Staff member


Daniel Navajas Navarro

Group Leader
Cellular and Respiratory Biomechanics
dnavajas@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 020 863
CV Summary

Prof. Daniel Navajas Daniel Navajas is Professor of Physiology (from 1989) at the Unit of Biophysics and Bioengineering of the School of Medicine of the University of Barcelona (UB) and Group Leader (from 2007) at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). He is also Director of Studies (from 2010) for the Degree on Biomedical Engineering at UB. His research interest is the study of the mechanical behavior of the respiratory system with a multiscale approach, ranging from cellular nanomechanics to pulmonary pathophysiology with the goal of improving the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases.  He has published more than 160 papers that received over 9500 citations.

Staff member publications

Hernández-Vega, Amayra, Marsal, María, Pouille, Philippe-Alexandre, Tosi, Sébastien, Colombelli, Julien, Luque, Tomás, Navajas, Daniel, Pagonabarraga, Ignacio, Martín-Blanco, Enrique, (2017). Polarized cortical tension drives zebrafish epiboly movements EMBO Journal 36, (1), 25-41

The principles underlying the biomechanics of morphogenesis are largely unknown. Epiboly is an essential embryonic event in which three tissues coordinate to direct the expansion of the blastoderm. How and where forces are generated during epiboly, and how these are globally coupled remains elusive. Here we developed a method, hydrodynamic regression (HR), to infer 3D pressure fields, mechanical power, and cortical surface tension profiles. HR is based on velocity measurements retrieved from 2D+T microscopy and their hydrodynamic modeling. We applied HR to identify biomechanically active structures and changes in cortex local tension during epiboly in zebrafish. Based on our results, we propose a novel physical description for epiboly, where tissue movements are directed by a polarized gradient of cortical tension. We found that this gradient relies on local contractile forces at the cortex, differences in elastic properties between cortex components and the passive transmission of forces within the yolk cell. All in all, our work identifies a novel way to physically regulate concerted cellular movements that might be instrumental for the mechanical control of many morphogenetic processes.

Keywords: Epiboly, Hydrodynamics, Mechanics, Morphogenesis, Zebrafish


Campillo, N., Torres, M., Vilaseca, A., Nonaka, P. N., Gozal, D., Roca-Ferrer, J., Picado, C., Montserrat, J. M., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., (2017). Role of cyclooxygenase-2 on intermittent hypoxia-induced lung tumor malignancy in a mouse model of sleep apnea Scientific Reports 7, 44693

An adverse role for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in cancer epidemiology and outcomes has recently emerged from clinical and animal studies. In animals, intermittent hypoxia (IH) mimicking OSA promotes tumor malignancy both directly and via host immune alterations. We hypothesized that IH could potentiate cancer aggressiveness through activation of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathway and the concomitant increases in prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). The contribution of the COX-2 in IH-induced enhanced tumor malignancy was assessed using celecoxib as a COX-2 specific inhibitor in a murine model of OSA bearing Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC1) tumors. Exposures to IH accelerated tumor progression with a tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) shift towards a pro-tumoral M2 phenotype. Treatment with celecoxib prevented IH-induced adverse tumor outcomes by inhibiting IH-induced M2 polarization of TAMs. Furthermore, TAMs isolated from IH-exposed mice treated with celecoxib reduced the proliferation of LLC1 naïve cells, while the opposite occurred with placebo-treated IH-exposed mice. Finally, in vitro IH exposures of murine macrophages and LLC1 cells showed that both cell types increased PGE2 release in response to IH. These results suggest a crucial role for the COX-2 signaling pathway in the IH-exacerbated malignant processes, and designate macrophages and lung adenocarcinoma cells, as potential sources of PGE2.


Schillers, H., Rianna, C., Schäpe, J., Luque, T., Doschke, H., Wälte, M., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Michanetzis, G. P. A., Bobrowska, J., Dumitru, A., Herruzo, E. T., Bovio, S., Parot, P., Galluzzi, M., Podestà, A., Puricelli, L., Scheuring, S., Missirlis, Y., Garcia, R., Odorico, M., Teulon, J. M., Lafont, F., Lekka, M., Rico, F., Rigato, A., Pellequer, J. L., Oberleithner, H., Navajas, D., Radmacher, M., (2017). Standardized nanomechanical atomic force microscopy procedure (SNAP) for measuring soft and biological samples Scientific Reports 7, (1), 5117

We present a procedure that allows a reliable determination of the elastic (Young's) modulus of soft samples, including living cells, by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The standardized nanomechanical AFM procedure (SNAP) ensures the precise adjustment of the AFM optical lever system, a prerequisite for all kinds of force spectroscopy methods, to obtain reliable values independent of the instrument, laboratory and operator. Measurements of soft hydrogel samples with a well-defined elastic modulus using different AFMs revealed that the uncertainties in the determination of the deflection sensitivity and subsequently cantilever's spring constant were the main sources of error. SNAP eliminates those errors by calculating the correct deflection sensitivity based on spring constants determined with a vibrometer. The procedure was validated within a large network of European laboratories by measuring the elastic properties of gels and living cells, showing that its application reduces the variability in elastic moduli of hydrogels down to 1%, and increased the consistency of living cells elasticity measurements by a factor of two. The high reproducibility of elasticity measurements provided by SNAP could improve significantly the applicability of cell mechanics as a quantitative marker to discriminate between cell types and conditions.


Jorba, I., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Farré, R., Navajas, D., (2017). Probing micromechanical properties of the extracellular matrix of soft tissues by atomic force microscopy Journal of Cellular Physiology 232, (1), 19-26

The extracellular matrix (ECM) determines 3D tissue architecture and provides structural support and chemical and mechanical cues to the cells. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has unique capabilities to measure ECM mechanics at the scale at which cells probe the mechanical features of their microenvironment. Moreover, AFM measurements can be readily combined with bright field and fluorescence microscopy. Performing reliable mechanical measurements with AFM requires accurate calibration of the device and correct computation of the mechanical parameters. A suitable approach to isolate ECM mechanics from cell contribution is removing the cells by means of an effective decellularization process that preserves the composition, structure and mechanical properties of the ECM. AFM measurement of ECM micromechanics provides important insights into organ biofabrication, cell-matrix mechanical crosstalk and disease-induced tissue stiffness alterations.


Jorba, I., Menal, M. J., Torres, M., Gozal, D., Piñol-Ripoll, G., Colell, A., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., (2017). Ageing and chronic intermittent hypoxia mimicking sleep apnea do not modify local brain tissue stiffness in healthy mice Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 71, 106-113

Recent evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk of Alzheimer´s disease (AD), with the latter promoting alterations in brain tissue stiffness, a feature of ageing. Here, we assessed the effects of age and intermittent hypoxia (IH) on brain tissue stiffness in a mouse model of OSA. Two-month-old and 18-month-old mice (N=10 each) were subjected to IH (20% O2 40 s – 6% O2 20 s) for 8 weeks (6 h/day). Corresponding control groups for each age were kept under normoxic conditions in room air (RA). After sacrifice, the brain was excised and 200-micron coronal slices were cut with a vibratome. Local stiffness of the cortex and hippocampus were assessed in brain slices placed in an Atomic Force Microscope. For both brain regions, the Young's modulus (E) in each animal was computed as the average values from 9 force-indentation curves. Cortex E mean (±SE) values were 442±122 Pa (RA) and 455±120 (IH) for young mice and 433±44 (RA) and 405±101 (IH) for old mice. Hippocampal E values were 376±62 (RA) and 474±94 (IH) for young mice and 486±93 (RA) and 521±210 (IH) for old mice. For both cortex and hippocampus, 2-way ANOVA indicated no statistically significant effects of age or challenge (IH vs. RA) on E values. Thus, neither chronic IH mimicking OSA nor ageing up to late middle age appear to modify local brain tissue stiffness in otherwise healthy mice.

Keywords: Atomic Force Microscopy, Brain mechanics, Cortex stiffness, Hippocampus stiffness, Obstructive sleep apnea, Young's modulus


Isetta, V., Torres, M., González, K., Ruiz, C., Dalmases, M., Embid, C., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2017). A New mHealth application to support treatment of sleep apnoea patients Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 23, (1), 14-18

Introduction: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the first-choice treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), but adherence is frequently suboptimal. Innovative, patient-centred interventions are, therefore, needed to enhance compliance. Due to its low cost and ubiquity, mobile health (mHealth) technology seems particularly suited for this purpose. We endeavoured to develop an mHealth application called “APPnea,” aimed at promoting patient self-monitoring of CPAP treatment. We then assessed the feasibility and acceptability of APPnea in a group of OSA patients. Methods: Consecutive OSA patients used APPnea for six weeks. APPnea gave patients daily reminders to answer three questions about their OSA treatment (CPAP use, physical activity, and diet) and prompted them to upload their body weight weekly. Answers were saved to a secure server for further analysis. After completing the study, patients gave their anonymous opinions about APPnea. Results: We enrolled 60 patients with OSA receiving CPAP treatment. The mean age was 56 ± 10 years and the apnoea–hypopnea index was 47 ± 25 events/hour. In total, 63% of participants completed the daily questionnaire for more than 66% of the study period. Objective CPAP compliance was generally high (5.3 ± 1.6 hours/night). In a subset of 38 patients naïve to CPAP, those who used APPnea regularly had significantly higher CPAP compliance. Satisfaction levels were high for the majority of users. Conclusion: This mHealth intervention is not only feasible but also satisfactory to patients. Although larger randomized trials and cost-effectiveness studies should be performed, this study shows that APPnea could promote participation and improve compliance among patients with OSA, thereby improving outcomes.

Keywords: CPAP, MHealth, sleep apnoea, Smartphone application


Giménez, A., Uriarte, J. J., Vieyra, J., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2017). Elastic properties of hydrogels and decellularized tissue sections used in mechanobiology studies probed by atomic force microscopy Microscopy Research and Technique 80, (1), 85-96

The increasing recognition that tissue elasticity is an important regulator of cell behavior in normal and pathologic conditions such as fibrosis and cancer has driven the development of cell culture substrata with tunable elasticity. Such development has urged the need to quantify the elastic properties of these cell culture substrata particularly at the nanometer scale, since this is the relevant length scale involved in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical interactions. To address this need, we have exploited the versatility of atomic force microscopy to quantify the elastic properties of a variety of cell culture substrata used in mechanobiology studies, including floating collagen gels, ECM-coated polyacrylamide gels, and decellularized tissue sections. In this review we summarize major findings in this field from our group within the context of the state-of-the-art in the field, and provide a critical discussion on the applicability and complementarity of currently available cell culture assays with tunable elasticity. In addition, we briefly describe how the limitations of these assays provide opportunities for future research, which is expected to continue expanding our understanding of the mechanobiological aspects that support both normal and diseased conditions.

Keywords: 3D culture, Atomic force microscopy, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Polyacrylamide


Farré, R., Navajas, D., Montserrat, J. M., (2016). Technology for noninvasive mechanical ventilation: Looking into the black box ERS Monograph 2, (1), 00004

Current devices for providing noninvasive respiratory support contain sensors and built-in intelligence for automatically modifying ventilation according to the patient's needs. These devices, including automatic continuous positive airway pressure devices and noninvasive ventilators, are technologically complex and offer a considerable number of different modes of ventilation and setting options, the details of which are sometimes difficult to capture by the user. Therefore, better predicting and interpreting the actual performance of these ventilation devices in clinical application requires understanding their functioning principles and assessing their performance under well controlled bench test conditions with simulated patients. This concise review presents an updated perspective of the theoretical basis of intelligent continuous positive airway pressure and noninvasive ventilation devices, and of the tools available for assessing how these devices respond under specific ventilation phenotypes in patients requiring breathing support.


Sunyer, R., Conte, V., Escribano, J., Elosegui-Artola, A., Labernadie, A., Valon, L., Navajas, D., García-Aznar, J. M., Muñoz, J. J., Roca-Cusachs, P., Trepat, X., (2016). Collective cell durotaxis emerges from long-range intercellular force transmission Science 353, (6304), 1157-1161

The ability of cells to follow gradients of extracellular matrix stiffness-durotaxis-has been implicated in development, fibrosis, and cancer. Here, we found multicellular clusters that exhibited durotaxis even if isolated constituent cells did not. This emergent mode of directed collective cell migration applied to a variety of epithelial cell types, required the action of myosin motors, and originated from supracellular transmission of contractile physical forces. To explain the observed phenomenology, we developed a generalized clutch model in which local stick-slip dynamics of cell-matrix adhesions was integrated to the tissue level through cell-cell junctions. Collective durotaxis is far more efficient than single-cell durotaxis; it thus emerges as a robust mechanism to direct cell migration during development, wound healing, and collective cancer cell invasion.


Campillo, N., Jorba, I., Schaedel, L., Casals, B., Gozal, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2016). A novel chip for cyclic stretch and intermittent hypoxia cell exposures mimicking obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Physiology 7, Article 319

Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated morbidities, especially in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced by IH are suggested as main contributors of end-organ dysfunction in OSA patients and animal models. Since the molecular mechanisms underlying these in vivo pathological responses remain poorly understood, implementation of experimental in vitro cell-based systems capable of inducing high-frequency IH would be highly desirable. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and validation of a versatile chip for subjecting cultured cells to fast changes in gas partial pressure and to cyclic stretch. The chip is fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and consists of a cylindrical well-covered by a thin membrane. Cells cultured on top of the membrane can be subjected to fast changes in oxygen concentration (equilibrium time ~6 s). Moreover, cells can be subjected to cyclic stretch at cardiac or respiratory frequencies independently or simultaneously. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exposed to IH mimicking OSA and cyclic stretch at cardiac frequencies revealed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) expression was increased in response to both stimuli. Thus, the chip provides a versatile tool for the study of cellular responses to cyclical hypoxia and stretch.

Keywords: Cell stretch, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Intermittent hypoxia, Lab-on-a-chip, Obstructive sleep apnea


Nonaka, Paula N., Uriarte, Juan J., Campillo, Noelia, Oliveira, Vinicius R., Navajas, Daniel, Farré, Ramon, (2016). Lung bioengineering: physical stimuli and stem/progenitor cell biology interplay towards biofabricating a functional organ Respiratory Research 17, (1), 161

A current approach to obtain bioengineered lungs as a future alternative for transplantation is based on seeding stem cells on decellularized lung scaffolds. A fundamental question to be solved in this approach is how to drive stem cell differentiation onto the different lung cell phenotypes. Whereas the use of soluble factors as agents to modulate the fate of stem cells was established from an early stage of the research with this type of cells, it took longer to recognize that the physical microenvironment locally sensed by stem cells (e.g. substrate stiffness, 3D architecture, cyclic stretch, shear stress, air-liquid interface, oxygenation gradient) also contributes to their differentiation. The potential role played by physical stimuli would be particularly relevant in lung bioengineering since cells within the organ are physiologically subjected to two main stimuli required to facilitate efficient gas exchange: air ventilation and blood perfusion across the organ. The present review focuses on describing how the cell mechanical microenvironment can modulate stem cell differentiation and how these stimuli could be incorporated into lung bioreactors for optimizing organ bioengineering.


Farré, R., Navajas, D., (2016). Forced oscillation: A poorly exploited tool for simply assessing respiratory function in children Respirology 21, (6), 982-983

Valero, C., Navarro, B., Navajas, D., García-Aznar, J. M., (2016). Finite element simulation for the mechanical characterization of soft biological materials by atomic force microscopy Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 62, 222-235

The characterization of the mechanical properties of soft materials has been traditionally performed through uniaxial tensile tests. Nevertheless, this method cannot be applied to certain extremely soft materials, such as biological tissues or cells that cannot be properly subjected to these tests. Alternative non-destructive tests have been designed in recent years to determine the mechanical properties of soft biological tissues. One of these techniques is based on the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to perform nanoindentation tests. In this work, we investigated the mechanical response of soft biological materials to nanoindentation with spherical indenters using finite element simulations. We studied the responses of three different material constitutive laws (elastic, isotropic hyperelastic and anisotropic hyperelastic) under the same process and analyzed the differences thereof. Whereas linear elastic and isotropic hyperelastic materials can be studied using an axisymmetric simplification, anisotropic hyperelastic materials require three-dimensional analyses. Moreover, we established the limiting sample size required to determine the mechanical properties of soft materials while avoiding boundary effects. Finally, we compared the results obtained by simulation with an estimate obtained from Hertz theory. Hertz theory does not distinguish between the different material constitutive laws, and thus, we proposed corrections to improve the quantitative measurement of specific material properties by nanoindentation experiments.

Keywords: AFM, Cell mechanics, FEM, Nanoindentation, Soft-tissue


Uriarte, J. J., Meirelles, T., Del Blanco, D. G., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Sarri, E., Navajas, D., Egea, G., Farré, R., (2016). Early impairment of lung mechanics in a murine model of marfan syndrome PLoS ONE 11, (3), e0152124

Early morbidity and mortality in patients with Marfan syndrome (MFS) -a connective tissue disease caused by mutations in fibrillin-1 gene- are mainly caused by aorta aneurysm and rupture. However, the increase in the life expectancy of MFS patients recently achieved by reparatory surgery promotes clinical manifestations in other organs. Although some studies have reported respiratory alterations in MFS, our knowledge of how this connective tissue disease modifies lung mechanics is scarce. Hence, we assessed whether the stiffness of the whole lung and of its extracellular matrix (ECM) is affected in a well-characterized MFS mouse model (FBN1C1039G/+). The stiffness of the whole lung and of its ECM were measured by conventional mechanical ventilation and atomic force microscopy, respectively. We studied 5-week and 9-month old mice, whose ages are representative of early and late stages of the disease. At both ages, the lungs of MFS mice were significantly more compliant than in wild type (WT) mice. By contrast, no significant differences were found in local lung ECM stiffness. Moreover, histopathological lung evaluation showed a clear emphysematous- like pattern in MFS mice since alveolar space enlargement was significantly increased compared with WT mice. These data suggest that the mechanism explaining the increased lung compliance in MFS is not a direct consequence of reduced ECM stiffness, but an emphysema-like alteration in the 3D structural organization of the lung. Since lung alterations in MFS are almost fully manifested at an early age, it is suggested that respiratory monitoring could provide early biomarkers for diagnosis and/or follow-up of patients with the Marfan syndrome.


Isetta, V., Montserrat, J. M., Santano, R., Wimms, A. J., Ramanan, D., Woehrle, H., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2016). Novel approach to simulate sleep apnea patients for evaluating positive pressure therapy devices PLoS ONE 11, (3), e0151530

Bench testing is a useful method to characterize the response of different automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) devices under well-controlled conditions. However, previous models did not consider the diversity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients' characteristics and phenotypes. The objective of this proof-of-concept study was to design a new bench test for realistically simulating an OSA patient's night, and to implement a one-night example of a typical female phenotype for comparing responses to several currently-available APAP devices. We developed a novel approach aimed at replicating a typical night of sleep which includes different disturbed breathing events, disease severities, sleep/wake phases, body postures and respiratory artefacts. The simulated female OSA patient example that we implemented included periods of wake, light sleep and deep sleep with positional changes and was connected to ten different APAP devices. Flow and pressure readings were recorded; each device was tested twice. The new approach for simulating female OSA patients effectively combined a wide variety of disturbed breathing patterns to mimic the response of a predefined patient type. There were marked differences in response between devices; only three were able to overcome flow limitation to normalize breathing, and only five devices were associated with a residual apnea-hypopnea index of <5/h. In conclusion, bench tests can be designed to simulate specific patient characteristics, and typical stages of sleep, body position, and wake. Each APAP device behaved differently when exposed to this controlled model of a female OSA patient, and should lead to further understanding of OSA treatment.


da Palma, R. K., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Uriarte, J. J., Urbano, J. J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2016). Behavior of vascular resistance undergoing various pressure insufflation and perfusion on decellularized lungs Journal of Biomechanics 49, (7), 1230-1232

Bioengineering of functional lung tissue by using whole lung scaffolds has been proposed as a potential alternative for patients awaiting lung transplant. Previous studies have demonstrated that vascular resistance (Rv) could be altered to optimize the process of obtaining suitable lung scaffolds. Therefore, this work was aimed at determining how lung inflation (tracheal pressure) and perfusion (pulmonary arterial pressure) affect vascular resistance. This study was carried out using the lungs excised from 5 healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats. The trachea was cannulated and connected to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to provide a tracheal pressure ranging from 0 to 15cmH2O. The pulmonary artery was cannulated and connected to a controlled perfusion system with continuous pressure (gravimetric level) ranging from 5 to 30cmH2O. Effective Rv was calculated by ratio of pulmonary artery pressure (P PA) by pulmonary artery flow (V'PA). Rv in the decellularized lungs scaffolds decreased at increasing V' PA, stabilizing at a pulmonary arterial pressure greater than 20cmH2O. On the other hand, CPAP had no influence on vascular resistance in the lung scaffolds after being subjected to pulmonary artery pressure of 5cmH2O. In conclusion, compared to positive airway pressure, arterial lung pressure markedly influences the mechanics of vascular resistance in decellularized lungs.

Keywords: Decellularized lung, Scaffolds, Vascular resistance


Casares, L., Vincent, R., Zalvidea, D., Campillo, N., Navajas, D., Arroyo, M., Trepat, X., (2015). Hydraulic fracture during epithelial stretching Nature Materials 14, (3), 343-351

The origin of fracture in epithelial cell sheets subject to stretch is commonly attributed to excess tension in the cells’ cytoskeleton, in the plasma membrane, or in cell–cell contacts. Here, we demonstrate that for a variety of synthetic and physiological hydrogel substrates the formation of epithelial cracks is caused by tissue stretching independently of epithelial tension. We show that the origin of the cracks is hydraulic; they result from a transient pressure build-up in the substrate during stretch and compression manoeuvres. After pressure equilibration, cracks heal readily through actomyosin-dependent mechanisms. The observed phenomenology is captured by the theory of poroelasticity, which predicts the size and healing dynamics of epithelial cracks as a function of the stiffness, geometry and composition of the hydrogel substrate. Our findings demonstrate that epithelial integrity is determined in a tension-independent manner by the coupling between tissue stretching and matrix hydraulics.


Kosmalska, A. J., Casares, L., Elosegui, A., Thottacherry, J. J., Moreno-Vicente, R., González-Tarragó, V., Del Pozo, M. Á, Mayor, S., Arroyo, M., Navajas, D., Trepat, X., Gauthier, N. C., Roca-Cusachs, P., (2015). Physical principles of membrane remodelling during cell mechanoadaptation Nature Communications 6, 7292

Biological processes in any physiological environment involve changes in cell shape, which must be accommodated by their physical envelope - the bilayer membrane. However, the fundamental biophysical principles by which the cell membrane allows for and responds to shape changes remain unclear. Here we show that the 3D remodelling of the membrane in response to a broad diversity of physiological perturbations can be explained by a purely mechanical process. This process is passive, local, almost instantaneous, before any active remodelling and generates different types of membrane invaginations that can repeatedly store and release large fractions of the cell membrane. We further demonstrate that the shape of those invaginations is determined by the minimum elastic and adhesive energy required to store both membrane area and liquid volume at the cell-substrate interface. Once formed, cells reabsorb the invaginations through an active process with duration of the order of minutes.


Stanisavljevic, J., Loubat-Casanovas, J., Herrera, M., Luque, T., Peña, R., Lluch, A., Albanell, J., Bonilla, F., Rovira, A., Peña, C., Navajas, D., Rojo, F., García De Herreros, A., Baulida, J., (2015). Snail1-expressing fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment display mechanical properties that support metastasis Cancer Research 75, (2), 284-295

Crosstalk between tumor and stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment alter its properties in ways that facilitate the invasive behavior of tumor cells. Here, we demonstrate that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) increase the stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and promote anisotropic fiber orientation, two mechanical signals generated through a Snail1/RhoA/αSMA-dependent mechanism that sustains oriented tumor cell migration and invasiveness. Snail1-depleted CAF failed to acquire myofibroblastic traits in response to TGFβ, including RhoA activation, αSMA-positive stress fibers, increased fibronectin fibrillogenesis, and production of a stiff ECM with oriented fibers. Snail1 expression in human tumor-derived CAF was associated with an ability to organize the ECM. In coculture, a relatively smaller number of Snail1-expressing CAF were capable of imposing an anisotropic ECM architecture, compared with nonactivated fibroblasts. Pathologically, human breast cancers with Snail1+ CAF tended to exhibit desmoplastic areas with anisotropic fibers, lymph node involvement, and poorer outcomes. Snail1 involvement in driving an ordered ECM was further confirmed in wound-healing experiments in mice, with Snail1 depletion preventing the anisotropic organization of granulation tissue and delaying wound healing. Overall, our results showed that inhibiting Snail1 function in CAF could prevent tumor-driven ECM reorganization and cancer invasion.


Crosas-Molist, E., Meirelles, T., López-Luque, J., Serra-Peinado, C., Selva, J., Caja, L., Gorbenko Del Blanco, D., Uriarte, J. J., Bertran, E., Mendizábal, Y., Hernández, V., García-Calero, C., Busnadiego, O., Condom, E., Toral, D., Castellà, M., Forteza, A., Navajas, D., Sarri, E., Rodríguez-Pascual, F., Dietz, H. C., Fabregat, I., Egea, G., (2015). Vascular smooth muscle cell phenotypic changes in patients with marfan syndrome Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 35, (4), 960-972

Objective - Marfan's syndrome is characterized by the formation of ascending aortic aneurysms resulting from altered assembly of extracellular matrix microfibrils and chronic tissue growth factor (TGF)-β signaling. TGF-β is a potent regulator of the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotype. We hypothesized that as a result of the chronic TGF-β signaling, VSMC would alter their basal differentiation phenotype, which could facilitate the formation of aneurysms. This study explores whether Marfan's syndrome entails phenotypic alterations of VSMC and possible mechanisms at the subcellular level. Approach and Results - Immunohistochemical and Western blotting analyses of dilated aortas from Marfan patients showed overexpression of contractile protein markers (α-smooth muscle actin, smoothelin, smooth muscle protein 22 alpha, and calponin-1) and collagen I in comparison with healthy aortas. VSMC explanted from Marfan aortic aneurysms showed increased in vitro expression of these phenotypic markers and also of myocardin, a transcription factor essential for VSMC-specific differentiation. These alterations were generally reduced after pharmacological inhibition of the TGF-β pathway. Marfan VSMC in culture showed more robust actin stress fibers and enhanced RhoA-GTP levels, which was accompanied by increased focal adhesion components and higher nuclear localization of myosin-related transcription factor A. Marfan VSMC and extracellular matrix measured by atomic force microscopy were both stiffer than their respective controls. Conclusions - In Marfan VSMC, both in tissue and in culture, there are variable TGF-β-dependent phenotypic changes affecting contractile proteins and collagen I, leading to greater cellular and extracellular matrix stiffness. Altogether, these alterations may contribute to the known aortic rigidity that precedes or accompanies Marfan's syndrome aneurysm formation.

Keywords: Actin, Aortic aneurysms, Aortic stiffness, Extracellular matrix, Focal adhesion, Myocardin, RhoA, TGF-β


Perea-Gil, I., Uriarte, J. J., Prat-Vidal, C., Gálvez-Montón, C., Roura, S., Llucià-Valldeperas, A., Soler-Botija, C., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Bayes-Genis, A., (2015). In vitro comparative study of two decellularization protocols in search of an optimal myocardial scaffold for recellularization American Journal of Translational Research 7, (3), 558-573

Introduction. Selection of a biomaterial-based scaffold that mimics native myocardial extracellular matrix (ECM) architecture can facilitate functional cell attachment and differentiation. Although decellularized myocardial ECM accomplishes these premises, decellularization processes may variably distort or degrade ECM structure. Materials and methods. Two decellularization protocols (DP) were tested on porcine heart samples (epicardium, mid myocardium and endocardium). One protocol, DP1, was detergent-based (SDS and Triton X-100), followed by DNase I treatment. The other protocol, DP2, was focused in trypsin and acid with Triton X-100 treatments. Decellularized myocardial scaffolds were reseeded by embedding them in RAD16-I peptidic hydrogel with adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells (ATDPCs). Results. Both protocols yielded acellular myocardial scaffolds (~82% and ~94% DNA reduction for DP1 and DP2, respectively). Ultramicroscopic assessment of scaffolds was similar for both protocols and showed filamentous ECM with preserved fiber disposition and structure. DP1 resulted in more biodegradable scaffolds (P = 0.04). Atomic force microscopy revealed no substantial ECM stiffness changes post-decellularization compared to native tissue. The Young’s modulus did not differ between heart layers (P = 0.69) or decellularization protocols (P = 0.15). After one week, recellularized DP1 scaffolds contained higher cell density (236 ± 106 and 98 ± 56 cells/mm2 for recellularized DP1 and DP2 scaffolds, respectively; P = 0.04). ATDPCs in both DP1 and DP2 scaffolds expressed the endothelial marker isolectin B4, but only in the DP1 scaffold ATDPCs expressed the cardiac markers GATA4, connexin43 and cardiac troponin T. Conclusions. In our hands, DP1 produced myocardial scaffolds with higher cell repopulation and promotes ATDPCs expression of endothelial and cardiomyogenic markers.

Keywords: Acellular myocardial scaffold, Adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells, Decellularization protocols, Extracellular matrix, Myocardial infarction, Recellularization


Torres, M., Rojas, M., Campillo, N., Cardenes, N., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2015). Parabiotic model for differentiating local and systemic effects of continuous and intermittent hypoxia Journal of Applied Physiology 118, (1), 42-47

Hypoxia can be damaging either because cells are directly sensitive to low oxygen pressure in their local microenvironment and/or because they are exposed to circulating factors systemically secreted in response to hypoxia. The conventional hypoxia model, breathing hypoxic air, does not allow one to distinguish between these local and systemic effects. Here we propose and validate a model for differentially applying local and systemic hypoxic challenges in an animal. We used parabiosis, two mice sharing circulation by surgical union through the skin, and tested the hypothesis that when one of the parabionts breathes room air and the other one is subjected to hypoxic air, both mice share systemic circulation but remain normoxic and hypoxic, respectively. We tested two common hypoxic paradigms in 10 parabiotic pairs: continuous hypoxia (10% O2) mimicking chronic lung diseases, and intermittent hypoxia (40 s, 21% O2; 20 s, 5% O2) simulating sleep apnea. Arterial oxygen saturation and oxygen partial pressure at muscle tissue were measured in both parabionts. Effective cross-circulation was assessed by intraperitoneally injecting a dye in one of the parabionts and measuring blood dye concentration in both animals after 2 h. The results confirmed the hypothesis that tissues of the parabiont under room air were perfused with normally oxygenated blood and, at the same time, were exposed to all of the systemic mediators secreted by the other parabiont actually subjected to hypoxia. In conclusion, combination of parabiosis and hypoxic/normoxic air breathing is a novel approach to investigate the effects of local and systemic hypoxia in respiratory diseases.

Keywords: Animal model, Local hypoxia, Parabiosis, Systemic hypoxia


da Palma, R. K., Campillo, N., Uriarte, J. J., Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2015). Pressure- and flow-controlled media perfusion differently modify vascular mechanics in lung decellularization Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 49, 69-79

Organ biofabrication is a potential future alternative for obtaining viable organs for transplantation. Achieving intact scaffolds to be recellularized is a key step in lung bioengineering. Perfusion of decellularizing media through the pulmonary artery has shown to be effective. How vascular perfusion pressure and flow vary throughout lung decellularization, which is not well known, is important for optimizing the process (minimizing time) while ensuring scaffold integrity (no barotrauma). This work was aimed at characterizing the pressure/flow relationship at the pulmonary vasculature and at how effective vascular resistance depends on pressure- and flow-controlled variables when applying different methods of media perfusion for lung decellularization. Lungs from 43 healthy mice (C57BL/6; 7-8 weeks old) were investigated. After excision and tracheal cannulation, lungs were inflated at 10cmH2O airway pressure and subjected to conventional decellularization with a solution of 1% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Pressure (PPA) and flow (V'PA) at the pulmonary artery were continuously measured. Decellularization media was perfused through the pulmonary artery: (a) at constant PPA=20cmH2O or (b) at constant V'PA=0.5 and 0.2ml/min. Effective vascular resistance was computed as Rv=PPA/V'PA. Rv (in cmH2O/(ml/min)); mean±SE) considerably varied throughout lung decellularization, particularly for pressure-controlled perfusion (from 29.1±3.0 in baseline to a maximum of 664.1±164.3 (p<0.05), as compared with flow-controlled perfusion (from 49.9±3.3 and 79.5±5.1 in baseline to a maximum of 114.4±13.9 and 211.7±70.5 (p<0.05, both), for V'PA of 0.5 and 0.2ml/min respectively. Most of the media infused to the pulmonary artery throughout decellularization circulated to the airways compartment across the alveolar-capillary membrane. This study shows that monitoring perfusion mechanics throughout decellularization provides information relevant for optimizing the process time while ensuring that vascular pressure is kept within a safety range to preserve the organ scaffold integrity.

Keywords: Acellular lung, Fluid mechanics, Lung bioengineering, Lung scaffold, Organ biofabrication, Tissue engineering, Vascular resistance


da Palma, R. K., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., Gorbenko Del Blanco, D., Egea, G., de Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., (2015). Increased upper airway collapsibility in a mouse model of Marfan syndrome Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 207, 58-60

Marfan syndrome (MFS) is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in the FBN1 gene that codifies for fibrilin-1. MFS affects elastic fiber formation and the resulting connective tissue shows abnormal tissue laxity and organization. Although an increased prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among patients with MFS has been described, the potential effects of this genetic disease on the collapsible properties of the upper airway are unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the collapsible properties of the upper airway in a mouse model of MFS Fbn1(C1039G/+) that is representative of most of the clinical manifestations observed in human patients. The upper airway in wild-type and Marfan mice was cannulated and its critical pressure (Pcrit) was measured in vivo by increasing the negative pressure through a controlled pressure source. Pcrit values from MFS mice were higher (less negative) compared to wild-type mice (-3.1±0.9cmH2O vs. -7.8±2.0cm H2O) suggesting that MFS increases the upper airway collapsibility, which could in turn explain the higher prevalence of OSA in MFS patients.

Keywords: Marfan syndrome, Obstructive sleep apnea, Upper airway collapsibility


Isetta, V., León, C., Torres, M., Embid, C., Roca, J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2014). Telemedicine-based approach for obstructive sleep apnea management: Building evidence Interactive Journal of Medical Research 3, (1), e6

Background: Telemedicine seems to offer reliable solutions to health care challenges, but significant contradictory results were recently found. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully select outcomes and target patients who may take advantage of this technology. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy compliance is essential to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We believe that OSA patients could benefit greatly from a telemedicine approach for CPAP therapy management. Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the application of a telemedicine-based approach in the CPAP therapy management, focusing on patients' CPAP follow-up and training. Methods: We performed two studies. First, (study 1) we enrolled 50 consecutive OSA patients who came to our sleep center for the CPAP follow-up visit. Patients performed a teleconsultation with a physician, and once finalized, they were asked to answer anonymously to a questionnaire regarding their opinion about the teleconsultation. In a second randomized controlled trial (RCT) (study 2). we included 40 OSA patients scheduled for CPAP training. There were 20 that received the usual face-to-face training and 20 that received the training via videoconference. After the session, they were blindly evaluated on what they learned about OSA and mask placement. Results: More than 95% (49/50) of the interviewed patients were satisfied with the teleconsultation, and 66% (33/50) of them answered that the teleconsultation could replace 50%-100% of their CPAP follow-up visits. Regarding the RCT patients who received the CPAP training via videoconference demonstrated the same knowledge about OSA and CPAP therapy as the face-to-face group (mean 93.6% of correct answers vs mean 92.1%; P=.935). Performance on practical skills (mask and headgear placement, leaks avoidance) was also similar between the two groups. Conclusions: OSA patients gave a positive feedback about the use of teleconsultation for CPAP follow-up, and the CPAP training based on a telemedicine approach proved to be as effective as face-to-face training. These results support the use of this telemedicine-based approach as a valuable strategy for patients' CPAP training and clinical follow-up.

Keywords: CPAP therapy, Sleep apnea, Teleconsultation, Telemedicine


Andreu, I., Luque, T., Sancho, A., Pelacho, B., Iglesias-García, O., Melo, E., Farré, R., Prósper, F., Elizalde, M. R., Navajas, D., (2014). Heterogeneous micromechanical properties of the extracellular matrix in healthy and infarcted hearts Acta Biomaterialia 10, (7), 3235-3242

Infarcted hearts are macroscopically stiffer than healthy organs. Nevertheless, although cell behavior is mediated by the physical features of the cell niche, the intrinsic micromechanical properties of healthy and infarcted heart extracellular matrix (ECM) remain poorly characterized. Using atomic force microscopy, we studied ECM micromechanics of different histological regions of the left ventricle wall of healthy and infarcted mice. Hearts excised from healthy (n = 8) and infarcted mice (n = 8) were decellularized with sodium dodecyl sulfate and cut into 12 μm thick slices. Healthy ventricular ECM revealed marked mechanical heterogeneity across histological regions of the ventricular wall with the effective Young's modulus ranging from 30.2 ± 2.8 to 74.5 ± 8.7 kPa in collagen- and elastin-rich regions of the myocardium, respectively. Infarcted ECM showed a predominant collagen composition and was 3-fold stiffer than collagen-rich regions of the healthy myocardium. ECM of both healthy and infarcted hearts exhibited a solid-like viscoelastic behavior that conforms to two power-law rheology. Knowledge of intrinsic micromechanical properties of the ECM at the length scale at which cells sense their environment will provide further insight into the cell-scaffold interplay in healthy and infarcted hearts.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Extracellular matrix, Heart scaffold, Nanoindentation, Viscoelasticity


Dalmases, M., Torres, M., Márquez-Kisinousky, L., Almendros, I., Planas, A. M., Embid, C., Martínez-Garcia, M. A., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2014). Brain tissue hypoxia and oxidative stress induced by obstructive apneas is different in young and aged rats Sleep 37, (7), 1249-1256

Study Objectives: To test the hypotheses that brain oxygen partial pressure (PtO2) in response to obstructive apneas changes with age and that it might lead to different levels of cerebral tissue oxidative stress. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Sixty-four male Wistar rats: 32 young (3 mo old) and 32 aged (18 mo). Interventions: Protocol 1: Twenty-four animals were subjected to obstructive apneas (50 apneas/h, lasting 15 sec each) or to sham procedure for 50 min. Protocol 2: Forty rats were subjected to obstructive apneas or sham procedure for 4 h. Measurements and Results: Protocol 1: Real-time PtO2 measurements were performed using a fast-response oxygen microelectrode. During successive apneas cerebral cortex PtO2 presented a different pattern in the two age groups; there was a fast increase in young rats, whereas it remained without significant changes between the beginning and the end of the protocol in the aged group. Protocol 2: Brain oxidative stress assessed by lipid peroxidation increased after apneas in young rats (1.34 ± 0.17 nmol/mg of protein) compared to old ones (0.63 ± 0.03 nmol/mg), where a higher expression of antioxidant enzymes was observed. Conclusions: The results suggest that brain oxidative stress in aged rats is lower than in young rats in response to recurrent apneas, mimicking obstructive sleep apnea. This could be due to the different PtO2 response observed between age groups and the increased antioxidant expression in aged rats.

Keywords: Aging, Animal model, Obstructive apnea, Oxidative stress, Tissue oxygenation, antioxidant, glutathione disulfide, aged, animal experiment, animal model, animal tissue, apnea, arterial oxygen saturation, article, brain cortex, brain oxygen tension, brain tissue, controlled study, groups by age, hypoxia, lipid peroxidation, male, nonhuman, oxidative stress, pressure, priority journal, rat


Melo, E., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Cortiella, J., Nichols, J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Effects of the decellularization method on the local stiffness of acellular lungs Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods 20, (5), 412-422

Lung bioengineering, a novel approach to obtain organs potentially available for transplantation, is based on decellularizing donor lungs and seeding natural scaffolds with stem cells. Various physicochemical protocols have been used to decellularize lungs, and their performance has been evaluated in terms of efficient decellularization and matrix preservation. No data are available, however, on the effect of different decellularization procedures on the local stiffness of the acellular lung. This information is important since stem cells directly sense the rigidity of the local site they are engrafting to during recellularization, and it has been shown that substrate stiffness modulates cell fate into different phenotypes. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of the decellularization procedure on the inhomogeneous local stiffness of the acellular lung on five different sites: alveolar septa, alveolar junctions, pleura, and vessels' tunica intima and tunica adventitia. Local matrix stiffness was measured by computing Young's modulus with atomic force microscopy after decellularizing the lungs of 36 healthy rats (Sprague-Dawley, male, 250–300 g) with four different protocols with/without perfusion through the lung circulatory system and using two different detergents (sodium dodecyl sulfate [SDS] and 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl) dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate [CHAPS]). The local stiffness of the acellular lung matrix significantly depended on the site within the matrix (p<0.001), ranging from ∼15 kPa at the alveolar septum to ∼60 kPa at the tunica intima. Acellular lung stiffness (p=0.003) depended significantly, albeit modestly, on the decellularization process. Whereas perfusion did not induce any significant differences in stiffness, the use of CHAPS resulted in a ∼35% reduction compared with SDS, the influence of the detergent being more important in the tunica intima. In conclusion, lung matrix stiffness is considerably inhomogeneous, and conventional decellularization procedures do not result in substantially different local stiffness in the acellular lung.


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


Uriarte, J. J., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Palma, R. K., Melo, E., de Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Mechanical properties of acellular mouse lungs after sterilization by gamma irradiation Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 40, 168-177

Lung bioengineering using decellularized organ scaffolds is a potential alternative for lung transplantation. Clinical application will require donor scaffold sterilization. As gamma-irradiation is a conventional method for sterilizing tissue preparations for clinical application, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of lung scaffold sterilization by gamma irradiation on the mechanical properties of the acellular lung when subjected to the artificial ventilation maneuvers typical within bioreactors. Twenty-six mouse lungs were decellularized by a sodium dodecyl sulfate detergent protocol. Eight lungs were used as controls and 18 of them were submitted to a 31kGy gamma irradiation sterilization process (9 kept frozen in dry ice and 9 at room temperature). Mechanical properties of acellular lungs were measured before and after irradiation. Lung resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were computed by linear regression fitting of recorded signals during mechanical ventilation (tracheal pressure, flow and volume). Static (Est) and dynamic (Edyn) elastances were obtained by the end-inspiratory occlusion method. After irradiation lungs presented higher values of resistance and elastance than before irradiation: RL increased by 41.1% (room temperature irradiation) and 32.8% (frozen irradiation) and EL increased by 41.8% (room temperature irradiation) and 31.8% (frozen irradiation). Similar increases were induced by irradiation in Est and Edyn. Scanning electron microscopy showed slight structural changes after irradiation, particularly those kept frozen. Sterilization by gamma irradiation at a conventional dose to ensure sterilization modifies acellular lung mechanics, with potential implications for lung bioengineering.

Keywords: Gamma irradiation, Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, Pulmonary mechanics, Decellularization, Gamma irradiation, Mouse lung, Pulmonary mechanics, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, Article, artificial ventilation, bioengineering, bioreactor, compliance (physical), controlled study, freezing, gamma irradiation, lung, lung mechanics, lung resistance, male, mouse, nonhuman, room temperature, scanning electron microscopy, tissue scaffold, trachea pressure


Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Uriarte, J. J., Garreta, E., Melo, E., de Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Effects of freezing/thawing on the mechanical properties of decellularized lungs Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 102, (2), 413-419

Lung bioengineering based on decellularized organ scaffolds is a potential alternative for transplantation. Freezing/thawing, a usual procedure in organ decellularization and storage could modify the mechanical properties of the lung scaffold and reduce the performance of the bioengineered lung when subjected to the physiological inflation-deflation breathing cycles. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of repeated freezing/thawing on the mechanical properties of decellularized lungs in the physiological pressure-volume regime associated with normal ventilation. Fifteen mice lungs (C57BL/6) were decellularized using a conventional protocol not involving organ freezing and based on sodium dodecyl sulfate detergent. Subsequently, the mechanical properties of the acellular lungs were measured before and after subjecting them to three consecutive cycles of freezing/thawing. The resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) of the decellularized lungs were computed by linear regression fitting of the recorded signals (tracheal pressure, flow, and volume) during mechanical ventilation. RL was not significantly modified by freezing-thawing: from 0.88 ± 0.37 to 0.90 ± 0.38 cmH2O·s·mL-1 (mean ± SE). EL slightly increased from 64.4 ± 11.1 to 73.0 ± 16.3 cmH2O·mL-1 after the three freeze-thaw cycles (p = 0.0013). In conclusion, the freezing/thawing process that is commonly used for both organ decellularization and storage induces only minor changes in the ventilation mechanical properties of the organ scaffold.

Keywords: Elastance, Freezing/thawing, Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Mechanical ventilation, Organ scaffold


Nonaka, P. N., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Melo, E., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2014). Mechanical properties of mouse lungs along organ decellularization by sodium dodecyl sulfate Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 200, 1-5

Lung decellularization is based on the use of physical, chemical, or enzymatic methods to break down the integrity of the cells followed by a treatment to extract the cellular material from the lung scaffold. The aim of this study was to characterize the mechanical changes throughout the different steps of lung decellularization process. Four lungs from mice (C57BL/6) were decellularized by using a conventional protocol based on sodium dodecyl sulfate. Lungs resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were measured along decellularization steps and were computed by linear regression fitting of tracheal pressure, flow, and volume during mechanical ventilation. Transients differences found were more distinct in an intermediate step after the lungs were rinsed with deionized water and treated with 1% SDS, whereupon the percentage of variation reached approximately 80% for resistance values and 30% for elastance values. In conclusion, although a variation in extracellular matrix stiffness was observed during the decellularization process, this variation can be considered negligible overall because the resistance and elastance returned to basal values at the final decellularization step.

Keywords: Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, article, artificial ventilation, compliance (physical), controlled study, enzyme chemistry, extracellular matrix, female, flow, lung, lung decellularization, lung pressure, lung resistance, mouse, nonhuman, positive end expiratory pressure, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering, trachea pressure


Navajas, D., Dellacà , R. L., Farré, R., (2014). Forced oscillation technique Mechanics of Breathing (ed. Aliverti, Andrea, Pedotti, Antonio), Springer-Verlag Mailand New Insights from New Technologies: Second Edition, 137-148

Forced oscillation technique (FOT) is a noninvasive approach for assessing the mechanical properties of the respiratory system. The technique is based on applying a low-amplitude pressure oscillation to the airway opening and computing respiratory impedance defined as the complex ratio of oscillatory pressure and flow. Impedance data are interpreted in terms of mechanical models of the respiratory system. Common clinical applications of FOT include assessment of airflow obstruction in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and airway responsiveness. New areas of interest are monitoring of airway patency in sleep and noninvasive mechanical ventilation.


Luque, T., Melo, E., Garreta, E., Cortiella, J., Nichols, J., Farré, R., Navajas, D., (2013). Local micromechanical properties of decellularized lung scaffolds measured with atomic force microscopy Acta Biomaterialia 9, (6), 6852-6859

Bioartificial lungs re-engineered from decellularized organ scaffolds are a promising alternative to lung transplantation. Critical features for improving scaffold repopulation depend on the mechanical properties of the cell microenvironment. However, the mechanics of the lung extracellular matrix (ECM) is poorly defined. The local mechanical properties of the ECM were measured in different regions of decellularized rat lung scaffolds with atomic force microscopy. Lungs excised from rats (n = 11) were decellularized with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and cut into ∼7 μm thick slices. The complex elastic modulus (G*) of lung ECM was measured over a frequency band ranging from 0.1 to 11.45 Hz. Measurements were taken in alveolar wall segments, alveolar wall junctions and pleural regions. The storage modulus (G′, real part of G*) of alveolar ECM was ∼6 kPa, showing small changes between wall segments and junctions. Pleural regions were threefold stiffer than alveolar walls. G′ of alveolar walls and pleura increased with frequency as a weak power law with exponent 0.05. The loss modulus (G″, imaginary part of G*) was 10-fold lower and showed a frequency dependence similar to that of G′ at low frequencies (0.1-1 Hz), but increased more markedly at higher frequencies. Local differences in mechanical properties and topology of the parenchymal site could be relevant mechanical cues for regulating the spatial distribution, differentiation and function of lung cells.


Farré, R., Navajas, D., Montserrat, J. M., (2013). Is there an optimal nasal pressure for treating obstructive sleep apnea-and if so, what is it? Sleep 36, (4), 463-464

Isetta, V., Lopez-Agustina, C., Lopez-Bernal, E., Amat, M., Vila, M., Valls, C., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2013). Cost-effectiveness of a new internet-based monitoring tool for neonatal post-discharge home care Journal of Medical Internet Research 15, (2), e38

Background: The application of information and communication technologies in nursing care is becoming more widespread, but few applications have been reported in neonatal care. A close monitoring of newborns within the first weeks of life is crucial to evaluating correct feeding, growth, and health status. Conventional hospital-based postdischarge monitoring could be improved in terms of costs and clinical effectiveness by using a telemedicine approach. Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a new Internet-based system for monitoring low-risk newborns after discharge compared to the standard hospital-based follow-up, with specific attention to prevention of emergency department (ED) visits in the first month of life. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of two low-risk newborn patient groups. One group, born between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011, received the standard hospital-based follow-up visit within 48 hours after discharge. After implementing an Internet-based monitoring system, another group, born between July 19, 2011, and January 19, 2012, received their follow-up with this system. Results: A total of 18 (15.8%) out of 114 newborns who received the standard hospital-based follow-up had an ED visit in the first month of life compared with 5 (5.6%; P=.026) out of 90 infants who were monitored by the Internet-based system. The cost of the hospital-based follow-up was 182.1 per patient, compared with 86.1 for the Internet-based follow-up. Conclusion: Our Internet-based monitoring approach proved to be both more effective and less costly than the conventional hospital-based follow-up, particularly through reducing subsequent ED visits.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness, Internet, Neonatology, Telemedicine, Telenursing


Marí-Buyé, N., Luque, T., Navajas, D., Semino, C. E., (2013). Development of a three-dimensional bone-like construct in a soft self-assembling peptide matrix Tissue Engineering Part A 19, (7-8), 870-881

This work describes the development of a three-dimensional (3D) model of osteogenesis using mouse preosteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells and a soft synthetic matrix made out of self-assembling peptide nanofibers. By adjusting the matrix stiffness to very low values (around 120 Pa), cells were found to migrate within the matrix, interact forming a cell-cell network, and create a contracted and stiffer structure. Interestingly, during this process, cells spontaneously upregulate the expression of bone-related proteins such as collagen type I, bone sialoprotein, and osteocalcin, indicating that the 3D environment enhances their osteogenic potential. However, unlike MC3T3-E1 cultures in 2D, the addition of dexamethasone is required to acquire a final mature phenotype characterized by features such as matrix mineralization. Moreover, a slight increase in the hydrogel stiffness (threefold) or the addition of a cell contractility inhibitor (Rho kinase inhibitor) abrogates cell elongation, migration, and 3D culture contraction. However, this mechanical inhibition does not seem to noticeably affect the osteogenic process, at least at early culture times. This 3D bone model intends to emphasize cell-cell interactions, which have a critical role during tissue formation, by using a compliant unrestricted synthetic matrix.


Puig, F., Fuster, G., Adda, M., Blanch, L., Farre, R., Navajas, D., Artigas, A., (2013). Barrier-protective effects of activated protein C in human alveolar epithelial cells PLoS ONE 8, (2), e56965

Acute lung injury (ALI) is a clinical manifestation of respiratory failure, caused by lung inflammation and the disruption of the alveolar-capillary barrier. Preservation of the physical integrity of the alveolar epithelial monolayer is of critical importance to prevent alveolar edema. Barrier integrity depends largely on the balance between physical forces on cell-cell and cell-matrix contacts, and this balance might be affected by alterations in the coagulation cascade in patients with ALI. We aimed to study the effects of activated protein C (APC) on mechanical tension and barrier integrity in human alveolar epithelial cells (A549) exposed to thrombin. Cells were pretreated for 3 h with APC (50 μg/ml) or vehicle (control). Subsequently, thrombin (50 nM) or medium was added to the cell culture. APC significantly reduced thrombin-induced cell monolayer permeability, cell stiffening, and cell contraction, measured by electrical impedance, optical magnetic twisting cytometry, and traction microscopy, respectively, suggesting a barrier-protective response. The dynamics of the barrier integrity was also assessed by western blotting and immunofluorescence analysis of the tight junction ZO-1. Thrombin resulted in more elongated ZO-1 aggregates at cell-cell interface areas and induced an increase in ZO-1 membrane protein content. APC attenuated the length of these ZO-1 aggregates and reduced the ZO-1 membrane protein levels induced by thrombin. In conclusion, pretreatment with APC reduced the disruption of barrier integrity induced by thrombin, thus contributing to alveolar epithelial barrier protection.


Peñuelas, O., Melo, E., Sánchez, C., Sánchez, I., Quinn, K., Ferruelo, A., Pérez-Vizcaíno, F., Esteban, A., Navajas, D., Nin, N., Lorente, J. A., Farré, R., (2013). Antioxidant effect of human adult adipose-derived stromal stem cells in alveolar epithelial cells undergoing stretch Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 188, (1), 1-8

Introduction: Alveolar epithelial cells undergo stretching during mechanical ventilation. Stretch can modify the oxidative balance in the alveolar epithelium. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the antioxidant role of human adult adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (hADSCs) when human alveolar epithelial cells were subjected to injurious cyclic overstretching. Methods: A549 cells were subjected to biaxial stretch (0-15% change in surface area for 24. h, 0.2. Hz) with and without hADSCs. At the end of the experiments, oxidative stress was measured as superoxide generation using positive nuclear dihydroethidium (DHE) staining, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in cell lysates, 8-isoprostane concentrations in supernatant, and 3-nitrotyrosine by indirect immunofluorescence in fixed cells. Results: Cyclically stretching of AECs induced a significant decrease in SOD activity, and an increase in 8-isoprostane concentrations, DHE staining and 3-nitrotyrosine staining compared with non-stretched cells. Treatment with hADSCs significantly attenuated stretch-induced changes in SOD activity, 8-isoprostane concentrations, DHE and 3-nitrotyrosine staining. Conclusion: These data suggest that hADSCs have an anti-oxidative effect in human alveolar epithelial cells undergoing cyclic stretch.

Keywords: Acute lung injury, Cyclic stretch, Human adipose-derived stromal stem cells, Oxidative stress


Torres, M., Montserrat, J. M., Pavía, J., Dalmases, M., Ros, D., Fernandez, Y., Barbé, F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2013). Chronic intermittent hypoxia preserves bone density in a mouse model of sleep apnea Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 189, (3), 646-648

Very recent clinical research has investigated whether obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may modulate bone homeostasis but the few data available are conflicting. Here we report novel data obtained in a mouse study specifically designed to determine whether chronic intermittent hypoxia realistically mimicking OSA modifies bone mineral density (BMD). Normal male and female mice and orchidectomized mice (N= 10 each group) were subjected to a pattern of high-frequency intermittent hypoxia (20. s at 5% and 40. s at 21%, 60 cycles/h) for 6. h/day. Identical groups breathing room air (normoxia) were the controls. After 32 days of intermittent hypoxia/normoxia the trabecular bone mineral density (BMD) in the peripheral femora were measured by micro-CT scanning. When compared with normoxia (two-way ANOVA), intermittent hypoxia did not significantly modify BMD in the three animal groups tested. Data in this study suggest that the type of intermittent hypoxia characterizing OSA, applied as a single challenge, preserves bone homeostasis.


Almendros, I., Montserrat, J. M., Torres, M., Dalmases, M., Cabañas, M. L., Campos-Rodríguez, F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2013). Intermittent hypoxia increases melanoma metastasis to the lung in a mouse model of sleep apnea Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 186, (3), 303-307

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has recently been associated with an increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality in humans. Experimental data in mice have also shown that intermittent hypoxia similar to that observed in OSA patients enhances tumor growth. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that intermittent hypoxia mimicking OSA enhances lung metastasis. A total of 75 C57BL/6J male mice (10-week-old) were subjected to either spontaneous or induced melanoma lung metastasis. Normoxic animals breathed room air and intermittent hypoxic animals were subjected to cycles of 20s of 5% O2 followed by 40s of room air for 6h/day. Spontaneous and induced lung metastases were studied after subcutaneous and intravenous injection of B16F10 melanoma cells, respectively. Compared with normoxia, intermittent hypoxia induced a significant increase in melanoma lung metastasis. These animal model results suggest that intermittent hypoxia could contribute to cancer metastasis in patients with OSA.

Keywords: Intermittent hypoxia, Melanoma, Metastasis, OSA


Jané, R., Lazaro, J., Ruiz, P., Gil, E., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Laguna, P., (2013). Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a rat model: Effects of anesthesia on autonomic evaluation from heart rate variability measures CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 1011-1014

Rat model of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a realistic approach for studying physiological mechanisms involved in sleep. Rats are usually anesthetized and autonomic nervous system (ANS) could be blocked. This study aimed to assess the effect of anesthesia on ANS activity during OSA episodes. Seven male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized intraperitoneally with urethane (1g/kg). The experiments were conducted applying airway obstructions, simulating 15s-apnea episodes for 15 minutes. Five signals were acquired: respiratory pressure and flow, SaO2, ECG and photoplethysmography (PPG). In total, 210 apnea episodes were studied. Normalized power spectrum of Pulse Rate Variability (PRV) was analyzed in the Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) bands, for each episode in consecutive 15s intervals (before, during and after the apnea). All episodes showed changes in respiratory flow and SaO2 signal. Conversely, decreases in the amplitude fluctuations of PPG (DAP) were not observed. Normalized LF presented extremely low values during breathing (median=7,67%), suggesting inhibition of sympathetic system due to anesthetic effect. Subtle increases of LF were observed during apnea. HRV and PPG analysis during apnea could be an indirect tool to assess the effect and deep of anesthesia.

Keywords: electrocardiography, fluctuations, medical disorders, medical signal detection, medical signal processing, neurophysiology, photoplethysmography, pneumodynamics, sleep, ECG, SaO2 flow, SaO2 signal, airway obstructions, amplitude fluctuations, anesthesia effects, anesthetized nervous system, autonomic evaluation, autonomic nervous system, breathing, heart rate variability, high-frequency bands, low-frequency bands, male Sprague-Dawley rats, normalized power spectrum, obstructive sleep apnea, photoplethysmography, physiological mechanisms, pulse rate variability, rat model, respiratory flow, respiratory pressure, signal acquisition, sympathetic system inhibition, time 15 min, time 15 s, Abstracts, Atmospheric modeling, Computational modeling, Electrocardiography, Rats, Resonant frequency


Govoni, Leonardo, Dellaca, Raffaele L., Penuelas, Oscar, Bellani, Giacomo, Artigas, Antonio, Ferrer, Miquel, Navajas, Daniel, Pedotti, Antonio, Farre, Ramon, (2012). Actual performance of mechanical ventilators in ICU: a multicentric quality control study Medical Devices: Evidence and Research 5, 111-119

Even if the performance of a given ventilator has been evaluated in the laboratory under very well controlled conditions, inappropriate maintenance and lack of long-term stability and accuracy of the ventilator sensors may lead to ventilation errors in actual clinical practice. The aim of this study was to evaluate the actual performances of ventilators during clinical routines. A resistance (7.69 cmH(2)O/L/s) - elastance (100 mL/cmH(2)O) test lung equipped with pressure, flow, and oxygen concentration sensors was connected to the Y-piece of all the mechanical ventilators available for patients in four intensive care units (ICUs; n = 66). Ventilators were set to volume-controlled ventilation with tidal volume = 600 mL, respiratory rate = 20 breaths/minute, positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) = 8 cmH(2)O, and oxygen fraction = 0.5. The signals from the sensors were recorded to compute the ventilation parameters. The average standard deviation and range (min-max) of the ventilatory parameters were the following: inspired tidal volume = 607 36 (530-723) mL, expired tidal volume = 608 36 (530-728) mL, peak pressure = 20.8 2.3 (17.2-25.9) cmH(2)O, respiratory rate = 20.09 0.35 (19.5-21.6) breaths/minute, PEEP = 8.43 0.57 (7.26-10.8) cmH(2)O, oxygen fraction = 0.49 0.014 (0.41-0.53). The more error-prone parameters were the ones related to the measure of flow. In several cases, the actual delivered mechanical ventilation was considerably different from the set one, suggesting the need for improving quality control procedures for these machines.

Keywords: Equipment and supplies, Medical devices, Intravenous, Quality assurance, Health care quality assessment, Ventilator accuracy, Ventilation error


Almendros, Isaac, Carreras, Alba, Montserrat, Josep M., Gozal, David, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2012). Potential role of adult stem cells in obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Neurology 3, 1-6

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can be mobilized from the bone marrow or other organs, home into injured tissues and differentiate into different cell phenotypes to serve in a repairing capacity. Furthermore, these cells can respond to inflammation and oxidative stress by exhibiting immunomodulatory properties. The protective and reparative roles of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have primarily been examined and characterized in auto-immune and cardiovascular diseases. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a very prevalent disease (4-5% of adult population and 2-3% of children) characterized by an abnormal increase in upper airway collapsibility. Recurrent airway obstructions elicit arterial oxygen desaturations, increased inspiratory efforts and sleep fragmentation, which have been associated with important long-term neurocognitive, metabolic, and cardiovascular consequences. Since inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction are key factors in the development of the morbid consequences of OSA, bone marrow-derived stem cells could be important modulators of the morbid phenotype by affording a protective role. This mini-review is focused on the recent data available on EPCs, VSELs and MSCs in both animal models and patients with OSA.

Keywords: Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Sleep Apnea, Endothelial progenitor cells, Very Small-like Embryonic Stem Cells, Adult bone-marrow derived stem cells


Almendros, I., Montserrat, J. M., Ramírez, J., Torres, M., Duran-Cantolla, J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2012). Intermittent hypoxia enhances cancer progression in a mouse model of sleep apnoea European Respiratory Journal 39, (1), 215-217

Chimenti, L., Luque, T., Bonsignore, M. R., Ramirez, J., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2012). Pre-treatment with mesenchymal stem cells reduces ventilator-induced lung injury European Respiratory Journal 40, (4), 939-948

Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) reduce acute lung injury in animals challenged by bleomycin or bacterial lipopolysaccaride. It is not known, however, whether MSCs protect from ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). This study investigated whether MSCs have a potential role in preventing or modulating VILI in healthy rats subjected to high-volume ventilation. 24 Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g) were subjected to high-volume mechanical ventilation (25 mL.kg(-1)). MSCs (5 x 10(6)) were intravenously or intratracheally administered (n=8 each) 30 min before starting over-ventilation and eight rats were MSC-untreated. Spontaneously breathing anesthetised rats (n=8) served as controls. After 3 h of over-ventilation or control the animals were sacrificed and lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were sampled for further analysis. When compared with controls, MSC-untreated over-ventilated rats exhibited typical VILI features. Lung oedema, histological lung injury index, concentrations of total protein, interleukin-1 beta, macrophage inflammatory protein-2 and number of neutrophils in BALF and vascular cell adhesion protein-1 in lung tissue significantly increased in over-ventilated rats. All these indices of VILI moved significantly towards normalisation in the rats treated with MSCs, whether intravenously or intratracheally. Both local and systemic pre-treatment with MSCs reduced VILI in a rat model.

Keywords: Acute lung injury, Cell therapy, Injurious ventilation, Lung inflammation, Lung oedema, Mechanical ventilation


Acerbi, I., Luque, T., Giménez, A., Puig, M., Reguart, N., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2012). Integrin-specific mechanoresponses to compression and extension probed by cylindrical flat-ended afm tips in lung cells PLoS ONE 7, (2), e32261

Cells from lung and other tissues are subjected to forces of opposing directions that are largely transmitted through integrin-mediated adhesions. How cells respond to force bidirectionality remains ill defined. To address this question, we nanofabricated flat-ended cylindrical Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) tips with ~1 μm 2 cross-section area. Tips were uncoated or coated with either integrin-specific (RGD) or non-specific (RGE/BSA) molecules, brought into contact with lung epithelial cells or fibroblasts for 30 s to form focal adhesion precursors, and used to probe cell resistance to deformation in compression and extension. We found that cell resistance to compression was globally higher than to extension regardless of the tip coating. In contrast, both tip-cell adhesion strength and resistance to compression and extension were the highest when probed at integrin-specific adhesions. These integrin-specific mechanoresponses required an intact actin cytoskeleton, and were dependent on tyrosine phosphatases and Ca 2+ signaling. Cell asymmetric mechanoresponse to compression and extension remained after 5 minutes of tip-cell adhesion, revealing that asymmetric resistance to force directionality is an intrinsic property of lung cells, as in most soft tissues. Our findings provide new insights on how lung cells probe the mechanochemical properties of the microenvironment, an important process for migration, repair and tissue homeostasis.

Keywords: Arginylglycylaspartic acid, Arginylglycylglutamic acid, Bovine serum albumin, Calcium ion, Integrin, Protein tyrosine phosphatase, Unclassified drug


Almendros, I., Montserrat, J. M., Torres, M., Bonsignore, M. R., Chimenti, L., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2012). Obesity and intermittent hypoxia increase tumor growth in a mouse model of sleep apnea Sleep Medicine 13, (10), 1254-1260

Background: Intermittent hypoxia and obesity which are two pathological conditions commonly found in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), potentially enhance cancer progression. Objective: To investigate whether obesity and/or intermittent hypoxia (IH) mimicking OSA affect tumor growth. Methods: A subcutaneous melanoma was induced in 40 mice [22 obese (40-45 g) and 18 lean (20-25 g)] by injecting 10(6) B16F10 cells in the flank. Nineteen mice (10 obese/9 lean) were subjected to IH (6 h/day for 17 days). A group of 21 mice (12 obese/9 lean) were kept under normoxia. At day 17, tumors were excised, weighed and processed to quantify necrosis and endothelial expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and CD-31. VEGF in plasma was also assessed. Results: In lean animals, IH enhanced tumor growth from 0.81 +/- 0.17 to 1.95 +/- 0.32 g. In obese animals, a similar increase in tumor growth (1.94 +/- 0.18 g) was observed under normoxia, while adding IH had no further effect (1.69 +/- 0.23 g). IH only promoted an increase in tumoral necrosis in lean animals. However, obesity under normoxic conditions increased necrosis, VEGF and CD-31 expression in tumoral tissue. Plasma VEGF strongly correlated with tumor weight (rho = 0.76, p < 0.001) in the whole sample; it increased in lean IH-treated animals from 66.40 +/- 3.47 to 108.37 +/- 9.48 pg/mL, p < 0.001), while the high baseline value in obese mice (106.90 +/- 4.32 pg/mL) was unaffected by IH. Conclusions: Obesity and IH increased tumor growth, but did not appear to exert any synergistic effects. Circulating VEGF appeared as a crucial mediator of tumor growth in both situations.

Keywords: Intermittent hypoxia, Obesity, Cancer, Sleep apnea, Animal model


Guamán, Ana V., Carreras, Alba, Calvo, Daniel, Agudo, Idoya, Navajas, Daniel, Pardo, Antonio, Marco, Santiago, Farré, Ramon, (2012). Rapid detection of sepsis in rats through volatile organic compounds in breath Journal of Chromatography B 881-882, 76-82

Background: Sepsis is one of the main causes of death in adult intensive care units. The major drawbacks of the different methods used for its diagnosis and monitoring are their inability to provide fast responses and unsuitability for bedside use. In this study, performed using a rat sepsis model, we evaluate breath analysis with Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) as a fast, portable and non-invasive strategy. Methods: This study was carried out on 20 Sprague-Dawley rats. Ten rats were injected with lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli and ten rats were IP injected with regular saline. After a 24-h period, the rats were anaesthetized and their exhaled breaths were collected and measured with IMS and SPME-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS) and the data were analyzed with multivariate data processing techniques. Results: The SPME-GC/MS dataset processing showed 92% accuracy in the discrimination between the two groups, with a confidence interval of between 90.9% and 92.9%. Percentages for sensitivity and specificity were 98% (97.5–98.5%) and 85% (84.6–87.6%), respectively. The IMS database processing generated an accuracy of 99.8% (99.7–99.9%), a specificity of 99.6% (99.5–99.7%) and a sensitivity of 99.9% (99.8–100%). Conclusions: IMS involving fast analysis times, minimum sample handling and portable instrumentation can be an alternative for continuous bedside monitoring. IMS spectra require data processing with proper statistical models for the technique to be used as an alternative to other methods. These animal model results suggest that exhaled breath can be used as a point-of-care tool for the diagnosis and monitoring of sepsis.

Keywords: Sepsis, Volatile organic compounds, Ion mobility spectrometer, Rat model, Bedside patient systems, Non-invasive detection


Tsapikouni, T., Garreta, E., Melo, E., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2012). A bioreactor for subjecting cultured cells to fast-rate intermittent hypoxia Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 182, (1), 47-52

High frequency intermittent hypoxia is one of the most relevant injurious stimuli experienced by patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Given that the conventional setting for culturing cells under intermittent hypoxia conditions is limited by long equilibration times, we designed a simple bioreactor capable of effectively subjecting cultured cells to controlled high-frequency hypoxic/normoxic stimuli. The bioreactor's operation is based on exposing cells to a medium that is bubbled with the appropriate mixture of gases into two separate containers, and from there it is directed to the cell culture dish with the aid of two bidirectional peristaltic pumps. The device was tested on human alveolar epithelial cells (A549) and mouse melanoma cells (B16-F10), subjecting them to patterns of intermittent hypoxia (20s at 5% O 2 and 50s at 20% O 2), which realistically mimic OSA of up to severe intensity as defined by the apnea hypopnea index. The proposed bioreactor can be easily and inexpensively assembled and is of practical use for investigating the effects of high-rate changes in oxygen concentration in the cell culture medium.

Keywords: Hypoxia-reoxygenation, Obstructive sleep apnea, Oxygen partial pressure


Waters, C.M., Roan, E., Navajas, D., (2012). Mechanobiology in lung epithelial cells: Measurements, perturbations, and responses Comprehensive Physiology (ed. Terjung, Ron), John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Hoboken, USA) 2, (1), 1-29

Epithelial cells of the lung are located at the interface between the environment and the organism and serve many important functions including barrier protection, fluid balance, clearance of particulate, initiation of immune responses, mucus and surfactant production, and repair following injury. Because of the complex structure of the lung and its cyclic deformation during the respiratory cycle, epithelial cells are exposed to continuously varying levels of mechanical stresses. While normal lung function is maintained under these conditions, changes in mechanical stresses can have profound effects on the function of epithelial cells and therefore the function of the organ. In this review, we will describe the types of stresses and strains in the lungs, how these are transmitted, and how these may vary in human disease or animal models. Many approaches have been developed to better understand how cells sense and respond to mechanical stresses, and we will discuss these approaches and how they have been used to study lung epithelial cells in culture. Understanding how cells sense and respond to changes in mechanical stresses will contribute to our understanding of the role of lung epithelial cells during normal function and development and how their function may change in diseases such as acute lung injury, asthma, emphysema, and fibrosis.

Keywords: -----


Almendros, Isaac, Farre, Ramon, Planas, Anna M., Torres, Marta, Bonsignore, Maria R., Navajas, Daniel, Montserrat, Josep M., (2011). Tissue oxygenation in brain, muscle, and fat in a rat model of sleep apnea: Differential effect of obstructive apneas and intermittent hypoxia Sleep 34, (8), 1127-1133

Study Objectives: To test the hypotheses that the dynamic changes in brain oxygen partial pressure (PtO(2)) in response to obstructive apneas or to intermittent hypoxia differ from those in other organs and that the changes in brain PtO(2) in response to obstructive apneas is a source of oxidative stress. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: 98 Sprague-Dawley rats. Interventions: Cerebral cortex, skeletal muscle, or visceral fat tissues were exposed in anesthetized animals subjected to either obstructive apneas or intermittent hypoxia (apneic and hypoxic events of 15 s each and 60 events/h) for 1 h. Measurements and Results: Arterial oxygen saturation (spO(2)) presented a stable pattern, with similar desaturations during both stimuli. The PtO(2) was measured by a microelectrode. During obstructive apneas, a fast increase in cerebral PtO(2) was observed (38.2 +/- 3.4 vs. 54.8 +/- 5.9 mm Hg) but not in the rest of tissues. This particular cerebral response was not found during intermittent hypoxia. The cerebral content of reduced glutathione was decreased after obstructive apneas (46.2% +/- 15.2%) compared to controls (100.0% +/- 14.7%), but not after intermittent hypoxia. This antioxidant consumption after obstructive apneas was accompanied by increased cerebral lipid peroxidation under this condition. No changes were observed for these markers in the other tissues. Conclusions: These results suggest the cerebral cortex could be protected in some way from hypoxic periods caused by obstructive apneas. The increased cerebral PtO(2) during obstructive apneas may, however, cause harmful effects (oxidative stress). The obstructive apnea model appears to be more adequate than the intermittent hypoxia model for studying brain changes associated with OSA.

Keywords: Tissue oxygenation, Obstructive apnea, Intermittent hypoxia, Animal model, Oxidative stress


Almendros, I., Farré, R., Torres, M., Bonsignore, M. R., Dalmases, M., Ramírez, J., Navajas, D., Montserrat, J. M., (2011). Early and mid-term effects of obstructive apneas in myocardial injury and inflammation Sleep Medicine 12, (10), 1037-1040

Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with cardiovascular disorders, but the different comorbidities in OSA patients make it difficult to know their specific effects on the development of cardiovascular injury. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether recurrent obstructive apneas could lead to myocardial injury. Methods: Thirty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats (300-350. g) were either acutely (3. h) or sustainably (5. h/day, for 10. days) subjected to obstructive apneas with a pattern of 15. s each, 60. apneas/h. Corresponding control groups were formed for the acute and sustained models. To assess the induction of systemic inflammation, IL1-β was measured in plasma. Ventricular tissue injury was evaluated by histological techniques (presence of inflammatory cell infiltration, eosin autofluorescence, and detection of apoptosis). Results: After 3. h of obstructive apneas, a significant increase in IL1-β (64.9. ±. 29.6. ng/μl) were observed with respect to the controls (7.3. ±. 1.0. ng/μl), but no myocardial injury was present. Conversely to the acute model, the systemic inflammation triggered by obstructive apneas for 10. days was reduced. However, the percentage of area with enhanced eosin autofluorescence and of apoptotic cells (1.83. ±. 0.35% and 24.4. ±. 1.5%, respectively) was increased when compared to the control group (0.72. ±. 0.20% and 5.0. ±. 2.8%, respectively). Conclusions: This study suggests that obstructive apneas are a potential source of early systemic and ventricular inflammation and myocardial cell injury after sustained apneas application, which could represent an initial phase in the progression of heart disease associated with OSA.

Keywords: Animal models, Inflammation, Myocardial injury, Obstructive sleep apnea


Dellaca, Raffaele, Montserrat, Josep M., Govoni, Leonardo, Pedotti, Antonio, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Telemetric CPAP titration at home in patients with sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome Sleep Medicine 12, (2), 153-157

Background: Home continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration with automatic devices is not possible in a non-negligible percentage of patients with sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (SAHS). Objectives: To test the feasibility of a novel telemetric system for home CPAP titration. Methods: One-night home CPAP titration was carried out on 20 SAHS patients (56 +/- 3 years; BMI = 35 +/- 2 kg/m(2)). A telemetric unit, based on the conventional GPRS mobile phone network and connected to a commercial CPAP device, allowed the hospital technician to monitor flow, pressure and air leaks by remote control and titrate CPAP (elimination of apneas, hypopneas, flow limitation and snoring) in real time. After 1 week, a full hospital polysomnography was performed while the patient was subjected to the value of CPAP that was previously titrated at home via telemetry. Results: The home-titrated CPAP systematically improved patients' breathing: the apnea-hypopnea index and percentage of sleep time with arterial oxygen saturation below 90% were reduced from 58.1 +/- 5.1 to 3.8 +/- 0.6 events/h and from 19.8 +/- 1.1% to 4.4 +/- 0.7%, respectively. This CPAP value (9.15 +/- 0.47 cmH(2)O) was virtually the same as the pressure that optimized breathing during hospital polysomnography (9.20 +/- 0.41 cmH(2)O; mean difference: 0.02 cmH(2)O, limits of agreement: +/- 1.00 cmH(2)O). Conclusions: This pilot study shows that a simple telemetric system, requiring neither a special telemedicine network nor any infrastructure in the patient's home, made it possible to perform effective remote CPAP titration on SAHS patients.

Keywords: Home CPAP titration by telemetry, Telecare, Telemedicine, E-health, Obstructive sleep apnea, Point of care


Cagido, Viviane Ramos, Zin, Walter Araujo, Ramirez, Jose, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Alternating ventilation in a rat model of increased abdominal pressure Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 175, (3), 310-315

During alternating ventilation (AV) one lung is inflating while the other is deflating. Considering the possible respiratory and hemodynamic advantages of AV, we investigated its effects during increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP = 10 mmHg). In Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 6, 270–375 g) the main bronchi were independently cannulated, and respiratory mechanics determined while animals underwent different ventilatory patterns: synchronic ventilation without increased IAP (SV-0), elevated IAP during SV (SV-10), and AV with elevated IAP (AV-10). Thirty-three other animals (SV-0, n = 10; SV-10, n = 11 and AV-10, n = 12) were ventilated during 3 h. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), and lung histology were assessed. Increased IAP resulted in significantly higher elastances (p < 0.001), being AV-10 lower than SV-10 (p < 0.020). SV-10 showed higher central venous pressure (p < 0.003) than S-0; no change was observed in AV-10. Wet/dry lung weight ratio was lower in AV-10 than SV-10 (p = 0.009). Application of AV reduced hemodynamic and lung impairments induced by increased IAP during SV.

Keywords: Alternating ventilation, Respiratory mechanics, Intra-abdominal pressure, Hemodynamic, Mechanical ventilation, Animal model


Carreras, Alba, Wang, Yang, Gozal, David, Montserrat, Josep M., Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Non-invasive system for applying airway obstructions to model obstructive sleep apnea in mice Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 175, (1), 164-168

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by recurrent upper airway obstructions during sleep. The most common animal model of OSA is based on subjecting rodents to intermittent hypoxic exposures and does not mimic important OSA features, such as recurrent hypercapnia and increased inspiratory efforts. To circumvent some of these issues, a novel murine model involving non-invasive application of recurrent airway obstructions was developed. An electronically controlled airbag system is placed in front of the mouse's snout, whereby inflating the airbag leads to obstructed breathing and spontaneous breathing occurs with the airbag deflated. The device was tested on 29 anesthetized mice by measuring inspiratory effort and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO(2)). Application of recurrent obstructive apneas (6s each, 120/h) for 6h resulted in SaO(2) oscillations to values reaching 84.4 +/- 2.5% nadir, with swings mimicking OSA patients. This novel system, capable of applying controlled recurrent airway obstructions in mice, is an easy-to-use tool for investigating pertinent aspects of OSA.

Keywords: Animal model, Upper airway Obstruction, Mouse model, Non-invasive system, Model sleep apnea, Respiratory disease


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


Almendros, I., Montserrat, J. M., Torres, M., Gonzalez, C., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2010). Changes in oxygen partial pressure of brain tissue in an animal model of obstructive apnea Respiratory Research 11, (3), 1-6

Cognitive impairment is one of the main consequences of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is usually attributed in part to the oxidative stress caused by intermittent hypoxia in cerebral tissues. The presence of oxygen-reactive species in the brain tissue should be produced by the deoxygenation-reoxygenation cycles which occur at tissue level during recurrent apneic events. However, how changes in arterial blood oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) during repetitive apneas translate into oxygen partial pressure (PtO2) in brain tissue has not been studied. The objective of this study was to assess whether brain tissue is partially protected from intermittently occurring interruption of O-2 supply during recurrent swings in arterial SpO(2) in an animal model of OSA. Methods: Twenty-four male Sprague-Dawley rats (300-350 g) were used. Sixteen rats were anesthetized and noninvasively subjected to recurrent obstructive apneas: 60 apneas/h, 15 s each, for 1 h. A control group of 8 rats was instrumented but not subjected to obstructive apneas. PtO2 in the cerebral cortex was measured using a fast-response oxygen microelectrode. SpO(2) was measured by pulse oximetry. The time dependence of arterial SpO(2) and brain tissue PtO2 was carried out by Friedman repeated measures ANOVA. Results: Arterial SpO(2) showed a stable periodic pattern (no significant changes in maximum [95.5 +/- 0.5%; m +/- SE] and minimum values [83.9 +/- 1.3%]). By contrast, brain tissue PtO2 exhibited a different pattern from that of arterial SpO(2). The minimum cerebral cortex PtO2 computed during the first apnea (29.6 +/- 2.4 mmHg) was significantly lower than baseline PtO2 (39.7 +/- 2.9 mmHg; p = 0.011). In contrast to SpO(2), the minimum and maximum values of PtO2 gradually increased (p < 0.001) over the course of the 60 min studied. After 60 min, the maximum (51.9 +/- 3.9 mmHg) and minimum (43.7 +/- 3.8 mmHg) values of PtO2 were significantly greater relative to baseline and the first apnea dip, respectively. Conclusions: These data suggest that the cerebral cortex is partially protected from intermittently occurring interruption of O-2 supply induced by obstructive apneas mimicking OSA.

Keywords: Near-infrared spectroscopy, Sleep-apnea, Iintermittent hypoxia, Cerebral oxygenation, Oxidative stress, Blood-flow, Rat, Apoptosis, Inflammation, Hypercapnia


Carreras, A., Rojas, M., Tsapikouni, T., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2010). Obstructive apneas induce early activation of mesenchymal stem cells and enhancement of endothelial wound healing Respiratory Research 11, (91), 1-7

Background: The aim was to test the hypothesis that the blood serum of rats subjected to recurrent airway obstructions mimicking obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) induces early activation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and enhancement of endothelial wound healing. Methods: We studied 30 control rats and 30 rats subjected to recurrent obstructive apneas (60 per hour, lasting 15 s each, for 5 h). The migration induced in MSC by apneic serum was measured by transwell assays. MSC-endothelial adhesion induced by apneic serum was assessed by incubating fluorescent-labelled MSC on monolayers of cultured endothelial cells from rat aorta. A wound healing assay was used to investigate the effect of apneic serum on endothelial repair. Results: Apneic serum showed significant increase in chemotaxis in MSC when compared with control serum: the normalized chemotaxis indices were 2.20 +/- 0.58 (m +/- SE) and 1.00 +/- 0.26, respectively (p < 0.05). MSC adhesion to endothelial cells was greater (1.75 +/- 0.14 -fold; p < 0.01) in apneic serum than in control serum. When compared with control serum, apneic serum significantly increased endothelial wound healing (2.01 +/- 0.24 -fold; p < 0.05). Conclusions: The early increases induced by recurrent obstructive apneas in MSC migration, adhesion and endothelial repair suggest that these mechanisms play a role in the physiological response to the challenges associated to OSA.

Keywords: Induced acute lung, Sleep-apnea, Intermitent hypoxia, Cardiovascular-disease, Progenito Cells, Rat model, Inflammation, Mechanisms, Repair, Blood


Carreras, Alba, Almendros, Isaac, Montserrat, Josep M., Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2010). Mesenchymal stem cells reduce inflammation in a rat model of obstructive sleep apnea Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 172, (3), 210-212

The aim was to test the hypothesis that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) could reduce the inflammation induced by recurrent airway occlusions in an animal model of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A nasal mask was applied to 30 anesthetized rats. Twenty rats were subjected to a pattern of recurrent obstructive apneas mimicking OSA (60/h, lasting 15 s each) for 5h. MSC (5x10(6) cells) were intravenously injected into 10 of these rats. Ten rats not subjected to apneas or MSC injection were used as controls. The rat blood serum concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1beta were measured by ELISA. IL-1beta was significantly greater in the rats subjected to recurrent apneas (66.7+/-41.2 pg/mL; m+/-SEM) than in controls (1.9+/-1.0 pg/mL; p<0.05). In the group of apneic rats subjected to MSC injection, IL-1beta was significantly reduced (6.1+/-3.8 pg/mL; p<0.05). In conclusion, MSC triggered an early anti-inflammatory response in rats subjected to recurrent obstructive apneas, suggesting that these stem cells could play a role in the physiological response to counterbalance inflammation in OSA.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea, Animal model, Airway obstruction, Inflammation


Estrada, L., Santamaria, J., Isetta, V., Iranzo, A., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2010). Validation of an EEG-based algorithm for automatic detection of sleep onset in the multiple sleep latency test Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering 2010 World Congress on Engineering 2010 , IAENG (International Association of Engineers) (London, UK) 1, 1-3

The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) is a standard test to objectively evaluate patients with excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep onset latencies are determined by visual analysis, which is costly and time-consuming. The aim of this study was to implement and test a single automatic algorithm to detect the sleep onset in the MSLT on the basis of electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. The designed algorithm computed the relative EEG spectral powers in the occipital area and detected the sleep onset corresponding to the intersection point between the lower and alpha frequencies. The algorithm performance was evaluated by comparing the sleep latencies computed automatically by the algorithm and by a sleep specialist using MSLT recordings from a total of 19 patients (95 naps). The mean difference in sleep latency between the two methods was 0.025 min and the limits of agreement were ± 2.46 min (Bland-Altman analysis). Moreover, the intra-class correlation coefficient showed a considerable inter-rater reliability (0.90). The algorithm accurately detected the sleep onset in the MSLT. The devised algorithm can be a useful tool to support and speed up the sleep specialist’s work in routine clinical MSLT assessment.

Keywords: Automatic Algorithm, Drowsiness, Electroencephalography, Multiple Sleep Latency Test, Polysomnography, Sleep onset


Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Quality control: A necessary, but sometimes overlooked, tool for improving respiratory medicine European Respiratory Journal 33, (4), 722-723

The importance of quality control in both general and respiratory medicine has increased in parallel with the complexity of healthcare provision. Only a few decades ago, the respiratory physician and/or scientist had a very limited number of diagnostic and therapeutic tools available and, moreover, medical practice was based almost exclusively on the personal interaction between doctor and patient. Consequently, at that time the quality of the respiratory healthcare depended entirely on the professional competence of the doctor. Although nowadays the relationship between physician and patient undoubtedly still lies at the heart of respiratory medical practice, the quality of the medical service received by the patient also depends on many other participants in a complex healthcare network: various medical specialists, lung function technicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and administrative staff. Accordingly, several quality control programmes are applied in order to avoid, or at least to reduce, errors in diagnosis, improper performance of procedures, errors in medication, and failure to supervise or monitor care or recognise complications associated with treatment

Keywords: Airway pressure devices, Clinical-trial, Standardization, Spirometry, Lung, Home, Ventilators, Publication, Performance, Technology


Carreras, A., Almendros, I., Acerbi, I., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2009). Obstructive apneas induce early release of mesenchymal stem cells into circulating blood Sleep 32, (1), 117-119

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether noninvasive application of recurrent airway obstructions induces early release of mesenchymal stem cells into the circulating blood in a rat model of obstructive sleep apnea. DESIGN: Prospective controlled animal study. SETTING: University laboratory. PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: Twenty male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). INTERVENTIONS: A specially designed nasal mask was applied to the anesthetized rats. Ten rats were subjected to a pattern of recurrent obstructive apneas (60 per hour, lasting 15 seconds each) for 5 hours. Ten anesthetized rats were used as controls. MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Mesenchymal stem cells from the blood and bone marrow samples were isolated and cultured to count the total number of colony-forming unit fibroblasts (CFU-F) of adherent cells after 9 days in culture. The number of CFU-F from circulating blood was significantly (P = 0.02) higher in the rats subjected to recurrent obstructive apneas (5.00 +/- 1.16; mean +/- SEM) than in controls (1.70 +/- 0.72). No significant (P = 0.54) differences were observed in CFU-F from bone marrow. CONCLUSIONS: Application of a pattern of airway obstructions similar to those experienced by patients with sleep apnea induced an early mobilization of mesenchymal stem cells into circulating blood.

Keywords: Adipocytes/cytology, Animals, Blood Cell Count, Bone Marrow Cells/ cytology, Cell Adhesion/physiology, Cell Count, Cell Differentiation/physiology, Cell Division/physiology, Disease Models, Animal, Fibroblasts/cytology, Male, Mesenchymal Stem Cells/ cytology, Osteocytes/cytology, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Sleep Apnea, Obstructive/ blood, Stem Cells/cytology


Sellares, J., Acerbi, I., Loureiro, H., Dellaca, R. L., Ferrer, M., Torres, A., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2009). Respiratory impedance during weaning from mechanical ventilation in a mixed population of critically ill patients British Journal of Anaesthesia 103, (6), 828-832

Worsening of respiratory mechanics during a spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) has been traditionally associated with weaning failure, although this finding is based on studies with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients only. The aim of our study was to assess the course of respiratory impedance non-invasively measured by forced oscillation technique (FOT) during a successful and failed SBT in a mixed population. Thirty-four weaning trials were reported in 29 consecutive mechanically ventilated patients with different causes of initiation of ventilation. During the SBT, the patient was breathing through a conventional T-piece connected to the tracheal tube. FOT (5 Hz, +/- 1 cm H2O, 30 s) was applied at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 min. Respiratory resistance (Rrs) and reactance (Xrs) were computed from pressure and flow measurements. The frequency to tidal volume ratio f/V-t was obtained from the flow signal. At the end of the trial, patients were divided into two groups: SBT success and failure. Mixed model analysis showed no significant differences in Rrs and Xrs over the course of the SBT, or between the success (n=16) and the failure (n=18) groups. In contrast, f/V-t was significantly (P < 0.001) higher in the failure group. Worsening of respiratory impedance measured by FOT is not a common finding during a failed SBT in a typically heterogeneous intensive care unit population of mechanically ventilated patients.

Keywords: Ventilation, High frequency oscillation, Ventilation, Mechanical, Ventilation, Respiratory impedance


Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). The temperature dependence of cell mechanics measured by atomic force microscopy Physical Biology 6, (2), 25009

The cytoskeleton is a complex polymer network that regulates the structural stability of living cells. Although the cytoskeleton plays a key role in many important cell functions, the mechanisms that regulate its mechanical behaviour are poorly understood. Potential mechanisms include the entropic elasticity of cytoskeletal filaments, glassy-like inelastic rearrangements of cross-linking proteins and the activity of contractile molecular motors that sets the tensional stress (prestress) borne by the cytoskeleton filaments. The contribution of these mechanisms can be assessed by studying how cell mechanics depends on temperature. The aim of this work was to elucidate the effect of temperature on cell mechanics using atomic force microscopy. We measured the complex shear modulus (G*) of human alveolar epithelial cells over a wide frequency range (0.1-25.6 Hz) at different temperatures (13-37 degrees C). In addition, we probed cell prestress by mapping the contractile forces that cells exert on the substrate by means of traction microscopy. To assess the role of actomyosin contraction in the temperature-induced changes in G* and cell prestress, we inhibited the Rho kinase pathway of the myosin light chain phosphorylation with Y-27632. Our results show that with increasing temperature, cells become stiffer and more solid-like. Cell prestress also increases with temperature. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction attenuated the temperature dependence of G* and prestress. We conclude that the dependence of cell mechanics with temperature is dominated by the contractile activity of molecular motors.

Keywords: Membrane Stress Failure, Frog Skeletal-Muscle, Extracellular-Matrix, Glass-Transition, Energy Landscape, Actin-Filaments, Living Cell, Single, Traction, Cytoskeleton


Sunyer, R., Ritort, F., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Thermal activation and ATP dependence of the cytoskeleton remodeling dynamics Physical Review E 79, (5), 51920

The cytoskeleton (CSK) is a nonequilibrium polymer network that uses hydrolyzable sources of free energy such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to remodel its internal structure. As in inert nonequilibrium soft materials, CSK remodeling has been associated with structural rearrangements driven by energy-activated processes. We carry out particle tracking and traction microscopy measurements of alveolar epithelial cells at various temperatures and ATP concentrations. We provide the first experimental evidence that the remodeling dynamics of the CSK is driven by structural rearrangements over free-energy barriers induced by thermally activated forces mediated by ATP. The measured activation energy of these forces is similar to 40k(B)T(r) (k(B) being the Boltzmann constant and T-r being the room temperature). Our experiments provide clues to understand the analogy between the dynamics of the living CSK and that of inert nonequilibrium soft materials.

Keywords: Biochemistry, Cellular biophysics, Free energy, Molecular biophysics, Physiological models


Puig, F., Gavara, N., Sunyer, R., Carreras, A., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Stiffening and contraction induced by dexamethasone in alveolar epithelial cells Experimental Mechanics 49, (1), 47-55

The structural integrity of the alveolar monolayer, which is compromised during lung inflammation, is determined by the balance between cell-cell and cell-matrix tethering forces and the centripetal forces owing to cell viscoelasticity and contraction. Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid with protective effects in lung injury. To determine the effects of Dexamethasone on the stiffness and contractility of alveolar epithelial cells. Cell stiffness (G') and average traction exerted by the cell (T) were measured by magnetic twisting cytometry and by traction microscopy, respectively. A549 cells were treated 24 h with Dexamethasone (1 mu M) or vehicle (control). G' and T were measured before and 5 min after challenge with the inflammatory mediator Thrombin (0.5 U/ml). Changes induced by Dexamethasone in actin cytoskeleton polymerization were assessed by the fluorescent ratio between F-actin and G-actin obtained by staining cells with phalloidin and DNase I. Dexamethasone significantly increased G' and T by 56% (n = 11; p < 0.01) and by 80% (n = 17; p < 0.05), respectively. Dexamethasone also increased F/G-actin ratio from 2.68 +/- 0.07 to 2.96 +/- 0.09 (n = 10; p < 0.05). The relative increase in stiffness and contraction induced by Thrombin in control cells was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by Dexamethasone treatment: from 190 to 98% in G' and from 318 to 105% in T. The cytoskeleton remodelling and the increase in cell stiffness and contraction induced by Dexamethasone could account for its protective effect in the alveolar epithelium when subjected to inflammatory challenge.

Keywords: Cell mechanics, Cytoskeleton, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Traction microscopy, Respiratory diseases


Dellaca, R. L., Gobbi, A., Govoni, L., Navajas, D., Pedotti, A., Farre, R., (2009). A novel simple Internet-based system for real time monitoring and optimizing home mechanical ventilation International Conference on Ehealth, Telemedicine, and Social Medicine: Etelemed 2009, Proceedings International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine, and Social Medicine (ed. Conley E.C., Doarn, C., HajjamElHassani, A.), IEEE Compuer Soc (Cancun, Mexico) , 209-215

The dissemination of the available telemedicine systems for the optimization of home mechanical ventilation (HMV) is prevented by the need of complex infrastructures. We developed a device which, once connected to Internet through the mobile phone network, allows an authorized physician connected to Internet to monitor the ventilator signals and modify the settings in real-time without the need of external data servers. The system was evaluated during experiments performed by tele-controlling a mechanical ventilator in Barcelona from Milano. A bench study verified the reliability and robustness of the system while an in-vivo test showed that it was possible to monitor and tele-control the ventilator to maintain the oxygen saturation of a rat ventilated in Barcelona subjected to interventions. Given that the system avoids the need for any complex telemedicine architecture and allows an individual and independent ventilator tele-control, it can be a new helpful tool to optimize HMV.

Keywords: Home mechanical ventilation, Non-invasive mechanical ventilation, Telemedicine


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


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


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


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


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


Farre, R., Nacher, M., Serrano-Mollar, A., Galdiz, J. B., Alvarez, F. J., Navajas, D., Montserrat, J. M., (2007). Rat model of chronic recurrent airway obstructions to study the sleep apnea syndrome Sleep 30, (7), 930-933

Study Objectives: To implement a chronic rat model of recurrent airway obstructions to study the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Patients or Participants: 24 male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). Interventions: The rats were placed in a setup consisting of a body chamber and a head chamber separated by a neck collar specially designed to apply recurrent airway obstructions with OSA patterns. Rats in the Obstruction group (n=8) were subjected to 5-s obstructions at a rate of 60 per hour, 6 h/day during 4 weeks. Sham rats (n=8) were placed in the setup but no obstructions were applied. Naive rats (n=8) were subjected to no intervention. Measurements and Results: Breathing flow, pressure, CO2 air concentration, and SpO(2) showed that the model mimicked OSA respiratory events (obstructive apneas, increased respiratory efforts, and oxygen saturation dips). Animal stress, assessed by body weight and plasma corticosterone, was not significantly different across Obstruction and Sham groups. This supports the concept that this novel model does not introduce a significant burden of stress in the rat after acclimatization to the chamber. Thromboxane-B2/6-keto-Prostaglandin-F1a ratio in plasma, which is an index of vasoconstriction, was significantly increased in the rats subjected to obstructions. Conclusions: The designed animal model of chronic recurrent airway obstructions is feasible and potentially useful to study the mechanisms involved in the cardiovascular consequences of OSA.

Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea, Animal model, Airway obstruction


Rico, Félix, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Sunyer, Raimon, Farré, Ramon, Navajas, Daniel, (2007). Cell dynamic adhesion and elastic properties probed with cylindrical atomic force microscopy cantilever tips Journal of Molecular Recognition John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 20, (6), 459-466

Cell adhesion is required for essential biological functions such as migration, tissue formation and wound healing, and it is mediated by individual molecules that bind specifically to ligands on other cells or on the extracellular matrix. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been successfully used to measure cell adhesion at both single molecule and whole cell levels. However, the measurement of inherent cell adhesion properties requires a constant cell-probe contact area during indentation, a requirement which is not fulfilled in common pyramidal or spherical AFM tips. We developed a procedure using focused ion beam (FIB) technology by which we modified silicon pyramidal AFM cantilever tips to obtain flat-ended cylindrical tips with a constant and known area of contact. The tips were validated on elastic gels and living cells. Cylindrical tips showed a fairly linear force-indentation behaviour on both gels and cells for indentations > 200nm. Cylindrical tips coated with ligands were used to quantify inherent dynamic cell adhesion and elastic properties. Force, work of adhesion and elasticity showed a marked dynamic response. In contrast, the deformation applied to the cells before rupture was fairly constant within the probed dynamic range. Taken together, these results suggest that the dynamic adhesion strength is counterbalanced by the dynamic elastic response to keep a constant cell deformation regardless of the applied pulling rate.

Keywords: AFM, Cell adhesion, Cell mechanics, Cell stiffness


Comments are closed