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Qamar, B., Solomon, M., Marin, A., Fuerst, T. R., Andrianov, A. K., Muro, S., (2021). Intracellular delivery of active proteins by polyphosphazene polymers Pharmaceutics 13, (2), 249

Achieving intracellular delivery of protein therapeutics within cells remains a significant challenge. Although custom formulations are available for some protein therapeutics, the development of non-toxic delivery systems that can incorporate a variety of active protein cargo and maintain their stability, is a topic of great relevance. This study utilized ionic polyphosphazenes (PZ) that can assemble into supramolecular complexes through non-covalent interactions with different types of protein cargo. We tested a PEGylated graft copolymer (PZ-PEG) and a pyrrolidone containing linear derivative (PZ-PYR) for their ability to intracellularly deliver FITC-avidin, a model protein. In endothelial cells, PZ-PYR/protein exhibited both faster internalization and higher uptake levels than PZ-PEG/protein, while in cancer cells both polymers achieved similar uptake levels over time, although the internalization rate was slower for PZ-PYR/protein. Uptake was mediated by endocytosis through multiple mechanisms, PZ-PEG/avidin colocalized more profusely with endo-lysosomes, and PZ-PYR/avidin achieved greater cytosolic delivery. Consequently, a PZ-PYR-delivered anti-F-actin antibody was able to bind to cytosolic actin filaments without needing cell permeabilization. Similarly, a cell-impermeable Bax-BH3 peptide known to induce apoptosis, decreased cell viability when complexed with PZ-PYR, demonstrating endo-lysosomal escape. These biodegradable PZs were non-toxic to cells and represent a promising platform for drug delivery of protein therapeutics.

Keywords: Cytosolic delivery, Cytotoxicity, Delivery of apoptotic peptides, Endosomal escape, Intracellular delivery of antibody, Intracellular protein delivery, Polyphosphazene polymers

Rubí-Sans, G., Recha-Sancho, L., Pérez-Amodio, S., Mateos-Timoneda, M. Á., Semino, C. E., Engel, E., (2020). Development of a three-dimensional bioengineered platform for articular cartilage regeneration Biomolecules 10, (1), 52

Degenerative cartilage pathologies are nowadays a major problem for the world population. Factors such as age, genetics or obesity can predispose people to suffer from articular cartilage degeneration, which involves severe pain, loss of mobility and consequently, a loss of quality of life. Current strategies in medicine are focused on the partial or total replacement of affected joints, physiotherapy and analgesics that do not address the underlying pathology. In an attempt to find an alternative therapy to restore or repair articular cartilage functions, the use of bioengineered tissues is proposed. In this study we present a three-dimensional (3D) bioengineered platform combining a 3D printed polycaprolactone (PCL) macrostructure with RAD16-I, a soft nanofibrous self-assembling peptide, as a suitable microenvironment for human mesenchymal stem cells’ (hMSC) proliferation and differentiation into chondrocytes. This 3D bioengineered platform allows for long-term hMSC culture resulting in chondrogenic differentiation and has mechanical properties resembling native articular cartilage. These promising results suggest that this approach could be potentially used in articular cartilage repair and regeneration.

Keywords: 3D printing, Chondrogenic differentiation, Polycaprolactone, RAD16-I self-assembling peptide

Moghimiardekani, A., Molina, B. G., Enshaei, H., del Valle, L. J., Pérez-Madrigal, M. M., Estrany, F., Alemán, C., (2020). Semi-interpenetrated hydrogels-microfibers electroactive assemblies for release and real-time monitoring of drugs Macromolecular Bioscience 20, (7), 2000074

Simultaneous drug release and monitoring using a single polymeric platform represents a significant advance in the utilization of biomaterials for therapeutic use. Tracking drug release by real-time electrochemical detection using the same platform is a simple way to guide the dosage of the drug, improve the desired therapeutic effect, and reduce the adverse side effects. The platform developed in this work takes advantage of the flexibility and loading capacity of hydrogels, the mechanical strength of microfibers, and the capacity of conducting polymers to detect the redox properties of drugs. The engineered platform is prepared by assembling two spin-coated layers of poly-γ-glutamic acid hydrogel, loaded with poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) microparticles, and separated by a electrospun layer of poly-ε-caprolactone microfibers. Loaded PEDOT microparticles are used as reaction nuclei for the polymerization of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHMeDOT), that semi-interpenetrate the whole three layered system while forming a dense network of electrical conduction paths. After demonstrating its properties, the platform is loaded with levofloxacin and its release monitored externally by UV–vis spectroscopy and in situ by using the PHMeDOT network. In situ real-time electrochemical monitoring of the drug release from the engineered platform holds great promise for the development of multi-functional devices for advanced biomedical applications.

Keywords: Biosensors, Conducting polymers, Drug delivery, Poly-γ-glutamic acid, Poly-ε-caprolactone

Praktiknjo, M., Djayadi, N., Mohr, R., Schierwagen, R., Bischoff, J., Dold, L., Pohlmann, A., Schwarze-Zander, C., Wasmuth, J. C., Boesecke, C., Rockstroh, J. K., Trebicka, J., (2019). Fibroblast growth factor 21 is independently associated with severe hepatic steatosis in non-obese HIV-infected patients Liver International 39, (8), 1514-1520

Background: Severe hepatic steatosis shows a high prevalence and contributes to morbidity and mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients. Known risk factors include obesity, dyslipidaemia and features of metabolic syndrome. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21) is involved with hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism. This study aimed to evaluate FGF-21 as a biomarker for severe hepatic steatosis in non-obese HIV-infected patients. Methods: This is a prospective, cross-sectional, monocentric study including HIV-infected out-patients. Hepatic steatosis was measured via controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) using FibroScan 502 touch (ECHOSENS, France). Severe hepatic steatosis was defined at CAP ≥ 253 dB/m. Peripheral blood samples were collected and plasma was analysed for FGF-21. Demographic and clinical characteristics were collected from patient's health records. Results: In total, 73 non-obese HIV-monoinfected patients were included in this study. Prevalence of severe hepatic steatosis was 41%. Patients with severe hepatic steatosis showed significantly higher levels of FGF-21. Univariate analysis revealed FGF-21, BMI, hyperlipidaemia, ALT levels and arterial hypertension as significant, while multivariate analysis showed only FGF-21, arterial hypertension and ALT levels as significant independent risk factors for severe hepatic steatosis. Conclusion: This study presents FGF-21 as an independent and stronger predictor of severe hepatic steatosis than blood lipids in HIV-infected patients. Moreover, arterial hypertension and ALT levels predict severe steatosis even in non-obese HIV-monoinfected patients. Furthermore, this study supports existing metabolic risk factors and expands them to non-obese HIV-infected patients.

Keywords: BMI, CAP, Dyslipidaemia, FGF-21, Fibroscan, HIV, Hyperlipidaemia, Liver, NAFLD, NASH, Steatosis

Moles, E., Kavallaris, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2019). Modeling the distribution of diprotic basic drugs in liposomal systems: Perspectives on malaria nanotherapy Frontiers in Pharmacology 10, 1064

Understanding how polyprotic compounds distribute within liposome (LP) suspensions is of major importance to design effective drug delivery strategies. Advances in this research field led to the definition of LP-based active drug encapsulation methods driven by transmembrane pH gradients with evidenced efficacy in the management of cancer and infectious diseases. An accurate modeling of membrane-solution drug partitioning is also fundamental when designing drug delivery systems for poorly endocytic cells, such as red blood cells (RBCs), in which the delivered payloads rely mostly on the passive diffusion of drug molecules across the cell membrane. Several experimental models have been proposed so far to predict the partitioning of polyprotic basic/acid drugs in artificial membranes. Nevertheless, the definition of a model in which the membrane-solution partitioning of each individual drug microspecies is studied relative to each other is still a topic of ongoing research. We present here a novel experimental approach based on mathematical modeling of drug encapsulation efficiency (EE) data in liposomal systems by which microspecies-specific partition coefficients are reported as a function of pH and phospholipid compositions replicating the RBC membrane in a simple and highly translatable manner. This approach has been applied to the study of several diprotic basic antimalarials of major clinical importance (quinine, primaquine, tafenoquine, quinacrine, and chloroquine) describing their respective microspecies distribution in phosphatidylcholine-LP suspensions. Estimated EE data according to the model described here closely fitted experimental values with no significant differences obtained in 75% of all pH/lipid composition-dependent conditions assayed. Additional applications studied include modeling drug EE in LPs in response to transmembrane pH gradients and lipid bilayer asymmetric charge, conditions of potential interest reflected in our previously reported RBC-targeted antimalarial nanotherapeutics.

Keywords: Distribution coefficient, Liposomal systems, Malaria therapy, Nanomedicine, Partition coefficient, PH-controlled drug encapsulation, Polyprotic drug, Targeted drug delivery

Enshaei, H., Molina, B. G., del Valle, L. J., Estrany, F., Arnan, C., Puiggalí, J., Saperas, N., Alemán, C., (2019). Scaffolds for sustained release of ambroxol hydrochloride, a pharmacological chaperone that increases the activity of misfolded β-glucocerebrosidase. Macromolecular Bioscience 19, (8), 1900130

Ambroxol is a pharmacological chaperone (PC) for Gaucher disease that increases lysosomal activity of misfolded β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase) while displaying a safe toxicological profile. In this work, different poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-based systems are developed to regulate the sustained release of small polar drugs in physiological environments. For this purpose, ambroxol is selected as test case since the encapsulation and release of PCs using polymeric scaffolds have not been explored yet. More specifically, ambroxol is successfully loaded in electrospun PCL microfibers, which are subsequently coated with additional PCL layers using dip-coating or spin-coating. The time needed to achieve 80% release of loaded ambroxol increases from ≈15 min for uncoated fibrous scaffolds to 3 days and 1 week for dip-coated and spin-coated systems, respectively. Furthermore, it is proven that the released drug maintains its bioactivity, protecting GCase against induced thermal denaturation.

Keywords: Electrospinning, Gaucher's disease, Lysosomal storage disorders, Misfolding diseases, Poly(ε-caprolactone), Polyester, Release regulation

Torres-Sanchez, A., Millan, D., Arroyo, M., (2019). Modelling fluid deformable surfaces with an emphasis on biological interfaces Journal of Fluid Mechanics 872, 218-271

Fluid deformable surfaces are ubiquitous in cell and tissue biology, including lipid bilayers, the actomyosin cortex or epithelial cell sheets. These interfaces exhibit a complex interplay between elasticity, low Reynolds number interfacial hydrodynamics, chemistry and geometry, and govern important biological processes such as cellular traffic, division, migration or tissue morphogenesis. To address the modelling challenges posed by this class of problems, in which interfacial phenomena tightly interact with the shape and dynamics of the surface, we develop a general continuum mechanics and computational framework for fluid deformable surfaces. The dual solid–fluid nature of fluid deformable surfaces challenges classical Lagrangian or Eulerian descriptions of deforming bodies. Here, we extend the notion of arbitrarily Lagrangian–Eulerian (ALE) formulations, well-established for bulk media, to deforming surfaces. To systematically develop models for fluid deformable surfaces, which consistently treat all couplings between fields and geometry, we follow a nonlinear Onsager formalism according to which the dynamics minimizes a Rayleighian functional where dissipation, power input and energy release rate compete. Finally, we propose new computational methods, which build on Onsager’s formalism and our ALE formulation, to deal with the resulting stiff system of higher-order partial differential equations. We apply our theoretical and computational methodology to classical models for lipid bilayers and the cell cortex. The methods developed here allow us to formulate/simulate these models in their full three-dimensional generality, accounting for finite curvatures and finite shape changes.

Keywords: Capsule/cell dynamics, Computational methods, Membranes

Mohr, Raphael, Boesecke, Christoph, Dold, Leona, Schierwagen, Robert, Schwarze-Zander, Carolynne, Wasmuth, Jan-Christian, Weisensee, Insa, Rockstroh, Jürgen Kurt, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Return-to-health effect of modern combined antiretroviral therapy potentially predisposes HIV patients to hepatic steatosis Medicine 97, (17), e0462

Prevalence and risk factors for hepatic steatosis (HS) in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive population of western countries are controversially discussed and potentially confounded by coinfection with viral hepatitis. Significant HS (more than 10% of hepatocytes) can be accurately assessed using controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) determination. Aim of this study was to assess prevalence and factors associated with significant HS in HIV monoinfected patients. A total of 364 HIV-infected patients (289 monoinfected) were included in this prospective, cross-sectional study. All patients underwent CAP determination. Steatosis was classified as S1 (significant steatosis) with CAP > 238 dB/m, S2 with CAP > 260 dB/m, and S3 with CAP > 292 dB/m. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the factors associated with HS in this cohort. Significant HS was detected in 118 monoinfected patients (149 in the total cohort). In the total cohort as well as in the monoinfected patients alone, HS grade distribution showed a similar pattern (S1:29%, S2:34%, and S3:37%). Interestingly, patients with HS had a longer history of HIV infection and combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). Interalia, age, gender, ethnicity, and metabolic factors were strongly associated with HS, while body mass index (BMI), triglyceride, and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were independently associated with significant HS. HS is highly prevalent among HIV monoinfected patients. Although metabolic risk factors, such as obesity and poorly controlled diabetes, are independently associated with HS in HIV monoinfected patients, cART and control of HIV seem to play an indirect role in the development of HS, probably through the return-to-health effect.

Keywords: CAP, cART, HIV monoinfection, liver injury, NAFLD

Won, J. E., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Castaño, O., Planell, J. A., Seo, S. J., Lee, E. J., Han, C. M., Kim, H. W., (2015). Fibronectin immobilization on to robotic-dispensed nanobioactive glass/polycaprolactone scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Biotechnology Letters , 37, (4), 935-342

Bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-adhesive surface have excellent bone regeneration capacities. Fibronectin (FN)-immobilized nanobioactive glass (nBG)/polycaprolactone (PCL) (FN-nBG/PCL) scaffolds with an open pore architecture were generated by a robotic-dispensing technique. The surface immobilization level of FN was significantly higher on the nBG/PCL scaffolds than on the PCL scaffolds, mainly due to the incorporated nBG that provided hydrophilic chemical-linking sites. FN-nBG/PCL scaffolds significantly improved cell responses, including initial anchorage and subsequent cell proliferation. Although further in-depth studies on cell differentiation and the in vivo animal responses are required, bioactive nanocomposite scaffolds with cell-favoring surface are considered to provide promising three-dimensional substrate for bone regeneration.

Keywords: Bone scaffolds, Cell response, Fibronectin, Nanobioactive glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Bone, Cell proliferation, Cells, Cytology, Glass, Nanocomposites, Polycaprolactone, Robotics, Bone scaffolds, Bone tissue engineering, Cell response, Fibronectin, Fibronectin immobilizations, Nano bioactive glass, Nanocomposite scaffolds, Three-dimensional substrates, Scaffolds (biology)

Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery , 5, (10), 1049-1052

Cuervo, A., Dans, P. D., Carrascosa, J. L., Orozco, M., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Direct measurement of the dielectric polarization properties of DNA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, (35), E3624-E3630

The electric polarizability of DNA, represented by the dielectric constant, is a key intrinsic property that modulates DNA interaction with effector proteins. Surprisingly, it has so far remained unknown owing to the lack of experimental tools able to access it. Here, we experimentally resolved it by detecting the ultraweak polarization forces of DNA inside single T7 bacteriophages particles using electrostatic force microscopy. In contrast to the common assumption of low-polarizable behavior like proteins (εr ~ 2–4), we found that the DNA dielectric constant is ~ 8, considerably higher than the value of ~ 3 found for capsid proteins. State-of-the-art molecular dynamic simulations confirm the experimental findings, which result in sensibly decreased DNA interaction free energy than normally predicted by Poisson–Boltzmann methods. Our findings reveal a property at the basis of DNA structure and functions that is needed for realistic theoretical descriptions, and illustrate the synergetic power of scanning probe microscopy and theoretical computation techniques.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, capsid protein, DNA, double stranded DNA, amino acid composition, article, atomic force microscopy, bacteriophage, bacteriophage T7, dielectric constant, dipole, DNA binding, DNA packaging, DNA structure, electron microscopy, ligand binding, nonhuman, polarization, priority journal, protein analysis, protein DNA interaction, scanning probe microscopy, static electricity, virion, virus capsid, virus particle, atomic force microscopy, atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Bacteriophage T7, Capsid, Cations, Dielectric Spectroscopy, DNA, DNA, Viral, DNA-Binding Proteins, Electrochemical Techniques, Ligands, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Chemical, Nuclear Proteins

Marques, J., Moles, E., Urbán, P., Prohens, R., Busquets, M. A., Sevrin, C., Grandfils, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Application of heparin as a dual agent with antimalarial and liposome targeting activities toward Plasmodium-infected red blood cells Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 10, (8), 1719-1728

Heparin had been demonstrated to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) vs. non-infected erythrocytes. Here we have explored if both properties could be joined into a drug delivery strategy where heparin would have a dual role as antimalarial and as a targeting element of drug-loaded nanoparticles. Confocal fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy data show that after 30. min of being added to living pRBCs fluorescein-labeled heparin colocalizes with the intracellular parasites. Heparin electrostatically adsorbed onto positively charged liposomes containing the cationic lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane and loaded with the antimalarial drug primaquine was capable of increasing three-fold the activity of encapsulated drug in Plasmodium falciparum cultures. At concentrations below those inducing anticoagulation of mouse blood in vivo, parasiticidal activity was found to be the additive result of the separate activities of free heparin as antimalarial and of liposome-bound heparin as targeting element for encapsulated primaquine. From the Clinical Editor: Malaria remains an enormous global public health concern. In this study, a novel functionalized heparin formulation used as drug delivery agent for primaquine was demonstrated to result in threefold increased drug activity in cell cultures, and in a murine model it was able to provide these benefits in concentrations below what would be required for anticoagulation. Further studies are needed determine if this approach is applicable in the human disease as well.

Keywords: Heparin, Liposomes, Malaria, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery, Heparin, Malaria, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery, Liposomes, 1,2 dioleoyl 3 trimethylammoniopropane, fluorescein, heparin, liposome, nanoparticle, primaquine, adsorption, animal experiment, anticoagulation, antimalarial activity, Article, binding affinity, confocal microscopy, controlled study, drug targeting, encapsulation, erythrocyte, female, fluorescence microscopy, human, human cell, in vivo study, liposomal delivery, mouse, nonhuman, Plasmodium falciparum, transmission electron microscopy

Rajzer, I., Menaszek, E., Kwiatkowski, R., Planell, J. A., Castaño, O., (2014). Electrospun gelatin/poly(ε-caprolactone) fibrous scaffold modified with calcium phosphate for bone tissue engineering Materials Science and Engineering: C 44, 183-190

In this study gelatin (Gel) modified with calcium phosphate nanoparticles (SG5) and polycaprolactone (PCL) were used to prepare a 3D bi-layer scaffold by collecting electrospun PCL and gelatin/SG5 fibers separately in the same collector. The objective of this study was to combine the desired properties of PCL and Gel/SG5 in the same scaffold in order to enhance mineralization, thus improving the ability of the scaffold to bond to the bone tissue. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and the wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) measurements confirmed that SG5 nanoparticles were successfully incorporated into the fibrous gelatin matrix. The composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold exhibited more enhanced mechanical properties than individual Gel and Gel/SG5 scaffolds. The presence of SG5 nanoparticles accelerated the nucleation and growth of apatite crystals on the surface of the composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold in simulated body fluid (SBF). The osteoblast response in vitro to developed electrospun scaffolds (PCL and Gel/SG5/PCL) was investigated by using normal human primary NHOst cell lines. NHOst cell culture studies showed that higher alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and better mineralization were obtained in the case of composite materials than in pure PCL scaffolds. The mechanically strong PCL scaffold served as a skeleton, while the Gel/SG5 fibers facilitated cell spreading and mineralization of the scaffold.

Keywords: Bilayer fibrous scaffold, Ceramic nanoparticles, Electrospinning, Gelatin, Polycaprolactone, Biomechanics, Bone, Calcium phosphate, Cell culture, Electrospinning, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Mechanical properties, Mineralogy, Nanoparticles, Phosphatases, Polycaprolactone, Scanning electron microscopy, X ray diffraction, Polycaprolactone, Alkaline phosphatase activity, Bone tissue engineering, Calcium phosphate nanoparticles, Ceramic nanoparticles, Fibrous scaffolds, Gelatin, Simulated body fluids, Wide-angle x-ray diffraction, Electrospuns, Scaffolds (biology), Electrospinning

Caballero, D., Martinez, E., Bausells, J., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2012). Impedimetric immunosensor for human serum albumin detection on a direct aldehyde-functionalized silicon nitride surface Analytica Chimica Acta 720, 43-48

In this work we report the fabrication and characterization of a label-free impedimetric immunosensor based on a silicon nitride (Si 3N 4) surface for the specific detection of human serum albumin (HSA) proteins. Silicon nitride provides several advantages compared with other materials commonly used, such as gold, and in particular in solid-state physics for electronic-based biosensors. However, few Si 3N 4-based biosensors have been developed; the lack of an efficient and direct protocol for the integration of biological elements with silicon-based substrates is still one of its the main drawbacks. Here, we use a direct functionalization method for the direct covalent binding of monoclonal anti-HSA antibodies on an aldehyde-functionalized Si-p/SiO 2/Si 3N 4 structure. This methodology, in contrast with most of the protocols reported in literature, requires less chemical reagents, it is less time-consuming and it does not need any chemical activation. The detection capability of the immunosensor was tested by performing non-faradaic electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurements for the specific detection of HSA proteins. Protein concentrations within the linear range of 10 -13-10 -7M were detected, showing a sensitivity of 0.128ΩμM -1 and a limit of detection of 10 -14M. The specificity of the sensor was also addressed by studying the interferences with a similar protein, bovine serum albumin. The results obtained show that the antibodies were efficiently immobilized and the proteins detected specifically, thus, establishing the basis and the potential applicability of the developed silicon nitride-based immunosensor for the detection of proteins in real and more complex samples.

Keywords: Aldehyde, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Human serum albumin, Immunosensor, Silicon nitride, Bovine serum albumins, Chemical reagents, Complex samples, Covalent binding, Detection capability, Electrochemical impedance, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements, Functionalizations, Human serum albumins, Impedimetric immunosensors, Label free, Limit of detection, Linear range, Protein concentrations, Silicon-based, Specific detection, Aldehydes

Toset, J., Gomila, G., (2010). Three-dimensional manipulation of gold nanoparticles with electro-enhanced capillary forces Applied Physics Letters , 96, (4), 043117

We demonstrate the possibility to manipulate 25 nm radius gold nanoparticles in the three spatial dimensions with an atomic force microscope with the use of electroenhanced capillary forces. We show that an enhanced water-bridge can be electrostatically induced between a conducting probe and a metallic nanoparticle by the application of a voltage pulse, which is able to exert a pulling capillary force on the nanoparticle strong enough to detach it from the substrate. The nanoparticle can then be moved, attached to the probe, and placed back to the desired location on the substrate simply by contacting it.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Capillarity, Gold, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology

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

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

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

Fumagalli, L., Ferrari, G., Sampietro, M., Gomila, G., (2009). Quantitative nanoscale dielectric microscopy of single-layer supported biomembranes Nano Letters 9, (4), 1604-1608

We present the experimental demonstration of low-frequency dielectric constant imaging of single-layer supported biomembranes at the nanoscale. The dielectric constant image has been quantitatively reconstructed by combining the thickness and local capacitance obtained using a scanning force microscope equipped with a sub-attofarad low-frequency capacitance detector. This work opens new possibilities for studying bioelectric phenomena and the dielectric properties of biological membranes at the nanoscale.

Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Nnear-field microscopy, Purple membrane, Scanning capacitance, Biological-systems, Fluid, Spectroscopy, Resolution, Proteins, Dynamics

Banos, R. C., Vivero, A., Aznar, S., Garcia, J., Pons, M., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2009). Differential regulation of horizontally acquired and core genome genes by the bacterial modulator H-NS PLoS Genetics 5, (6), 8

Horizontal acquisition of DNA by bacteria dramatically increases genetic diversity and hence successful bacterial colonization of several niches, including the human host. A relevant issue is how this newly acquired DNA interacts and integrates in the regulatory networks of the bacterial cell. The global modulator H-NS targets both core genome and HGT genes and silences gene expression in response to external stimuli such as osmolarity and temperature. Here we provide evidence that H-NS discriminates and differentially modulates core and HGT DNA. As an example of this, plasmid R27-encoded H-NS protein has evolved to selectively silence HGT genes and does not interfere with core genome regulation. In turn, differential regulation of both gene lineages by resident chromosomal H-NS requires a helper protein: the Hha protein. Tight silencing of HGT DNA is accomplished by H-NS-Hha complexes. In contrast, core genes are modulated by H-NS homoligomers. Remarkably, the presence of Hha-like proteins is restricted to the Enterobacteriaceae. In addition, conjugative plasmids encoding H-NS variants have hitherto been isolated only from members of the family. Thus, the H-NS system in enteric bacteria presents unique evolutionary features. The capacity to selectively discriminate between core and HGT DNA may help to maintain horizontally transmitted DNA in silent form and may give these bacteria a competitive advantage in adapting to new environments, including host colonization.

Keywords: 2A strain 2457T, Escherichia-Coli, Salmonella-Enterica, Protein, DNA, Expression, Binding, HHA, Shigella, Plasmid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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