Publications

by Keyword: Behavior


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Gugutkov, D., Gustavsson, J., Cantini, M., Salmeron-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2017). Electrospun fibrinogen-PLA nanofibres for vascular tissue engineering Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 11, (10), 2774-2784

Here we report on the development of a new type of hybrid fibrinogen-polylactic acid (FBG-PLA) nanofibres (NFs) with improved stiffness, combining the good mechanical properties of PLA with the excellent cell recognition properties of native FBG. We were particularly interested in the dorsal and ventral cell response to the nanofibres' organization (random or aligned), using human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) as a model system. Upon ventral contact with random NFs, the cells developed a stellate-like morphology with multiple projections. The well-developed focal adhesion complexes suggested a successful cellular interaction. However, time-lapse analysis shows significantly lowered cell movements, resulting in the cells traversing a relatively short distance in multiple directions. Conversely, an elongated cell shape and significantly increased cell mobility were observed in aligned NFs. To follow the dorsal cell response, artificial wounds were created on confluent cell layers previously grown on glass slides and covered with either random or aligned NFs. Time-lapse analysis showed significantly faster wound coverage (within 12 h) of HUVECs on aligned samples vs. almost absent directional migration on random ones. However, nitric oxide (NO) release shows that endothelial cells possess lowered functionality on aligned NFs compared to random ones, where significantly higher NO production was found. Collectively, our studies show that randomly organized NFs could support the endothelization of implants while aligned NFs would rather direct cell locomotion for guided neovascularization.

Keywords: Electrospun nanofibers, Endothelial cells, Fibrinogen, Guided cellular behavior, Polylactic acid, Vascular tissue engineering


Pacheco, D., Sánchez-Fibla, M., Duff, A., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2017). A spatial-context effect in recognition memory Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 11, Article 143

We designed a novel experiment to investigate the modulation of human recognition memory by environmental context. Human participants were asked to navigate through a four-arm Virtual Reality (VR) maze in order to find and memorize discrete items presented at specific locations in the environment. They were later on tested on their ability to recognize items as previously presented or new. By manipulating the spatial position of half of the studied items during the testing phase of our experiment, we could assess differences in performance related to the congruency of environmental information at encoding and retrieval. Our results revealed that spatial context had a significant effect on the quality of memory. In particular, we found that recognition performance was significantly better in trials in which contextual information was congruent as opposed to those in which it was different. Our results are in line with previous studies that have reported spatial-context effects in recognition memory, further characterizing their magnitude under ecologically valid experimental conditions.

Keywords: Context effects, Recognition memory, Spatial behavior, Spatial memory and navigation, Virtual reality


Tomas-Roig, J., Piscitelli, F., Gil, V., del Río, J. A., Moore, T. P., Agbemenyah, H., Salinas-Riester, G., Pommerenke, C., Lorenzen, S., Beißbarth, T., Hoyer-Fender, S., Di Marzo, V., Havemann-Reinecke, U., (2016). Social defeat leads to changes in the endocannabinoid system: An overexpression of calreticulin and motor impairment in mice Behavioural Brain Research 303, 34-43

Prolonged and sustained stimulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis have adverse effects on numerous brain regions, including the cerebellum. Motor coordination and motor learning are essential for animal and require the regulation of cerebellar neurons. The G-protein-coupled cannabinoid CB1 receptor coordinates synaptic transmission throughout the CNS and is of highest abundance in the cerebellum. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to investigate the long-lasting effects of chronic psychosocial stress on motor coordination and motor learning, CB1 receptor expression, endogenous cannabinoid ligands and gene expression in the cerebellum. After chronic psychosocial stress, motor coordination and motor learning were impaired as indicated the righting reflex and the rota-rod. The amount of the endocannabinoid 2-AG increased while CB1 mRNA and protein expression were downregulated after chronic stress. Transcriptome analysis revealed 319 genes differentially expressed by chronic psychosocial stress in the cerebellum; mainly involved in synaptic transmission, transmission of nerve impulse, and cell-cell signaling. Calreticulin was validated as a stress candidate gene. The present study provides evidence that chronic stress activates calreticulin and might be one of the pathological mechanisms underlying the motor coordination and motor learning dysfunctions seen in social defeat mice.

Keywords: Psychosocial stress, Cerebellum, Calreticulin, Endocannabinoid system, Behavior, RNA seq.


Eckelt, Kay, Masanas, Helena, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, P., (2014). Automated high-throughput measurement of body movements and cardiac activity of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles Journal of Biological Methods 1, (2), e9

Xenopus tadpoles are an emerging model for developmental, genetic and behavioral studies. A small size, optical accessibility of most of their organs, together with a close genetic and structural relationship to humans make them a convenient experimental model. However, there is only a limited toolset available to measure behavior and organ function of these animals at medium or high-throughput. Herein, we describe an imaging-based platform to quantify body and autonomic movements of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles of advanced developmental stages. Animals alternate periods of quiescence and locomotor movements and display buccal pumping for oxygen uptake from water and rhythmic cardiac movements. We imaged up to 24 animals in parallel and automatically tracked and quantified their movements by using image analysis software. Animal trajectories, moved distances, activity time, buccal pumping rates and heart beat rates were calculated and used to characterize the effects of test compounds. We evaluated the effects of propranolol and atropine, observing a dose-dependent bradycardia and tachycardia, respectively. This imaging and analysis platform is a simple, cost-effective high-throughput in vivo assay system for genetic, toxicological or pharmacological characterizations.

Keywords: Xenopus tropicalis, Animal behavior, Cardiac imaging, Motion analysis, Animal tracking, Hhigh-throughput in vivo assay


Vedula, Sri Ram Krishna, Ravasio, Andrea, Anon, Ester, Chen, Tianchi, Peyret, G., Ashraf, Mohammed, Ladoux, Benoit, (2014). Microfabricated environments to study collective cell behaviors Methods in Cell Biology (ed. Piel, M., Théry, M.), Academic Press 120, 235-252

Abstract Coordinated cell movements in epithelial layers are essential for proper tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis. Microfabrication techniques have proven to be very useful for studies of collective cell migration in vitro. In this chapter, we briefly review the use of microfabricated substrates in providing new insights into collective cell behaviors. We first describe the development of micropatterned substrates to study the influence of geometrical constraints on cell migration and coordinated movements. Then, we present an alternative method based on microfabricated pillar substrates to create well-defined gaps within cell sheets and study gap closure. We also provide a discussion that presents possible pitfalls and sheds light onto the important parameters that allow the study of long-term cell culture on substrates of well-defined geometries.

Keywords: Microfabricated substrates, Microcontact printing, Collective cell behavior, Geometrical constraints, Epithelial gap closure


Hoyo, J., Guaus, E., Oncins, G., Torrent-Burgués, J., Sanz, F., (2013). Incorporation of Ubiquinone in supported lipid bilayers on ITO Journal of Physical Chemistry B 117, (25), 7498-7506

Ubiquinone (UQ) is one of the main electron and proton shuttle molecules in biological systems, and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) is one of the most used model lipids. Supported planar bilayers (SPBs) are extensively accepted as biological model membranes. In this study, SPBs have been deposited on ITO, which is a semiconductor with good electrical and optical features. Specifically, topographic atomic force microscopy (AFM) images and force curves have been performed on SPBs with several DPPC:UQ ratios to study the location and the interaction of UQ in the SPB. Additionally, cyclic voltammetry has been used to understand the electrochemical behavior of DPPC:UQ SPBs. Obtained results show that, in our case, UQ is placed in two main different positions in SPBs. First, between the DPPC hydrophobic chains, fact that originates a decrease in the breakthrough force of the bilayer, and the second between the two leaflets that form the SPBs. This second position occurs when increasing the UQ content, fact that eventually forms UQ aggregates at high concentrations. The formation of aggregates produces an expansion of the SPB average height and a bimodal distribution of the breakthrough force. The voltammetric response of UQ depends on its position on the bilayer.

Keywords: Bimodal distribution, Biological models, Dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine, Electrochemical behaviors, Hydrophobic chains, Supported lipid bilayers, Supported planar bilayers, Voltammetric response


Hernansanz, A., Amat, J., Casals, A., (2012). Virtual Robot: A new teleoperation paradigm for minimally invasive robotic surgery IEEE Conference Publications 4th IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob) , IEEE (Roma, Italy) , 749-754

This paper presents a novel teleoperation paradigm, the Virtual Robot (VR), focused on facilitating the surgeon tasks in minimally invasive robotic surgery. The VR has been conceived to increase the range of applicability of traditional master slave teleoperation architectures by means of an automatic cooperative behavior that assigns the execution of the ongoing task to the most suitable robot. From the user's point of view, the VR internal operation must be automatic and transparent. A set of evaluation indexes have been developed to obtain the suitability of each robot as well as an algorithm to determine the optimal instant of time to execute a task transfer. Several experiments demonstrate the usefulness of the VR, as well as indicates the next steps of the research.

Keywords: Cameras, Collision avoidance, Indexes, Joints, Robots, Surgery, Trajectory, Medical robotics, Surgery, Telerobotics, VR internal operation, Automatic cooperative behavior, Evaluation indexes, Master slave teleoperation architectures, Minimally invasive robotic surgery, Task transfer, Virtual robot


Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2011). Fibrinogen organization at the cell-material interface directs endothelial cell behavior Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers 26, (4), 375-387

Fibrinogen (FG) adsorption on surfaces with controlled fraction of -OH groups was investigated with AFM and correlated to the initial interaction of primary endothelial cells (HUVEC). The -OH content was tailored making use of a family of copolymers consisting of ethyl acrylate (EA) and hydroxyl ethyl acrylate (HEA) in different ratios. The supramolecular distribution of FG changed from an organized network-like structure on the most hydrophobic surface (-OH(0)) to dispersed molecular aggregate one as the fraction of -OH groups increases, indicating a different conformation by the adsorbed protein. The best cellular interaction was observed on the most hydrophobic (-OH(0)) surface where FG assembled in a fibrin-like appearance in the absence of any thrombin. Likewise, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development was poorer as the fraction of hydroxy groups on the surface was increased. The biological activity of the surface-induced FG network to provide 3D cues in a potential tissue engineered scaffold, making use of electrospun PEA fibers (-OH(0)), seeded with human umbilical vein endothelial cells was investigated. The FG assembled on the polymer fibers gave rise to a biologically active network able to direct cell orientation along the fibers (random or aligned), promote cytoskeleton organization and focal adhesion formation.

Keywords: Fibrinogen, Cell-material interactions, HUVEC, Electrospun fibers, Fibrinogen organization, Cell-material interface, Endothelial cell behavior, Ethyl acrylate, Hydroxyl ethyl acrylate


Comelles, J., Estevez, M., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2010). The role of surface energy of technical polymers in serum protein adsorption and MG-63 cells adhesion Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology Biology and Medicine 6, (1), 44-51

Polymeric materials are widely used as supports for cell culturing in medical implants and as scaffolds for tissue regeneration. However, novel applications in the biosensor field require materials to be compatible with cell growth and at the same time be suitable for technological processing. Technological polymers are key materials in the fabrication of disposable parts and other sensing elements. As such, it is essential to characterize the surface properties of technological polymers, especially after processing and sterilization. It is also important to understand how technological polymers affect cell behavior when in contact with polymer materials. Therefore, the aim of this research was to study how surface energy and surface roughness affect the biocompatibility of three polymeric materials widely used in research and industry: poly (methyl methacrylate), polystyrene, and poly(dimethylsiloxane). Glass was used as the control material. From the Clinical Editor: Polymeric materials are widely used as supports for cell culturing in medical implants and as scaffolds for tissue regeneration. The aim of this research is to study how surface energy and surface roughness affect the biocompatibility of three polymeric materials widely used in research and industry: poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA), polystyrene (PS), and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS).

Keywords: Thin-films, Poly(methyl methacrylate), Osteoblast adhesion, Electron-microscopy, Fibronectin, Polystyrene, Oly(dimethylsiloxane), Biocompatibility, Hydroxyapatite, Behavior


Iranzo, A., Isetta, V., Molinuevo, J. L., Serradell, M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Santamaria, J., (2010). Electroencephalographic slowing heralds mild cognitive impairment in idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder Sleep Medicine 11, (6), 534-539

Objective: Patients with idiopathic rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (IRBD) may show electroencephalographic (EEG) slowing reflecting cortical dysfunction and are at risk for developing neurological conditions characterized by cognitive dysfunction including mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease with associated dementia. We hypothesized that those IRBD patients who later developed MCI had pronounced cortical EEG slowing at presentation. Methods: Power EEG spectral analysis was blindly quantified from the polysomnographic studies of 23 IRBD patients without cognitive complaints and 10 healthy controls without RBD. After a mean clinical follow-up of 2.40 +/- 1.55 years, 10 patients developed MCI (RBD + MCI) and the remaining 13 remained idiopathic. Results: Patients with RBD + MCI had marked EEG slowing (increased delta and theta activity) in central and occipital regions during wakefulness and REM sleep, particularly in the right hemisphere, when compared with controls and, to a lesser extent, with IRBD subjects who remained idiopathic. The EEG spectral pattern of the RBD + MCI group was similar to that seen in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease associated with dementia. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the presence of marked EEG slowing on spectral analysis might be indicative of the short-term development of MCI in patients initially diagnosed with IRBD.

Keywords: Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder, Power EEG spectral analysis, Mild cognitive impairment, REM sleep, Parkinson's disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies


Rajzer, I., Castano, O., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2010). Injectable and fast resorbable calcium phosphate cement for body-setting bone grafts Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine 21, (7), 2049-2056

In this work a calcium phosphate (CPC)/polymer blend was developed with the advantage of being moldable and capable of in situ setting to form calcium deficient hydroxyapatite under physiological conditions in an aqueous environment at body temperature. The CPC paste consists in a mix of R cement, glycerol as a liquid phase carrier and a biodegradable hydrogel such as Polyvinyl alcohol, which acts as a binder. Microstructure and mechanical analysis shows that the CPC blend can be used as an injectable implant for low loaded applications and fast adsorption requirements. The storage for commercial distribution was also evaluated and the properties of the materials obtained do not significantly change during storage at -18A degrees C.

Keywords: Clinical-applications, Composites, Regeneration, Behavior, Scaffold, Repair


Montufar, E. B., Traykova, T., Schacht, E., Ambrosio, L., Santin, M., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2009). Self-hardening calcium deficient hydroxyapatite/gelatine foams for bone regeneration Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine 22nd European Conference on Biomaterials , Springer Netherlands (Lausanne, Switzerland) 21, (3), 863-869

In this work gelatine was used as multifunctional additive to obtain injectable self-setting hydroxyapatite/gelatine composite foams for bone regeneration. The foaming and colloidal stabilization properties of gelatine are well known in food and pharmaceutical applications. Solid foams were obtained by foaming liquid gelatine solutions at 50A degrees C, followed by mixing them with a cement powder consisting of alpha tricalcium phosphate. Gelatine addition improved the cohesion and injectability of the cement paste. After setting the foamed paste transformed into a calcium deficient hydroxyapatite. The final porosity, pore interconnectivity and pore size were modulated by modifying the gelatine content in the liquid phase.

Keywords: Phosphate cement, Gelatin, Behavior


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