‘arteries hardening’. However, the reality of atherosclerosis – when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the artery walls and form solid structures called plaques – is no joking matter. The consequences of this disorder can include stroke and coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in many developed countries.


Green light for regeneration projects
08/02/2012

The two IBEC-led CIBER-BBN tissue regeneration projects that were earmarked for funding by the EU’s ERA-NET EuroNanoMed initiative last year (see www.ibecbarcelona.eu/IBEC-News/funding-success-for-two-ibec-projects.html) have both received the national support they need to get started.


New year, new name
5/01/2012

IBEC director Josep Planell’s research group has changed its name and is now known as the Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group.


IBEC director elected to the Royal Academy of Science and Arts of Barcelona
17/12/2010

In the beautiful surroundings of Academy House on Rambla dels Estudis last night, IBEC director Josep Planell was elected as Academician of the Royal Academy of Science and Arts of Barcelona (RACAB).


‘Biowaffle’ wins Image of the Year 2010
16/12/2010

The lucky winners of the Image of the Year 2010 competition received their prizes today.


The regeneration game
03/12/2010

Tackling tissue morphogenesis in humans


www.noticiascadadia.com: “Oportunidades de crecimiento de los biomateriales en las tecnologías médicas”
20/10/2010

An announcement on www.noticiascadadia.com about 20 October’s Biocat-organised meeting on ‘Biomateriales: de la biónica hacia la regeneración y las terapias avanzadas’ at the Museo Colet in Barcelona.


The Guardian Supplement: Nanotechnology 2009 – Part 1
27/08/2009

Josep Planell, Director of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, explains his work on tissue regeneration at the nanoscale.


Entrevista a Josep A. Planell al diari El Mundo
16/09/2007

El passat 16 de setembre, el diari El Mundo, dins el seu suplement de Biotecnologia, va publicar una entrevista a Josep A. Planell, director de l’IBEC.

Projects

EU-funded projects
THE GRAIL Tissue in Host Engineering Guided Regeneration of Arterial Intimal Layer (2012-2016) HEALTH Elisabeth Engel
Materiales angiogénicos nanoestructurados para fracturas óseas no consolidadas EURONANOMED Elisabeth Engel
Privately funded projects
BIOTENDON Tendon Tissue Engineering: A Helping Hand for Rotator Cuff Tears RECERCAIXA Elisabeth Engel
DERMOGLASS Smart dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds (2016-2017) Obra Social La Caixa, Caixaimpulse Xavier Puñet
National projects
Diseño y desarrollo de Biomateriales bioactivos para la regeneración de la piel basada en la señalización controlada de liberación de iones (2013-2016)
I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientada Elisabeth Engel
Andamios diseñados para promover una vascularización eficiente para fracturas óseas no consolidadas (2012-2016)
I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientada Oscar Castaño
INSBIOMAT Biomateriales instructivos para regeneración cardíaca in vivo (2015-2016) MINECO, Acciones Dinamización “Europa Excelencia” Elisabeth Engel
MatriCell Desarrollo de partículas poliméricas para generar matrices extracelulares in vitro (2016-2018) MINECO, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+D Elisabeth Engel

Publications

Oliveira, H., Catros, S., Castano, O., Rey, S., Siadous, R., Clift, D., Marti-Munoz, J., Batista, M., Bareille, R., Planell, J., Engel, E., Amédée, J., (2017). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing composite biomaterial: Orthotopic in vivo evaluation Acta Biomaterialia 54, 377-385

Insufficient angiogenesis remains a major hurdle in current bone tissue engineering strategies. An extensive body of work has focused on the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, these approaches are inherently complex, in terms of regulatory and methodologic implementation, and present a high cost. We have recently demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate (CaP) ormoglass particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. Here we have devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a (Hydroxypropyl)methyl cellulose (HPMC) matrix, with the capacity to release calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. The bone regeneration kinetics was dependent on the Ca2+ release rate, with the faster Ca2+ release composite gel showing improved bone repair at 3 weeks, in relation to control. In the same line, improved angiogenesis could be observed for the same gel formulation at 6 weeks post implantation. This methodology allows to integrate two fundamental processes for bone tissue regeneration while using a simple, cost effective, and safe approach. Statement of Significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, we have shown that calcium ions, released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP), are effective angiogenic promoters, in both in vitro and in a subcutaneous implantation model. Here, we devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a HPMC matrix, enabling the release of calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. This simple and cost effective approach holds great promise to translate to the clinics.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglasses


Sachot, N., Roguska, A., Planell, J. P., Lewandowska, M., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2017). Fast-degrading PLA/ORMOGLASS fibrous composite scaffold leads to a calcium-rich angiogenic environment International Journal of Nanomedicine 12, 4901-4919

The success of scaffold implantation in acellular tissue engineering approaches relies on the ability of the material to interact properly with the biological environment. This behavior mainly depends on the design of the graft surface and, more precisely, on its capacity to biodegrade in a well-defined manner (nature of ions released, surface-to-volume ratio, dissolution profile of this release, rate of material resorption, and preservation of mechanical properties). The assessment of the biological behavior of temporary templates is therefore very important in tissue engineering, especially for composites, which usually exhibit complicated degradation behavior. Here, blended polylactic acid (PLA) calcium phosphate ORMOGLASS (organically modified glass) nanofibrous mats have been incubated up to 4 weeks in physiological simulated conditions, and their morphological, topographical, and chemical changes have been investigated. The results showed that a significant loss of inorganic phase occurred at the beginning of the immersion and the ORMOGLASS maintained a stable composition afterward throughout the degradation period. As a whole, the nanostructured scaffolds underwent fast and heterogeneous degradation. This study reveals that an angiogenic calcium-rich environment can be achieved through fast-degrading ORMOGLASS/PLA blended fibers, which seems to be an excellent alternative for guided bone regeneration.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium release, Electrospinning, Fast degradation, Nanofibers, ORMOGLASSES


Mattotti, M., Alvarez, Z., Delgado, L., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Aparicio, C., Planell, J. A., Alcántara, S., Engel, E., (2017). Differential neuronal and glial behavior on flat and micro patterned chitosan films Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 158, 569-577

Chitosan is a biodegradable natural polysaccharide that has been widely studied for regenerative purposes in the central nervous system. In this study we assessed the in vitro glial and neuronal cells response to chitosan either flat or patterned with grooves in the micrometric range. Chitosan demonstrated to be a good substrate for the attachment and growth of both neurons and glial cells. Chitosan micropatterns promoted glial cell maturation, suggesting astroglial activation. Nevertheless, those mature/reactive glial cells were permissive for axonal growth. Axons aligned and organized along the patterned grooves and the size of the linear topographic patterns is also affecting neurite and cell response. Patterns with 10

Keywords: Brain, Chitosan, Glia, Micropattern, Neuron


Punet, X., Levato, R., Bataille, I., Letourneur, D., Engel, E., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., (2017). Polylactic acid organogel as versatile scaffolding technique Polymer 113, 81-91

Tissue engineering requires scaffolding techniques based on non-toxic processes that permits the fabrication of constructs with tailored properties. Here, a two-step methodology based on the gelation and precipitation of the poly(lactic) acid/ethyl lactate organogel system is presented. With this technique nanofibrous matrices that resemble natural extracellular matrix can be easily obtained, while allowing control over the mechanical properties of the device. Gelation temperature and the dynamics of the gelation of the organogel system are characterized, and the final mechanical and viscoelastic properties, as well as porosity, as function of the initial polymer concentration are described. We show that gelation temperature of the system is concentration independent and below 44.5 °C, which permits gelation at room temperature. Furthermore, mechanical properties are found in the range of the soft organic tissues, and the obtained micro-network architecture gives place to a flexible structure. Such structure presents tuneable elastic modulus and viscoelastic properties as function of nanofibers density. Moreover, centimetre-long tubular scaffolds with the diameter of medium-caliber blood vessels were produced. The fibrous nano-architecture mimics the native extracellular matrix fibres diameter and morphology was proven to be suitable to support endothelialization of the lumen of the tube. Thus, this strategy, based on biocompatible green compound might be promising for the fabrication of large 3D scaffolds for tissue engineering applications.

Keywords: Gel, Gelation, Nanofibrous, Organogel, PLA, Poly(lactic) acid, Scaffold


Echalier, C., Levato, R., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Castaño, O., Déjean, S., Garric, X., Pinese, C., Noël, D., Engel, E., Martinez, J., Mehdi, A., Subra, G., (2017). Modular bioink for 3D printing of biocompatible hydrogels: sol-gel polymerization of hybrid peptides and polymers RSC Advances 7, (20), 12231-12235

An unprecedented generic system allowing the 3D printing of peptide-functionalized hydrogels by soft sol-gel inorganic polymerization is presented. Hybrid silylated inorganic/bioorganic blocks are mixed in biological buffer in an appropriate ratio, to yield a multicomponent bioink that can be printed as a hydrogel without using any photochemical or organic reagent. Hydrolysis and condensation of the silylated precursors occur during the printing process and result in a covalent network in which molecules are linked through siloxane bonds. The viscosity of the colloidal solution used as bioink was monitored in order to set up the optimal conditions for extrusion printing. Grid-patterned hydrogel scaffolds containing a hybrid integrin ligand were printed using a pressure-driven rapid prototyping machine. Finally, they were seeded with mesenchymal stem cells, demonstrating their suitability for cell culture. The versatility of the sol-gel process and its biocompatibility makes this approach highly promising for the preparation of tailor-made cell-laden scaffolds.


Guduric, V., Metz, C., Siadous, R., Bareille, R., Levato, R., Engel, E., Fricain, J. C., Devillard, R., Luzanin, O., Catros, S., (2017). Layer-by-layer bioassembly of cellularized polylactic acid porous membranes for bone tissue engineering Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 28, (5), 78

Abstract: The conventional tissue engineering is based on seeding of macroporous scaffold on its surface (“top–down” approach). The main limitation is poor cell viability in the middle of the scaffold due to poor diffusion of oxygen and nutrients and insufficient vascularization. Layer-by-Layer (LBL) bioassembly is based on “bottom–up” approach, which considers assembly of small cellularized blocks. The aim of this work was to evaluate proliferation and differentiation of human bone marrow stromal cells (HBMSCs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in two and three dimensions (2D, 3D) using a LBL assembly of polylactic acid (PLA) scaffolds fabricated by 3D printing. 2D experiments have shown maintain of cell viability on PLA, especially when a co-cuture system was used, as well as adequate morphology of seeded cells. Early osteoblastic and endothelial differentiations were observed and cell proliferation was increased after 7 days of culture. In 3D, cell migration was observed between layers of LBL constructs, as well as an osteoblastic differentiation. These results indicate that LBL assembly of PLA layers could be suitable for BTE, in order to promote homogenous cell distribution inside the scaffold and gene expression specific to the cells implanted in the case of co-culture system.


Castaño, O., Pérez, S., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., (2017). Cell Interactions with Calcium Phosphate Glasses RSC Smart Materials (ed. Boccaccini, Aldo R., Brauer, Delia S., Hupa, L.), Royal Society of Chemistry (London, UK) Bioactive Glasses: Fundamentals, Technology and Applications, 303-315

This chapter will review the interactions between calcium phosphate (CaP) glasses and different cell types. These glasses are less established in the biomaterials field than silicate-based glasses, but phosphate glasses generate interest owing to their higher solubility. CaP glasses have been less studied than silicate-based glasses, possibly due to the commercialization of Hench's Bioglass that allowed many laboratory groups to use them for different studies, including cell culture studies, without having to prepare them in-house. Studies on CaP glasses focused on compositional modification in order to elicit different properties to enhance biodegradability and bioactivity, two main properties for the application of these glasses. These properties have opened the application of these glasses and have enhanced the effect on cells allowing exploration of the bioactivity of ions released by these exceptionally interesting biomaterials.


Álvarez, Zaida, Hyroššová, Petra, Perales, José Carlos, Alcántara, Soledad, (2016). Neuronal progenitor maintenance requires lactate metabolism and PEPCK-M-directed cataplerosis Cerebral Cortex 26, (3), 1046-1058

This study investigated the metabolic requirements for neuronal progenitor maintenance in vitro and in vivo by examining the metabolic adaptations that support neuronal progenitors and neural stem cells (NSCs) in their undifferentiated state. We demonstrate that neuronal progenitors are strictly dependent on lactate metabolism, while glucose induces their neuronal differentiation. Lactate signaling is not by itself capable of maintaining the progenitor phenotype. The consequences of lactate metabolism include increased mitochondrial and oxidative metabolism, with a strict reliance on cataplerosis through the mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-M) pathway to support anabolic functions, such as the production of extracellular matrix. In vivo, lactate maintains/induces populations of postnatal neuronal progenitors/NSCs in a PEPCK-M-dependent manner. Taken together, our data demonstrate that, lactate alone or together with other physical/biochemical cues maintain NSCs/progenitors with a metabolic signature that is classically found in tissues with high anabolic capacity.


Vila, M., García, A., Girotti, A., Alonso, M., Rodríguez-Cabello, J. C., González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Buján, J., Garcíaa-Honduvilla, N., Vallet-Regí, M., (2016). 3D silicon doped hydroxyapatite scaffolds decorated with Elastin-like Recombinamers for bone regenerative medicine Acta Biomaterialia 45, 349-356

The current study reports on the manufacturing by rapid prototyping technique of three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds based on silicon substituted hydroxyapatite with Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs) functionalized surfaces. Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), with Ca10(PO4)5.7(SiO4)0.3(OH)1.7h0.3 nominal formula, was surface functionalized with two different types of polymers designed by genetic engineering: ELR-RGD that contain cell attachment specific sequences and ELR-SNA15/RGD with both hydroxyapatite and cells domains that interact with the inorganic phase and with the cells, respectively. These hybrid materials were subjected to in vitro assays in order to clarify if the ELRs coating improved the well-known biocompatible and bone regeneration properties of calcium phosphates materials. The in vitro tests showed that there was a total and homogeneous colonization of the 3D scaffolds by Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs). In addition, the BMSCs were viable and able to proliferate and differentiate into osteoblasts. Statement of Significance Bone tissue engineering is an area of increasing interest because its main applications are directly related to the rising life expectancy of the population, which promotes higher rates of several bone pathologies, so innovative strategies are needed for bone tissue regeneration therapies. Here we use the rapid prototyping technology to allow moulding ceramic 3D scaffolds and we use different bio-polymers for the functionalization of their surfaces in order to enhance the biological response. Combining the ceramic material (silicon doped hydroxyapatite, Si-HA) and the Elastin like Recombinamers (ELRs) polymers with the presence of the integrin-mediate adhesion domain alone or in combination with SNA15 peptide that possess high affinity for hydroxyapatite, provided an improved Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs) differentiation into osteoblastic linkage.

Keywords: Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs), Bone repair, Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs), Rapid prototyped 3D scaffolds, Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), Tissue engineering


Oliveira, Hugo, Catros, Sylvain, Boiziau, Claudine, Siadous, Robin, Marti-Munoz, Joan, Bareille, Reine, Rey, Sylvie, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep, Amédée, Joëlle, Engel, Elisabeth, (2016). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing biomaterial: Impact on cell recruitment Acta Biomaterialia 29, 435-445

Abstract In current bone tissue engineering strategies the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis during tissue regeneration is still a major limitation in order to attain full functionality. Several strategies have been described to tackle this problem, mainly by the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, when facing a clinical scenario these approaches are inherently complex and present a high cost. As such, more cost effective alternatives are awaited. Here, we demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate ormoglass (CaP) particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. We show that the current approach elicited the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial. As both PLA and CaP are currently accepted for clinical application these off-the-shelf novel membranes have great potential for guided bone regeneration applications. Statement of significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP) are effective angiogenic promoters. Based on this, in this work we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with different contents of CaP nanoparticles and thus with different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass – poly(lactic acid) blend approach. We show that these matrices, upon implantation in a subcutaneous site, could elicit the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial, in a CaP dose dependent manner. This off-the-shelf cost effective approach presents great potential to translate to the clinics.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglass


Sachot, N., Castaño, O., Oliveira, H., Martí-Muñoz, J., Roguska, A., Amedee, J., Lewandowska, M., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2016). A novel hybrid nanofibrous strategy to target progenitor cells for cost-effective: In situ angiogenesis Journal of Materials Chemistry B 4, (43), 6967-6978

Although the impact of composites based on Ti-doped calcium phosphate glasses is low compared with that of bioglass, they have been already shown to possess great potential for bone tissue engineering. Composites made of polylactic acid (PLA) and a microparticle glass of 5TiO2-44.5CaO-44.5P2O5-6Na2O (G5) molar ratio have already demonstrated in situ osteo- and angiogenesis-triggering abilities. As many of the hybrid materials currently developed usually promote osteogenesis but still lack the ability to induce vascularization, a G5/PLA combination is a cost-effective option for obtaining new instructive scaffolds. In this study, nanostructured PLA-ORMOGLASS (organically modified glass) fibers were produced by electrospinning, in order to fabricate extra-cellular matrix (ECM)-like substrates that simultaneously promote bone formation and vascularization. Physical-chemical and surface characterization and tensile tests demonstrated that the obtained scaffolds exhibited homogeneous morphology, higher hydrophilicity and enhanced mechanical properties than pure PLA. In vitro assays with rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) and rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) also showed that rMSCs attached and proliferated on the materials influenced by the calcium content in the environment. In vivo assays showed that hybrid composite PLA-ORMOGLASS fibers were able to promote the formation of blood vessels. Thus, these novel fibers are a valid option for the design of functional materials for tissue engineering applications.


Vila, O. F., Garrido, C., Cano, I., Guerra-Rebollo, M., Navarro, M., Meca-Cortés, O., Ma, S. P., Engel, E., Rubio, N., Blanco, J., (2016). Real-time bioluminescence imaging of cell distribution, growth, and differentiation in a three-dimensional scaffold under interstitial perfusion for tissue engineering Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods 22, (9), 864-872

Bioreactor systems allow safe and reproducible production of tissue constructs and functional analysis of cell behavior in biomaterials. However, current procedures for the analysis of tissue generated in biomaterials are destructive. We describe a transparent perfusion system that allows real-time bioluminescence imaging of luciferase expressing cells seeded in scaffolds for the study of cell-biomaterial interactions and bioreactor performance. A prototype provided with a poly(lactic) acid scaffold was used for "proof of principle" studies to monitor cell survival in the scaffold (up to 22 days). Moreover, using cells expressing a luciferase reporter under the control of inducible tissue-specific promoters, it was possible to monitor changes in gene expression resulting from hypoxic state and endothelial cell differentiation. This system should be useful in numerous tissue engineering applications, the optimization of bioreactor operation conditions, and the analysis of cell behavior in three-dimensional scaffolds.


Torrents, E., Baelo, Aida, Levato, R., Julián, E., Crespo, Anna, Astola, Josep, Gavaldà, J., Engel, E., Mateos-Timoneda, M.A., (2016). Mejora en la administración antibiotic para el tratamiento de infecciones en forma de biofilm con el uso de nanopartículas que disgregan la matriz extracellular Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica XX Congreso de la Sociedad Española de Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica (SEIMC) , Elsevier (Barcelona, Spain) 34, (SE1), 31

Las infecciones causadas por bacterias formadoras de biopelículas o biofilms son una amenaza importante para los pacientes hospitalizados y suponen la principal causa de infecciones crónicas, como las producidas en la enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica (EPOC) y la fibrosis quística. Existe una necesidad urgente de desarrollar nuevos antibióticos o nuevos enfoques terapéuticos que permitan el tratamiento de este tipo de infecciones ya que los antibióticos convencionales no logran eliminar las bacterias que están formando biofilms


Sánchez-Ferrero, Aitor, Mata, Álvaro, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Rodríguez-Cabello, José C., Alonso, Matilde, Planell, Josep, Engel, Elisabeth, (2015). Development of tailored and self-mineralizing citric acid-crosslinked hydrogels for in situ bone regeneration Biomaterials 68, 42-53

Bone tissue engineering demands alternatives overcoming the limitations of traditional approaches in the context of a constantly aging global population. In the present study, elastin-like recombinamers hydrogels were produced by means of carbodiimide-catalyzed crosslinking with citric acid, a molecule suggested to be essential for bone nanostructure. By systematically studying the effect of the relative abundance of reactive species on gelation and hydrogel properties such as functional groups content, degradation and structure, we were able to understand and to control the crosslinking reaction to achieve hydrogels mimicking the fibrillary nature of the extracellular matrix. By studying the effect of polymer concentration on scaffold mechanical properties, we were able to produce hydrogels with a stiffness value of 36.13 ± 10.72 kPa, previously suggested to be osteoinductive. Microstructured and mechanically-tailored hydrogels supported the growth of human mesenchymal stem cells and led to higher osteopontin expression in comparison to their non-tailored counterparts. Additionally, tailored hydrogels were able to rapidly self-mineralize in biomimetic conditions, evidencing that citric acid was successfully used both as a crosslinker and a bioactive molecule providing polymers with calcium phosphate nucleation capacity.

Keywords: Biomimetic material, Biomineralisation, Bone tissue engineering, Cross-linking, Hydrogel, Mesenchymal stem cell


Sachot, N., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., Velders, A. H., Lewandowska, M., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2015). Towards 4th generation biomaterials: A covalent hybrid polymer-ormoglass architecture Nanoscale 7, (37), 15349-15361

Hybrid materials are being extensively investigated with the aim of mimicking the ECM microenvironment to develop effective solutions for bone tissue engineering. However, the common drawbacks of a hybrid material are the lack of interactions between the scaffold's constituents and the masking of its bioactive phase. Conventional hybrids often degrade in a non-homogeneous manner and the biological response is far from optimal. We have developed a novel material with strong interactions between constituents. The bioactive phase is directly exposed on its surface mimicking the structure of the ECM of bone. Here, polylactic acid electrospun fibers have been successfully and reproducibly coated with a bioactive organically modified glass (ormoglass, Si-Ca-P2 system) covalently. In comparison with the pure polymeric mats, the fibers obtained showed improved hydrophilicity and mechanical properties, bioactive ion release, exhibited a nanoroughness and enabled good cell adhesion and spreading after just one day of culture (rMSCs and rEPCs). The fibers were coated with different ormoglass compositions to tailor their surface properties (roughness, stiffness, and morphology) by modifying the experimental parameters. Knowing that cells modulate their behavior according to the exposed physical and chemical signals, the development of this instructive material is a valuable advance in the design of functional regenerative biomaterials.


Baelo, Aida, Levato, Riccardo, Julián, Esther, Crespo, Anna, Astola, José, Gavaldà, Joan, Engel, Elisabeth, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel Angel, Torrents, Eduard, (2015). Disassembling bacterial extracellular matrix with DNase-coated nanoparticles to enhance antibiotic delivery in biofilm infections Journal of Controlled Release 209, 150-158

Abstract Infections caused by biofilm-forming bacteria are a major threat to hospitalized patients and the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. There is an urgent necessity for novel therapeutic approaches, since current antibiotic delivery fails to eliminate biofilm-protected bacteria. In this study, ciprofloxacin-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles, which were functionalized with DNase I, were fabricated using a green-solvent based method and their antibiofilm activity was assessed against Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. Such nanoparticles constitute a paradigm shift in biofilm treatment, since, besides releasing ciprofloxacin in a controlled fashion, they are able to target and disassemble the biofilm by degrading the extracellular DNA that stabilize the biofilm matrix. These carriers were compared with free-soluble ciprofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin encapsulated in untreated and poly(lysine)-coated nanoparticles. DNase I-activated nanoparticles were not only able to prevent biofilm formation from planktonic bacteria, but they also successfully reduced established biofilm mass, size and living cell density, as observed in a dynamic environment in a flow cell biofilm assay. Moreover, repeated administration over three days of DNase I-coated nanoparticles encapsulating ciprofloxacin was able to reduce by 95% and then eradicate more than 99.8% of established biofilm, outperforming all the other nanoparticle formulations and the free-drug tested in this study. These promising results, together with minimal cytotoxicity as tested on J774 macrophages, allow obtaining novel antimicrobial nanoparticles, as well as provide clues to design the next generation of drug delivery devices to treat persistent bacterial infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biofilm, Ciprofloxacin, DNase I, Nanoparticles


Kovtun, A., Goeckelmann, M. J., Niclas, A. A., Montufar, E. B., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J. A., Santin, M., Ignatius, A., (2015). In vivo performance of novel soybean/gelatin-based bioactive and injectable hydroxyapatite foams Acta Biomaterialia Elsevier Ltd 12, (1), 242-249

Major limitations of calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) are their relatively slow degradation rate and the lack of macropores allowing the ingrowth of bone tissue. The development of self-setting cement foams has been proposed as a suitable strategy to overcome these limitations. In previous work we developed a gelatine-based hydroxyapatite foam (G-foam), which exhibited good injectability and cohesion, interconnected porosity and good biocompatibility in vitro. In the present study we evaluated the in vivo performance of the G-foam. Furthermore, we investigated whether enrichment of the foam with soybean extract (SG-foam) increased its bioactivity. G-foam, SG-foam and non-foamed CPC were implanted in a critical-size bone defect in the distal femoral condyle of New Zealand white rabbits. Bone formation and degradation of the materials were investigated after 4, 12 and 20 weeks using histological and biomechanical methods. The foams maintained their macroporosity after injection and setting in vivo. Compared to non-foamed CPC, cellular degradation of the foams was considerably increased and accompanied by new bone formation. The additional functionalization with soybean extract in the SG-foam slightly reduced the degradation rate and positively influenced bone formation in the defect. Furthermore, both foams exhibited excellent biocompatibility, implying that these novel materials may be promising for clinical application in non-loaded bone defects.

Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Gelatine, Rabbit model, Soybean


Levato, R., Planell, J. A., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., (2015). Role of ECM/peptide coatings on SDF-1 Acta Biomaterialia 18, 59-67

Many cell therapies rely on the ability of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to diffuse and localize throughout the target tissue-such as tumoral and ischemic tissues-, in response to specific cytokine signals, rather than being concentrated at the site of implantation. Therefore, it is fundamental to engineer biomaterial carriers as reservoirs, from which cells can migrate, possibly in a controlled manner. In this work, microcarriers (μCs) made of polylactic acid are characterized as MSC delivery vehicles capable of modulating key chemotactic pathways. The effect of different functionalization strategies on MSC migratory behavior from the μCs is studied in vitro in relation to SDF-1α/CXCR4 axis,-a major actor in MSC recruitment, chemotaxis and homing. Collagen and arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) peptides were either covalently grafted or physisorbed on μC surface. While stable covalent modifications promoted better cell adhesion and higher proliferation compared to physisorption, the functionalization method of the μCs also affected the cells migratory behavior in response to SDF-1α (CXCL12) stimulation. Less stable coatings (physisorbed) showed sensibly higher number of migrating cells than covalent collagen/RGD coatings. The combination of physic-chemical cues provided by protein/peptide functionalization and stimuli induced by 3D culture on μCs improved MSC expression of CXCR4, and exerted a control over cell migration, a condition suitable to promote cell homing after transplantation in vivo. These are key findings to highlight the impact of surface modification approaches on chemokine-triggered cell release, and allow designing biomaterials for efficient and controlled cell delivery to damaged tissues.

Keywords: Cell therapy, Chemotaxis, ECM (extracellular matrix), Mesenchymal stromal cells, Surface modification


Sachot, Nadège, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Engel, Elisabeth, (2015). Optimization of blend parameters for the fabrication of polycaprolactone-silicon based ormoglass nanofibers by electrospinning Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B: Applied Biomaterials 103, (6), 1287–1293

Electrospinning is a method that can be used to efficiently produce scaffolds that mimic the fibrous structure of natural tissue, such as muscle structures or the extracellular matrix of bone. The technique is often used as a way of depositing composites (organic/inorganic materials) to obtain bioactive nanofibers which have the requisite mechanical properties for use in tissue engineering. However, many factors can influence the formation and collection of fibers, including experimental variables such as the parameters of the solution of the electrospun slurry. In this study, we assessed the influence of the polymer concentration, glass content and glass hydrolysis level on the morphology and thickness of fibers produced by electrospinning for a PCL-(Si-Ca-P2) bioactive ormoglass—organically modified glass—blend. Based on previous assays, this combination of materials shows good angiogenic and osteogenic properties, which gives it great potential for use in tissue engineering. The results of our study showed that blend preparation directly affected the features of the resulting fibers, and when the parameters of the blend are precisely controlled, fibers with a regular diameter could be produced fairly easily when 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol was used as a solvent instead of tetrahydrofuran. The diameter of the homogeneous fibers ranged from 360 to 620 nm depending on the experimental conditions used. This demonstrates that experimental optimization of the electrospinning process is crucial in order to obtain a deposit of hybrid nanofibers with a regular shape.

Keywords: Si-based glasses, Ormoglass, Electrospinning, Hybrid materials, Bioactivity, Angiogenesis


Won, J. E., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Castaño, O., Planell, J. A., Seo, S. J., Lee, E. J., Han, C. M., Kim, H. W., (2015). Fibronectin immobilization on to robotic-dispensed nanobioactive glass/polycaprolactone scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Biotechnology Letters 37, (4), 935-342

Bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-adhesive surface have excellent bone regeneration capacities. Fibronectin (FN)-immobilized nanobioactive glass (nBG)/polycaprolactone (PCL) (FN-nBG/PCL) scaffolds with an open pore architecture were generated by a robotic-dispensing technique. The surface immobilization level of FN was significantly higher on the nBG/PCL scaffolds than on the PCL scaffolds, mainly due to the incorporated nBG that provided hydrophilic chemical-linking sites. FN-nBG/PCL scaffolds significantly improved cell responses, including initial anchorage and subsequent cell proliferation. Although further in-depth studies on cell differentiation and the in vivo animal responses are required, bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-favoring surface are considered to provide promising three-dimensional substrate for bone regeneration.

Keywords: Bone scaffolds, Cell response, Fibronectin, Nanobioactive glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Bone, Cell proliferation, Cells, Cytology, Glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Robotics, Bone scaffolds, Bone tissue engineering, Cell response, Fibronectin, Fibronectin immobilizations, Nano bioactive glass, Nanocomposite scaffolds, Three-dimensional substrates, Scaffolds (biology)


Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Castaño, O., Navarro, M., (2014). Glass nanoparticles Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya; Fundació Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya , (PCT/IB2014/000522)

Álvarez, Z., Castaño, O., Castells, A. A., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Alcántara, S., (2014). Neurogenesis and vascularization of the damaged brain using a lactate-releasing biomimetic scaffold Biomaterials 35, (17), 4769-4781

Regenerative medicine strategies to promote recovery following traumatic brain injuries are currently focused on the use of biomaterials as delivery systems for cells or bioactive molecules. This study shows that cell-free biomimetic scaffolds consisting of radially aligned electrospun poly-l/dl lactic acid (PLA70/30) nanofibers release l-lactate and reproduce the 3D organization and supportive function of radial glia embryonic neural stem cells. The topology of PLA nanofibers supports neuronal migration while l-lactate released during PLA degradation acts as an alternative fuel for neurons and is required for progenitor maintenance. Radial scaffolds implanted into cavities made in the postnatal mouse brain fostered complete implant vascularization, sustained neurogenesis, and allowed the long-term survival and integration of the newly generated neurons. Our results suggest that the endogenous central nervous system is capable of regeneration through the invivo dedifferentiation induced by biophysical and metabolic cues, with no need for exogenous cells, growth factors, or genetic manipulation.

Keywords: Lactate, Nanofibers, Neural stem cells, Neurogenesis, Regeneration, Vascularization


Castaño, O., Sachot, N., Xuriguera, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Park, J. H., Jin, G. Z., Kim, T. H., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. W., (2014). Angiogenesis in bone regeneration: Tailored calcium release in hybrid fibrous scaffolds ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 6, (10), 7512-7522

In bone regeneration, silicon-based calcium phosphate glasses (Bioglasses) have been widely used since the 1970s. However, they dissolve very slowly because of their high amount of Si (SiO2 > 45%). Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of glasses in which the job of silicon is done by just 5% of TiO2 are effective angiogenic promoters, because of their stimulation of a cell-membrane calcium sensing receptor (CaSR). Based on this, other focused tests on angiogenesis have found that Bioglasses also have the potential to be angiogenic promoters even with high contents of silicon (80%); however, their slow degradation is still a problem, as the levels of silicon cannot be decreased any lower than 45%. In this work, we propose a new generation of hybrid organically modified glasses, ormoglasses, that enable the levels of silicon to be reduced, therefore speeding up the degradation process. Using electrospinning as a faithful way to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with three different contents of Si (40, 52, and 70%), and thus three different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass–polycaprolactone blend approach. These mats offered a good platform to evaluate different calcium release rates as osteogenic promoters in an in vivo subcutaneous environment. Complementary data were collected to complement Ca2+ release analysis, such as stiffness evaluation by AFM,

Keywords: Biological materials, Blood vessels, Calcium, Electrospinning, Glass, Hybrid materials, Silicon oxides, Sol-gel process, Sol-gels, Angiogenesis, Biological characterization, Calcium phosphate glass, Calcium-sensing receptors, Degradation process, Extracellular matrices, Organic/inorganic hybrid materials, ormoglasses, Silicon


Tejeda-Montes, E., Smith, K. H., Rebollo, E., Gómez, R., Alonso, M., Rodriguez-Cabello, J. C., Engel, E., Mata, Alvaro., (2014). Bioactive membranes for bone regeneration applications: Effect of physical and biomolecular signals on mesenchymal stem cell behavior Acta Biomaterialia 10, (1), 134-141

This study focuses on the in vitro characterization of bioactive elastin-like recombinamer (ELR) membranes for bone regeneration applications. Four bioactive ELRs exhibiting epitopes designed to promote mesenchymal stem cell adhesion (RGDS), endothelial cell adhesion (REDV), mineralization (HAP), and both cell adhesion and mineralization (HAP-RGDS) were synthesized using standard recombinant protein techniques. The materials were then used to fabricate ELR membranes incorporating a variety of topographical micropatterns including channels, holes and posts. Primary rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) were cultured on the different membranes and the effects of biomolecular and physical signals on cell adhesion, morphology, proliferation, and differentiation were evaluated. All results were analyzed using a custom-made MATLAB program for high throughput image analysis. Effects on cell morphology were mostly dependent on surface topography, while cell proliferation and cell differentiation were largely dependent on the biomolecular signaling from the ELR membranes. In particular, osteogenic differentiation (evaluated by staining for the osteoblastic marker osterix) was significantly enhanced on cells cultured on HAP membranes. Remarkably, cells growing on membranes containing the HAP sequence in non-osteogenic differentiation media exhibited significant up-regulation of the osteogenic marker as early as day 5, while those growing on fibronectin-coated glass in osteogenic differentiation media did not. These results are part of our ongoing effort to develop an optimized molecularly designed periosteal graft.


Vila, O. F., Martino, M. M., Nebuloni, L., Kuhn, G., Pérez-Amodio, S., Müller, R., Hubbell, J. A., Rubio, N., Blanco, J., (2014). Bioluminescent and micro-computed tomography imaging of bone repair induced by fibrin-binding growth factors Acta Biomaterialia 10, (10), 4377-4389

In this work we have evaluated the capacity of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and fibrin-binding platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) to support cell growth and induce bone regeneration using two different imaging technologies to improve the understanding of structural and organizational processes participating in tissue repair. Human mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue (hAMSCs) expressing two luciferase genes, one under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter and the other under the control of a tissue-specific promoter (osteocalcin or platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule), were seeded in fibrin matrices containing BMP-2 and fibrin-binding PDGF-BB, and further implanted intramuscularly or in a mouse calvarial defect. Then, cell growth and bone regeneration were monitored by bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to analyze the evolution of target gene expression, indicative of cell differentiation towards the osteoblastic and endothelial lineages. Non-invasive imaging was supplemented with micro-computed tomography (μCT) to evaluate bone regeneration and high-resolution μCT of vascular casts. Results from BLI showed hAMSC growth during the first week in all cases, followed by a rapid decrease in cell number; as well as an increment of osteocalcin but not PECAM-1 expression 3 weeks after implantation. Results from μCT show that the delivery of BMP-2 and PDGF-BB by fibrin induced the formation of more bone and improves vascularization, resulting in more abundant and thicker vessels, in comparison with controls. Although the inclusion of hAMSCs in the fibrin matrices made no significant difference in any of these parameters, there was a significant increment in the connectivity of the vascular network in defects treated with hAMSCs.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bioluminescence imaging, Bone regeneration, Fibrin, Mesenchymal stem cell


González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2014). Extracellular calcium and CaSR drive osteoinduction in mesenchymal stromal cells Acta Biomaterialia 10, (6), 2824–2833

Bone is the main store of calcium and progenitor cells in the body. During the resorption process, the local calcium concentration reaches 8-40 mM, and the surrounding cells are exposed to these fluctuations in calcium. This stimulus is a signal that is detected through the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), which modulates chemotactic and proliferative G protein-dependent signaling pathways. The objective of the present work is to evaluate the roles of extracellular calcium ([Ca2+]o) and the CaSR in osteoinduction. Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (rBMSCs) were stimulated with 10 mM of Ca2+. Several experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effect of [Ca2+]o on chemotaxis, proliferation and differentiation on the osteoblastic lineage. It was found that [Ca2+]o induces rBMSCs to migrate and proliferate in a concentration-dependent manner. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence also revealed that 10 mM Ca2+ stimulates overexpression of osteogenic markers in rBMSCs, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone sialoprotein, collagen Ia1 and osteocalcin. Functional assays determining ALP activity and mineralization tests both corroborate the increased expression of these markers in rBMSCs stimulated with Ca2+. Moreover, CaSR blockage inhibited the cellular response to stimulation with high concentrations of [Ca2+]o, revealing that the CaSR is a key modulator of these cellular responses.

Keywords: Calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), Extracellular calcium, Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), Osteoinduction, Regenerative medicine


Almeida, C. R., Serra, T., Oliveira, M. I., Planell, J. A., Barbosa, M. A., Navarro, M., (2014). Impact of 3-D printed PLA- and chitosan-based scaffolds on human monocyte/macrophage responses: Unraveling the effect of 3-D structures on inflammation Acta Biomaterialia 10, (2), 613-622

Recent studies have pointed towards a decisive role of inflammation in triggering tissue repair and regeneration, while at the same time it is accepted that an exacerbated inflammatory response may lead to rejection of an implant. Within this context, understanding and having the capacity to regulate the inflammatory response elicited by 3-D scaffolds aimed for tissue regeneration is crucial. This work reports on the analysis of the cytokine profile of human monocytes/macrophages in contact with biodegradable 3-D scaffolds with different surface properties, architecture and controlled pore geometry, fabricated by 3-D printing technology. Fabrication processes were optimized to create four different 3-D platforms based on polylactic acid (PLA), PLA/calcium phosphate glass or chitosan. Cytokine secretion and cell morphology of human peripheral blood monocytes allowed to differentiate on the different matrices were analyzed. While all scaffolds supported monocyte/macrophage adhesion and stimulated cytokine production, striking differences between PLA-based and chitosan scaffolds were found, with chitosan eliciting increased secretion of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, while PLA-based scaffolds induced higher production of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12/23 and IL-10. Even though the material itself induced the biggest differences, the scaffold geometry also impacted on TNF-α and IL-12/23 production, with chitosan scaffolds having larger pores and wider angles leading to a higher secretion of these pro-inflammatory cytokines. These findings strengthen the appropriateness of these 3-D platforms to study modulation of macrophage responses by specific parameters (chemistry, topography, scaffold architecture).


Arcos, D., Boccaccini, A. R., Bohner, M., Díez-Pérez, A., Epple, M., Gómez-Barrena, E., Herrera, A., Planell, J. A., Rodríguez-Mañas, L., Vallet-Regí, M., (2014). The relevance of biomaterials to the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis Acta Biomaterialia 10, (5), 1793-1805

Osteoporosis is a worldwide disease with a very high prevalence in humans older than 50. The main clinical consequences are bone fractures, which often lead to patient disability or even death. A number of commercial biomaterials are currently used to treat osteoporotic bone fractures, but most of these have not been specifically designed for that purpose. Many drug- or cell-loaded biomaterials have been proposed in research laboratories, but very few have received approval for commercial use. In order to analyze this scenario and propose alternatives to overcome it, the Spanish and European Network of Excellence for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporotic Fractures, "Ageing", was created. This network integrates three communities, e.g. clinicians, materials scientists and industrial advisors, tackling the same problem from three different points of view. Keeping in mind the premise "living longer, living better", this commentary is the result of the thoughts, proposals and conclusions obtained after one year working in the framework of this network.

Keywords: Ageing, Biomaterials, Bone, Osteoporosis


Levato, R., Visser, J., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Malda, J., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., (2014). Biofabrication of tissue constructs by 3D bioprinting of cell-laden microcarriers Biofabrication 6, (3), 035020 (12)

Bioprinting allows the fabrication of living constructs with custom-made architectures by spatially controlled deposition of multiple bioinks. This is important for the generation of tissue, such as osteochondral tissue, which displays a zonal composition in the cartilage domain supported by the underlying subchondral bone. Challenges in fabricating functional grafts of clinically relevant size include the incorporation of cues to guide specific cell differentiation and the generation of sufficient cells, which is hard to obtain with conventional cell culture techniques. A novel strategy to address these demands is to combine bioprinting with microcarrier technology. This technology allows for the extensive expansion of cells, while they form multi-cellular aggregates, and their phenotype can be controlled. In this work, living constructs were fabricated via bioprinting of cell-laden microcarriers. Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-laden polylactic acid microcarriers, obtained via static culture or spinner flask expansion, were encapsulated in gelatin methacrylamide-gellan gum bioinks, and the printability of the composite material was studied. This bioprinting approach allowed for the fabrication of constructs with high cell concentration and viability. Microcarrier encapsulation improved the compressive modulus of the hydrogel constructs, facilitated cell adhesion, and supported osteogenic differentiation and bone matrix deposition by MSCs. Bilayered osteochondral models were fabricated using microcarrier-laden bioink for the bone compartment. These findings underscore the potential of this new microcarrier-based biofabrication approach for bone and osteochondral constructs.


Salvagni, E., Berguig, G., Engel, E., Rodriguez-Cabello, J. C., Coullerez, G., Textor, M., Planell, J. A., Gil, F. J., Aparicio, C., (2014). A bioactive elastin-like recombinamer reduces unspecific protein adsorption and enhances cell response on titanium surfaces Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 114, 225-233

We present the immobilization on synthetic substrates of elastin-like recombinamers (ELR) that combine a bioactive motif for cell adhesion with protein antifouling properties. Physical adsorption of the recombinamers and covalent-grafting through organosilane chemistry were investigated. The biochemically-modified surfaces were thoroughly characterized and tested for protein absorption in serum by fluorescence-labelling, XPS, Ellipsometry, and OWLS. The ELR were successfully grafted and stable, even upon mechanical stresses; being the covalent bonding favourable over physical adsorption. The coated metal surfaces exhibited excellent reduction of serum protein adsorption (9ng/cm2) compared to the bare metal surface (310ng/cm2). Non-specific protein adsorption may mask the introduced bioactive motifs; therefore, the bioactivated surfaces should display serum-protein antifouling properties. Finally, improved hMSCs response was assessed on the bioactivated substrates. In summary, the coatings simultaneously displayed anti-fouling and bioactive properties. These studies investigated key factors to enhance tissue material interactions fundamental for the design of bioactive devices and future biomedical applications.


Sanzana, E. S., Navarro, M., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J. A., Ojeda, A. C., Montecinos, H. A., (2014). Role of porosity and pore architecture in the in vivo bone regeneration capacity of biodegradable glass scaffolds Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 102, (6), 1767-1773

The aim of this work is to shed light on the role of porosity and pore architecture in the in vivo bone regeneration capacity of biodegradable glass scaffolds. A calcium phosphate glass in the system P2O5-CaO-Na2O-TiO2 was foamed using two different porogens, namely albumen and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2); the resulting three-dimensional porous structures were characterized and implanted in New Zealand rabbits to study their in vivo behavior. Scaffolds foamed with albumen displayed a monomodal pore size distribution centered around 150 μm and a porosity of 82%, whereas scaffolds foamed with H2O2 showed lower porosity (37%), with larger elongated pores, and multimodal size distribution. After 12 weeks of implantation, histology results revealed a good osteointegration for both types of scaffolds. The quantitative morphometric analysis showed the substitution of the biomaterial by new bone in the case of glasses foamed with albumen. In contrast, bone neoformation and material resorption were significantly lower in the defects filled with the scaffolds foamed with H2O2. The results obtained in this study showed that both calcium phosphate glass scaffolds were osteoconductive, biocompatible, and biodegradable materials. However, differences in porosity, pore architecture, and microstructure led to substantially different in vivo response.

Keywords: Bone substitutes, Calcium phosphate glasses, in vivo, Scaffolds, Tissue engineering


Rajzer, I., Menaszek, E., Kwiatkowski, R., Planell, J. A., Castaño, O., (2014). Electrospun gelatin/poly( Materials Science and Engineering: C 44, 183-190

In this study gelatin (Gel) modified with calcium phosphate nanoparticles (SG5) and polycaprolactone (PCL) were used to prepare a 3D bi-layer scaffold by collecting electrospun PCL and gelatin/SG5 fibers separately in the same collector. The objective of this study was to combine the desired properties of PCL and Gel/SG5 in the same scaffold in order to enhance mineralization, thus improving the ability of the scaffold to bond to the bone tissue. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and the wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) measurements confirmed that SG5 nanoparticles were successfully incorporated into the fibrous gelatin matrix. The composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold exhibited more enhanced mechanical properties than individual Gel and Gel/SG5 scaffolds. The presence of SG5 nanoparticles accelerated the nucleation and growth of apatite crystals on the surface of the composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold in simulated body fluid (SBF). The osteoblast response in vitro to developed electrospun scaffolds (PCL and Gel/SG5/PCL) was investigated by using normal human primary NHOst cell lines. NHOst cell culture studies showed that higher alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and better mineralization were obtained in the case of composite materials than in pure PCL scaffolds. The mechanically strong PCL scaffold served as a skeleton, while the Gel/SG5 fibers facilitated cell spreading and mineralization of the scaffold.

Keywords: Bilayer fibrous scaffold, Ceramic nanoparticles, Electrospinning, Gelatin, Polycaprolactone, Biomechanics, Bone, Calcium phosphate, Cell culture, Electrospinning, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Mechanical properties, Mineralogy, Nanoparticles, Phosphatases, Polycaprolactone, Scanning electron microscopy, X ray diffraction, Polycaprolactone, Alkaline phosphatase activity, Bone tissue engineering, Calcium phosphate nanoparticles, Ceramic nanoparticles, Fibrous scaffolds, Gelatin, Simulated body fluids, Wide-angle x-ray diffraction, Electrospuns, Scaffolds (biology), Electrospinning


Serra, T., Ortiz-Hernandez, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2014). Relevance of PEG in PLA-based blends for tissue engineering 3D-printed scaffolds Materials Science and Engineering: C 38, (1), 55-62

Achieving high quality 3D-printed structures requires establishing the right printing conditions. Finding processing conditions that satisfy both the fabrication process and the final required scaffold properties is crucial. This work stresses the importance of studying the outcome of the plasticizing effect of PEG on PLA-based blends used for the fabrication of 3D-direct-printed scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. For this, PLA/PEG blends with 5, 10 and 20% (w/w) of PEG and PLA/PEG/bioactive CaP glass composites were processed in the form of 3D rapid prototyping scaffolds. Surface analysis and differential scanning calorimetry revealed a rearrangement of polymer chains and a topography, wettability and elastic modulus increase of the studied surfaces as PEG was incorporated. Moreover, addition of 10 and 20% PEG led to non-uniform 3D structures with lower mechanical properties. In vitro degradation studies showed that the inclusion of PEG significantly accelerated the degradation rate of the material. Results indicated that the presence of PEG not only improves PLA processing but also leads to relevant surface, geometrical and structural changes including modulation of the degradation rate of PLA-based 3D printed scaffolds.

Keywords: 3D-printing, Polylactic acid, Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Surface characterization


Dessì, M., Alvarez-Perez, M. A., De Santis, R., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J. A., Ambrosio, L., (2014). Bioactivation of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite with foamed gelatin gel. A new injectable self-setting bone analogue Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 25, (2), 283-295

An alternative approach to bone repair for less invasive surgical techniques, involves the development of biomaterials directly injectable into the injury sites and able to replicate a spatially organized platform with features of bone tissue. Here, the preparation and characterization of an innovative injectable bone analogue made of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite and foamed gelatin is presented. The biopolymer features and the cement self-setting reaction were investigated by rheological analysis. The porous architecture, the evolution of surface morphology and the grains dimension were analyzed with electron microscopy (SEM/ESEM/TEM). The physico-chemical properties were characterized by X-ray diffraction and FTIR analysis. Moreover, an injection test was carried out to prove the positive effect of gelatin on the flow ensuing that cement is fully injectable. The cement mechanical properties are adequate to function as temporary substrate for bone tissue regeneration. Furthermore, MG63 cells and bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) were able to migrate and proliferate inside the pores, and hMSCs differentiated to the osteoblastic phenotype. The results are paving the way for an injectable bone substitute with properties that mimic natural bone tissue allowing the successful use as bone filler for craniofacial and orthopedic reconstructions in regenerative medicine.


Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Castaño, O., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2014). Effect of structure, topography and chemistry on fibroblast adhesion and morphology Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 25, (7), 1781-1787

Surface biofunctionalisation of many biodegradable polymers is one of the used strategies to improve the biological activity of such materials. In this work, the introduction of collagen type I over the surface of a biodegradable polymer (poly lactic acid) processed in the forms of films and fibers leads to an enhancing of the cellular adhesion of human dermal fibroblast when compared to unmodified polymer and biomolecule-physisorbed polymer surface. The change of topography of the material does not affect the cellular adhesion but results in a higher proliferation of the fibroblast cultured over the fibers. Moreover, the difference of topography governs the cellular morphology, i.e. cells adopt a more stretched conformation where cultured over the films while a more elongated with lower area morphology are obtained for the cells grown over the fibers. This study is relevant for designing and modifying different biodegradable polymers for their use as scaffolds for different applications in the field of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.


Sachot, N., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2014). Hybrid organic-inorganic scaffolding biomaterials for regenerative therapies Current Organic Chemistry 18, (18), 2299-2314

The introduction of hybrid materials in regenerative medicine has solved some problems related to the mechanical and bioactive properties of biomaterials. Calcium phosphates and their derivatives have provided the basis for inorganic components, thanks to their good bioactivity, especially in bone regeneration. When mixed with biodegradable polymers, the result is a synergic association that mimics the composition of many tissues of the human body and, additionally, exhibits suitable mechanical properties. Together with the development of nanotechnology and new synthesis methods, hybrids offer a promising option for the development of a third or fourth generation of smart biomaterials and scaffolds to guide the regeneration of natural tissues, with an optimum efficiency/cost ratio. Their potential bioactivity, as well as other valuable features of hybrids, open promising new pathways for their use in bone regeneration and other tissue repair therapies. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the different hybrid organic-inorganic scaffolding biomaterials developed so far for regenerative therapies, especially in bone. It also looks at the potential for research into hybrid materials for other, softer tissues, which is still at an initial stage, but with very promising results.

Keywords: Biodegradable polymer, Hybrid materials, Nanoparticles, Ormoglass


Álvarez, Z., Sena, E., Mattotti, M., Engel, E., Alcántara, S., (2014). An efficient and reproducible method to culture Bergmann and cortical radial glia using textured PMMA Journal of Neuroscience Methods 232, 93-101

Background: Radial glia cells comprise the principal population of neural stem cells (NSC) during development. Attempts to develop reproducible radial glia and NSC culture methods have met with variable results, yielding non-adherent cultures or requiring the addition of growth factors. Recent studies demonstrated that a 2-μm patterned poly-methyl methacrylate (ln2 PMMA) grooved scaffold, by mimicking the biophysical and microtopographic properties of the embryonic NSC niche, induces the de-differentiation of glial cells into functional radial glia cells. New method: Here we describe a method for obtaining cultures of adherent Bergmann radial glia (BRG) and cortical radial glia (CRG). The growth substrate is ln2 PMMA and the addition of growth factors is not required. Results: Postnatal glia obtained from mouse cerebellum or cerebral cortex and grown on ln2 PMMA adopted a BRG/CRG phenotype characterized by a bipolar shape, the up-regulation of progenitor markers such as nestin and Sox2, and the down-regulation of vimentin and GFAP. Neurons cultured over the BRG/CRG aligned their processes with those of the glial shafts, thus mimicking the behavior of migrating neuronal cells. Comparison with existing methods: The ln2 PMMA culture method offers an ideal system for analyzing both the biochemical factors controlling the neurogenic potential of BRG/CRG and neuronal migration. Conclusions: The ln2 PMMA method is a reproducible system to obtain immature BRG/CRG preparations in vitro. It can be used to study the properties of CNS progenitor cells as well as the interactions between radial glia and neurons, and supports cultured progenitors for use in different applications. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords: Astrocytes, Bergmann glia, Micro-patterning, Poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA), Progenitors, Radial glia, Surface topography


Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, (2014). Bone biology and Regeneration Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 315-342

Each bone of the skeleton constantly undergoes modeling during life to help it to adapt to changing biomechanical forces as well as remodeling to remove old bone and replace it with new, mechanically stronger bone to help preserve bone strength. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts, followed by the formation of bone matrix through the osteoblasts that subsequently become mineralized. All these assets make bone a suitable model for regeneration. Bone tissue can be grossly divided into inorganic mineral material (mostly HA), and organic material from cells and the extracellular matrix. This chapter outlines some of the bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Bone can be considered as a biphasic composite material, with two phases: one the mineral and the other collagen. This combination confers better mechanical properties on the tissue than each component itself.

Keywords: Bone biology, Bone cells, Bone diseases, Bone extracellular matrix, Bone mechanics, Bone remodeling, Bone tissue regeneration, Skeleton


Castaño, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., (2014). Cements Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 193-247

Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) were meant to produce hydroxyapatite (HA), which is the calcium phosphate that usually results when the cements are mixed with or immersed in aqueous media. The golden age of CPCs was in the late 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century, when they were presented as promising bone substitutes and drug delivery systems. The different reactions that take part in the cement self-setting process depend on many experimental factors – the composition of the cement, the stability of the different components, pH, liquid-to-powder ratio (LPR), and temperature, among others. CPCs have demonstrated fair efficiency for bone regeneration. Cements have gradually been embraced in the wider field of composites by hybridizing their compositions in order that they may adapt to the new trends.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs), Cements, Hydroxyapatite (HA), Liquid-to-powder ratio (LPR)


Mendes, A. C., Smith, K. H., Tejeda-Montes, E., Engel, E., Reis, R. L., Azevedo, H. S., Mata, Alvaro, (2013). Co-assembled and microfabricated bioactive membranes Advanced Functional Materials 23, (4), 430-438

The fabrication of hierarchical and bioactive self-supporting membranes, which integrate physical and biomolecular elements, using a single-step process that combines molecular self-assembly with soft lithography is reported. A positively charged multidomain peptide (with or without the cell-adhesive sequence arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine (RGDS)) self-assembles with hyaluronic acid (HA), an anionic biopolymer. Optimization of the assembling conditions enables the realization of membranes with well-controlled and easily tunable features at multiple size scales including peptide sequence, building-block co-assembly, membrane thickness, bioactive epitope availability, and topographical pattern morphology. Membrane structure, morphology, and bioactivity are investigated according to temperature, assembly time, and variations in the experimental setup. Furthermore, to evaluate the physical and biomolecular signaling of the self-assembled microfabricated membranes, rat mesenchymal stem cells are cultured on membranes exhibiting various densities of RGDS and different topographical patterns. Cell adhesion, spreading, and morphology are significantly affected by the surface topographical patterns and the different concentrations of RGDS. The versatility of the combined bottom-up and top-down fabrication processes described may permit the development of hierarchical macrostructures with precise biomolecular and physical properties and the opportunity to fine tune them with spatiotemporal control.

Keywords: Membrane scaffolds, Mesenchymal stem cells, Microfabrication, Self-assembly, Topography


Álvarez, Zaida, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Hyrossová, Petra, Castaño, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Perales, José C., Engel, Elisabeth, Alcántara, Soledad, (2013). The effect of the composition of PLA films and lactate release on glial and neuronal maturation and the maintenance of the neuronal progenitor niche Biomaterials 34, (9), 2221-2233

To develop tissue engineering strategies useful for repairing damage in the central nervous system (CNS) it is essential to design scaffolds that emulate the NSC niche and its tight control of neural cell genesis, growth, and differentiation. In this study we tested two types of poly l/dl lactic acid (PLA95/5 and PLA70/30), a biodegradable material permissive for neural cell adhesion and growth, as materials for nerve regeneration. Both PLA were slightly hydrophobic and negatively charged but differed in crystallinity, stiffness and degradation rate. PLA95/5 films were highly crystalline, stiff (GPa), and did not degrade significantly in the one-month period analyzed in culture. In contrast, PLA70/30 films were more amorphous, softer (MPa) and degraded faster, releasing significant amounts of lactate into the culture medium. PLA70/30 performs better than PLA95/5 for primary cortical neural cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation, maintaining the pools of neuronal and glial progenitor cells in vitro. l-lactate in the medium recapitulated PLA70/30's maintenance of neuronal restricted progenitors but did not sustain bipotential or glial restricted progenitors in the cultures, as occurred when neural cells were grown on PLA70/30. Our results suggest that PLA70/30 may mimic some of the physical and biochemical characteristics of the NSC niche. Its mechanical and surface properties may act synergistically in the modulation of bipotential and glial restricted progenitor phenotypes, while it is l-lactate, either added to the medium or released by the film that drives the maintenance of neuronal restricted progenitor cell phenotypes.

Keywords: Polylactic acid, Degradation, Neurons, Progenitors, Lactate, Glial cells, NSC niche


Punet, X., Mauchauffé, R., Giannotti, M. I., Rodríguez-Cabello, J. C., Sanz, F., Engel, E., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., (2013). Enhanced cell-material interactions through the biofunctionalization of polymeric surfaces with engineered peptides Biomacromolecules 14, (8), 2690-2702

Research on surface modification of polymeric materials to guide the cellular activity in biomaterials designed for tissue engineering applications has mostly focused on the use of natural extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and short peptides, such as RGD. However, the use of engineered proteins can gather the advantages of these strategies and avoid the main drawbacks. In this study, recombinant engineered proteins called elastin-like recombinamers (ELRs) have been used to functionalize poly(lactic) acid (PLA) model surfaces. The structure of the ELRs has been designed to include the integrin ligand RGDS and the cross-linking module VPGKG. Surface functionalization has been characterized and optimized by means of ELISA and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The results suggest that ELR functionalization creates a nonfouling canvas able to restrict unspecific adsorption of proteins. Moreover, AFM analysis reveals the conformation and disposition of ELRs on the surface. Biological performance of PLA surfaces functionalized with ELRs has been studied and compared with the use of short peptides. Cell response has been assessed for different functionalization conditions in the presence and absence of the bovine serum albumin (BSA) protein, which could interfere with the surface?cell interaction by adsorbing on the interface. Studies have shown that ELRs are able to elicit higher rates of cell attachment, stronger cell anchorages and faster levels of proliferation than peptides. This work has demonstrated that the use of engineered proteins is a more efficient strategy to guide the cellular activity than the use of short peptides, because they not only allow for better cell attachment and proliferation, but also can provide more complex properties such as the creation of nonfouling surfaces. Research on surface modification of polymeric materials to guide the cellular activity in biomaterials designed for tissue engineering applications has mostly focused on the use of natural extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and short peptides, such as RGD. However, the use of engineered proteins can gather the advantages of these strategies and avoid the main drawbacks. In this study, recombinant engineered proteins called elastin-like recombinamers (ELRs) have been used to functionalize poly(lactic) acid (PLA) model surfaces. The structure of the ELRs has been designed to include the integrin ligand RGDS and the cross-linking module VPGKG. Surface functionalization has been characterized and optimized by means of ELISA and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The results suggest that ELR functionalization creates a nonfouling canvas able to restrict unspecific adsorption of proteins. Moreover, AFM analysis reveals the conformation and disposition of ELRs on the surface. Biological performance of PLA surfaces functionalized with ELRs has been studied and compared with the use of short peptides. Cell response has been assessed for different functionalization conditions in the presence and absence of the bovine serum albumin (BSA) protein, which could interfere with the surface?cell interaction by adsorbing on the interface. Studies have shown that ELRs are able to elicit higher rates of cell attachment, stronger cell anchorages and faster levels of proliferation than peptides. This work has demonstrated that the use of engineered proteins is a more efficient strategy to guide the cellular activity than the use of short peptides, because they not only allow for better cell attachment and proliferation, but also can provide more complex properties such as the creation of nonfouling surfaces.


Serra, T., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2013). High-resolution PLA-based composite scaffolds via 3-D printing technology Acta Biomaterialia 9, (3), 5521-5530

Fabrication of new biodegradable scaffolds that guide and stimulate tissue regeneration is still a major issue in tissue engineering approaches. Scaffolds that possess adequate biodegradability, pore size, interconnectivity, bioactivity and mechanical properties in accordance with the injured tissue are required. This work aimed to develop and characterize three-dimensional (3-D) scaffolds that fulfill the aforementioned requirements. For this, a nozzle-based rapid prototyping system was used to combine polylactic acid and a bioactive CaP glass to fabricate 3-D biodegradable scaffolds with two patterns (orthogonal and displaced double layer). Scanning electron microscopy and micro-computer tomography showed that 3-D scaffolds had completely interconnected porosity, uniform distribution of the glass particles, and a controlled and repetitive architecture. Surface properties were also assessed, showing that the incorporation of glass particles increased both the roughness and the hydrophilicity of the scaffolds. Mechanical tests indicated that compression strength is dependent on the scaffold geometry and the presence of glass. Preliminary cell response was studied with primary mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and revealed that CaP glass improved cell adhesion. Overall, the results showed the suitability of the technique/materials combination to develop 3-D porous scaffolds and their initial biocompatibility, both being valuable characteristics for tissue engineering applications.

Keywords: Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Polylactic acid, Biodegradable, Composite


Montufar, E. B., Maazouz, Y., Ginebra, M. P., (2013). Relevance of the setting reaction to the injectability of tricalcium phosphate pastes Acta Biomaterialia 9, (4), 6188-6198

The aim of the present work was to analyze the influence of the setting reaction on the injectability of tricalcium phosphate (TCP) pastes. Even if the injection was performed early after mixing powder and liquid, powder reactivity was shown to play a significant role in the injectability of TCP pastes. Significant differences were observed between the injection behavior of non-hardening β-TCP pastes and that of self-hardening α-TCP pastes. The differences were more marked at low liquid-to-powder ratios, using fine powders and injecting through thin needles. α-TCP was, in general, less injectable than β-TCP and required higher injection loads. Moreover, clogging was identified as a mechanism hindering or even preventing injectability, different and clearly distinguishable from the filter-pressing phenomenon. α-TCP pastes presented transient clogging episodes, which were not observed in β-TCP pastes with equivalent particle size distribution. Different parameters affecting powder reactivity were also shown to affect paste injectability. Thus, whereas powder calcination resulted in an increased injectability due to lower particle reactivity, the addition of setting accelerants, such as hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, tended to reduce the injectability of the TCP pastes, especially if adjoined simultaneously with a Na2HPO4 solution. Although, as a general trend, faster-setting pastes were less injectable, some exceptions to this rule were found. For example, whereas in the absence of setting accelerants fine TCP powders were more injectable than the coarse ones, in spite of their shorter setting times, this trend was inverted when setting accelerants were added, and coarse powders were more injectable than the fine ones.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate cement, Hydroxyapatite, Injectability, Setting reaction, Tricalcium phosphate


Gustavsson, J., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2013). Ion-selective electrodes to monitor osteoblast-like cellular influence on the extracellular concentration of calcium Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 7, (8), 609-620

In bone tissue engineering, the composition of the ionic extracellular environment (IEE) can determine both cellular fate and a biomaterial's development and performance. Therefore, precise control of the IEE and a perfect understanding of the dynamic changes that it can be subject to due to cellular activity is highly desired. To achieve this, we initially monitored how two standard osteoblast-like cell models that expressed either high or low alkaline phosphatase activity - SAOS-2 and MG63 cells, respectively - affected the extracellular concentrations of calcium and phosphate during long-term cultures. It was observed that cellular influence on the IEE varied greatly between the two models and could be linked to the capacity of cells to deposit calcium in the extracellular matrix. Miniaturized ion-selective electrodes that could allow for real-time monitoring of calcium in a minimally invasive way were then constructed. The electrodes were characterized in standard in vitro cell culture environments, prior to being successfully applied for periods of 24h, to record the dynamics of cell-induced deposition of calcium in the extracellular matrix, while using osteogenic media of either high or low concentrations of phosphate. As a result, this study provides the background and technological means for the non-destructive evaluation of the IEE in vitro and allows for the optimization and development of better models of bone tissue construction.

Keywords: Extracellular ions, Ion-selective electrode, MG63, Mineralization, Osteoblasts, Saos-2, Sensor, Tissue engineering


Sachot, N., Castaño, Oscar, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Engel, Elisabeth, Planell, Josep A., (2013). Hierarchically engineered fibrous scaffolds for bone regeneration Journal of The Royal Society Interface Journal of the Royal Society Interface , 10, (88), 20130684

Surface properties of biomaterials play a major role in the governing of cell functionalities. It is well known that mechanical, chemical and nanotopographic cues, for example, influence cell proliferation and differentiation. Here, we present a novel coating protocol to produce hierarchically engineered fibrous scaffolds with tailorable surface characteristics, which mimic bone extracellular matrix. Based on the sol–gel method and a succession of surface treatments, hollow electrospun polylactic acid fibres were coated with a silicon–calcium–phosphate bioactive organic–inorganic glass. Compared with pure polymeric fibres that showed a completely smooth surface, the coated fibres exhibited a nanostructured topography and greater roughness. They also showed improved hydrophilic properties and a Young's modulus sixfold higher than non-coated ones, while remaining fully flexible and easy to handle. Rat mesenchymal stem cells cultured on these fibres showed great cellular spreading and interactions with the material. This protocol can be transferred to other structures and glasses, allowing the fabrication of various materials with well-defined features. This novel approach represents therefore a valuable improvement in the production of artificial matrices able to direct stem cell fate through physical and chemical interactions.


López-Bosque, M. J., Tejeda-Montes, E., Cazorla, M., Linacero, J., Atienza, Y., Smith, K. H., Lladó, A., Colombelli, J., Engel, E., Mata, Alvaro, (2013). Fabrication of hierarchical micro-nanotopographies for cell attachment studies Nanotechnology 24, (25), 255305

We report on the development of micro/nanofabrication processes to create hierarchical surface topographies that expand from 50 nm to microns in size on different materials. Three different approaches (named FIB1, FIB2, and EBL) that combine a variety of techniques such as photolithography, reactive ion etching, focused ion beam lithography, electron beam lithography, and soft lithography were developed, each one providing different advantages and disadvantages. The EBL approach was employed to fabricate substrates comprising channels with features between 200 nm and 10 μm in size on polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), which were then used to investigate the independent or competitive effects of micro- and nanotopographies on cell adhesion and morphology. Rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) were cultured on four different substrates including 10 μm wide and 500 nm deep channels separated by 10 μm distances (MICRO), 200 nm wide and 100 nm deep nanochannels separated by 200 nm distances (NANO), their combination in parallel (PARAL), and in a perpendicular direction (PERP). Rat MSCs behaved differently on all tested substrates with a high degree of alignment (as measured by both number of aligned cells and average angle) on both NANO and MICRO. Furthermore, cells exhibited the highest level of alignment on PARAL, suggesting a synergetic effect of the two scales of topographies. On the other hand, cells on PERP exhibited the lowest alignment and a consistent change in morphology over time that seemed to be the result of interactions with both micro- and nanochannels positioned in the perpendicular direction, also suggesting a competitive effect of the topographies.


Vila, Olaia F., Bagó, Juli R., Navarro, Melba, Alieva, Maria, Aguilar, Elisabeth, Engel, Elisabeth, Planell, Josep, Rubio, Nuria, Blanco, Jerónimo, (2013). Calcium phosphate glass improves angiogenesis capacity of poly(lactic acid) scaffolds and stimulates differentiation of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to the endothelial lineage Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 101A, (4), 932-941

The angiogenic capacity of a new biomaterial composite of poly(lactic acid) and calcium phosphate glass (PLA/CaP) was analyzed by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and histological procedures. Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter regulated Photinus pyralis luciferase (hAMSC-PLuc) grew up to 30 times the initial cell load, in vitro, when seeded in PLA/CaP scaffolds, but suffered an initial growth crisis followed by recovery when the scaffolds were subcutaneously implanted in SCID mice. To analyze changes in gene expression, hAMSC-PLuc cells were double labeled with a CMV promoter regulated Renilla reniformis luciferase and a Photinus pyralis luciferase reporter regulated by either the PECAM promoter or a hypoxia response element (HRE) artificial promoter and seeded in PLA/CaP and PLA scaffolds implanted in SCID mice. Analysis by BLI showed that hAMSCs in scaffolds were induced to differentiate to the endothelial lineage and did this faster in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds. Endothelial differentiation correlated with a decrease in the activity of HRE regulated luciferase expression, indicative of a reduction of hypoxia. Histological analysis showed that PLA/CaP scaffolds were colonized by a functional host vascular system. Moreover, colonization by isolectin B4 positive host cells was more effective in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds, corroborating BLI results.

Keywords: Scaffold, Bioluminescence imaging, Cell differentiation, Angiogenesis, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Salerno, A., Levato, R., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., Netti, P. A., Planell, J. A., (2013). Modular polylactic acid microparticle-based scaffolds prepared via microfluidic emulsion/solvent displacement process: Fabrication, characterization, and in vitro mesenchymal stem cells interaction study Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 101A, (3), 720-732

The present study reports a novel approach for the design and fabrication of polylactic acid (PLA) microparticle-based scaffolds with microstructural properties suitable for bone and cartilage regeneration. Macroporous PLA scaffolds with controlled shape were fabricated by means of a semicontinuous process involving (1) microfluidic emulsification of a PLA/ethyl lactate solution (5% w/v) in a span 80/paraffin oil solution (3% v/v) followed by (2) particles coagulation/assembly in an acetone/water solution for the development of a continuous matrix. Porous scaffolds prepared from particles with monomodal or bimodal size distribution, overall porosity ranges from 93 to 96%, interparticles porosity from 41 to 54%, and static compression moduli from 0.3 to 1.4 MPa were manufactured by means of flow rate modulation of of the continuous phase during emulsion. The biological response of the scaffolds was assessed in vitro by using bone marrow-derived rat mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The results demonstrated the ability of the scaffolds to support the extensive and uniform three-dimensional adhesion, colonization, and proliferation of MSCs within the entire construct.

Keywords: Green solvent, Microfluidic, Microstructure, Stem cells, Scaffold


Serra, T., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J., Navarro, M., (2013). 3D printed PLA-based scaffolds: A versatile tool in regenerative medicine Organogenesis 9, (4), 239-244

Rapid prototyping (RP), also known as additive manufacturing (AM), has been well received and adopted in the biomedical field. The capacity of this family of techniques to fabricate customized 3D structures with complex geometries and excellent reproducibility has revolutionized implantology and regenerative medicine. In particular, nozzle-based systems allow the fabrication of high-resolution polylactic acid (PLA) structures that are of interest in regenerative medicine. These 3D structures find interesting applications in the regenerative medicine field where promising applications including biodegradable templates for tissue regeneration purposes, 3D in vitro platforms for studying cell response to different scaffolds conditions and for drug screening are considered among others. Scaffolds functionality depends not only on the fabrication technique, but also on the material used to build the 3D structure, the geometry and inner architecture of the structure, and the final surface properties. All being crucial parameters affecting scaffolds success. This Commentary emphasizes the importance of these parameters in scaffolds’ fabrication and also draws the attention toward the versatility of these PLA scaffolds as a potential tool in regenerative medicine and other medical fields.


Best, S., Planell, J. A., Santin, M., Voskerician, G., Amédée, J., (2013). Editorial Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 24, (6), 1333-1334

Moving forward in the short term, we hope to see the Impact Factor of the Journal continue its upward trajectory as a measure of service to our readers. Toward that end we will continue our efforts to increase the visibility of the journal, which will be achieved through a number of approaches. Further details will be announced at the ESB meeting this summer. We plan to encourage a series of high profile reviews, and will continue to strive to reduce the processing time for papers. We have upgraded our reviewer database and are grateful to those people who have already updated their profiles in the new electronic system. This facilitates our search for suitable reviewers, by expertise, and helps to speed up the whole process in a number of ways which benefit both reviewers and authors Longer term, our goal is to be the journal of choice for leading biomaterials scientists in Europe, the USA and across the world for both speed and quality of publication. We would especially like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support of the journal.


Bianconi, E., Piovesan, A., Facchin, F., Beraudi, A., Casadei, R., Frabetti, F., Vitale, L., Pelleri, M. C., Tassani, S., Piva, F., Perez-Amodio, S., Strippoli, P., Canaider, S., (2013). An estimation of the number of cells in the human body Annals of Human Biology 40, (6), 463-471

Background: All living organisms are made of individual and identifiable cells, whose number, together with their size and type, ultimately defines the structure and functions of an organism. While the total cell number of lower organisms is often known, it has not yet been defined in higher organisms. In particular, the reported total cell number of a human being ranges between 1012 and 1016 and it is widely mentioned without a proper reference. Aim: To study and discuss the theoretical issue of the total number of cells that compose the standard human adult organism. Subjects and methods: A systematic calculation of the total cell number of the whole human body and of the single organs was carried out using bibliographical and/or mathematical approaches. Results: A current estimation of human total cell number calculated for a variety of organs and cell types is presented. These partial data correspond to a total number of 3.72×1013. Conclusions: Knowing the total cell number of the human body as well as of individual organs is important from a cultural, biological, medical and comparative modelling point of view. The presented cell count could be a starting point for a common effort to complete the total calculation.

Keywords: Cell size, Human cell number, Organ, Theoretical issue, Total cell count


Pandit, A., Planell, J.A., Navarro, M., (2013). Titanium and Nitinol (NiTi) Biomaterials Science. An Introduction to Materials in Medicine (ed. Ratner, B., Hoffman, A., Schoen, F., Lemons, J.), Academic Press (Oxford, UK) Classes of Materials Used in Medicine, 120-124

Shin, Song-Hee, Purevdorj, Odnoo, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Kim, Hae-Won, (2012). A short review: Recent advances in electrospinning for bone tissue regeneration Journal of Tissue Engineering 3, (1), 2041731412443530

Nanofibrous structures developed by electrospinning technology provide attractive extracellular matrix conditions for the anchorage, migration, and differentiation of tissue cells, including those responsible for the regeneration of hard tissues. Together with the ease of set up and cost-effectiveness, the possibility to produce nanofibers with a wide range of compositions and morphologies is the merit of electrospinning. Significant efforts have exploited the development of bone regenerative nanofibers, which includes tailoring of composite/hybrid compositions that are bone mimicking and the surface functionalization such as mineralization. Moreover, by utilizing bioactive molecules such as adhesive proteins, growth factors, and chemical drugs, in concert with the nanofibrous matrices, it is possible to provide artificial materials with improved cellular responses and therapeutic efficacy. These studies have mainly focused on the regulation of stem cell behaviors for use in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. While there are some challenges in achieving controllable delivery of bioactive molecules and complex-shaped three-dimensional scaffolds for tissue engineering, the electrospun nanofibrous matrices can still have a beneficial impact in the area of hard-tissue regeneration.


Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., Espanol, M., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., (2012). Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 64, (12), 1090-1110

Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

Keywords: Antibiotic, Bioceramic, Biomaterial, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Ceramic matrix, Growth factor, Hydroxyapatite, Ions, Protein


Mattotti, Marta, Alvarez, Zaida, Ortega, Juan A., Planell, Josep A., Engel, Elisabeth, Alcántara, Soledad, (2012). Inducing functional radial glia-like progenitors from cortical astrocyte cultures using micropatterned PMMA Biomaterials 33, (6), 1759-1770

Radial glia cells (RGC) are multipotent progenitors that generate neurons and glia during CNS development, and which also served as substrate for neuronal migration. After a lesion, reactive glia are the main contributor to CNS regenerative blockage, although some reactive astrocytes are also able to de-differentiate in situ into radial glia-like cells (RGLC), providing beneficial effects in terms of CNS recovery. Thus, the identification of substrate properties that potentiate the ability of astrocytes to transform into RGLC in response to a lesion might help in the development of implantable devices that improve endogenous CNS regeneration. Here we demonstrate that functional RGLC can be induced from in vitro matured astrocytes by using a precisely-sized micropatterned PMMA grooved scaffold, without added soluble or substrate adsorbed biochemical factors. RGLC were extremely organized and aligned on 2

Keywords: Polymethylmethacrylate, Micropatterning, Surface topography, Astrocyte, Nerve guide, Co-culture


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2012). Electrochemical microelectrodes for improved spatial and temporal characterization of aqueous environments around calcium phosphate cements Acta Biomaterialia 8, (1), 386-393

Calcium phosphate compounds can potentially influence cellular fate through ionic substitutions. However, to be able to turn such solution-mediated processes into successful directors of cellular response, a perfect understanding of the material-induced chemical reactions in situ is required. We therefore report on the application of home-made electrochemical microelectrodes, tested as pH and chloride sensors, for precise spatial and temporal characterization of different aqueous environments around calcium phosphate-based biomaterials prepared from α-tricalcium phosphate using clinically relevant liquid to powder ratios. The small size of the electrodes allowed for online measurements in traditionally inaccessible in vitro environments, such as the immediate material-liquid interface and the interior of curing bone cement. The kinetic data obtained has been compared to theoretical sorption models, confirming that the proposed setup can provide key information for improved understanding of the biochemical environment imposed by chemically reactive biomaterials.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Ion sorption, Iridium oxide, Sensors, Animals, Biocompatible Materials, Bone Cements, Calcium Phosphates, Cells, Cultured, Chlorides, Electrochemical Techniques, Gold, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hydroxyapatites, Iridium, Materials Testing, Microelectrodes, Powders, Silver, Silver Compounds, Water


Tejeda-Montes, E., Smith, K. H., Poch, M., López-Bosque, M. J., Martín, L., Alonso, M., Engel, E., Mata, Alvaro., (2012). Engineering membrane scaffolds with both physical and biomolecular signaling Acta Biomaterialia 8, (3), 998-1009

We report on the combination of a top-down and bottom-up approach to develop thin bioactive membrane scaffolds based on functional elastin-like polymers (ELPs). Our strategy combines ELP cross-linking and assembly, and a variety of standard and novel micro/nanofabrication techniques to create self-supporting membranes down to ∼500 nm thick that incorporate both physical and biomolecular signals, which can be easily tailored for a specific application. In this study we used an ELP that included the cell-binding motif arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine (RGDS). Furthermore, fabrication processes were developed to create membranes that exhibited topographical patterns with features down to 200 nm in lateral dimensions and up to 10 μm in height on either one or both sides, uniform and well-defined pores, or multiple ELP layers. A variety of processing parameters were tested in order to optimize membrane fabrication, including ELP and cross-linker concentration, temperature, reaction time and ambient humidity. Membrane micro/nanopatterning, swelling and stiffness were characterized by atomic force microscopy, nanoindentation tests and scanning electron microscopy. Upon immersion in phosphate-buffered saline and an increase in temperature from 25 to 40°C, membranes exhibited a significant increase in surface stiffness, with the reduced Young's modulus increasing with temperature. Finally, rat mesenchymal stem cells were cultured on thin RGDS-containing membranes, which allowed cell adhesion, qualitatively enhanced spreading compared to membranes without RGDS epitopes and permitted proliferation. Furthermore, cell morphology was drastically affected by topographical patterns on the surface of the membranes.

Keywords: Elastin-like polymers, Membranes, Nanotechnology, Scaffolds, Tissue engineering


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Navarro, M., Castano, O., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2012). Control of microenvironmental cues with a smart biomaterial composite promotes endothelial progenitor cell angiogenesis European Cells & Materials 24, 90-106

Smart biomaterials play a key role when aiming at successful tissue repair by means of regenerative medicine approaches, and are expected to contain chemical as well as mechanical cues that will guide the regenerative process. Recent advances in the understanding of stem cell biology and mechanosensing have shed new light onto the importance of the local microenvironment in determining cell fate. Herein we report the biological properties of a bioactive, biodegradable calcium phosphate glass/polylactic acid composite biomaterial that promotes bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilisation, differentiation and angiogenesis through the creation of a controlled bone healing-like microenvironment. The angiogenic response is triggered by biochemical and mechanical cues provided by the composite, which activate two synergistic cell signalling pathways: a biochemical one mediated by the calcium-sensing receptor and a mechanosensitive one regulated by non-muscle myosin II contraction. Together, these signals promote a synergistic response by activating EPCs-mediated VEGF and VEGFR-2 synthesis, which in turn promote progenitor cell homing, differentiation and tubulogenesis. These findings highlight the importance of controlling microenvironmental cues for stem/progenitor cell tissue engineering and offer exciting new therapeutical opportunities for biomaterialbased vascularisation approaches and clinical applications.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate glass composite, Smart biomaterial, Endothelial progenitor cell, Angiogenesis, Mechanosensing, Calcium-sensing receptor


Levato, Riccardo, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Planell, Josep A., (2012). Preparation of biodegradable polylactide microparticles via a biocompatible procedure Macromolecular Bioscience 12, (4), 557-566

PLA MPs are prepared via a novel and toxic-chemical-free fabrication route using ethyl lactate, a green solvent and FDA-approved aroma. MPs are obtained by a solution jet break-up and solvent displacement method. Adjusting flow parameters allows the tuning of MPs size between 60 and 180 µm, with reduced polydispersity. Morphological analysis shows microporous particles with Janus-like surface. A fluorophore is successfully loaded into the MPs during their formation step. This versatile green solvent-based procedure is proven to be suitable for drug encapsulation and delivery applications. The method may be extended to different droplet generation techniques.

Keywords: Biocompatibility, Biodegradable, Green solvents, Microparticles, Poly(lactic acid)


Navarro, M., Pu, F., Hunt, J. A., (2012). The significance of the host inflammatory response on the therapeutic efficacy of cell therapies utilising human adult stem cells Experimental Cell Research 318, (4), 361-370

Controlling the fate of implanted hMSCs is one of the major drawbacks to be overcome to realize tissue engineering strategies. In particular, the effect of the inflammatory environment on hMSCs behaviour is poorly understood. Studying and mimicking the inflammatory process in vitro is a very complex and challenging task that involves multiple variables. This research addressed the questions using in vitro co-cultures of primary derived hMSCs together with human peripheral blood mononucleated cells (PBMCs); the latter are key agents in the inflammatory process. This work explored the in vitro phenotypic changes of hMSCs in co-culture direct contact with monocytes and lymphocytes isolated from blood using both basal and osteogenic medium. Our findings indicated that hMSCs maintained their undifferentiated phenotype and pluripotency despite the contact with PBMCs. Moreover, hMSCs demonstrated increased proliferation and were able to differentiate specifically down the osteogenic lineage pathway. Providing significant crucial evidence to support the hypothesis that inflammation and host defence mechanisms could be utilised rather than avoided and combated to provide for the successful therapeutic application of stem cell therapies.

Keywords: Co-culture, Inflammation, Mesenchymal stem cells, Monocytes, Osteoblasts


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2012). Osteoblast-like cellular response to dynamic changes in the ionic extracellular environment produced by calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine 23, (10), 2509-2520

Solution-mediated reactions due to ionic substitutions are increasingly explored as a strategy to improve the biological performance of calcium phosphate-based materials. Yet, cellular response to well-defined dynamic changes of the ionic extracellular environment has so far not been carefully studied in a biomaterials context. In this work, we present kinetic data on how osteoblast-like SAOS-2 cellular activity and calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) influenced extracellular pH as well as extracellular concentrations of calcium and phosphate in standard in vitro conditions. Since cells were grown on membranes permeable to ions and proteins, they could share the same aqueous environment with CDHA, but still be physically separated from the material. In such culture conditions, it was observed that gradual material-induced adsorption of calcium and phosphate from the medium had only minor influence on cellular proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity, but that competition for calcium and phosphate between cells and the biomaterial delayed and reduced significantly the cellular capacity to deposit calcium in the extracellular matrix. The presented work thus gives insights into how and to what extent solution-mediated reactions can influence cellular response, and this will be necessary to take into account when interpreting CDHA performance both in vitro and in vivo.

Keywords: Alkaline-phosphatase activity, Saos-2 cells, In-vitro, bone mineralization, Biological basis, Differentiation, Culture, Matrix, Proliferation, Topography


Ambrosio, L., Guarino, V., Sanginario, V., Torricelli, P., Fini, M., Ginebra, M.P., Planell, J.A., Giardino, R., (2012). Injectable calcium-phosphate-based composites for skeletal bone treatments Biomedical Materials 7, (2), 1-10

Alpha-tricalcium-phosphate-based bone cements hydrolyze and set, producing calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite. They can result in an effective solution for bone defect reconstruction due to their biocompatibility, bioactivity and adaptation to shape and bone defect sizes, together with an excellent contact between bone and graft. Moreover, the integration of hydrogel phase based on poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) to H-cem–composed of


Noailly, Jérôme, Ambrosio, Luigi, Elizabeth Tanner, K., Planell, Josep, Lacroix, Damien, (2012). In silico evaluation of a new composite disc substitute with a L3–L5 lumbar spine finite element model European Spine Journal 21, (5), 675-687

When the intervertebral disc is removed to relieve chronic pain, subsequent segment stabilization should restore the functional mechanics of the native disc. Because of partially constrained motions and the lack of intrinsic rotational stiffness ball-on-socket implants present many disadvantages. Composite disc substitutes mimicking healthy disc structures should be able to assume the role expected for a disc substitute with fewer restrictions than ball-on-socket implants. A biomimetic composite disc prototype including artificial nucleus fibre-reinforced annulus and endplates was modelled as an L4–L5 disc substitute within a L3–L5 lumbar spine finite element model. Different device updates, i.e. changes of material properties fibre distributions and volume fractions and nucleus placements were proposed. Load- and displacement-controlled rotations were simulated with and without body weight applied. The original prototype reduced greatly the flexibility of the treated segment with significant adjacent level effects under displacement-controlled or hybrid rotations. Device updates allowed restoring large part of the global axial and sagittal rotational flexibility predicted with the intact model. Material properties played a major role, but some other updates were identified to potentially tune the device behaviour against specific motions. All device versions altered the coupled intersegmental shear deformations affecting facet joint contact through contact area displacements. Loads in the bony endplates adjacent to the implants increased as the implant stiffness decreased but did not appear to be a strong limitation for the implant biomechanical and mechanobiological functionality. In conclusion, numerical results given by biomimetic composite disc substitutes were encouraging with greater potential than that offered by ball-on-socket implants.

Keywords: Medicine


Pegueroles, M., Tonda-Turo, C., Planell, J. A., Gil, F. J., Aparicio, C., (2012). Adsorption of fibronectin, fibrinogen, and albumin on TiO2: Time-resolved kinetics, structural changes, and competition study Biointerphases 7, (48), 13

An understanding of protein adsorption process is crucial for designing biomaterial surfaces. In this work, with the use of a quartz-crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, we researched the following: (a) the kinetics of adsorption on TiO2 surfaces of three extensively described proteins that are relevant for metallic implant integration [i.e., albumin (BSA), fibrinogen (Fbg), and fibronectin (Fn)]; and (b) the competition of those proteins for adsorbing on TiO2 in a two-step experiment consisted of sequentially exposing the surfaces to different monoprotein solutions. Each protein showed a different process of adsorption and properties of the adlayer-calculated using the Voigt model. The competition experiments showed that BSA displaced larger proteins such as Fn and Fbg when BSA was introduced as the second protein in the system, whereas the larger proteins laid on top of BSA forming an adsorbed protein bi-layer when those were introduced secondly in the system.

Keywords: QCM, Human plasma fibronectin, Induced conformational-changes, Von-willebrand-factor, BSA, Protein adsortion, Polymer surfaces, Solid-surfaces, Viscoelastic properties, Globular-proteins


Serra, T., Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Fabrication and characterization of biodegradable composite scaffolds for tissue engineering Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping 5th International Conference on Advanced Research and Rapid Prototyping (ed. Margarida, T., Ferreira, D.), Taylor & Francis (Leiria, Portugal) VR@P, 67-72

In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) were combined with soluble CaP glass particles and processed by rapid prototyping to obtain fully biodegradable structures for Tissue Engineering applications. The obtained 3D biodegradable structures were characterized in terms of their architecture and mechanical properties. The scaffold morphology, internal micro-architecture and mechanical properties were evaluated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and mechanical testing, respectively. Well defined structures with pore size of 350-400μm (in the axial view), struts width of approximately 70-80μm, and a porosity ranging between 60-65% were obtained. The combination RP and PLA/PEG/CaP glass turned into promising fully degradable, mechanically stable, bioactive and biocompatible composite scaffolds for TE.

Keywords: Axial view, Biodegradable composites, Composite scaffolds, Glass particles, Mechanically stable, Micro architectures, Micro computed tomography (micro-CT), Poly lactic acid, Scaffold morphology, Tissue engineering applications, Well-defined structures, Bioactive glass, Mechanical properties, Mechanical testing, Polyethylene glycols, Polymer blends, Rapid prototyping, Scaffolds (biology), Scanning electron microscopy, Computerized tomography


Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Composite scaffolds for bone tissue engneering Encyclopedia of Composites (ed. Nicolais, L., Borzacchiello, A., Lee, S. M.), John Wiley & Sons (New Jersey, USA) , 544-558

Castaño, O., Eltohamy, M., Kim, H. W., (2012). Electrospinning technology in tissue regeneration Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Navarro, M., Planell, J. A.), Springer (New York, USA) 811, 127-140

Electrospinning is one of the most versatile and effective tools to produce nanostructured fibers in the biomedical science fields. The nanofibrous structure with diameters from tens to hundreds of nanometers largely mimics the native extracellular matrix (ECM) of many tissues. Thus far, a range of compositions including polymers and ceramics and their composites/hybrids have been successfully applied for generating electrospun nanofibers. Different processing tools in electrospinning set-ups and assemblies are currently developed to tune the morphology and properties of nanofibers. Herein, we demonstrate the electrospinning process and the electrospun biomaterials for specific use in tissue regeneration with some examples, involving different material combinations and fiber morphologies.

Keywords: Ceramic, Composites, Electrospinning, Nanofi bers, Nanostructured fi bers, Polymer, Tissue regeneration


Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Is nanotechnology the key to unravel and engineer biological processes? Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Navarro, M., Planell, J. A.), Springer (New York, USA) 811, 1-16

Regenerative medicine is an emerging field aiming to the development of new reparative strategies to treat degenerative diseases, injury, and trauma through developmental pathways in order to rebuild the architecture of the original injured organ and take over its functionality. Most of the processes and interactions involved in the regenerative process take place at subcellular scale. Nanotechnology provides the tools and technology not only to detect, to measure, or to image the interactions between the different biomolecules and biological entities, but also to control and guide the regenerative process. The relevance of nanotechnology for the development of regenerative medicine as well as an overview of the different tools that contribute to unravel and engineer biological systems are presented in this chapter. In addition, general data about the social impact and global investment in nanotechnology are provided.

Keywords: Nanotechnology, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering


Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) , Springer (New York, USA) 811, (811), 319

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Equipment

  • Surface characterization equipment (contact angle, Z potential, nanoindenter)
  • Cell culture facilities
  • Molecular Biology equipment: protein and DNA electrophoresis
  • Thermocycler (PCR)
  • Rapid prototyping tool (part of the Production of biomaterials and nanoparticles platform of the CIBER-BBN)
    http://www.ciber-bbn.es/programas/plataformas/equipamiento/biomateriales?nodo=nodo2&locale=en
  • Peptide synthetiser
  • Combustion furnace
  • Electrospinning device
  • Spin-coater
  • Vibrational viscosimeter
  • ElectroForce® BioDynamic® test instrument

Collaborations

  • Dr. Ernest Mendoza
    Applied Nanomaterials Laboratory, Research Centre in Nanoengineering, Technical University of Catalonia (UPC, BarcelonaTech), Spain
  • Dr. Izabella Rajzer
    Institute of Textile Engineering and Polymer Materials, University of Bielsko-Biala, Poland
  • Dr. José María Mora
    Servei de cirurgia ortopédica i traumatológica, Consorci Hospital de Terrassa, Spain
  • Dr. Mercè Alsina
    Servicio de Dermatología, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Didier Letourneur
    Laboratoire de Bioingénierie Cardiovasculaire, INSERM, University Denis Diderot-Paris 7, Paris, France
  • Prof. Dirk Grijpma
    Department of Biomaterials Science and Technology, University of Twente, Twente, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Francesco Serino
    Department of Vascular Surgery, Istituto Dermatologico dell’Immacolata (IDI), Rome, Italy
  • Dr. Jerónimo Blanco
    Institut de Ciències Cardiovasculars de Catalunya and CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Joelle Amedee
    INSERM, University of Bordeaux Segolen, Bordeaux, France
  • Dr. José Becerra Ratia
    Dept. Biología Celular, Genética y Fisiología, Universidad de Málaga, Spain
  • Dr. José Carlos Rodríguez-Cabello
    Dept. de Física de la Materia Condensada, Universidad de Valladolid, Spain
  • Dr. Julia Buján
    Dept. de Ciencias Morfológicas y Cirugía, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Spain
  • Prof. Kevin Healy
    Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, USA
  • Prof. Jaume Veciana
    NANOMOL, Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Spain
  • Dr. Diego Gutiérrez de la Iglesia (MD)
    Pediatric orthopaedic surgery, San Juan de Dios Hospital, Spain
  • Dr. Małgorzata Lewandowska
    Faculty of Materials Science & Engineering, WUT Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
  • Dr. Manuel Doblaré
    Group of Structural Mechanics and Materials Modelling, Institute of Engineering Research, (I3A), Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
  • Dr. Margarita Calonge
    Institute of Ophthalmobiology (IOBA), Universidad de Valladolid, Spain
  • Dr. María Vallet Regí
    Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  • Prof. Mateo Santin
    Brighton Studies in Tissue Mimicry and Aided Regeneration (BrightSTAR) Research Group, University of Brighton, UK
  • Prof. Wouter J.A. Dhert & Dr. Jos Malda
    Department of Orthopaedics, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Prof. Andrés J. García, F.B.S.E.
    Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
  • Dr. Luigi Ambrosio
    Institute of Polymers, Composites & Biomaterials, National Research Council, Naples, Italy
  • Prof. Carlos Semino
    Grupo de Insuficiencia Cardíaca y Regeneración Cardíaca (ICREC), IQS School of Engineering, Universitat Ramon Llull

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