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Sotero Chacon, Daisy, de Melo Torres, Taffarel, Bezerra da Silva, Ivanice, Ferreira de Araújo, Thiago, de Araújo Roque, Alan, Ayrton Senna Domingos Pinheiro, Francisco, Selegatto, Denise, Pilon, Alan, Priscila Santos Reginaldo, Fernanda, Tesser da Costa, Cibele, Vilasboa, Johnatan, Freire, Rafael, Luiz Voigt, Eduardo, Angelo Silveira Zuanazzi, José, Libonati, Renata, Rodrigues, Julia A., Santos, Filippe L. M., Castanho Scortecci, Kátia, Peporine Lopes, Norberto, De Santis Ferreira, Leandro, Vieira dos Santos, Leandro, José Cavalheiro, Alberto, Germano Fett-Neto, Arthur, Brandt Giordani, Raquel, (2021). Erythrina velutina Willd. alkaloids: piecing biosynthesis together from transcriptome analysis and metabolite profiling of seeds and leaves Journal of Advanced Research In press,

Natural products of pharmaceutical interest often do not reach the drug market due to the associated low yields and difficult extraction. Knowledge of biosynthetic pathways is a key element in the development of biotechnological strategies for plant specialized metabolite production. The scarce studies regarding non-model plants impair advances in this field. Erythrina spp. are mainly used as central nervous system depressants in folk medicine and are important sources of bioactive tetracyclic benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, which can act on several pathology-related biological targets. Objective: Herein the purpose is to employ combined transcriptome and metabolome analyses (seeds and leaves) of a non-model medicinal Fabaceae species grown in its unique arid natural habitat. The study tries to propose a putative biosynthetic pathway for the bioactive alkaloids by using an omic integrated approach. Methods: The Next Generation Sequencing-based transcriptome (de novo RNA sequencing) was carried out in a Illumina NextSeq 500 platform. Regarding the targeted metabolite profiling, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to a micrOTOF-QII, High Resolution Mass Spectrometer, were used. Results: This detailed macro and micromolecular approach applied to seeds and leaves of E. velutina revealed 42 alkaloids by metabolome tools. Based on the combined evidence, 24 gene candidates were put together in a putative pathway leading to the singular alkaloid diversity of this species. Conclusion: These results contribute by indicating potential biotechnological targets erythrina alkaloids biosynthesis as well as to improve molecular databases with omic data from a non-model medicinal plant. Furthermore, they reveal an interesting chemical diversity in Erythrina velutina harvested in Caatinga. Last, but not least, this data may also contribute to tap Brazilian biodiversity in a rational and sustainable fashion, promoting adequate public policies for preservation and protection of sensitive areas within the Caatinga.

Keywords: Transcriptome, Targeted metabolite profile, Benzylisoquinoline Alkaloids, Caatinga

Contreras, M. D. M., Jurado-Campos, N., Sánchez-Carnerero Callado, C., Arroyo-Manzanares, N., Fernández, L., Casano, S., Marco, S., Arce, L., Ferreiro-Vera, C., (2018). Thermal desorption-ion mobility spectrometry: A rapid sensor for the detection of cannabinoids and discrimination of Cannabis sativa L. chemotypes Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 273, 1413-1424

Existing analytical techniques used for the determination of cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabis) plants mostly rely on chromatography-based methods. As a rapid alternative for the direct analysis of them, thermal desorption (TD)-ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) was used for obtaining spectral fingerprints of single cannabinoids from Cannabis plant extracts and from plant residues on hands after their manipulation. The ionization source was 63Ni, with automatic switchable polarity. Although in both ionization modes there were signals in the TD-IMS spectra of the plant extracts and residues that could be assigned to concrete cannabinoids and chemotypes, most of them could not be clearly distinguished. Alternatively, the global spectral data of the plant extracts and residues were pre-processed and then, using principal component analysis (PCA)-linear discriminant analysis (LDA), grouped in function of their chemotype in a more feasible way. Using this approach, the possibility of false positive responses was also studied analyzing other non-Cannabis plants and tobacco, which were clustered in a different group to those of Cannabis. Therefore, TD-IMS, as analytical tool, and PCA-LDA, as a strategy for data reduction and pattern recognition, can be applied for on-site chemotaxonomic discrimination of Cannabis varieties and detection of illegal marijuana since the IMS equipment is portable and the analysis time is highly short.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa L., Cannabinoids, Chemometrics, ChemotypeIon mobility spectrometry

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

Rodriguez, J., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Bayes-Genis, A., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Characterization and classification of patients with different levels of cardiac death risk by using Poincaré plot analysis Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 1332-1335

Cardiac death risk is still a big problem by an important part of the population, especially in elderly patients. In this study, we propose to characterize and analyze the cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory systems using the Poincaré plot. A total of 46 cardiomyopathy patients and 36 healthy subjets were analyzed. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was used to stratify patients with low risk (LR: LVEF > 35%, 16 patients), and high risk (HR: LVEF ≤ 35%, 30 patients) of heart attack. RR, SBP and TTot time series were extracted from the ECG, blood pressure and respiratory flow signals, respectively. Parameters that describe the scatterplott of Poincaré method, related to short- and long-term variabilities, acceleration and deceleration of the dynamic system, and the complex correlation index were extracted. The linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and the support vector machines (SVM) classification methods were used to analyze the results of the extracted parameters. The results showed that cardiac parameters were the best to discriminate between HR and LR groups, especially the complex correlation index (p = 0.009). Analising the interaction, the best result was obtained with the relation between the difference of the standard deviation of the cardiac and respiratory system (p = 0.003). When comparing HR vs LR groups, the best classification was obtained applying SVM method, using an ANOVA kernel, with an accuracy of 98.12%. An accuracy of 97.01% was obtained by comparing patients versus healthy, with a SVM classifier and Laplacian kernel. The morphology of Poincaré plot introduces parameters that allow the characterization of the cardiorespiratory system dynamics.

Keywords: Time series analysis, Electrocardiography, Support vector machines, Kernel, Standards, Correlation, RF signals

Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., Engel, E., (2017). Developing targeted biocomposites in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine Biomedical Composites (ed. Ambrosio, L.), Woodhead Publishing (Duxfor, UK) Biomaterials, 569-587

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field with new requirements for smart materials, where composites will have a strong role to play. The new paradigm of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering requires biomaterials with high specificity, where physical and chemical properties are duly tailored and combined with appropriate mechanical and degradation features in order to trigger specific cell events and functions involved in the regenerative process. In this chapter, the chemical, physical, and biological elements that have to be targeted by biocomposites in regenerative medicine are described.

Keywords: Biocomposite, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering, Scaffolds, Cell/material interactions

Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Performance evaluation of the Hilbert–Huang transform for respiratory sound analysis and its application to continuous adventitious sound characterization Signal Processing , 120, 99-116

Abstract The use of the Hilbert–Huang transform in the analysis of biomedical signals has increased during the past few years, but its use for respiratory sound (RS) analysis is still limited. The technique includes two steps: empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and instantaneous frequency (IF) estimation. Although the mode mixing (MM) problem of EMD has been widely discussed, this technique continues to be used in many RS analysis algorithms. In this study, we analyzed the MM effect in RS signals recorded from 30 asthmatic patients, and studied the performance of ensemble EMD (EEMD) and noise-assisted multivariate EMD (NA-MEMD) as means for preventing this effect. We propose quantitative parameters for measuring the size, reduction of MM, and residual noise level of each method. These parameters showed that EEMD is a good solution for MM, thus outperforming NA-MEMD. After testing different IF estimators, we propose Kay׳s method to calculate an EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum that offers high energy concentrations and high time and high frequency resolutions. We also propose an algorithm for the automatic characterization of continuous adventitious sounds (CAS). The tests performed showed that the proposed EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum makes it possible to determine CAS more precisely than other conventional time-frequency techniques.

Keywords: Hilbert–Huang transform, Ensemble empirical mode decomposition, Instantaneous frequency, Respiratory sounds, Continuous adventitious sounds

Aragonès, Albert C., Darwish, Nadim, Im, JongOne, Lim, Boram, Choi, Jeongae, Koo, Sangho, Díez-Pérez, Ismael, (2015). Fine-tuning of single-molecule conductance by tweaking both electronic structure and conformation of side substituents Chemistry – A European Journal , 21, (21), 7716-7720

Herein, we describe a method to fine-tune the conductivity of single-molecule wires by employing a combination of chemical composition and geometrical modifications of multiple phenyl side groups as conductance modulators embedded along the main axis of the electronic pathway. We have measured the single-molecule conductivity of a novel series of phenyl-substituted carotenoid wires whose conductivity can be tuned with high precision over an order of magnitude range by modulating both the electron-donating character of the phenyl substituent and its dihedral angle. It is demonstrated that the electronic communication between the phenyl side groups and the molecular wire is maximized when the phenyl groups are twisted closer to the plane of the conjugated molecular wire. These findings can be refined to a general technique for precisely tuning the conductivity of molecular wires.

Keywords: Carotenoids, Conductance, Self-assembly, Single-molecule studies, STM break junction

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)

Manca, M. L., Castangia, I., Matricardi, P., Lampis, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2014). Molecular arrangements and interconnected bilayer formation induced by alcohol or polyalcohol in phospholipid vesicles Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 117, 360-367

A self-assembled hybrid phospholipid vesicular system containing various penetration enhancers - ethanol, Transcutol and propylenglycol - was prepared and characterized. The effects of the different alcohol or polyalcohols structure and their concentration on the features of the assembled vesicles were evaluated using a combination of different techniques, including cryo-transmission electron microscopy, laser light scattering, differential scanning calorimetry, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering and rheological analysis. These techniques allow explaining the structural rearrangements of the bilayer assembly due to the alcohol or polyalcohol addition. X-ray scattering studies showed that such addition at the highest concentration (20%) allowed structure modification to oligolamellar vesicles and a bilayer transition to interdigitated phase. Rheological studies confirmed the importance of alcohol or polyalcohol in the structuring dispersions probably due to a partial tilting of phosphatidylcholine acyl chains forming interdigitated and interconnected bilayer vesicles.

Keywords: (Poly)alcohols, Cryo-TEM, DSC, Liposomes, Penetration Enhancer containing Vesicle (PEVs), Rheology, SAXS

Serra, T., Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Fabrication and characterization of biodegradable composite scaffolds for tissue engineering Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping 5th International Conference on Advanced Research and Rapid Prototyping (ed. Margarida, T., Ferreira, D.), Taylor & Francis (Leiria, Portugal) VR@P, 67-72

In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) were combined with soluble CaP glass particles and processed by rapid prototyping to obtain fully biodegradable structures for Tissue Engineering applications. The obtained 3D biodegradable structures were characterized in terms of their architecture and mechanical properties. The scaffold morphology, internal micro-architecture and mechanical properties were evaluated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and mechanical testing, respectively. Well defined structures with pore size of 350-400μm (in the axial view), struts width of approximately 70-80μm, and a porosity ranging between 60-65% were obtained. The combination RP and PLA/PEG/CaP glass turned into promising fully degradable, mechanically stable, bioactive and biocompatible composite scaffolds for TE.

Keywords: Axial view, Biodegradable composites, Composite scaffolds, Glass particles, Mechanically stable, Micro architectures, Micro computed tomography (micro-CT), Poly lactic acid, Scaffold morphology, Tissue engineering applications, Well-defined structures, Bioactive glass, Mechanical properties, Mechanical testing, Polyethylene glycols, Polymer blends, Rapid prototyping, Scaffolds (biology), Scanning electron microscopy, Computerized tomography

Fernandez, Javier G., Mills, C. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Complex microstructured 3D surfaces using chitosan biopolymer Small 5, (5), 614-620

A technique for producing micrometer-scale structures over large, nonplanar chitosan surfaces is described. The technique makes use of the rheological characteristics (deformability) of the chitosan to create freestanding, three-dimensional scaffolds with controlled shapes, incorporating defined microtopography. The results of an investigation into the technical limits of molding different combinations of shapes and microtopographies are presented, highlighting the versatility of the technique when used irrespectively with inorganic or delicate organic moulds. The final, replicated scaffolds presented here are patterned with arrays of one-micrometer-tall microstructures over large areas. Structural integrity is characterized by the measurement of structural degradation. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured on a tubular scaffold show that early cell growth is conditioned by the microtopography and indicate possible uses for the structures in biomedical applications. For those applications requiring improved chemical and mechanical resistance, the structures can be replicated in poly(dimethyl siloxane).

Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Cell Adhesion, Cell Culture Techniques/ methods, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Chitosan/ chemistry, Crystallization/methods, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, Humans, Materials Testing, Nanostructures/ chemistry/ ultrastructure, Nanotechnology/methods, Particle Size, Surface Properties, Tissue Engineering/methods

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