Publications

Year 2008


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Zazoua, A., Morakchi, K., Kherrat, R., Samar, M. H., Errachid, A., Jaffrezic-Renault, N., Boubellout, R., (2008). Electrochemical characterization of an EIS sensor functionalized with a TOPO doped polymeric layer for Cr(VI) detection IRBM 29, (2-3), 187-191

A hexavalent chromium-selective sensor, based on polymeric membranes containing trioctylphosphine oxide (TOPO) deposited on a Si/Sio(2)/Si3N4 structure, has been developed. The ion-sensitivity of TOPO was investigated by capacitance measurements (C-V) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. A quasi-nernstian response for Cr2O72- exchange is shown. Selectivity coefficients and detection limits of Cr(VI) in the presence of interfering anions were determined experimentally using the fixed interference method. A detection limit of 10(-5) M of Cr(VI) is obtained even in presence of sulphate and chloride ions.

Keywords: Hexavalent chromium, Trioctylphosphine oxide, EIS, Siloprene membrane, Capacitance-voltage


Gorostiza, P., Isacoff, E. Y., (2008). Optical switches for remote and noninvasive control of cell signaling Science 322, (5900), 395-399

Although the identity and interactions of signaling proteins have been studied in great detail, the complexity of signaling networks cannot be fully understood without elucidating the timing and location of activity of individual proteins. To do this, one needs a means for detecting and controlling specific signaling events. An attractive approach is to use light, both to report on and control signaling proteins in cells, because light can probe cells in real time with minimal damage. Although optical detection of signaling events has been successful for some time, the development of the means for optical control has accelerated only recently. Of particular interest is the development of chemically engineered proteins that are directly sensitive to light.

Keywords: Ion channels, Acetylcholine receptor, Glutamate-receptor, Potassium channel, K+ channel, Light, Neurons, Channelrhodopsin-2, Manipulation, Activation


Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2008). Optical antennas focus in on biology Nature Photonics 2, (4), 201-203

Biological processes often involve multimolecular interactions on a nanometre scale or at very large molecular concentrations, making them difficult to visualize. Optical antennas have the potential to become powerful tools for nanobioimaging by enhancing optical fields on this tiny scale.

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Gorostiza, P., Isacoff, E. Y., (2008). Nanoengineering ion channels for optical control Physiology 23, (5), 238-247

Chemical modification with photoisomerizable tethered ligands endows proteins with sensitivity to light. These optically actuated proteins are revolutionizing research in biology by making it possible to manipulate biological processes noninvasively and with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution.

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Engel, E., Michiardi, A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Planell, J. A., (2008). Nanotechnology in regenerative medicine: the materials side Trends in Biotechnology 26, (1), 39-47

Regenerative medicine is an emerging multidisciplinary field that aims to restore, maintain or enhance tissues and hence organ functions. Regeneration of tissues can be achieved by the combination of living cells, which will provide biological functionality, and materials, which act as scaffolds to support cell proliferation. Mammalian cells behave in vivo in response to the biological signals they receive from the surrounding environment, which is structured by nanometre-scaled components. Therefore, materials used in repairing the human body have to reproduce the correct signals that guide the cells towards a desirable behaviour. Nanotechnology is not only an excellent tool to produce material structures that mimic the biological ones but also holds the promise of providing efficient delivery systems. The application of nanotechnology to regenerative medicine is a wide issue and this short review will only focus on aspects of nanotechnology relevant to biomaterials science. Specifically, the fabrication of materials, such as nanoparticles and scaffolds for tissue engineering, and the nanopatterning of surfaces aimed at eliciting specific biological responses from the host tissue will be addressed.

Keywords: Animals, Biocompatible Materials/ metabolism, Humans, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology/ methods, Regenerative Medicine/ methods, Tissue Scaffolds


Morales, R., Riss, M., Wang, L., Gavin, R., Del Rio, J. A., Alcubilla, R., Claverol-Tinture, E., (2008). Integrating multi-unit electrophysiology and plastic culture dishes for network neuroscience Lab on a Chip 8, (11), 1896-1905

The electrophysiological characterisation of cultured neurons is of paramount importance for drug discovery, safety pharmacology and basic research in the neurosciences. Technologies offering low cost, low technical complexity and potential for scalability towards high-throughput electrophysiology on in vitro neurons would be advantageous, in particular for screening purposes. Here we describe a plastic culture substrate supporting low-complexity multi-unit loose-patch recording and stimulation of developing networks while retaining manufacturability compatible with low-cost and large-scale production. Our hybrid polydimethylsilane (PDMS)-on-polystyrene structures include chambers (6 mm in diameter) and microchannels (25 mu m x 3.7 mu m 1 mm) serving as substrate-embedded recording pipettes. Somas are plated and retained in the chambers due to geometrical constraints and their processes grow along the microchannels, effectively establishing a loose-patch configuration without human intervention. We demonstrate that off-the-shelf voltage-clamp, current-clamp and extracellular amplifiers can be used to record and stimulate multi-unit activity with the aid of our dishes. Spikes up to 50 pA in voltage-clamp and 300 mu V in current-clamp modes are recorded in sparse and bursting activity patterns characteristic of 1 week-old hippocampal cultures. Moreover, spike sorting employing principal component analysis (PCA) confirms that single microchannels support the recording of multiple neurons. Overall, this work suggests a strategy to endow conventional culture plasticware with added functionality to enable cost-efficient network electrophysiology.

Keywords: Electrophysiological characterisation, Cultured neurons, Polydimethylsilane (PDMS)-on-polystyrene structures


de Bakker, Barbel I., Bodnar, Andrea, van Dijk, Erik M. H. P., Vamosi, Gyorgy, Damjanovich, Sandor, Waldmann, Thomas A., van Hulst, Niek F., Jenei, Attila, Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2008). Nanometer-scale organization of the alpha subunits of the receptors for IL2 and IL15 in human T lymphoma cells Journal of Cell Science 121, (5), 627-633

Interleukin 2 and interleukin 15 (IL2 and IL15, respectively) provide quite distinct contributions to T-cell-mediated immunity, despite having similar receptor composition and signaling machinery. As most of the proposed mechanisms underlying this apparent paradox attribute key significance to the individual {alpha}-chains of IL2 and IL15 receptors, we investigated the spatial organization of the receptors IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} at the nanometer scale expressed on a human CD4+ leukemia T cell line using single-molecule-sensitive near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM). In agreement with previous findings, we here confirm clustering of IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} at the submicron scale. In addition to clustering, our single-molecule data reveal that a non-negligible percentage of the receptors are organized as monomers. Only a minor fraction of IL2R{alpha} molecules reside outside the clustered domains, whereas [~]30% of IL15R{alpha} molecules organize as monomers or small clusters, excluded from the main domain regions. Interestingly, we also found that the packing densities per unit area of both IL2R{alpha} and IL15R{alpha} domains remained constant, suggesting a `building block' type of assembly involving repeated structures and composition. Finally, dual-color NSOM demonstrated co-clustering of the two {alpha}-chains. Our results should aid understanding the action of the IL2R-IL15R system in T cell function and also might contribute to the more rationale design of IL2R- or IL15R-targeted immunotherapy agents for treating human leukemia.

Keywords: Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), Interleukin receptors IL2R, IL15R, Single-molecule detection, Nanometer-scale membrane organization


Trepat, X., Farré, R., (2008). Alveolar permeability and stretch: Too far, too fast European Respiratory Journal 32, (4), 826-828

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Almendros, I., Carreras, A., Ramirez, J., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2008). Upper airway collapse and reopening induce inflammation in a sleep apnoea model European Respiratory Journal 32, (2), 399-404

The upper airway of obstructive sleep apnoea patients is subjected to recurrent negative pressure swings promoting its collapse and reopening. The aim of the present study was to ascertain whether this mechanical stress induces upper airway inflammation in a rat model. The upper airway of Sprague-Dawley rats was subjected to a periodic pattern of recurrent negative (-40 cmH2O, 1 s) and positive (4 cmH2O, 2 s) pressures inducing collapse and reopening for 5 h. Rats that were instrumented but not subjected to negative pressure swings were used as controls. The gene expression of the pro-inflammatory biomarkers macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta and P-selectin in the soft palate and larynx tissues was assessed by real-time PCR. A marked overexpression of MIP-2, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and P-selectin (approximately 40-, 24-, 47- and 7-fold greater than controls, respectively) was observed in the larynx tissue; similar results were found in the soft palate tissue (approximately 14-, 7-, 35- and 11-fold greater than controls, respectively). Recurrent upper airway collapse and reopening mimicking those experienced by obstructive sleep apnoea patients triggered an early local inflammatory process. These results could explain the inflammation observed in the upper airway of obstructive sleep apnoea patients.

Keywords: Airway collapse, Airway reopening, Inflammation, Negative pressure, Obstructive sleep apnoea, Upper airway


Bravo, R., Arimon, M., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Garcia, R., Durany, N., Castel, S., Cruz, M., Ventura, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2008). Sulfated polysaccharides promote the assembly of amyloid beta(1-42) peptide into stable fibrils of reduced cytotoxicity Journal of Biological Chemistry 283, (47), 32471-32483

The histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease are the self-aggregation of the amyloid beta peptide (A beta) in extracellular amyloid fibrils and the formation of intraneuronal Tau filaments, but a convincing mechanism connecting both processes has yet to be provided. Here we show that the endogenous polysaccharide chondroitin sulfate B (CSB) promotes the formation of fibrillar structures of the 42-residue fragment, A beta(1-42). Atomic force microscopy visualization, thioflavin T fluorescence, CD measurements, and cell viability assays indicate that CSB-induced fibrils are highly stable entities with abundant beta-sheet structure that have little toxicity for neuroblastoma cells. We propose a wedged cylinder model for A beta(1-42) fibrils that is consistent with the majority of available data, it is an energetically favorable assembly that minimizes the exposure of hydrophobic areas, and it explains why fibrils do not grow in thickness. Fluorescence measurements of the effect of different A beta(1-42) species on Ca2+ homeostasis show that weakly structured nodular fibrils, but not CSB-induced smooth fibrils, trigger a rise in cytosolic Ca2+ that depends on the presence of both extracellular and intracellular stocks. In vitro assays indicate that such transient, local Ca2+ increases can have a direct effect in promoting the formation of Tau filaments similar to those isolated from Alzheimer disease brains.

Keywords: AFM, Alzheimers-disease, Chondroitin sulfate, Heparan-sulfate, Lipid-bilayers, Beta-peptide, In-vitro, Neurodegenerative diseases, Extracellular-matrix, Prion protein


Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Castillo-Fernandez, O., Garrido, M., Arundell, M., Valencia, A., Gomila, G., (2008). High-speed particle detection in a micro-Coulter counter with two-dimensional adjustable aperture Biosensors and Bioelectronics 24, (2), 290-296

This article presents the fabrication and characterisation of a high-speed detection micro-Coulter counter with two-dimensional (2D) adjustable aperture and differential impedance detection. The developed device has been fabricated from biocompatible and transparent materials (polymer and glass) and uses the principle of hydrodynamic focusing in two dimensions. The use of a conductive solution for the sample flux and non-conductive solutions for the focalising fluxes provides an adjustable sample flow where particles are aligned and the resistive response concentrated, consequently enhancing the sensitivity and versatility of the device. High-speed counting of 20 mu m polystyrene particles and 5 mu m yeast cells with a rate of up to 1000 particles/s has been demonstrated. Two-dimensional focusing conditions have been used in devices with physical cross-sectional areas of 180 mu m x 65 mu m and 100 mu m x 43 mu m, respectively, in which particles resulted undetectable in the absence of focusing. The 2D-focusing conditions have provided, in addition, increased detection sensitivity by a factor of 1.6 as compared to 1 D-focusing conditions.

Keywords: Impedance, Chip, Microfluidics


Morell, M., Bravo, R., Espargaro, A., Sisquella, X., Aviles, F. X., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Ventura, S., (2008). Inclusion bodies: Specificity in their aggregation process and amyloid-like structure Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research 1783, (10), 1815-1825

The accumulation of aggregated protein in the cell is associated with the pathology of many diseases and constitutes a major concern in protein production. Intracellular aggregates have been traditionally regarded as nonspecific associations of misfolded polypeptides. This view is challenged by studies demonstrating that, in vitro, aggregation often involves specific interactions. However, little is known about the specificity of in vivo protein deposition. Here, we investigate the degree of in vivo co-aggregation between two self-aggregating proteins, A beta A2 amyloid peptide and foot-and-mouth disease virus VP1 capsid protein, in prokaryotic cells. In addition, the ultrastructure of intracellular aggregates is explored to decipher whether amyloid fibrils and intracellular protein inclusions share structural properties. The data indicate that in vivo protein aggregation exhibits a remarkable specificity that depends on the establishment of selective interactions and results in the formation of oligomeric and fibrillar structures displaying amyloid-like properties. These features allow prokaryotic A beta A2 intracellular aggregates to act as effective seeds in the formation of A beta A2 amyloid fibrils. overall, our results suggest that conserved mechanisms underlie protein aggregation in different organisms. They also have important implications for biotechnological and biomedical applications of recombinant polypeptides.

Keywords: Protein aggregation, Inclusion bodies, Conformational diseases, Amyloid fibrils, Protein folding


Engel, E., Del Valle, S., Aparicio, C., Altankov, G., Asin, L., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Discerning the role of topography and ion exchange in cell response of bioactive tissue engineering scaffolds Tissue Engineering Part A 14, (8), 1341-1351

Surface topography is known to have an influence on osteoblast activity. However, in the case of bioactive materials, topographical changes can affect also ion exchange properties. This makes the problem more complex, since it is often difficult to separate the strictly topographical effects from the effects of ionic fluctuations in the medium. The scope of this paper is to analyze the simultaneous effect of topography and topography-mediated ion exchange on the initial cellular behavior of osteoblastic-like cells cultured on bioactive tissue engineering substrates. Two apatitic substrates with identical chemical composition but different micro/nanostructural features were obtained by low-temperature setting of a calcium phosphate cement. MG63 osteoblastic-like cells were cultured either in direct contact with the substrates or with their extracts. A strong and permanent decrease of calcium concentration in the culture medium, dependent on substrate topography, was detected. A major effect of the substrate microstructure on cell proliferation was observed, explained in part by the topography-mediated ion exchange, but not specifically by the ionic Ca(2+) fluctuations. Cell differentiation was strongly enhanced when cells were cultured on the finer substrate. This effect was not explained by the chemical modification of the medium, but rather suggested a strictly topographical effect.

Keywords: Alkaline Phosphatase/metabolism, Bone Cements/pharmacology, Calcium/metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/pharmacology, Cell Adhesion/drug effects, Cell Differentiation/drug effects, Cell Proliferation/drug effects, Cell Shape/drug effects, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Durapatite/pharmacology, Humans, Interferometry, Ion Exchange, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology/drug effects/enzymology/ultrastructure, Phosphorus/metabolism, Powders, Tissue Engineering, Tissue Scaffolds


Gavara, N., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sunyer, R., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Mapping cell-matrix stresses during stretch reveals inelastic reorganization of the cytoskeleton Biophysical Journal 95, (1), 464-471

The mechanical properties of the living cell are intimately related to cell signaling biology through cytoskeletal tension. The tension borne by the cytoskeleton (CSK) is in part generated internally by the actomyosin machinery and externally by stretch. Here we studied how cytoskeletal tension is modified during stretch and the tensional changes undergone by the sites of cell-matrix interaction. To this end we developed a novel technique to map cell-matrix stresses during application of stretch. We found that cell-matrix stresses increased with imposition of stretch but dropped below baseline levels on stretch release. Inhibition of the actomyosin machinery resulted in a larger relative increase in CSK tension with stretch and in a smaller drop in tension after stretch release. Cell-matrix stress maps showed that the loci of cell adhesion initially bearing greater stress also exhibited larger drops in traction forces after stretch removal. Our results suggest that stretch partially disrupts the actin-myosin apparatus and the cytoskeletal structures that support the largest CSK tension. These findings indicate that cells use the mechanical energy injected by stretch to rapidly reorganize their structure and redistribute tension.

Keywords: Cell Line, Computer Simulation, Cytoskeleton/ physiology, Elasticity, Epithelial Cells/ physiology, Extracellular Matrix/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Stress, Mechanical


Roca-Cusachs, P., Alcaraz, J., Sunyer, R., Samitier, J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Micropatterning of single endothelial cell shape reveals a tight coupling between nuclear volume in G1 and proliferation Biophysical Journal 94, (12), 4984-4995

Shape-dependent local differentials in cell proliferation are considered to be a major driving mechanism of structuring processes in vivo, such as embryogenesis, wound healing, and angiogenesis. However, the specific biophysical signaling by which changes in cell shape contribute to cell cycle regulation remains poorly understood. Here, we describe our study of the roles of nuclear volume and cytoskeletal mechanics in mediating shape control of proliferation in single endothelial cells. Micropatterned adhesive islands were used to independently control cell spreading and elongation. We show that, irrespective of elongation, nuclear volume and apparent chromatin decondensation of cells in G1 systematically increased with cell spreading and highly correlated with DNA synthesis (percent of cells in the S phase). In contrast, cell elongation dramatically affected the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, markedly reduced both cytoskeletal stiffness (measured dorsally with atomic force microscopy) and contractility (measured ventrally with traction microscopy), and increased mechanical anisotropy, without affecting either DNA synthesis or nuclear volume. Our results reveal that the nuclear volume in G1 is predictive of the proliferative status of single endothelial cells within a population, whereas cell stiffness and contractility are not. These findings show that the effects of cell mechanics in shape control of proliferation are far more complex than a linear or straightforward relationship. Our data are consistent with a mechanism by which spreading of cells in G1 partially enhances proliferation by inducing nuclear swelling and decreasing chromatin condensation, thereby rendering DNA more accessible to the replication machinery.

Keywords: Cell Line, Cell Nucleus/ physiology, Cell Proliferation, Cell Size, Computer Simulation, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, G1 Phase/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Statistics as Topic


Olmedo, Ivonne, Araya, Eyleen, Sanz, Fausto, Medina, Elias, Arbiol, Jordi, Toledo, Pedro, Àlvarez-Lueje, Alejandro, Giralt, Ernest, Kogan, Marcelo J., (2008). How changes in the sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 can modify the conjugation and stability of gold nanoparticles and their affinity for beta-amyloid fibrils Bioconjugate Chemistry 19, (6), 1154-1163

In a previous work, we studied the interaction of

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Aggregation, Dispersions, Adsorption, Particles, Design, Size


Crespo, C., Gallego, J., Cot, A., Falcón, C., Bullich, S., Pareto, D., Aguiar, P., Sempau, J., Lomeña, F., Calviño, F., Pavía, J., Ros, D., (2008). Quantification of dopaminergic neurotransmission SPECT studies with 123I-labelled radioligands. A comparison between different imaging systems and data acquisition protocols using Monte Carlo simulation European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 35, (7), 1334-1342

Purpose: 123I-labelled radioligands are commonly used for single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of the dopaminergic system to study the dopamine transporter binding. The aim of this work was to compare the quantitative capabilities of two different SPECT systems through Monte Carlo (MC) simulation. Methods: The SimSET MC code was employed to generate simulated projections of a numerical phantom for two gamma cameras equipped with a parallel and a fan-beam collimator, respectively. A fully 3D iterative reconstruction algorithm was used to compensate for attenuation, the spatially variant point spread function (PSF) and scatter. A post-reconstruction partial volume effect (PVE) compensation was also developed. Results: For both systems, the correction for all degradations and PVE compensation resulted in recovery factors of the theoretical specific uptake ratio (SUR) close to 100%. For a SUR value of 4, the recovered SUR for the parallel imaging system was 33% for a reconstruction without corrections (OSEM), 45% for a reconstruction with attenuation correction (OSEM-A), 56% for a 3D reconstruction with attenuation and PSF corrections (OSEM-AP), 68% for OSEM-AP with scatter correction (OSEM-APS) and 97% for OSEM-APS plus PVE compensation (OSEM-APSV). For the fan-beam imaging system, the recovered SUR was 41% without corrections, 55% for OSEM-A, 65% for OSEM-AP, 75% for OSEM-APS and 102% for OSEM-APSV. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the correction for degradations increases the quantification accuracy, with PVE compensation playing a major role in the SUR quantification. The proposed methodology allows us to reach similar SUR values for different SPECT systems, thereby allowing a reliable standardisation in multicentric studies.

Keywords: Brain SPECT, Monte Carlo methods, Receptor imaging, Reconstruction quantification, SPECT instrumentation and algorithms


Almendros, I., Acerbi, I., Vilaseca, I., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2008). Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) induces early nasal inflammation Sleep 31, (1), 127-131

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To assess whether noninvasive application of nCPAP is a mechanical stimulus inducing early nasal inflammation. DESIGN: Prospective controlled animal study. SETTING: University laboratory. PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: 32 male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). INTERVENTIONS: The rats were anesthetized and subjected to nCPAP=10 cm H2O and sham-CPAP through a mask for 3 h and 5 h (n=8 each). MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: After nCPAP or sham, nasal scraping was carried out to detect neutrophils, and septum and dorsal nasal concha were excised to assess gene expression of inflammatory markers by real time PCR. Percentage of neutrophils in nucleated cells in the nasal scrapings was significantly (P = 0.006) higher after 5 h of nCPAP (3.51% +/- 0.73%; m +/- SEM) than in the sham group (1.12% +/- 0.39%). When compared with sham, the mRNA of macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) in nasal tissue was significantly overexpressed after both 3 h (2.28-fold +/- 0.43-fold; P = 0.034) and 5 h (5.56-fold +/-1.88-fold; P = 0.002) of nCPAP=10 cm H2O. No significant changes were found in the gene expressions of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, nerve growth factor and tachykinin-1 receptor. CONCLUSIONS: The compression applied by nCPAP (10 cm H2O, 5 h) on the nasal wall of healthy rats is a mechanical stimulus that triggers an early inflammatory process mediated by MIP-2, resulting in neutrophil extravasation.

Keywords: Sleep apnea, CPAP, Rhinitis, Mechanical stimulus, Neutrophil, Extravasation


Caballero-Briones, F., Palacios-Padros, A., Pena, J. L., Sanz, F., (2008). Phase tailored, potentiodynamically grown P-Cu2-xTe/Cu layers Electrochemistry Communications 10, (11), 1684-1687

In this work we successfully prepared p-type semiconducting Cu2-xTe layers on Cu substrates by applying a potential multistep signal. Spontaneously deposited tellurium layers were reduced in a single cathodic sweep. The X-ray diffraction characterization showed the presence of single-phased, crystalline Cu2-xTe in the weissite form. A further anodization step allows crystallization of several phases such as CU1.75Te, Cu0.664Te0.336 and CU7Te4. This type of sample was found to be photoactive. The prepared films are p-type and have carrier concentrations in the order of 10(21) CM-3, suitable for CdTe-CU2-xTe contacts.

Keywords: Copper telluride, Electrochemical signal, XRD, Morphology, EIS, Photocurrent, Telluride thin-films, Solar cells, Deposition, Cu


Arimon, M., Grimminger, V., Sanz, F., Lashuel, H. A., (2008). Hsp104 targets multiple intermediates on the amyloid pathway and suppresses the seeding capacity of A beta fibrils and protofibrils Journal of Molecular Biology 384, (5), 1157-1173

The heat shock protein Hsp104 has been reported to possess the ability to. modulate protein aggregation and toxicity and to "catalyze" the disaggregation and recovery of protein aggregates, including amyloid fibrils, in yeast, Escherichia coli, mammalian cell cultures, and animal models of Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. To provide mechanistic insight into the molecular mechanisms by which Hsp104 modulates aggregation and fibrillogenesis, the effect of Hsp104 on the fibrillogenesis of amyloid beta (A(3) was investigated by characterizing its ability to interfere with oligomerization and fibrillogenesis of different species along the amyloid-formation pathway of A beta. To probe the disaggregation activity of Hsp104, its ability to dissociate preformed protofibrillar and fibrillar aggregates of A beta was assessed in the presence and in the absence of ATP. Our results show that Hsp104 inhibits the fibrillization of monomeric and protofibrillar forms of A beta in a concentration-dependent but ATP-independent manner. Inhibition of A beta fibrillization by Hsp104 is observable up to Hsp104/A beta stoichiometric ratios of 1:1000, suggesting a preferential interaction of Hsp104 with aggregation intermediates (e.g., oligomers, protofibrils, small fibrils) on the pathway of A beta amyloid formation. This hypothesis is consistent with our observations that Hsp104 (i) interacts with A beta protofibrils, (ii) inhibits conversion of protofibrils into amyloid fibrils, (iii) arrests fibril elongation and reassembly, and (iv) abolishes the capacity of protofibrils and sonicated fibrils to seed the fibrillization of monomeric A beta. Together, these findings suggest that the strong inhibition of A beta fibrillization by Hsp104 is mediated by its ability to act at different stages and target multiple intermediates on the pathway to amyloid formation.

Keywords: Amyloid formation A beta, Hsp104, Disaggregation, Alzheimer's diseases


Navarro, M., Benetti, E. M., Zapotoczny, S., Planell, J. A., Vancso, G. J., (2008). Buried, covalently attached RGD peptide motifs in poly(methacrylic acid) brush layers: The effect of brush structure on cell adhesion Langmuir 24, (19), 10996-11002

Iniferter-mediated surface-initiated photopolymerization was used to graft poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) brush layers obtained from surface-attached iniferters in self-assembled monolayers to a gold surface. The tethered chains were subsequently functionalized with the cell-adhesive arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif. The modified brushes were extended by reinitiating the polymerization to obtain an additional layer of PMAA, thereby burying the peptide-functionalized segments inside the brush structure. Contact angle measurements and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy were employed to characterize the wettability and the chemical properties of these platforms. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS) measurements were performed to monitor the chemical composition of the polymer layer as a function of the distance to the gold surface and obtain information concerning the depth of the RGD motifs inside the brush structure. The brush thickness was evaluated as a function of the polymerization (i.e.. UV-irradiation) time with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and ellipsometry. Cell adhesion tests employing human osteoblasts were performed on substrates with the RGD peptides exposed at the surface as well as covered by a PMAA top brush layer. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated a variation of the cell morphology as a function of the position of the peptide units along the grafted chains.

Keywords: Ion mass-spectrometry, Transfer radical polymerization, Asymmetric diblock copolymers, Arg-gly-asp, Swelling behaviour, Endothelial-cells, Thin-films, fibronectin, Surfaces, SIMS


Embrechts, A., Feng, C. L., Mills, C. A., Lee, M., Bredebusch, I., Schnekenburger, J., Domschke, W., Vancso, G. J., Schönherr, H., (2008). Inverted microcontact printing on polystyrene-block-poly(tert-butyl acrylate) films: A versatile approach to fabricate structured biointerfaces across the length scales Langmuir 24, (16), 8841-8849

The combination of the recently introduced soft lithographic technique of inverted microcontact printing (i-μCP) and spin-coated films of polystyrene-block-poly(tert-butyl acrylate) (PS690-b-PtBA 1210) as a reactive platform is shown to yield a versatile approach for the facile fabrication of topographically structured and chemically patterned biointerfaces with characteristic spacings and distances that cross many orders of magnitude. The shortcomings of conventional μCP in printing of small features with large spacings, due to the collapse of small or high aspect ratio stamp structures, are circumvented in i-μCP by printing reactants using a featureless elastomeric stamp onto a topographically structured reactive polymer film. Prior to molecular transfer, the substrate-supported PS 690-b-PtBA1210 films were structured by imprint lithography resulting in lateral and vertical feature sizes between >50 μm-150 nm and >1.0 μm-18 nm, respectively. Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and water contact angle measurements provided evidence for the absence of surface chemical transformations during the imprinting step. Following the previously established hydrolysis and activation protocol with trifluoroacetic acid and N-hydroxysuccinimide, amino end-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG-NH2), as well as bovine serum albumin and fibronectin as model proteins, were successfully transferred by i-μCP and coupled covalently. As shown, i-μCP yields increased PEG coverages and thus improved performance in suppressing nonspecific adsorption of proteins by exploiting the high local concentrations in the micro- and nanocontacts during molecular transfer. The i-μCP strategy provides access to versatile biointerface platforms patterned across the length scales, as shown for guided cancer cell adhesion, which opens the pathway for systematic cell-surface interaction studies.


Issle, J., Pla, M., Martínez, E., Hartmann, U., (2008). Patterning of magnetic nanobeads on surfaces by poly(dimethylsiloxane) stamps Langmuir 24, (3), 888-893

Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) stamps are widely used in soft lithographic methods. They are powerful tools for obtaining structures of soft material in the micrometer to nanometer range by printing techniques. In this contribution, a new application of h-PDMS stamps for nanobead deposition is introduced. Magnetite-polysaccharide particles of an average diameter of 150 nm are used. They can be biologically functionalized by attaching various molecular groups. Deposition of these particles on a carrier substrate results in well-reproducible structures. This is achieved by means of PDMS stamps with different patterns using a microfluidic approach on one hand and a printing approach on the other hand. Furthermore, magnetic substrates with particular domain structures have been used. The beads can then be arranged in rather complicated but well-defined geometrical structures along the domain walls. The magnetic interaction considerably increases the adhesion of the beads to the carrier substrate. All involved materials are biocompatible. Thus the setup can be used in cell culture experiments in order to investigate influences of different particle-bound proteins and particle patterns on cell growth and vitality.


Sanzana, E. S., Navarro, M., Macule, F., Suso, S., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Of the in vivo behavior of calcium phosphate cements and glasses as bone substitutes Acta Biomaterialia 4, (6), 1924-1933

The use of injectable self-setting calcium phosphate cements or soluble glass granules represent two different strategies for bone regeneration, each with distinct advantages and potential applications. This study compares the in vivo behavior of two calcium phosphate cements and two phosphate glasses with different composition, microstructure and solubility, using autologous bone as a control, in a rabbit model. The implanted materials were alpha-tricalcium phosphate cement (cement H), calcium sodium potassium phosphate cement (cement R), and two phosphate glasses in the P2O5-CaO-Na2O and P2O5-CaO-Na2O-TiO2 systems. The four materials were osteoconductive, biocompatible and biodegradable. Radiological and histological studies demonstrated correct osteointegration and substitution of the implants by new bone. The reactivity of the different materials, which depends on their solubility, porosity and specific surface area, affected the resorption rate and bone formation mainly during the early stages of implantation, although this effect was weak. Thus, at 4 weeks the degradation was slightly higher in cements than in glasses, especially for cement R. However, after 12 weeks of implantation all materials showed a similar degradation degree and promoted bone neoformation equivalent to that of the control group.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Calcium phosphate cements, Phosphate glasses, Bone grafts, Bone regenerations


Roca, Ignasi, Torrents, Eduard, Sahlin, Margareta, Gibert, Isidre, Sjoberg, Britt-Marie, (2008). NrdI essentiality for class Ib ribonucleotide reduction in streptococcus pyogenes Journal of Bacteriology 190, (14), 4849-4858

The Streptococcus pyogenes genome harbors two clusters of class Ib ribonucleotide reductase genes, nrdHEF and nrdF*I*E*, and a second stand-alone nrdI gene, designated nrdI2. We show that both clusters are expressed simultaneously as two independent operons. The NrdEF enzyme is functionally active in vitro, while the NrdE*F* enzyme is not. The NrdF* protein lacks three of the six highly conserved iron-liganding side chains and cannot form a dinuclear iron site or a tyrosyl radical. In vivo, on the other hand, both operons are functional in heterologous complementation in Escherichia coli. The nrdF*I*E* operon requires the presence of the nrdI* gene, and the nrdHEF operon gained activity upon cotranscription of the heterologous nrdI gene from Streptococcus pneumoniae, while neither nrdI* nor nrdI2 from S. pyogenes rendered it active. Our results highlight the essential role of the flavodoxin NrdI protein in vivo, and we suggest that it is needed to reduce met-NrdF, thereby enabling the spontaneous reformation of the tyrosyl radical. The NrdI* flavodoxin may play a more direct role in ribonucleotide reduction by the NrdF*I*E* system. We discuss the possibility that the nrdF*I*E* operon has been horizontally transferred to S. pyogenes from Mycoplasma spp.

Keywords: Group-a streptococcus, Bacillus-subtilis genes, Escherichia-coli, Corynebacterium-ammoniagenes, Mycobacterium-tuberculosis, Expression analysis, Genome sequence, Small-subunit, Salmonella-typhimurium, Iron center


Navarro, M., Michiardi, A., Castano, O., Planell, J. A., (2008). Biomaterials in orthopaedics Journal of The Royal Society Interface Journal of the Royal Society Interface , 5, (27), 1137-1158

At present, strong requirements in orthopaedics are still to be met, both in bone and joint substitution and in the repair and regeneration of bone defects. In this framework, tremendous advances in the biomaterials field have been made in the last 50 years where materials intended for biomedical purposes have evolved through three different generations, namely first generation (bioinert materials), second generation (bioactive and biodegradable materials) and third generation (materials designed to stimulate specific responses at the molecular level). In this review, the evolution of different metals, ceramics and polymers most commonly used in orthopaedic applications is discussed, as well as the different approaches used to fulfil the challenges faced by this medical field.

Keywords: Biomaterials, Orthopaedics, Tissue engineering, Bioactive materials, Biodegradable materials, Bioinert materials


Hoogenboom, Jacob P., Hernando, Jordi, Garcia-Parajo, M. F., van Hulst, Niek F., (2008). Memory in single emitter fluorescence blinking reveals the dynamic character of nanoscale charge tunneling Journal of Physical Chemistry C 112, (9), 3417-3422

Luminescence blinking of single emitters is one of the most profound and intriguing issues in nano-optics and related areas. Its mechanisms and in particular the often observed deviant power-law statistics are a subject of ongoing recent debate. We examine onoff blinking in a dedicated synthetic trichromophoric assembly of perylene molecules. This trimeric system allows us to unambiguously discern blinking from photobleaching events and furthermore displays sufficient blinking events for a single-molecule analysis. An intriguing memory effect is observed, evidenced in clear correlations between successive on-times. In contrast, successive off-times are only weakly correlated and cross-correlations between on- and off-times are absent. Our results reveal the importance of nanoscale environmental dynamics on top of charge tunneling in understanding single emitter luminescence blinking. Dynamics of the polymer matrix and charge carriers therein is crucial to explain the power-law distribution of on-times. This result is directly relevant for related systems like semiconductor quantum dots, fluorescent proteins, and conjugated polymers.

Keywords: -----


Oncins, G., Torrent-Burgues, J., Sanz, F., (2008). Nanomechanical properties of arachidic acid Langmuir-Blodgett films Journal of Physical Chemistry C 112, (6), 1967-1974

The nanomechanical properties of Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers of arachidic acid extracted at surface pressures of 1, 15, and 35 mN/m and deposited on mica were investigated by atomic force microscopy, force spectroscopy, and lateral force microscopy. It was experimentally demonstrated that the arachidic acid molecular orientation depends on the extraction pressure. According to this, tilting angles of 50, 34, and 22 degrees with respect to the surface perpendicular were detected and identified as conformations that maximize van der Waals interactions between the arachidic acid alkyl chains. The vertical force needed to puncture the monolayers with the AFM tip strongly depends on the molecular tilting angles attained at different monolayer extraction surface pressures, obtaining values that range from 13.07 +/- 3.24 nN for 50 degrees to 22.94 +/- 5.49 nN for 22 degrees tilting angles. The different molecular interactions involved in the monolayer cohesion are discussed and quantitatively related to the experimental monolayer breakthrough forces. The friction measurements performed from low vertical forces up to monolayer disruption reveal the existence of three well-defined regimes: first, a low friction response due to the elastic deformation of the monolayer, which is followed by a sharp increase in the friction force due to the onset of a sudden plastic deformation. The last regime corresponds to the monolayer rupture and the contact between tip and substrate. The friction coefficient of the substrate is seen to depend on the monolayer extraction pressure, a fact that is discussed in terms of the relationship between the sample compactness and its rupture mechanism.

Keywords: AFM, SAM, Reflection-absortion spectroscopy, Lipid-bilayers, Frictional-properies, Molecular-structure, Thermal behavior, Nanometer-scale, Chain-length, LB films


Cordeiro, Tiago N., García, Jesús, Pons, José-Ignacio, Aznar, Sonia, Juárez, Antonio, Pons, Miquel, (2008). A single residue mutation in Hha preserving structure and binding to H-NS results in loss of H-NS mediated gene repression properties FEBS Letters 582, (20), 3139-3144

In this study, we report that a single mutation of cysteine 18 to isoleucine (C18I) in Escherichia coli Hha abolishes the repression of the hemolysin operon observed in the wild-type protein. The phenotype also includes a significant decrease in the growth rate of E. coli cells at low ionic strength. Other substitutions at this position (C18A, C18S) have no observable effects in E. coli growth or hemolysin repression. All mutants are stable and well folded and bind H-NS in vitro with similar affinities suggesting that Cys 18 is not directly involved in H-NS binding but this position is essential for the activity of the H-NS/Hha heterocomplexes in the regulation of gene expression.

Keywords: Nucleoid-associated protein, H-NS, Hha, Transcription repression


Oncins, Gerard, Vericat, Carolina, Sanz, Fausto, (2008). Mechanical properties of alkanethiol monolayers studied by force spectroscopy Journal of Chemical Physics 128, (4), 044701

The mechanical properties of alkanethiol monolayers on Au(111) in KOH solution have been studied by force spectroscopy. The analysis of the vertical force versus penetration curves showed that monolayer penetration is a stepped process that combines elastic regions with sudden penetration events. The structural meaning of these events can be explained both by the creation of gauche defects on the hydrocarbon chains and by a cooperative molecular tilting model proposed by Barrena et al. [J. Chem. Phys. 113, 2413 (2000)]. The validity of these models for alkanethiol monolayers of different compactness and chain length has been discussed. The Young's modulus (E) of the monolayers has been calculated by using a recently developed model which considers the thickness of the monolayer as a parameter, thus allowing a decoupling of the mechanical properties of the thiol layer from those of the Au(111) substrate. As a result, the calculated E values are in the range of 50-150 Pa, which are remarkably lower than those previously reported in the literature.

Keywords: Adsorbed layers, AFM, Gold, Monolayers, Organic compounds, Self-assemblyYoung's modulus


Udina, S., Carmona, M., Carles, G., Santander, J., Fonseca, L., Marco, S., (2008). A micromachined thermoelectric sensor for natural gas analysis: Thermal model and experimental results Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 134, (2), 551-558

Natural gas may show significant changes in its chemical composition depending on its origin. Typically, natural gas analysis is carried out using process gas chromatography. However, other methods based on the evaluation of physical properties have recently been reported. Thermal conductivity sensors are currently used in the analysis of binary mixtures of dissimilar gases. In contrast, natural gas is a complex mixture of mainly hydrocarbons, plus other residual gases as carbon dioxide and nitrogen. In this work, the response of a micromachined sensor integrating a heater and a thermopile is studied, regarding its potential use for natural gas analysis. A finite element thermal model of the device is described, and thermal operation simulations as well as a preliminary sensitivity analysis are reported. Experimental data has been collected and compared with simulated data, showing very good agreement. Results show that small variations in the gas mixture composition can be clearly detected. The sensor appears as a good candidate to be included in low-cost natural gas property analysis and quality control systems.

Keywords: Natural gas, Thermopile, MEMS, Thermal conductivity, Modeling, FEM simulation


de Oliveira, I. A. M., Risco, D., Vocanson, F., Crespo, E., Teixidor, F., Zine, N., Bausells, J., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., (2008). Sodium ion sensitive microelectrode based on a p-tert-butylcalix[4]arene ethyl ester Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 130, (1), 295-299

Planar sodium-selective potentiometric microelectrodes with a conducting polymer (polypyrrole doped with cobaltabis(dicarbollide) ions ([3,3'-Co(1,2-C2B9-H-11)(2)](-))) as solid contact layer between the polymeric sensitive membrane and the platinum substrate have been constructed. The p-tert-butylcalix[4]arene ethyl ester was used as ionophore for sodium recognition. The microelectrode shows a linear response for Na+ concentrations between 3.0 x 10(-6) and 1.0 x 10(-1) M with a Nernstian slope of 58.65 +/- 2 mV per decade and a detection limit of 1.45 x 10(-6) M. The response time was 14 s, and the electrode is suitable for use within the pH range of 3-10.

Keywords: Sodium, Polypyrrole, Calix[4]arene, Solid-state ion selective microelectrode, Potentiometric


Banos, R. C., Pons, J. I., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2008). A global modulatory role for the Yersinia enterocolitica H-NS protein Microbiology 154, (5), 1281-1289

The H-NS protein plays a significant role in the modulation of gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas isolation and characterization of hns mutants in Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Shigella represented critical steps to gain insight into the modulatory role of H-NS, it has hitherto not been possible to isolate hns mutants in Yersinia. The hns mutation is considered to be deleterious in this genus. To study the modulatory role of H-NS in Yersinia we circumvented hns lethality by expressing in Y. enterocolitica a truncated H-NS protein known to exhibit anti-H-NS activity in E. coli (H-NST(EPEC)). Y. enterocolitica cells expressing H-NST(EPEC) showed an altered growth rate and several differences in the protein expression pattern, including the ProV protein, which is modulated by H-NS in other enteric bacteria. To further confirm that H-NST(EPEC) expression in Yersinia can be used to demonstrate H-NS-dependent regulation in this genus, we used this approach to show that H-NS modulates expression of the YmoA protein.

Keywords: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, DNA-Binding Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Essential, Proteome/analysis, RNA, Bacterial/biosynthesis, RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Deletion, Yersinia enterocolitica/chemistry/genetics/growth & development/ physiology


Sandino, C., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2008). A finite element study of mechanical stimuli in scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Journal of Biomechanics 41, (5), 1005-1014

Mechanical stimuli are one of the factors that affect cell proliferation and differentiation in the process of bone tissue regeneration. Knowledge on the specific deformation sensed by cells at a microscopic level when mechanical loads are applied is still missing in the development of biomaterials for bone tissue engineering. The objective of this study was to analyze the behavior of the mechanical stimuli within some calcium phosphate-based scaffolds in terms of stress and strain distributions in the solid material phase and fluid velocity, fluid pressure and fluid shear stress distributions in the pores filled of fluid, by means of micro computed tomographed (CT)-based finite element (FE) models. Two samples of porous materials, one of calcium phosphate-based cement and another of biodegradable glass, were used. Compressive loads equivalent to 0.5% of compression applied to the solid material phase and interstitial fluid flows with inlet velocities of 1, 10 and 100 mu m/s applied to the interconnected pores were simulated, changing also the inlet side and the viscosity of the medium. Similar strain distributions for both materials were found, with compressive and tensile strain maximal values of 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively. Mean values were consistent with the applied deformation. When 10 mu m/s of inlet fluid velocity and 1.45 Pa s viscosity, maximal values of fluid velocity were 12.76 mm/s for CaP cement and 14.87 mm/s for glass. Mean values were consistent with the inlet ones applied, and mean values of shear stress were around 5 x 10(-5) Pa. Variations on inlet fluid velocity and fluid viscosity produce proportional and independent changes in fluid velocity, fluid shear stress and fluid pressure. This study has shown how mechanical loads and fluid flow applied on the scaffolds cause different levels of mechanical stimuli within the samples according to the morphology of the materials.

Keywords: Bone tissue engineering, Finite element analysis, Scaffolds, Mechanical stimuli


Fernandez, J. G., Mills, C. A., Martinez, E., Lopez-Bosque, M. J., Sisquella, X., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2008). Micro- and nanostructuring of freestanding, biodegradable, thin sheets of chitosan via soft lithography Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 85A, (1), 242-247

A technique for imparting micro- and nano-structured topography into the surface of freestanding thin sheets of chitosan is described. Both micro- and nanometric surface structures have been produced using soft lithography. The soft lithography method, based on solvent evaporation, has allowed structures similar to 60 nm tall and similar to 500 X 500 nm(2) to be produced on freestanding similar to 0.5 mm thick sheets of the polymer when cured at 293 K, and structures similar to 400 nm tall and 5 X 5 mu m(2) to be produced when cured at 283 K. Nonstructured chitosan thin sheets (similar to 200 mu m thick) show excellent optical transmission properties in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The structured sheets can be used for applications where optical microscopic analysis is required, such as cell interaction experiments and tissue engineering.

Keywords: Chitin/chitosan, Microstructure, Nanotopography, Polymerization, Soft lithography


Navarro, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Amaral, I., Barbosa, M., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Surface characterization and cell response of a PLA/CaP glass biodegradable composite material Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 85A, (2), 477-486

Bioabsorbable materials are of great interest for bone regeneration applications, since they are able to degrade gradually as new tissue is formed. In this work, a fully biodegradable composite material containing polylactic acid (PLA) and calcium phosphate (CaP) soluble glass particles has been characterized in terms of surface properties and cell response. Cell cultures were performed in direct contact with the materials and also with their extracts, and were evaluated using the MTT assay, alkaline phosphatase activity, and osteocalcin measurements. The CaP glass and PLA were used as reference materials. No significant differences were observed in cell proliferation with the extracts containing the degradation by-products of the three materials studied. A relation between the materials wettability and the material-cell interactions at the initial stages of contact was observed. The most hydrophilic material (CaP glass) presented the highest cell adhesion values as well as an earlier differentiation, followed by the PLA/glass material. The incorporation of glass particles into the PLA matrix increased surface roughness. SEM images showed that the heterogeneity of the composite material induced morphological changes in the cells cytoskeleton.

Keywords: Glass, Polylactic acid, Surface analysis, Cell culture, In vitro test


Guaus, E., Errachid, A., Torrent-Burgues, J., (2008). Voltammetric response of a glassy carbon electrode modified by a Langmuir-Blodgett film of a thiomacrocyclic compound Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry 614, (1-2), 73-82

A Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) film of a thiomacrocyclic (ThM) compound was deposited on the surface of a glassy carbon electrode (GCE) sheet, from a subphase containing Cu(II) ions. The study of the voltammetric response of this modified GCE when the ThM was bonded to Cu2+, showed that the films had the behaviour of confined species of an electrode surface, and that the current density of the voltammograms increased with the number of LB layers deposited. On the other hand, a LB film of the ThM compound was deposited on the surface of a GCE sheet from a subphase of pure water. When the voltammetric response of the GCE-ThM electrode was studied in a Cu2+-SO42- solution, it was found that a membrane model applies to describe the effect of the LB film on the GCE surface.

Keywords: Modified electrodes, Langmuir-Blodgett films, Cyclic voltammetry, Permeation at LB films, Membrane model of a thin film


Farre, R., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., (2008). Morbidity due to obstructive sleep apnea: insights from animal models Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 14, (6), 530-536

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent disorder with clinically well known mid-term and long-term consequences. It is difficult, however, to investigate the mechanisms causing morbidity in OSA from human studies, owing to confounding factors in patients. Animal research is useful to analyze the various injurious stimuli--intermittent hypoxia/hypercapnia, mechanical stress and sleep disruption--that potentially cause OSA morbidity. This review is focused on the most recent advances in our understanding of the consequences of OSA, achieved as a result of animal models. RECENT FINDINGS: Animal research has improved our knowledge of various aspects of the cardiovascular consequences of OSA: myocardial damage, left ventricular dysfunction, vasoconstriction, hypertension and atherosclerosis. The systemic and metabolic consequences of OSA--inflammation, insulin resistance, alterations in lipid metabolism and hepatic morbidity--have also been investigated with animal models. Our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the neurocognitive consequences of OSA--neuronal and brain alterations and cognitive dysfunctions--has also been improved through animal research. Moreover, animal models have recently been used to investigate the mechanisms of upper airway inflammation and dysfunction. SUMMARY: The simple experimental models used to investigate OSA morbidity are useful for investigating isolated mechanisms. However, more complex and realistic models incorporating the various injurious challenges characterizing OSA are required to more precisely translate the results of animal research to patients and to design potentially preventive and therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Animal model, Morbidity, Sleep apnea, Translational research


Lopez, M. J., Caballero, D., Campo, E. M., Perez-Castillejos, R., Errachid, A., Esteve, J., Plaza, J. A., (2008). Focused ion beam-assisted technology in sub-picolitre micro-dispenser fabrication Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering 18, (7), 8

Novel medical and biological applications are driving increased interest in the fabrication of micropipette or micro-dispensers. Reduced volume samples and drug dosages are prime motivators in this effort. We have combined microfabrication technology with ion beam milling techniques to successfully produce cantilever-type polysilicon micro-dispensers with 3D enclosed microchannels. The microfabrication technology described here allows for the designing of nozzles with multiple shapes. The contribution of ion beam milling has had a large impact on the fabrication process and on further customizing shapes of nozzles and inlet ports. Functionalization tests were conducted to prove the viability of ion beam-fabricated micro-dispensers. Self-assembled monolayers were successfully formed when a gold surface was patterned with a thiol solution dispensed by the fabricated micro-dispensers.

Keywords: Dip-pen nanolithography, Silicon, Deposition, Microneedles, Delivery, Arrays, Polysilicon, Capillary, Systems, Gene


Gomila, G., Toset, J., Fumagalli, L., (2008). Nanoscale capacitance microscopy of thin dielectric films Journal of Applied Physics 104, (2), 8

We present an analytical model to interpret nanoscale capacitance microscopy measurements on thin dielectric films. The model displays a logarithmic dependence on the tip-sample distance and on the film thickness-dielectric constant ratio and shows an excellent agreement with finite-element numerical simulations and experimental results on a broad range of values. Based on these results, we discuss the capabilities of nanoscale capacitance microscopy for the quantitative extraction of the dielectric constant and the thickness of thin dielectric films at the nanoscale.

Keywords: AFM, Thickness, Tip


Maneva-Radicheva, L., Ebert, U., Dimoudis, N., Altankov, G., (2008). Fibroblast remodeling of adsorbed collagen type IV is altered in contact with cancer cells Histology and Histopathology 23, (7), 833-842

A series of co-culture experiments between fibroblasts and H-460 human lung carcinoma cells were performed to learn more about the fate of adsorbed type IV collagen (Coll IV). Fibroblasts were able to spatially rearrange Coll IV in a specific linear pattern, similar but not identical to the fibronectin (FN) fibrils. Coll IV partly co-aligns with fibroblast actin cytoskeleton and transiently co-localize with FN, as well as with beta 1 and a 2 integrin clusters, suggesting a cell-dependent process. We further found that this Coll IV reorganization is suppressed in contact with H460 cells. Zymography revealed strongly elevated MMP-2 activity in supernatants of co-cultures, but no activity when fibroblasts or cancer cells were cultured alone. Thus, we provide evidence that reorganization of substrate associated Coll IV is a useful morphological approach for in vitro studies on matrix remodeling activity during tumorigenesis.

Keywords: Adsorbed collagen IV reorganization, Fibroblasts and cancer cells co-culture, MMP-2


Farre, R., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., (2008). Assessment of upper airway mechanics during sleep Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 163, (1-3), 74-81

Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most prevalent sleep breathing disorder, is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway collapse and reopening. However, the mechanical properties of the upper airway are not directly measured in routine polysomnography because only qualitative sensors (thermistors for flow and thoraco-abdominal bands for pressure) are used. This review focuses on two techniques that quantify upper airway obstruction during sleep. A Starling model of collapsible conduit allows us to interpret the mechanics of the upper airway by means of two parameters: the critical pressure (Pcrit) and the upstream resistance (Rup). A simple technique to measure Pcrit and Rup involves the application of different levels of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep. The forced oscillation technique is another non-invasive procedure for quantifying upper airway impedance during the breathing cycle in sleep studies. The latest developments in these two methods allow them to be easily applied on a routine basis in order to more fully characterize upper airway mechanics in patients with sleep breathing disorders.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea, Upper airway, Airway resistance, Critical pressure, Respiratory impedance


Almendros, I., Gutierrez, P. T., Closa, D., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2008). One-lung overventilation does not induce inflammation in the normally ventilated contralateral lung Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 162, (1), 100-102

The aim was to assess whether induction of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) in one lung triggers a concomitant inflammatory response in the normally ventilated contralateral lung. To this end, a differential ventilator was used in 6 rats. One lung was normally ventilated (3.5 ml/kg b.w.) and the contralateral lung was overstretched (15 ml/kg b.w.). Six control rats were normally ventilated (3.5 ml/kg b.w. each lung). After 3h, edema and gene expression of MIP-2 in the lung, and plasma and liver TNF-alpha were assessed. Overexpression of MIP-2 and edema were found in the overventilated lung but not in the normally ventilated contralateral lung. No detectable levels of circulating and liver TNF-alpha were detected. These data do not support the hypothesis of an early positive feedback in the lung inflammation during the mechanical ventilation.

Keywords: Mechanical ventilation, Lung injury, Lung edema, Lung over stretch, High volume ventilation, Differential ventilation


Manara, S., Paolucci, F., Palazzo, B., Marcaccio, M., Foresti, E., Tosi, G., Sabbatini, S., Sabatino, P., Altankov, G., Roveri, N., (2008). Electrochemically-assisted deposition of biomimetic hydroxyapatite-collagen coatings on titanium plate Inorganica Chimica Acta 361, (6), 1634-1645

A biomimetic bone-like composite, made of self-assembled collagen fibrils and carbonate hydroxyapatite nanocrystals, has been performed by an electrochemically-assisted deposition on titanium plate. The electrolytic processes have been carried out using a single type I collagen molecules suspension in a diluted Ca(NO3)(2) and NH4H2PO4 solution at room temperature and applying a constant current for different periods of time. Using the same electrochemical conditions, carbonate hydroxyapatite nanocrystals or reconstituted collagen. brils coatings were obtained. The reconstituted collagen. brils, hydroxyapatite nanocrystals and collagen fibrils/apatite nanocrystals coatings have been characterized chemically, structurally and morphologically, as well as for their ability to bind fibronectin (FN). Fourier Transform Infrared microscopy has been used to map the topographic distribution of the coating components at different times of electrochemical deposition, allowing to single out the individual deposition steps. Moreover, roughness of Ti plate has been found to affect appreciably the nucleation region of the inorganic nanocrystals. Laser scanning confocal microscopy has been used to characterize the FN adsorption pattern on a synthetic biomimetic apatitic phase, which exhibits a higher affinity when it is inter-grown with the collagen fibrils. The results offer auspicious applications in the preparation of medical devices such as biomimetic bone-like composite-coated metallic implants.

Keywords: Hydroxyapatite-collagen coating, Electrochemically-assisted deposition, Micro-imaging FTIR spectroscopy, Laser scanning confocal microscopy, Biomimetic crystal growth, Fibronectin binding


Cho, S., Castellarnau, M., Samitier, J., Thielecke, H., (2008). Dependence of impedance of embedded single cells on cellular behaviour Sensors 8, (2), 1198-1211

Non-invasive single cell analyses are increasingly required for the medical diagnostics of test substances or the development of drugs and therapies on the single cell level. For the non-invasive characterisation of cells, impedance spectroscopy which provides the frequency dependent electrical properties has been used. Recently, microfludic systems have been investigated to manipulate the single cells and to characterise the electrical properties of embedded cells. In this article, the impedance of partially embedded single cells dependent on the cellular behaviour was investigated by using the microcapillary. An analytical equation was derived to relate the impedance of embedded cells with respect to the morphological and physiological change of extracellular interface. The capillary system with impedance measurement showed a feasibility to monitor the impedance change of embedded single cells caused by morphological and physiological change of cell during the addition of DMSO. By fitting the derived equation to the measured impedance of cell embedded at different negative pressure levels, it was able to extrapolate the equivalent gap and gap conductivity between the cell and capillary wall representing the cellular behaviour.

Keywords: Frequency-domain, Spectroscopy, Erythrocytes, Biosensor, Membrane, System


Martinez, E., Engel, E., Lopez-Iglesias, C., Mills, C. A., Planell, J. A., Samitier, J., (2008). Focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy characterization of cell behavior on polymer micro-/nanopatterned substrates: A study of cell-substrate interactions Micron 39, (2), 111-116

Topographic micro and nanostructures can play an interesting role in cell behaviour when cells are cultured on these kinds of patterned substrates. It is especially relevant to investigate the influence of the nanometric dimensions topographic features on cell morphology, proliferation, migration and differentiation. To this end, some of the most recent fabrication technologies, developed for the microelectronics industry, can be used to produce well-defined micro and nanopatterns on biocompatible polymer substrates. In this work, osteoblast-like cells are grown on poly(methyl methacrylate) substrates patterned by nanoimprint lithography techniques. Examination of the cell-substrate interface can reveal important details about the cell morphology and the distribution of the focal contacts on the substrate surface. For this purpose, a combination of focused ion beam milling and scanning electron microscopy techniques has been used to image the cell-substrate interface. This technique, if applied to samples prepared by freeze-drying methods, allows high-resolution imaging of cross-sections through the cell and the substrate, where the interactions between the nanopatterned substrate, the cell and the extracellular matrix, which are normally hidden by the bulk of the cell, can be studied.

Keywords: Electron microscopy, Interface, Nanotopography, Osteoblast, Adhesion molecule, Cell morphology


Mills, C. A., Fernandez, J. G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2008). The use of high glass temperature polymers in the production of transparent, structured surfaces using nanoimprint lithography Microelectronic Engineering 85, (9), 1897-1901

Polymers with high glass transition temperatures, fluorinated ethylene propylene copolymer (FEP) and poly(ethylene naphthalate) (PEN), have been used in imprint lithography as a protective support layer and as a secondary mould, to imprint superficial structures into a polymer with a lower glass transition temperature, namely poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). As a support layer, FEP replaces fragile silicon based supports for the production of freestanding, structured sheets of PMMA, useful, for example, in biomedical applications where transmittance optical microscopy is required. Secondary PEN moulds, produced by imprinting using silicon-based primary moulds, have been used to transfer sub-micrometer tall structures to a freestanding PMMA sheet. Similarly, hole structures, with different dimensions, have been embossed in both sides of a PMMA sheet simultaneously.

Keywords: Polymer engineering, Embossing, Nanoimprint lithography, Biomedical applications


Charles-Harris, M., Koch, M. A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2008). A PLA/calcium phosphate degradable composite material for bone tissue engineering: an in vitro study Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine 19, (4), 1503-1513

Biodegradable polymers reinforced with an inorganic phase such as calcium phosphate glasses may be a promising approach to fulfil the challenging requirements presented by 3D porous scaffolds for tissue engineering. Scaffolds' success depends mainly on their biological behaviour. This work is aimed to the in vitro study of polylactic acid (PLA)/CaP glass 3D porous constructs for bone regeneration. The scaffolds were elaborated using two different techniques, namely solvent-casting and phase-separation. The effect of scaffolds' micro and macrostructure on the biological response of these scaffolds was assayed. Cell proliferation, differentiation and morphology within the scaffolds were studied. Furthermore, polymer/glass scaffolds were seeded under dynamic conditions in a custom-made perfusion bioreactor. Results indicate that the final architecture of the solvent-cast or phase separated scaffolds have a significant effect on cells' behaviour. Solvent-cast scaffolds seem to be the best candidates for bone tissue engineering. Besides, dynamic seeding yielded a higher seeding efficiency in comparison with the static method.

Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Bone and Bones/ metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/ chemistry, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Lactic Acid/ chemistry, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Osteoblasts/metabolism, Permeability, Polymers/ chemistry, Porosity, Solvents/chemistry, Tissue Engineering/ methods


Gustavsson, J., Altankov, G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2008). Surface modifications of silicon nitride for cellular biosensor applications Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine 19, (4), 1839-1850

Thin films of silicon nitride (Si3N4) can be used in several kinds of micro-sized biosensors as a material to monitor fine environmental changes related to the process of bone formation in vitro. We found however that Si3N4 does not provide optimal conditions for osseointegration as osteoblast-like MG-63 cells tend to detach from the surface when cultured over confluence. Therefore Si3N4 was modified with self-assembled monolayers bearing functional end groups of primary amine (NH2) and carboxyl (COOH) respectively. Both these modifications enhanced the interaction with confluent cell layers and thus improve osseointegration over Si3N4. Furthermore it was observed that the NH2 functionality increased the adsorption of fibronectin (FN), promoted cell proliferation, but delayed the differentiation. We also studied the fate of pre-adsorbed and secreted FN from cells to learn more about the impact of above functionalities for the development of provisional extracellular matrix on materials interface. Taken together our data supports that Si3N4 has low tissue integration but good cellular biocompatibility and thus is appropriate in cellular biosensor applications such as the ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET). COOH and NH2 chemistries generally improve the interfacial tissue interaction with the sensor and they are therefore suitable substrates for monitoring cellular growth or matrix deposition using electrical impedance spectroscopy.

Keywords: Adsorption, Amines/chemistry, Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Biosensing Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Electric Impedance, Extracellular Matrix/metabolism, Fibronectins/chemistry, Humans, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology, Silicon Compounds/ chemistry, Surface Properties


Morgenstern, C., Jané, R., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W., (2008). Automatic classification of inspiratory flow limitation assessed non-invasively during sleep IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 1132-1135

Detection of inspiratory flow limitation (IFL) is being recognized of increasing importance in order to diagnose pathologies related to sleep disordered breathing. Currently, IFL is usually identified with the help of invasive esophageal pressure measurement, still considered the gold-standard reference to assess respiratory effort. But the invasiveness of esophageal pressure measurement and its impact on sleep discourages its use in clinical routine. In this study, a new non-invasive automatic system is proposed for objective IFL classification. First, an automatic annotation system for IFL based on pressure/flow relationship was developed. Then, classifiers (Support Vector Machines and adaboost classifiers) were trained with these gold-standard references in order to objectively classify breaths non-invasively, solely based on the breaths' flow contours. The new non-invasive automatic classification system seems to be promising, as it achieved a sensitivity of 0.92 and a specificity of 0.89, outperforming prior classification results obtained by human experts.

Keywords: Upper airway-resistance


Morgenstern, C., Jané, R., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W., (2008). Characterization of inspiratory flow limitation during sleep with an exponential model IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 2439-2442

Assessing incidence and severity of inspiratory flow limitation (TFL) is of importance for patients suffering of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in order to diagnose a spectrum of different pathologies. In this study a new exponential equation is proposed to characterize the pressure/flow relationship of IFL and non-TFL breaths. Classical and alternative criteria are applied on the model's predictions in order to assess TFL, and its outcome is compared to the outcome of other models. The newly proposed exponential model seems to be promising, as it outperforms other models by achieving a global average sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 91%, and the lowest mean square error when estimating resistance at peak pressure. Additional statistical tests were performed on the exponential model's coefficients in order to determine if a coefficient based classification is possible.

Keywords: Resistance


Garde, A., Giraldo, B. F., Jané, R., Diaz, I., Herrera, S., Benito, S., Domingo, M., Bayes-Genis, A., (2008). Characterization of periodic and non-periodic breathing pattern in chronic heart failure patients IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 3227-3230

Periodic breathing (PB) has a high prevalence in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with mild to moderate symptoms and poor ventricular function. This work proposes the analysis and characterization of the respiratory pattern to identify periodic breathing pattern (PB) and non-periodic breathing pattern (nPB) through the respiratory flow signal. The respiratory pattern analysis is based on the extraction and the study of the flow envelope signal. The flow envelope signal is modelled by an autoregressive model (AR) whose coefficients would characterize the respiratory pattern of each group. The goodness of the characterization is evaluated through a linear and non linear classifier applied to the AR coefficients. An adaptive feature selection is used before the linear and non linear classification, employing leave-one-out cross validation technique. With linear classification the percentage of well classified patients (8 PB and 18 nPB patients) is 84.6% using the statistically significant coefficients whereas with non linear classification, the percentage of well classified patients increase to more than 92% applying the best subset of coefficients extracted by a forward selection algorithm.

Keywords: Clinical-implications, Sleep


Diez, Pablo F., Laciar, Eric, Mut, Vicente, Avila, Enrique, Torres, Abel, (2008). A comparative study of the performance of different spectral estimation methods for classification of mental tasks IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the Ieee Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 1155-1158

In this paper we compare three different spectral estimation techniques for the classification of mental tasks. These techniques are the standard periodogram, the Welch periodogram and the Burg method, applied to electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. For each one of these methods we compute two parameters: the mean power and the root mean square (RMS), in various frequency bands. The classification of the mental tasks was conducted with a linear discriminate analysis. The Welch periodogram and the Burg method performed better than the standard periodogram. The use of the RMS allows better classification accuracy than the obtained with the power of EEG signals.

Keywords: Adult, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Cognition, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Male, Pattern Recognition, Automated, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Task Performance and Analysis, User-Computer Interface


Montufar, E. B., Gil, C., Traykova, T., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., (2008). Foamed beta-tricalcium phosphate scaffolds Bioceramics: Key Engineering Materials 20th International Symposium on Ceramics in Medicine (ed. Daculsi, G., Layrolle, P.), Trans Tech Publications Ltd (Nantes, France) 20, 323-326

The design and processing of 3D macroporous bioactive scaffolds is one of the milestones for the progress of bone tissue engineering and bone regeneration. Calcium phosphate based ceramics are among the most suitable materials, due to their similarity to the bone mineral. Specifically, beta-tricalcium phosphate (beta-TCP) is known to be a resorbable and bioactive material, with well established applications as bone regeneration material. The aim of this work is to explore a new OF route to obtain beta-TCP macroporous scaffolds starting from calcium phosphate cements. To this end foamed calcium phosphate cement.. composed of alpha tricalcium phosphate as starting powder was used as initial material. The set foamed structures, made of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) were sintered to obtain the final beta-TCP macroporous architecture. The interconnected macroporosity was maintained.. whereas the porosity in the nanometric range was strongly reduced by the sintering process. The sintering produced also an increase in the mechanical properties of the scaffold.

Keywords: Calcium-phosphate ceramics, Cements, Scaffolds, Foams, Macroporous, Tissue engineering


Solà, J., Jané, R., Fiz, J. A., Morera, J., (2008). Formant frequencies of normal breath sounds of snorers may indicate the risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 3500-3503

Several differences between the airway of normal subjects and those with OSAS are well known. The characteristics of the upper airway may be indirectly studied through the formant frequencies of breathing sounds. In this work we analyze the formants of inspiration and exhalation sounds in snoring subjects with and without OSAS. Formant frequencies of inspiration and exhalation appear in the same bands as snores. Formant F1 is significantly lower in inspiration episodes of OSAS patients (p=0.008) with a decreasing tendency as the AHI increases (r=0.705). In addition, this formant has a significantly higher variability SF1 in pathological subjects, for both inspiration (p=0.022) and exhalation (p=0.038) episodes, as was previously found in snores. A higher variability of formant frequencies seems to be an indicator of the presence of OSAS. The proposed technique could allow the identification of OSAS patients from normal breathing alone.

Keywords: Upper airway


Renault, N. J., Korri-Youssoufi, H., Kyselovik, J., Auger, V., Errachid, A., Mills, C. A., Strohhöfer, C., Ali, Z., (2008). Impedimetric microanalysis system for deep vein thrombosis point-of-care testing EMBS'08 - "Personalized Healthcare through Technology" 30th Annual International IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) Conference , IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) , 1856

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and the associated condition of Pulmonary Embolism (PE) are the most common cause of unexpected death in developed nations. DVT is an internal clot formed in one of the body's deep veins, typically in the leg. If a part of the clot breaks free and moves into the lung, it can lead to pulmonary embolism (PE) which is often fatal. D-dimer is a recognised marker for the diagnosis of thrombus and is routinely used by skilled technical staff as part of an ELISA technique in hospital laboratories. Current D-dimer point-of-care tests are not sufficiently quantitative to allow them to be used to exclude DVT/PE. As a consequence, clinicians need to rely on the use of expensive Doppler ultrasound imaging (DUS), creating additional pressure on national health services. The DUS examination can take several days, during which time heparin is required to be administered to the patient. There is increasing in the development of low cost Lab-on-a-chip systems that will allow chemical and biological processing by non-specialist staff. A low cost, easy to use, portable and quantitative device for DVT/PE would be highly desirable since it would provide reliable diagnosis and aid faster treatment and recovery as well as lower healthcare provider costs.


Correa, L. S., Laciar, E., Torres, A., Jané, R., (2008). Performance evaluation of three methods for respiratory signal estimation from the electrocardiogram IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 4760-4763

A comparative study of three methods for estimating respiratory signal through electrocardiogram (ECG) was carried out. The three methods analyzed were based on R wave area, R peak amplitude and heart rate variability (HRV). For each method, cross-correlation coefficient and spectral coherence in a range of frequencies up to 0.5 Hz were computed between the ECG derived respiratory signals (EDR) and the three real respiratory signals: oronasal, and two inductance plethysmographies recordings (chest and abdominal). Results indicate that EDR methods based on R wave area and HRV are better correlated and show a wider spectral coherence with real respiratory signals than the other EDR method based on R peak amplitude.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep-apnea


Lereu, A. L., Sanchez-Mosteiro, G., Ghenuche, P., Passian, A., Quidant, R., Garcia-Parajo, M., Van Hulst, N. F., (2008). Probing the local field of nanoantennas using single particle luminescence Journal of Physics: Conference Series IVC-17/ICSS-13 and ICN+T 2007 Congress , IOPScience (Stockholm, Sweden) 100, (PART 5), 1-6

Intense local fields bound to the surface of engineered metallic nanostructures are currently of a great interest for many applications including enhanced imaging, spectroscopy, sensing or lab-on-a-chip devices. Their resonance characteristics can be tuned by the size, shape, incident optical frequency and polarization state. We present here an investigation of the local field of gold dimers manufactured in an array. Finally, employing retarded electrodynamics, we computationally visualize the field distribution and obtain the spectral response of a unique dimer.


Torres, A., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., Laciar, E., Galdiz, J. B., Gea, J., Morera, J., (2008). Renyi entropy and Lempel-Ziv complexity of mechanomyographic recordings of diaphragm muscle as indexes of respiratory effort IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 2112-2115

The study of the mechanomyographic (MMG) signals of respiratory muscles is a promising technique in order to evaluate the respiratory muscles effort. A new approach for quantifying the relationship between respiratory MMG signals and respiratory effort is presented by analyzing the spatiotemporal patterns in the MMG signal using two non-linear methods: Renyi entropy and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) complexity analysis. Both methods are well suited to the analysis of non-stationary biomedical signals of short length. In this study, MMG signals of the diaphragm muscle acquired by means of a capacitive accelerometer applied on the costal wall were analyzed. The method was tested on an animal model (dogs), and the diaphragmatic MMG signal was recorded continuously while two non anesthetized mongrel dogs performed a spontaneous ventilation protocol with an incremental inspiratory load. The performance in discriminating high and low respiratory effort levels with these two methods was analyzed with the evaluation of the Pearson correlation coefficient between the MMG parameters and respiratory effort parameters extracted from the inspiratory pressure signal. The results obtained show an increase of the MMG signal Renyi entropy and LZ complexity values with the increase of the respiratory effort. Compared with other parameters analyzed in previous works, both Renyi entropy and LZ complexity indexes demonstrates better performance in all the signals analyzed. Our results suggest that these non-linear techniques are useful to detect and quantify changes in the respiratory effort by analyzing MMG respiratory signals.

Keywords: Sound, Force


Udina, S., Pardo, A., Marco, S., Santander, J., Fonseca, L., (2008). Thermoelectric MEMS sensors for natural gas analysis Electronic Proceedings of the Seventh IEEE Sensors Conference 2008 Sensors, 2008 IEEE (ed. Frech, P., Siciliano, P.), IEEE (Lecce, Italy) , 1364-1367

T Multivariate data analysis techniques have been used for the first time in thermoelectric MEMS sensors in order to determine the composition of natural gas mixtures. Experimental measurements with different thermoelectric devices have been performed, the gathered data have been used to calibrate the sensor responses to four main components of natural gas: CH4, C2H6, N2 and CO2. Presence of the three first components was predicted with good accuracy while CO2 prediction was poor. Presented results indicate that thremoelectric sensors operated at different heater temperatures open the possibility of low-cost natural gas analysis.

Keywords: Natural gas, Multivariate calibration, Thermal conductivity, Thermal sensor


Orini, Michele, Giraldo, Beatriz F., Bailon, Raquel, Vallverdu, Montserrat, Mainardi, Luca, Benito, Salvador, Diaz, Ivan, Caminal, Pere, (2008). Time-frequency analysis of cardiac and respiratory parameters for the prediction of ventilator weaning IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference Proceedings 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (ed. IEEE), IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 1-8, 2793-2796

Mechanical ventilators are used to provide life support in patients with respiratory failure. Assessing autonomic control during the ventilator weaning provides information about physiopathological imbalances. Autonomic parameters can be derived and used to predict success in discontinuing from the mechanical support. Time-frequency analysis is used to derive cardiac and respiratory parameters, as well as their evolution in time, during ventilator weaning in 130 patients. Statistically significant differences have been observed in autonomic parameters between patients who are considered ready for spontaneous breathing and patients who are not. A classification based on respiratory frequency, heart rate and heart rate variability spectral components has been proposed and has been able to correctly classify more than 80% of the cases.

Keywords: Automatic Data Processing, Databases, Factual, Electrocardiography, Humans, Models, Statistical, Respiration, Respiration, Artificial, Respiratory Insufficiency, Respiratory Mechanics, Respiratory Muscles, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted, Time Factors, Ventilator Weaning, Ventilators, Mechanical, Work of Breathing


Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Castillo-Fernandez, O., Arundell, M., Samitier, J., Gomila, G., (2008). Yeast cells detection in a very fast and highly versatile microfabricated cytometer MicroTAS 2008 12th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences , Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society (San Diego, USA) , 1888-1890

A novel microfluidic chip able to detect a wide range of different cell sizes at very high rates is reported. The device uses two-dimensional hydrodynamic focusing [1] of the sample (conducting) flow by three non-conducting flows and high-speed differential impedance detection electronics. High-speed counting of 15μm polystyrene particles and 5μm yeast cells with a rate of up to 1000 particles/s has been demonstrated. Using of two-dimensional focusing effect turn out to be essential in a device with very large cross-sectional area (100x43 μm2) in which particles result undetectable in the absence of focusing.

Keywords: Coulter-counter, Impedance, Microfluidics, Polydimethylsiloxane


Koch, M. A., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2008). Cell seeding and characterisation of PLA/glass composite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Journal of Biomechanics 16th Congress, European Society of Biomechanics , Elsevier (Lucerne, Switzerland) 41, (Supplement 1), S162

In this study polymer-glass composite scaffolds were characterized by permeability and porosity, two important properties for the use in perfusion bioreactors. These scaffolds were seeded with osteoblast-like cells to assess the efficiency of the used bioreactor. The used PLA/glass composite scaffolds are adequate for the perfusion culture. The high porosity and pore interconnectivity allow an even cell distribution and incorporation of a high cell number. For optimisation of the perfusion bioreactor system, further research has to be dedicated to the cell seeding and culture.

Keywords: Biomedical materials, Bioreactors, Bone, Cellular biophysics, Composite materials, Orthopaedics, Permeability, Polymers, Porosity, Porous materials, Tissue engineering


Torrent-Burgues, J., Oncins, G., Sanz, F., (2008). Study of mixed Langmuir and Langmuir-Blodgett films of dissimilar components by AFM and force spectroscopy Colloids and Surfaces a-Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 12th International Conference on Organized Molecular Films , Elsevier Science (Krakow, Poland) 321, (1-3), 70-75

In this study the structure of mixed Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) monolayers has been investigated using atomic force microscopy, lateral force microscopy and force spectroscopy, as well as the characteristics of the Langmuir monolayers by surface pressure-area isotherms and Brewster angle microscopy. Mixed films were of dissimilar compounds, a fatty acid such as arachidic acid and a macrocyclic compound. The mixture forms separated phases, but some degree of partial miscibility occurs, with domains at the micro-scale that have different nanomechanical and nanotribological properties. LB films transferred at the same surface pressure show different characteristics depending on the composition. The higher domains correspond to arachidic acid and some of these domains show the presence of two phases, which have been identified as phases with discrete molecular tilting angles.

Keywords: Mixed monolayers, Pressure-area isotherm, Langmuir-Blodgett, AFM, Force spectroscopy


Zazoua, A., Kherrat, R., Samar, M. H., Errachid, A., Jaffrezic-Renault, N., Bessueille, F., Leonard, D., (2008). Characterization of TBP containing polysiloxane membrane/insulator/semiconductor structures for hexavalent chromium detection Materials Science and Engineering: C-Biomimetic and Supramolecular Systems 5th Maghreb/Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors (MADICA 2006) (ed. -----), Elsevier Science BV (Mahdia, Tunisia) 28, (5-6), 1014-1019

A hexavalent chromium-sensitive EMIS sensor (electrolyte membrane insulator semiconductor sensor) is prepared by deposition of a tributylphosphate (TBP) ionophore-containing siloprene membrane on a Si/SiO2/Si3N4 structure. The developed EMIS sensor was studied by means of impedance spectroscopy, capacitance-voltage, X-ray photoelectron spectrometry and FT-IR spectroscopy. From the flat-band shift of the EMIS structure, the nersntian response to the anionic species Cr2O7- was demonstrated. The linear range of detection is 10(-4) M to 10(-1) M and the detection limit is 10(-5) M. Sulfate and chloride anions are shown not to be interfering whereas carbonate ions present a pK(pot) equal to 0.19.

Keywords: Hexavalent chromium, EMIS sensor, Tributylphosphate, Siloprene membrane


Errachid, A., Mills, C. A., Pla, M., Lopez, M. J., Villanueva, G., Bausells, J., Crespo, E., Teixidor, F., Samitier, J., (2008). Focused ion beam production of nanoelectrode arrays Materials Science & Engineering C 5th Maghreb/Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors (MADICA 2006) (ed. -----), Elsevier Science (Mahdia, Tunisia) 28, (5-6), 777-780

We present a method for the production of nanoelectrodes using focussed ion beam techniques (FIB). The electrodes utilise nanometric holes milled in a silicon nitride based pasivation layer, followed by wet etching of a silicon oxide based pasivation layer, to expose an underlying gold electrode. After functionalisation using a surface assembled monolayer and an electrochemically grown polypyrrole, these gold nanoelectrodes have been tested, via cyclic voltammetry, in the detection of [Fe(CN)(6)](4-/3-) ions. The nanoelectrodes will be used to investigate the electrical properties of nanometric biological specimen.

Keywords: Neutral carrier, Solid contact, Microelectrodes, Immobilization


Casuso, I., Pla, M., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., Minic, J., Persuy, M. A., Salesse, R., Pajot-Augy, E., (2008). Immobilization of olfactory receptors onto gold electrodes for electrical biosensor Materials Science & Engineering C 5th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and their Applicatons for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , Elsevier Science (Mahdia, TUNISIA) 28, (5-6), 686-691

We investigate the immobilization of native nanovesicles containing functional olfactory receptors onto gold electrodes by means of atomic force microscopy in liquid. We show that nanovesicles can be adsorbed without disrupting them presenting sizes once immobilized ranging from 50 run to 200 nm in diameter. The size of the nanovesicles shows no dependence on the electrode hydrophobicity being constant in a height/width ratio close to 1:3. Nevertheless, electrode hydrophobicity does affect the surface coverage, the surface coverage is five times higher in hydrophilic electrodes than on hydrophobic ones. Surface coverage is also affected by nanovesicles dimensions in suspension, the size homogenization to around 50 nm yields a further five fold increment in surface coverage achieving a coverage of about 50% close to the hard spheres jamming limit (54.7%). A single layer of nanovesicles is always formed with no particle overlap. Present results provide insights into the immobilization on electrodes of olfactory receptors for further olfactory electrical biosensor development.

Keywords: AFM, Adsorption, Odorant, Taste


Castellarnau, M., Zine, N., Bausells, J., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., (2008). ISFET-based biosensor to monitor sugar metabolism in bacteria Materials Science & Engineering C 5th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and their Applicatons for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors (ed. -----), Elsevier Science (Mahdia, Tunisia) 28, (5-6), 680-685

We report the use of ion-selective field effect transistor devices (ISFETs) with an integrated pseudo-reference electrode for on-line monitoring of bacterial metabolism by monitoring of the pH variation. As a model we tested the ability of Lactobacillus strains to ferment sugars, producing lactic acid, which results in a decrease in pH in the suspension medium. We have tested and compared sugar uptake by L. sakei and a L. curvatus strains. The results obtained show that it is possible to distinguish between both types of Lactobacillus strains through their pattern of ribose uptake. The use of ISFETs represents a non-invasive methodology that can be used to monitor biological activity in a wide variety of systems.

Keywords: Lactobacillus-sakei, Technology, Sensors, System, Growth, Cells, State, Meat


Hernando, Jordi, Hoogenboom, Jacob, van Dijk, Erik, Garcia-Parajo, Maria, van Hulst, Niek F., (2008). Ultrafast single-molecule photonics: Excited state dynamics in coherently coupled complexes Journal of Luminescence 16th International Conference on Dynamical Processes in Excited States of Solids (ed. -----), Elsevier Science BV (Segovia, Spain) 128, (5-6), 1050-1052

We present a single-molecule study on femtosecond dynamics in multichromophoric systems, combining fs pump-probe, emission-spectra and fluorescence-lifetime analysis. The ultrafast fs approach gives direct information on the initial exciton dynamics after excitation. The lifetime data show superradiance, a direct measure for the extent of the coherent coupling and static disorder. The spectra finally reveal the role of exciton-phonon coupling. At the single-molecule level a wide range of exciton delocalization lengths and energy redistribution times is revealed.

Keywords: Single-molecule detection, Pump-probe, Exciton delocalization, Superradiance, Exciton-phonon coupling


Barhoumi, H., Haddad, R., Maaref, A., Bausells, J., Bessueille, F., Leonard, D., Jaffrezic-Renault, N., Martelet, C., Zine, N., Errachid, A., (2008). Na+-implanted membrane for a capacitive sodium electrolyte-Insulator-Semiconductor microsensors Sensor Letters International Conference of Thermal, Mechanical and Multiphysics Simulation and Experiments in Microelectronics and Microsystems (ed. -----), Amer Scientific Publishers (Lombardy, Italy) 6, (1), 204-208

Ion implanted Insulator-Semiconductor (IS) sensor that specifically detects Na+ ions have been developed using ion implantation technique. Na+ ions were directly implanted with ion energies 30, 45, and 60 keV into the IS (oxidized Si3N4/Si3N4/SiO2/P-Si) structures previously covered with a thin aluminum layer. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) characterization shows that sodium and aluminum ions were implanted into the oxidized Si3N4 insulating layer surface. Their atomic percentage depending on energy, fluence of the implanted ion and of the annealing temperature. The sen sitivity of the ion-implanted IS structure for Na+ and of some interfering (K+, Li+, H+, and NH4+) ions was investigated using high frequency capacitance-voltage measurements. Under optimal i mplantation conditions such as energy, fluence and annealing temperature, the developed sodium microsensor demonstrates quasi-nernstian sensitivity (50 +/- 2 mV/pNa) in the concentration range from 10(-3.7) to 10(-1) M and high lifetime greater than 16 months without any loss of sensitivity.

Keywords: Na+ microsensor, Ion implantation, XPS, C-V measurements


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