Staff member


Elisabeth Engel López

Group Leader
Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies
eengel@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 020 210
CV Summary

Dr. Elisabeth Engel got her PhD in 2003 in bone metabolism diseases in medical school. She was awarded with a postdoc fellow from the Ministry of Science at the Technical University of Catalonia in Biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration and since 2010 has been associate professor at this university. She was appointed principal investigator of the group of Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies at IBEC in September 2012. Her research interests include the preparation and design of materials and scaffolds for in vitro and in vivo fundamental studies, and a further focus is the provision of useful tools to assess mechanisms that govern cell behavior in regenerative medicine. She has published around 80 papers in JRC journals and many invited lectures, and received an award for technological research (Barcelona City Award). Her group conducts several transference and translational projects with pharma and biomedical device industry partners, and participates actively in European projects.

Staff member publications

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

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

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglasses


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

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

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


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

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

Keywords: Brain, Chitosan, Glia, Micropattern, Neuron


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglass


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Keywords: Biodegradable polymer, Hybrid materials, Nanoparticles, Ormoglass


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Engel, E., Planell, J., (2011). Ion reactivity of calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite in standard cell culture media Acta Biomaterialia 7, (12), 4242-4252

Solution-mediated surface reactions occur for most calcium phosphate-based biomaterials and may influence cellular response. A reasonable extrapolation of such processes observed in vitro to in vivo performance requires a deep understanding of the underlying mechanisms. We therefore systematically investigated the nature of ion reactivity of calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) by exposing it for different periods of time to standard cell culture media of different chemical composition (DMEM and McCoy medium, with and without osteogenic supplements and serum proteins). Kinetic ion interaction studies of principal extracellular ions revealed non-linear sorption of Ca2+ (∼50% sorption) and K+ (∼8%) as well as acidification of all media during initial contact with CDHA (48 h). Interestingly, inorganic phosphorus (Pi) was sorbed from McCoy medium (∼50%) or when using osteogenic media containing

Keywords: Hydroxyapatite, Bioactive materials, Cell culture medium, Ion exchange, Sorption models


Pegueroles, M., Aguirre, A., Engel, E., Pavon, G., Gil, F. J., Planell, J. A., Migonney, V., Aparicio, C., (2011). Effect of blasting treatment and Fn coating on MG63 adhesion and differentiation on titanium: a gene expression study using real-time RT-PCR Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 22, (3), 617-627

Biomaterial surface properties, via alterations in the adsorbed protein layer, and the presence of specific functional groups can influence integrin binding specificity, thereby modulating cell adhesion and differentiation processes. The adsorption of fibronectin, a protein directly involved in osteoblast adhesion to the extracellular matrix, has been related to different physical and chemical properties of biomaterial surfaces. This study used blasting particles of different sizes and chemical compositions to evaluate the response of MG63 osteoblast-like cells on smooth and blasted titanium surfaces, with and without fibronectin coatings, by means of real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) assays. This response included (a) expression of the alpha(5), alpha(v) and alpha(3) integrin subunits, which can bind to fibronectin through the RGD binding site, and (b) expression of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteocalcin (OC) as cell-differentiation markers. ALP activity and synthesis of OC were also tested. Cells on SiC-blasted Ti surfaces expressed higher amounts of the alpha(5) mRNA gene than cells on Al2O3-blasted Ti surfaces. This may be related to the fact that SiC-blasted surfaces adsorbed higher amounts of fibronectin due to their higher surface free energy and therefore provided a higher number of specific cell-binding sites. Fn-coated Ti surfaces decreased alpha(5) mRNA gene expression, by favoring the formation of other integrins involved in adhesion over alpha(5)beta(1). The changes in alpha(5) mRNA expression induced by the presence of fibronectin coatings may moreover influence the osteoblast differentiation pathway, as fibronectin coatings on Ti surfaces also decreased both ALP mRNA expression and ALP activity after 14 and 21 days of cell culture.

Keywords: -----


Rodríguez-Hernández, Ana, Juárez, A., Engel, E., Gil, F., (2011). Streptococcus sanguinis adhesion on titanium rough surfaces: effect of shot-blasting particles Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine Springer Netherlands 22, (8), 1-10

Dental implant failure is commonly associated to dental plaque formation. This problem starts with bacterial colonization on implant surface upon implantation. Early colonizers (such as Streptococcus sanguinis) play a key role on that process, because they attach directly to the surface and facilitate adhesion of later colonizers. Surface treatments have been focused to improve osseointegration, where shot-blasting is one of the most used. However the effects on bacterial adhesion on that sort of surfaces have not been elucidated at all. A methodological procedure to test bacterial adherence to titanium shot-blasted surfaces (alumina and silicon carbide) by quantifying bacterial detached cells per area unit, was performed. In parallel, the surface properties of samples (i.e., roughness and surface energy), were analyzed in order to assess the relationship between surface treatment and bacterial adhesion. Rather than roughness, surface energy correlated to physicochemical properties of shot-blasted particles appears as critical factors for S. sanguinis adherence to titanium surfaces.

Keywords: Engineering


Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2011). Modifying biomaterial surfaces for the repair and regeneration of nerve cells Surface Modification of Biomaterials: Methods Analysis and Applications (ed. Williams, R.), Woodhead Publishing (Cambridge, UK) , 325-343

This chapter discusses the use of chemical and topographical modification of biomaterials in the field of repair and regeneration of nerve tissue. The chapter first reviews briefly the methods developed to chemically and topographically modify the surface of biomaterials. The chapter then discusses how these modified surfaces interact with nerve cells and guide cellular activities.

Keywords: Chemical modification, Nerve repair, Topographical modification


Montufar, E. B., Traykova, T., Gil, C., Harr, I., Almirall, A., Aguirre, A., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2010). Foamed surfactant solution as a template for self-setting injectable hydroxyapatite scaffolds for bone regeneration Acta Biomaterialia 6, (3), 876-885

The application of minimally invasive surgical techniques in the field of orthopaedic surgery has created a growing need for new injectable synthetic materials that can be used for bone grafting In this work a novel fully synthetic injectable calcium phosphate foam was developed by mixing alpha-tricalcium phosphate (alpha-TCP) powder with a foamed polysorbate 80 solution Polysorbate 80 is a non-ionic surfactant approved for parenteral applications The foam was able to retain the porous structure after injection provided that the foamed paste was injected shortly after mixing (typically 2 5 min), and set through the hydrolysis of alpha-TCP to a calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite, thus producing a hydroxyapatite solid foam in situ The effect of different processing parameters on the porosity. microstructure, injectability and mechanical properties of the hydroxyapatite foams was analysed, and the ability of the pre-set foam to support osteoblastic-like cell proliferation and differentiation was assessed. Interestingly, the concentration of surfactant needed to obtain the foams was lower than that considered safe in drug formulations for parenteral administration The possibility of combining bioactivity, injectability, macroporosity and self-setting ability in a single fully synthetic material represents a step forward in the design of new materials for bone regeneration compatible with minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate cement, Hydroxyapatite foam, Scaffold, Surfactant, Injectable material


Pegueroles, M., Aparicio, C., Bosio, M., Engel, E., Gil, F. J., Planell, J. A., Altankov, G., (2010). Spatial organization of osteoblast fibronectin matrix on titanium surfaces: Effects of roughness, chemical heterogeneity and surface energy Acta Biomaterialia 6, (1), 291-301

We investigated the early events of bone matrix formation, and specifically the role of fibronectin (FN) in the initial osteoblast interaction and the subsequent organization of a provisional FN matrix on different rough titanium (Ti) surfaces. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-label led FN was preadsorbed on these surfaces and studied for its three-dimensional (3-D) organization by confocal microscopy, while its amount was quantified after NaOH extraction. An irregular pattern of adsorption with a higher amount of protein on topographic peaks than on valleys was observed and attributed to the physicochemical heterogeneity of the rough Ti surfaces. MG63 osteoblast-like cells were further cultured on FN-preadsorbed Ti surfaces and an improved initial cellular interaction was observed with increasing roughness. 3-D reconstruction of the immunofluorescence images after 4 days of incubation revealed that osteoblasts deposit FN fibrils in a specific facet-like pattern that is organized within the secreted total matrix overlying the top of the samples. The thickness of this FN layer increased when the roughness of the underlying topography was increased, but not by more than half of the total maximum peak-to-valley distance, as demonstrated with images showing simultaneous reconstruction of fluorescence and topography after 7 days of cell culture.

Keywords: Fibronectin, Extracellular matrix organization, Titanium, Surface topography, Surface energy


Koch, M. A., Vrij, E. J., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2010). Perfusion cell seeding on large porous PLA/calcium phosphate composite scaffolds in a perfusion bioreactor system under varying perfusion parameters Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 95A, (4), 1011-1018

A promising approach to bone tissue engineering lies in the use of perfusion bioreactors where cells are seeded and cultured on scaffolds under conditions of enhanced nutrient supply and removal of metabolic products. Fluid flow alterations can stimulate cell activity, making the engineering of tissue more efficient. Most bioreactor systems are used to culture cells on thin scaffold discs. In clinical use, however, bone substitutes of large dimensions are needed. In this study, MG63 osteoblast-like cells were seeded on large porous PLA/glass scaffolds with a custom developed perfusion bioreactor system. Cells were seeded by oscillating perfusion of cell suspension through the scaffolds. Applicable perfusion parameters for successful cell seeding were determined by varying fluid flow velocity and perfusion cycle number. After perfusion, cell seeding, the cell distribution, and cell seeding efficiency were determined. A fluid flow velocity of 5 mm/s had to be exceeded to achieve a uniform cell distribution throughout the scaffold interior. Cell seeding efficiencies of up to 50% were achieved. Results suggested that perfusion cycle number influenced cell seeding efficiency rather than fluid flow velocities. The cell seeding conducted is a promising basis for further long term cell culture studies in large porous scaffolds.

Keywords: Bioreactor, Bone tissue engineering, Scaffolds, In vitro


Aguirre, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Dynamics of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell/mesenchymal stem cell interaction in co-culture and its implications in angiogenesis Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 400, (2), 284-291

Tissue engineering aims to regenerate tissues and organs by using cell and biomaterial-based approaches. One of the current challenges in the field is to promote proper vascularization in the implant to prevent cell death and promote host integration. Bone marrow endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are bone marrow resident stem cells widely employed for proangiogenic applications. In vivo, they are likely to interact frequently both in the bone marrow and at sites of injury. In this study, the physical and biochemical interactions between BM-EPCs and MSCs in an in vitro co-culture system were investigated to further clarify their roles in vascularization. BM-EPC/MSC co-cultures established close cell-cell contacts soon after seeding and self-assembled to form elongated structures at 3 days. Besides direct contact, cells also exhibited vesicle transport phenomena. When co-cultured in Matrigel, tube formation was greatly enhanced even in serum-starved, growth factor free medium. Both MSCs and BM-EPCs contributed to these tubes. However, cell proliferation was greatly reduced in co-culture and morphological differences were observed. Gene expression and cluster analysis for wide panel of angiogenesis-related transcripts demonstrated up-regulation of angiogenic markers but down-regulation of many other cytokines. These data suggest that cross-talk occurs in between BM-EPCs and MSCs through paracrine and direct cell contact mechanisms leading to modulation of the angiogenic response.

Keywords: Bone marrow, Endothelial progenitor cell, Co-culture, Mesenchymal stem cell, Angiogenesis


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Extracellular calcium modulates in vitro bone marrow-derived Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cell chemotaxis and differentiation through a calcium-sensing receptor Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 393, (1), 156-161

Angiogenesis is a complex process regulated by many cell types and a large variety of biochemical signals such as growth factors, transcription factors, oxygen and nutrient diffusion among others. In the present study, we found out that Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cells (bone marrow resident cells with an important role in angiogenesis) were responsive to changes in extracellular calcium concentration through a membrane bound, G-protein-coupled receptor sensitive to calcium ions related to the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR). Calcium was able to induce progenitor cell migration in Boyden chamber experiments and tubulogenesis in Matrigel assays. Addition of anti-CaSR antibodies completely blocked the effect, while CaSR agonist Mg2+ produced a similar response to that of calcium. Real time RT-PCR for a wide array of angiogenesis-related genes showed increased expression of endothelial markers and signaling pathways involved in angiogenesis. These results suggest calcium could be a physiological modulator of the bone marrow progenitor cell-mediated angiogenic response.

Keywords: Endothelial progenitor cell, Calcium-sensing receptor, Angiogenesis, Chemotaxis, Calcium, Bone marrow


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

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

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


Altankov, George, Groth, Thomas, Engel, Elisabeth, Gustavsson, Jonas, Pegueroles, Marta, Aparicio, Conrado, Gil, Francesc J., Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Planell, Josep A., (2010). Development of provisional extracellular matrix on biomaterials interface: Lessons from in vitro cell culture NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology Advances in Regenerative Medicine: Role of Nanotechnology, and Engineering Principles (ed. Shastri, P., Altankov, G., Lendlein, A.), Springer Netherlands (Dortrecht, The Netherlands) , 19-43

The initial cellular events that take place at the biomaterials interface mimic to a certain extent the natural interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM). The cells adhering to the adsorbed soluble matrix proteins, such as fibronectin (FN) and fibrinogen (FNG) tend to re-arrange them in fibril-like pattern. Using model surfaces we have demonstrated that this cellular activity is abundantly dependent on the surface properties of materials, such as wettability, surface chemistry, charge and topography. This raises the possibility that tissue compatibility of materials is connected with the allowance of cells to remodel substratum associated proteins presumably to form provisional ECM. We have further shown that antibodies which bind β1 and αv integrins (subunits of the FN and FNG receptors respectively) may induce their linear rearrangement on the dorsal surface of living cells – a phenomenon presumably related to the same early molecular events of fibrillar matrix assembly. Because the quantitative measurements revealed that this receptor dynamics is strongly altered on the low compatible (hydrophobic) substrata we hypothesized that in order to be biocompatible, materials need to adsorb matrix proteins loosely, i.e. in such a way that the cells can easily remove and organize them in matrix-like fibrils via coordinated functioning of integrins. More recent studies on the fate of FN on some real biomaterial surfaces, including different rough titanium (Ti) and hydroxyapatite (HA) cements and the surface of biosensors confirmed this point of view. They also show that quantitative measurements of adsorbed matrix proteins and their dynamic rearrangement at cell-material interface might provide insight to the biocompatibility of given material and even predict its tissue integration.

Keywords: Materials Science


Planell, Josep A., Navarro, Melba, Altankov, George, Aparicio, Conrado, Engel, Elisabeth, Gil, Javier, Ginebra, Maria Pau, Lacroix, Damien, (2010). Materials surface effects on biological interactions NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology Advances in Regenerative Medicine: Role of Nanotechnology, and Engineering Principles (ed. Shastri, P., Altankov, G., Lendlein, A.), Springer Netherlands (Dortrecht, The Netherlands) , 233-252

At present it is well accepted that different surface properties play a strong role in the interaction between synthetic materials and biological entities. Surface properties such as surface energy, topography, surface chemistry and crystallinity affect the protein adsorption mechanisms as well as cell behaviour in terms of attachment, proliferation and differentiation. The aim of this chapter is to show the most relevant processes and interactions that take place during the first stages of contact between the material and the physiological environment. Some examples show that the modification of different biomaterials surfaces affects both protein adsorption and cell behaviour.

Keywords: Materials Science


Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, Elisabeth, (2010). Modifying biomaterial surfaces for the repair and regeneration of nerve cells Surface modification of biomaterials: Methods analysis and applications (ed. Williams, R.), Woodhead Publishing Ltd (Cambridge, UK) Part 2: Analytica Techniques and Applications, 325-343

The surface modification of biomaterials plays a significant role in determining the outcome of biological-material interactions. With the appropriate modification a material's surface can be tailored to improve biocompatibility, adhesion and cell interactions. Consequently surface modification is vital in the development and design of new biomaterials and medical devices. Surface modification of biomaterials reviews both established surface modifications and those still in the early stages of research and discusses how they can be used to optimise biological interactions and enhance clinical performance. Part one begins with chapters looking at various types and techniques of surface modification including plasma polymerisation, covalent binding of poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG), heparinisation, peptide functionalisation and calcium phosphate deposition before going on to examine metal surface oxidation and biomaterial surface topography to control cellular response with particular reference to technologies, cell behaviour and biomedical applications. Part two studies the analytical techniques and applications of surface modification with chapters on analysing biomaterial surface chemistry, surface structure, morphology and topography before moving onto discuss modifying biomaterial surfaces to optimise interactions with blood, control infection, optimise interactions with soft tissues, repair and regenerate nerve cells, control stem cell growth and differentiation and to optimise interactions with bone. The distinguished editor and international team of contributors to Surface modification of biomaterials have produced a unique overview and detailed chapters on a range of surface modification techniques which will provide an excellent resource for biomaterials researchers and scientists and engineers concerned with improving the properties of biomaterials. It will also be beneficial for academics researching surface modification.

Keywords: -----


Aparicio, C., Salvagni, E., Werner, M., Engel, E., Pegueroles, M., Rodriguez-Cabello, C., Munoz, F., Planell, J. A., Gil, J., (2009). Biomimetic treatments on dental implants for immediate loading applications Journal of Medical Devices 3, (2), 027555

Summary form only given. Commercially pure titanium (cp Ti) dental implants have been widely and successfully used with high rates of clinical success in normal situations. However, there is still a lack of reliable synthetic materials to be used either a) when immediate loading of the implant is desired or b) when bone presents compromised conditions due to trauma, infection, systemic disease and/or lack of significant bone volume. Our group has aimed the development of biomimetic strategies of surface modification to obtain metallic implants with osteostimulative capabilities. These surface modifications will provide implants with a rapid rate of newly-formed bone growth and with ossecoalescence, i.e., direct chemical contact with the surrounding tissues. Consequently, the biomimetically-modified implants will be reliably used on those more demanding clinical situations, cp Ti surfaces treated to obtain a combination of an optimal random surface topography (in the micro and nanolevels) with a chemical modification of the naturally-formed titania layer have been proved bioactive. These rough and bioactive surfaces nucleate and grow a homogeneous hydroxyapatite layer both in vitro and in vivo. They stimulate the osteoblasts differentiation and trigger a rapid bone formation that mechanically fixes implants under immediate-loading conditions. A simple process using silane chemistry has been proved specific, rapid, and reliable to covalently immobilize biomolecules on cp Ti surfaces. This methodology can be used to develop biofunc- tionalized implant surfaces with different or combined bioactivities. The biofunctional molecules can be biopolymers, proteins, growth factors, and synthetic peptides specifically designed to be attached to the surface. The bioactive properties of the molecules designed and used can be mineral growing and nucleation, osteoblast differentiation (bone regeneration), fibroblasts differentiation (biological sealing), antibiotic,... Specifically, we have obtained mechanically and thermochemically stable coatings made of recombinant elastin-like biopolymers. The biopolymers bear either a) the RODS peptide, which is a highly-specific cell-adhesion motif present in proteins of the extracellular matrix for different tissues including bone, or b) an acidic peptide sequence derived from statherin, a protein present in saliva with high affinity for calcium-phosphates and with a leading role in the remineralization processes of the hard tissues forming our teeth. Two different biomimetic strategies have been successfully developed combining topographical modification, inorganic treatments and/or biofunctionalization for improving bioactive integrative properties of cp Ti implants.

Keywords: Biomedical materials, Bone, Cellular biophysics, Dentistry, Molecular biophysics, Prosthetics, Proteins, Surface treatment, Titanium


Rodriguez-Segui, S. A., Pla, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2009). Influence of fabrication parameters in cellular microarrays for stem cell studies Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 20, (7), 1525-1533

Lately there has been an increasing interest in the development of tools that enable the high throughput analysis of combinations of surface-immobilized signaling factors and which examine their effect on stem cell biology and differentiation. These surface-immobilized factors function as artificial microenvironments that can be ordered in a microarray format. These microarrays could be useful for applications such as the study of stem cell biology to get a deeper understanding of their differentiation process. Here, the evaluation of several key process parameters affecting the cellular microarray fabrication is reported in terms of its effects on the mesenchymal stem cell culture time on these microarrays. Substrate and protein solution requirements, passivation strategies and cell culture conditions are investigated. The results described in this article serve as a basis for the future development of cellular microarrays aiming to provide a deeper understanding of the stem cell differentiation process.

Keywords: Bone-marrow, Protein microarrays, Progenitor cells, Differentiation, Surfaces, Growth, Biomaterials, Commitment, Pathways, Culture media


Merolli, A., Rocchi, L., Catalano, F., Planell, J., Engel, E., Martinez, E., Sbernardori, M. C., Marceddu, S., Leali, P. T., (2009). In vivo regeneration of rat sciatic nerve in a double-halved stitch-less guide: a pilot-study Microsurgery 29, (4), 310-318

It is about 20 years that tubular nerve guides have been introduced into clinical practice as a reliable alternative to autograft, in gaps not-longer-than 20 mm, bringing the advantage of avoiding donor site sacrifice and morbidity. There are limitations in the application of tubular guides. First, tubular structure in itself makes surgical implantation difficult; second, stitch sutures required to secure the guide may represent a site of unfavorable fibroblastic reaction; third, maximum length and diameter of the guide correlate with the occurrence of a poorer central vascularization of regenerated nerve. We report on the in vivo testing of a new concept of nerve-guide (named NeuroBox) which is double-halved, not-degradable, rigid, and does not require any stitch to be held in place, employing acrylate glue instead. Five male Wistar rats had the new guide implanted in a 4-mm sciatic nerve defect; two guides incorporated a surface constituted of microtrenches aligned longitudinally. Further five rats had the 4-mm gap left without repair. Contralateral intact nerves were used as controls. After 2 months, nerve regeneration occurred in all animals treated by the NeuroBox; fine blood vessels were well represented. There was no regeneration in the un-treated animals. Even if the limited number of animals does not allow to draw definitive conclusions, some result can be highlighted: an easy surgical technique was associated with the box-shaped guide and acrylate glue was easily applied; an adequate intraneural vascularization was found concurrently with the regeneration of the nerve and no adverse fibroblastic proliferation was present.

Keywords: Peripheral-nerve, Polyglycolic acid, Guidance cues, Collagen tube, Median nerve, Repair, Growth, Cyanoacrylate, Complications, Anastomosis


Martinez, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Effects of artificial micro- and nano-structured surfaces on cell behaviour Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger 191, (1), 126-135

Substrate topography, independently of substrate chemistry, has been reported to have significant effects on cell behaviour. Based on the use of fabrication techniques developed by the silicon microtechnology industry, numerous studies can now be found in the literature analyzing cell behaviour as to various micro- and nanofeatures such as lines, wells, holes and more. Most of these works have been found to relate the micro- and nano-sized topographical features with cell. orientation, migration, morphology and proliferation. In recent papers, even the influence of substrate nanotopography on cell gene expression and differentiation has been pointed out. However, despite the large number of papers published on this topic, significant general trends in cell behaviour are difficult to establish due to differences in cell type, substrate material, feature aspect-ratio, feature geometry and parameters measured. This paper intends to compile and review the relevant existing information on the behaviour of cells on micro- and nano-structured artificial substrates and analyze possible general behavioural trends.

Keywords: Microstructure, Topography, Cell behaviour, Cell morphology, Cell orientation


Engel, E., Martinez, E., Mills, C. A., Funes, M., Planell, J. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Mesenchymal stem cell differentiation on microstructured poly (methyl methacrylate) substrates Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger 191, (1), 136-144

Recent studies on 2D substrates have revealed the importance of surface properties in affecting cell behaviour. In particular, surface topography appears to influence and direct cell migration. The development of new technologies of hot embossing and micro-imprinting has made it possible to study cell interactions with controlled micro features and to determine how these features can affect cell behaviour. Several studies have been carried out on the effect of microstructures on cell adhesion, cell guidance and cell proliferation. However, there is still a lack of knowledge on how these features affect mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. This study was designed to evaluate whether highly controlled microstructures on PMMA could induce rMSC differentiation into an osteogenic lineage. Structured PMMA was seeded with rMSC and cell number; cell morphology and cell differentiation were evaluated. Results confirm that microstructures not only affect cell proliferation and alignment but also have a synergistic effect with osteogenic medium on rMSC differentiation into mature osteoblasts.

Keywords: Mesenchymal stem cells, Osteoblasts, Topography, Microstructures


Gustavsson, J., Zine, N., Vocanson, F., Engel, E., Planell, J., Bausells, J., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., (2009). Characterization of potassium-selective field effect transistors based on 1,3-(di-4-oxabutanol)-calix[4]arene-crown-5 as ionophore Sensor Letters 7, (5), 795-800

The ionophore 1,3-(di-4-oxabutanol)-calix[4]arene-crown-5 has been synthesized and used in order to develop a plasticized poly(vinyl-chloride) membrane for potassium ion detection using ion-selective field-effect transistors (ISFETs). The composition of the polymeric membrane was optimized with respect to the plasticizer being used, with the best response obtained using bis(2ethylhexyl)sebacate. The developed MEMFETs exhibit a good linear response of 52.4±1.6 mV per decade within the concentration range of 2.0 x 10-4 M to 1.0 x 10-1 M and response time of 30 seconds. The detection limit was determined to be 4 x 10-5 M and also the selectivity coefficients for possible interfering cations/anions were evaluated. The MEMFETs are suitable for use in the pH range of 3-11.

Keywords: Calix[4]arene, ISFET, MEMFET, Potassium


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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