Staff member

Marc Azagra Rodríguez

Staff member publications

Yeste J, Azagra M, Ortega MA, Portela A, Matajsz G, Herrero-Gómez A, Kim Y, Sriram R, Kurhanewicz J, Vigneron DB, Marco-Rius I, (2023). Parallel detection of chemical reactions in a microfluidic platform using hyperpolarized nuclear magnetic resonance Lab On A Chip

The sensitivity of NMR may be enhanced by more than four orders of magnitude via dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization (dDNP), potentially allowing real-time, in situ analysis of chemical reactions. However, there has been no widespread use of the technique for this application and the major limitation has been the low experimental throughput caused by the time-consuming polarization build-up process at cryogenic temperatures and fast decay of the hyper-intense signal post dissolution. To overcome this limitation, we have developed a microfluidic device compatible with dDNP-MR spectroscopic imaging methods for detection of reactants and products in chemical reactions in which up to 8 reactions can be measured simultaneously using a single dDNP sample. Multiple MR spectroscopic data sets can be generated under the same exact conditions of hyperpolarized solute polarization, concentration, pH, and temperature. A proof-of-concept for the technology is demonstrated by identifying the reactants in the decarboxylation of pyruvate via hydrogen peroxide (e.g. 2-hydroperoxy-2-hydroxypropanoate, peroxymonocarbonate and CO2). dDNP-MR allows tracing of fast chemical reactions that would be barely detectable at thermal equilibrium by MR. We envisage that dDNP-MR spectroscopic imaging combined with microfluidics will provide a new high-throughput method for dDNP enhanced MR analysis of multiple components in chemical reactions and for non-destructive in situ metabolic analysis of hyperpolarized substrates in biological samples for laboratory and preclinical research.


Eills J, Picazo-Frutos R, Burueva DB, Kovtunova LM, Azagra M, Marco-Rius I, Budker D, Koptyug IV, (2023). Combined homogeneous and heterogeneous hydrogenation to yield catalyst-free solutions of parahydrogen-hyperpolarized [1-13C]succinate Chemical Communications 59, 9509-9512

We show that catalyst-free aqueous solutions of hyperpolarized [1-13C]succinate can be produced using parahydrogen-induced polarization (PHIP) and a combination of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic hydrogenation reactions. We generate hyperpolarized [1-13C]fumarate via PHIP using para-enriched hydrogen gas with a homogeneous ruthenium catalyst, and subsequently remove the toxic catalyst and reaction side products via a purification procedure. Following this, we perform a second hydrogenation reaction using normal hydrogen gas to convert the fumarate into succinate using a solid Pd/Al2O3 catalyst. This inexpensive polarization protocol has a turnover time of a few minutes, and represents a major advance for in vivo applications of [1-13C]succinate as a hyperpolarized contrast agent.

JTD Keywords: acid, c-13, conversion, fumarate, in-vivo, metabolism, order, Induced polarization

Mouloudakis, Kostas, Bodenstedt, Sven, Azagra, Marc, Mitchell, Morgan W., Marco-Rius, Irene, Tayler, Michael CD., (2023). Real-Time Polarimetry of Hyperpolarized 13C Nuclear Spins Using an Atomic Magnetometer Journal Of Physical Chemistry Letters 14, 1192-1197

We introduce a method for nondestructive quantification of nuclear spin polarization, of relevance to hyperpolarized spin tracers widely used in magnetic resonance from spectroscopy to in vivo imaging. In a bias field of around 30 nT we use a high-sensitivity miniaturized 87Rb-vapor magnetometer to measure the field generated by the sample, as it is driven by a windowed dynamical decoupling pulse sequence that both maximizes the nuclear spin lifetime and modulates the polarization for easy detection. We demonstrate the procedure applied to a 0.08 M hyperpolarized [1-13C]-pyruvate solution produced by dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization, measuring polarization repeatedly during natural decay at Earth's field. Application to real-time and continuous quality monitoring of hyperpolarized substances is discussed.

JTD Keywords: performance, polarization, Atomic magnetometers, Bias field, High sensitivity, Hyperpolarized, In-vivo imaging, Magnetic resonance, Magnetic-resonance, Magnetic-resonance,polarizatio, Magnetic-resonance,polarization,performanc, Magnetometers, Non destructive, Nuclear spins, Nuclear-spin polarization, Rb vapors, Real- time, Spin dynamics, Spin polarization

Azagra, Marc, Pose, Elisa, Chiara, Francesco, Perez, Martina, Avitabile, Emma, Servitja, JoanMarc, Brugnara, Laura, RamonAzcón, Javier, MarcoRius, Irene, (2022). Ammonium quantification in human plasma by proton nuclear magnetic resonance for staging of liver fibrosis in alcohol-related liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Nmr In Biomedicine 35, e4745

Liver fibrosis staging is a key element driving the prognosis of patients with chronic liver disease. Currently, biopsy is the only technique capable of diagnosing liver fibrosis in patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) unequivocally. Non-invasive (e.g. plasma-based) biomarker assays are attractive tools to diagnose and stage disease, yet must prove that they are reliable and sensitive to be used clinically. Here we demonstrate 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance as a method to rapidly quantify the endogenous concentration of ammonium ions from human plasma extracts and show their ability to report upon early and advanced stages of ArLD and NAFLD. We show that, irrespective of the disease aetiology, ammonium concentration is a more robust and informative marker of fibrosis stage than current clinically assessed blood hepatic biomarkers. Subject to validation in larger cohorts, the study indicates that the method can provide accurate and rapid staging of ArLD and NAFLD without need for an invasive biopsy.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: ammonium quantification, blood biomarkers, chronic liver disease, disease biomarkers, hepatic dysfunction, nmr, pathogenesis, Ammonium quantification, Hepatic dysfunction, Hepatic-encephalopathy

Herrero-Gomez, A, Azagra, M, Marco-Rius, I, (2022). A cryopreservation method for bioengineered 3D cell culture models Biomedical Materials 17, 045023

Technologies to cryogenically preserve (a.k.a. cryopreserve) living tissue, cell lines and primary cells have matured greatly for both clinicians and researchers since their first demonstration in the 1950s and are widely used in storage and transport applications. Currently, however, there remains an absence of viable cryopreservation and thawing methods for bioengineered, three-dimensional (3D) cell models, including patients' samples. As a first step towards addressing this gap, we demonstrate a viable protocol for spheroid cryopreservation and survival based on a 3D carboxymethyl cellulose scaffold and precise conditions for freezing and thawing. The protocol is tested using hepatocytes, for which the scaffold provides both the 3D structure for cells to self-arrange into spheroids and to support cells during freezing for optimal post-thaw viability. Cell viability after thawing is improved compared to conventional pellet models where cells settle under gravity to form a pseudo-tissue before freezing. The technique may advance cryobiology and other applications that demand high-integrity transport of pre-assembled 3D models (from cell lines and in future cells from patients) between facilities, for example between medical practice, research and testing facilities.

JTD Keywords: 3d cell culture, biofabrication, biomaterials, carboxymethyl cellulose, cryopreservation, hepatocytes, 3d cell culture, Biofabrication, Biomaterials, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Cryopreservation, Hepatocytes, Prevention, Scaffolds, Spheroids

Herrero-Gomez, A, Azagra, M, Riba, A, Yeste, J, Marco-Rius, I, (2022). New cryopreservation method for 3d hepatocyte culture models (Abstract 2151) Tissue Engineering Part a 28, S611

Cryopreservation methods for cell and tissue storage have beenaround since 1954, where thawed sperm samples were used for aninsemination. Since then, the technology has evolved for cliniciansand researchers to cryopreserve tissue, cell lines and primary cells.While cryopreserving tissues helps maintain their physiological in-tegrity for study it does not assure the viability of the cells afterthawing. Furthermore, the cells cryopreserved in suspension losetheir dimensional anchors, forcing them to change their morphology.To solve this issue, tissue engineering allows researchers to create 3Dculture models, such as organoids and bioprinted cell clusters, thatmimic the physiological characteristics of the cells in tissue anddisease. Although this culture methods present promising results,there is a lack of methodology to cryopreserve 3D cell models andpatients’ samples for storage and transport in a way where they re-main viable after thawing. We propose a protocol that uses a car-boxymethyl cellulose scaffold and precise freezing and thawingconditions for spheroid survival. The scaffold provides structure forthe hepatocytes to create spheroids on their own as well as supportthroughout the freezing and thawing processes for optimal cell via-bility post-thawing. Furthermore, this method will achieve highercell viability than transporting the cells as a cryopreserved pellet formodel assembling after thawing, allowing the cells to settle and forma tissue beforehand to improve viability after cryopreservation. Thistechnique constitutes a step forward for it will facilitate the transportof already assembled 3D models from cell lines or primary cells frompatients.

JTD Keywords: Cryopreservation