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Roki, N., Solomon, M., Casta, L., Bowers, J., Getts, R. C., Muro, S., (2021). A method to improve quantitative radiotracing-based analysis of the in vivo biodistribution of drug carriers Bioengineering and Translational Medicine Early View, e210208

Biodistribution studies are essential in drug carrier design and translation, and radiotracing provides a sensitive quantitation for this purpose. Yet, for biodegradable formulations, small amounts of free‐label signal may arise prior to or immediately after injection in animal models, causing potentially confounding biodistribution results. In this study, we refined a method to overcome this obstacle. First, we verified free signal generation in animal samples and then, mimicking it in a controllable setting, we injected mice intravenously with a radiolabeled drug carrier formulation (125I‐antibody/3DNA) containing a known amount of free radiolabel (125I), or free 125I alone as a control. Corrected biodistribution data were obtained by separating the free radiolabel from blood and organs postmortem, using trichloroacetic acid precipitation, and subtracting the confounding signal from each tissue measurement. Control free 125I‐radiolabel was detected at ≥85% accuracy in blood and tissues, validating the method. It biodistributed very heterogeneously among organs (0.6–39 %ID/g), indicating that any free 125I generated in the body or present in an injected formulation cannot be simply corrected to the free‐label fraction in the original preparation, but the free label must be empirically measured in each organ. Application of this method to the biodistribution of 125I‐antibody/3DNA, including formulations directed to endothelial target ICAM‐1, showed accurate classification of free 125I species in blood and tissues. In addition, this technique rendered data on the in vivo degradation of the traced agents over time. Thus, this is a valuable technique to obtain accurate measurements of biodistribution using 125I and possibly other radiotracers.

Keywords: Biodistribution data correction, Degradation, Drug delivery carriers, Free label, In vivo biodistribution, Radiotracing, Trichloroacetic acid precipitation

Biosca, A., Cabanach, P., Abdulkarim, M., Gumbleton, M., Gómez-Canela, C., Ramírez, M., Bouzón-Arnáiz, I., Avalos-Padilla, Y., Borros, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2021). Zwitterionic self-assembled nanoparticles as carriers for Plasmodium targeting in malaria oral treatment Journal of Controlled Release 331, 364-375

The current decline in antimalarial drug efficacy due to the evolution of resistant Plasmodium strains calls for new strategies capable of improving the bioavailability of antimalarials, especially of those whose lipophilic character imparts them a low solubility in biological fluids. Here we have designed, synthesized and characterized amphiphilic zwitterionic block copolymers forming nanoparticles capable of penetrating the intestinal epithelium that can be used for oral administration. Poly(butyl methacrylate-co-morpholinoethyl sulfobetaine methacrylate) (PBMA-MESBMA)-based nanoparticles exhibited a specific targeting to Plasmodium falciparum-infected vs. parasite-free red blood cells (74.8%/0.8% respectively), which was maintained upon encapsulation of the lipophilic antimalarial drug curcumin (82.6%/0.3%). The in vitro efficacy of curcumin upon encapsulation was maintained relative to the free compound, with an IC50 around 5 μM. In vivo assays indicated a significantly increased curcumin concentration in the blood of mice one hour after being orally fed PBMA-MESBMA-curcumin in comparison to the administration of free drug (18.7 vs. 2.1 ng/ml, respectively). At longer times, however, plasma curcumin concentration equaled between free and encapsulated drug, which was reflected in similar in vivo antimalarial activities in Plasmodium yoelii yoelii-infected mice. Microscopic analysis in blood samples of fluorescently labeled PBMA-MESBMA revealed the presence of the polymer inside P. yoelii yoelii-parasitized erythrocytes one hour after oral administration to infected animals. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords: Curcumin, Drug delivery, Malaria, PBMA-MESBMA, Plasmodium, Zwitterionic block copolymers

Olate-Moya, F., Arens, L., Wilhelm, M., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., Palza, H., (2020). Chondroinductive alginate-based hydrogels having graphene oxide for 3D printed scaffold fabrication ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 12, (4), 4343-4357

Scaffolds based on bioconjugated hydrogels are attractive for tissue engineering because they can partly mimic human tissue characteristics. For example, they can further increase their bioactivity with cells. However, most of the hydrogels present problems related to their processability, consequently limiting their use in 3D printing to produce tailor-made scaffolds. The goal of this work is to develop bioconjugated hydrogel nanocomposite inks for 3D printed scaffold fabrication through a micro-extrusion process having improved both biocompatibility and processability. The hydrogel is based on a photocrosslinkable alginate bioconjugated with both gelatin and chondroitin sulfate in order to mimic the cartilage extracellular matrix, while the nanofiller is based on graphene oxide to enhance the printability and cell proliferation. Our results show that the incorporation of graphene oxide into the hydrogel inks considerably improved the shape fidelity and resolution of 3D printed scaffolds because of a faster viscosity recovery post extrusion of the ink. Moreover, the nanocomposite inks produce anisotropic threads after the 3D printing process because of the templating of the graphene oxide liquid crystal. The in vitro proliferation assay of human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hADMSCs) shows that bioconjugated scaffolds present higher cell proliferation than pure alginate, with the nanocomposites presenting the highest values at long times. Live/Dead assay otherwise displays full viability of hADMSCs adhered on the different scaffolds at day 7. Notably, the scaffolds produced with nanocomposite hydrogel inks were able to guide the cell proliferation following the direction of the 3D printed threads. In addition, the bioconjugated alginate hydrogel matrix induced chondrogenic differentiation without exogenous pro-chondrogenesis factors as concluded from immunostaining after 28 days of culture. This high cytocompatibility and chondroinductive effect toward hADMSCs, together with the improved printability and anisotropic structures, makes these nanocomposite hydrogel inks a promising candidate for cartilage tissue engineering based on 3D printing.

Keywords: 3D printing, Chondrogenesis, Graphene oxide, Hydrogels, Liquid crystals

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

Ferrer, Isidro, Andrés-Benito, Pol, Zelaya, Maria Victoria, Aguirre, Maria Elena Erro, Carmona, Margarita, Ausín, Karina, Lachén-Montes, Mercedes, Fernández-Irigoyen, Joaquín, Santamaría, Enrique, del Río, José Antonio, (2020). Familial globular glial tauopathy linked to MAPT mutations: molecular neuropathology and seeding capacity of a prototypical mixed neuronal and glial tauopathy Acta Neuropathologica 139, (4), 735-771

Globular glial tauopathy (GGT) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease involving the grey matter and white matter (WM) and characterized by neuronal deposition of hyper-phosphorylated, abnormally conformed, truncated, oligomeric 4Rtau in neurons and in glial cells forming typical globular astrocyte and oligodendrocyte inclusions (GAIs and GOIs, respectively) and coiled bodies. Present studies centre on four genetic GGT cases from two unrelated families bearing the P301T mutation in MAPT and one case of sporadic GGT (sGGT) and one case of GGT linked to MAPT K317M mutation, for comparative purposes. Clinical and neuropathological manifestations and biochemical profiles of phospho-tau are subjected to individual variations in patients carrying the same mutation, even in carriers of the same family, independently of the age of onset, gender, and duration of the disease. Immunohistochemistry, western blotting, transcriptomic, proteomics and phosphoproteomics, and intra-cerebral inoculation of brain homogenates to wild-type (WT) mice were the methods employed. In GGT cases linked to MAPT P301T mutation, astrocyte markers GFAP, ALDH1L1, YKL40 mRNA and protein, GJA1 mRNA, and AQ4 protein are significantly increased; glutamate transporter GLT1 (EAAT2) and glucose transporter (SLC2A1) decreased; mitochondrial pyruvate carrier 1 (MPC1) increased, and mitochondrial uncoupling protein 5 (UCP5) almost absent in GAIs in frontal cortex (FC). Expression of oligodendrocyte markers OLIG1 and OLIG2mRNA, and myelin-related genes MBP, PLP1, CNP, MAG, MAL, MOG, and MOBP are significantly decreased in WM; CNPase, PLP1, and MBP antibodies reveal reduction and disruption of myelinated fibres; and SMI31 antibodies mark axonal damage in the WM. Altered expression of AQ4, GLUC-t, and GLT-1 is also observed in sGGT and in GGT linked to MAPT K317M mutation. These alterations point to primary astrogliopathy and oligodendrogliopathy in GGT. In addition, GGT linked to MAPT P301T mutation proteotypes unveil a proteostatic imbalance due to widespread (phospho)proteomic dearrangement in the FC and WM, triggering a disruption of neuron projection morphogenesis and synaptic transmission. Identification of hyper-phosphorylation of variegated proteins calls into question the concept of phospho-tau-only alteration in the pathogenesis of GGT. Finally, unilateral inoculation of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions of GGT homogenates from GGT linked to MAPT P301T, sGGT, and GGT linked to MAPT K317M mutation in the hippocampus, corpus callosum, or caudate/putamen in wild-type mice produces seeding, and time- and region-dependent spreading of phosphorylated, non-oligomeric, and non-truncated 4Rtau and 3Rtau, without GAIs and GOIs but only of coiled bodies. These experiments prove that host tau strains are important in the modulation of cellular vulnerability and phenotypes of phospho-tau aggregates.

Keywords: Globular glial tauopathy, Tau, Astrogliopathy, Oligodendrogliopathy, Phosphoproteome, Seeding and spreading

Monteil, Vanessa, Kwon, Hyesoo, Prado, Patricia, Hagelkrüys, Astrid, Wimmer, Reiner A., Stahl, Martin, Leopoldi, Alexandra, Garreta, Elena, Hurtado Del Pozo, Carmen, Prosper, Felipe, Romero, Juan Pablo, Wirnsberger, Gerald, Zhang, Haibo, Slutsky, Arthur S., Conder, Ryan, Montserrat, Nuria, Mirazimi, Ali, Penninger, Josef M., (2020). Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2 Cell 181, (4), 905-913.e7

We have previously provided the first genetic evidence that angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the critical receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and ACE2 protects the lung from injury, providing a molecular explanation for the severe lung failure and death due to SARS-CoV infections. ACE2 has now also been identified as a key receptor for SARS-CoV-2 infections, and it has been proposed that inhibiting this interaction might be used in treating patients with COVID-19. However, it is not known whether human recombinant soluble ACE2 (hrsACE2) blocks growth of SARS-CoV-2. Here, we show that clinical grade hrsACE2 reduced SARS-CoV-2 recovery from Vero cells by a factor of 1,000-5,000. An equivalent mouse rsACE2 had no effect. We also show that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect engineered human blood vessel organoids and human kidney organoids, which can be inhibited by hrsACE2. These data demonstrate that hrsACE2 can significantly block early stages of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Keywords: COVID-19, Angiotensin converting enzyme 2, Blood vessels, Human organoids, Kidney, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Spike glycoproteins, Treatment

Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, J. A., Becerra, J., Samitier, Josep, (2020). The Janus role of adhesion in chondrogenesis International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (15), 5269

Tackling the first stages of the chondrogenic commitment is essential to drive chondrogenic differentiation to healthy hyaline cartilage and minimize hypertrophy. During chondrogenesis, the extracellular matrix continuously evolves, adapting to the tissue adhesive requirements at each stage. Here, we take advantage of previously developed nanopatterns, in which local surface adhesiveness can be precisely tuned, to investigate its effects on prechondrogenic condensation. Fluorescence live cell imaging, immunostaining, confocal microscopy and PCR analysis are used to follow the condensation process on the nanopatterns. Cell tracking parameters, condensate morphology, cell–cell interactions, mechanotransduction and chondrogenic commitment are evaluated in response to local surface adhesiveness. Results show that only condensates on the nanopatterns of high local surface adhesiveness are stable in culture and able to enter the chondrogenic pathway, thus highlighting the importance of controlling cell–substrate adhesion in the tissue engineering strategies for cartilage repair.

Keywords: Dendrimer, Nanopatterning, RGD, Mesenchymal cell condensation, Cell–cell interactions, YAP, Chondrogenesis

Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Lagunas, Anna, Casanellas, Ignasi, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, Blanco, Francisco J., Magalhães, Joana, (2020). RGD-dendrimer-poly(L-lactic) acid nanopatterned substrates for the early chondrogenesis of human mesenchymal stromal cells derived from osteoarthritic and healthy donors Materials 13, (10), 2247

Aiming to address a stable chondrogenesis derived from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to be applied in cartilage repair strategies at the onset of osteoarthritis (OA), we analyzed the effect of arginine–glycine–aspartate (RGD) density on cell condensation that occurs during the initial phase of chondrogenesis. For this, we seeded MSC-derived from OA and healthy (H) donors in RGD-dendrimer-poly(L-lactic) acid (PLLA) nanopatterned substrates (RGD concentrations of 4 × 10−9, 10−8, 2.5 × 10−8, and 10−2 w/w), during three days and compared to a cell pellet conventional three-dimensional culture system. Molecular gene expression (collagens type-I and II–COL1A1 and COL2A1, tenascin-TNC, sex determining region Y-box9-SOX9, and gap junction protein alpha 1–GJA1) was determined as well as the cell aggregates and pellet size, collagen type-II and connexin 43 proteins synthesis. This study showed that RGD-tailored first generation dendrimer (RGD-Cys-D1) PLLA nanopatterned substrates supported the formation of pre-chondrogenic condensates from OA- and H-derived human bone marrow-MSCs with enhanced chondrogenesis regarding the cell pellet conventional system (presence of collagen type-II and connexin 43, both at the gene and protein level). A RGD-density dependent trend was observed for aggregates size, in concordance with previous studies. Moreover, the nanopatterns’ had a higher effect on OA-derived MSC morphology, leading to the formation of bigger and more compact aggregates with improved expression of early chondrogenic markers.

Keywords: Cell condensation, Gap junctions, RGD-density, Chondrogenic differentiation, Osteoarthritis

Calvo, M., Le Rolle, V., Romero, D., Béhar, N., Gomis, P., Mabo, P., Hernández, A. I., (2019). Recursive model identification for the analysis of the autonomic response to exercise testing in Brugada syndrome Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 97, 98-104

This paper proposes the integration and analysis of a closed-loop model of the baroreflex and cardiovascular systems, focused on a time-varying estimation of the autonomic modulation of heart rate in Brugada syndrome (BS), during exercise and subsequent recovery. Patient-specific models of 44 BS patients at different levels of risk (symptomatic and asymptomatic) were identified through a recursive evolutionary algorithm. After parameter identification, a close match between experimental and simulated signals (mean error = 0.81%) was observed. The model-based estimation of vagal and sympathetic contributions were consistent with physiological knowledge, enabling to observe the expected autonomic changes induced by exercise testing. In particular, symptomatic patients presented a significantly higher parasympathetic activity during exercise, and an autonomic imbalance was observed in these patients at peak effort and during post-exercise recovery. A higher vagal modulation during exercise, as well as an increasing parasympathetic activity at peak effort and a decreasing vagal contribution during post-exercise recovery could be related with symptoms and, thus, with a worse prognosis in BS. This work proposes the first evaluation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to exercise testing in patients suffering from BS, through the recursive identification of computational models; highlighting important trends of clinical relevance that provide new insights into the underlying autonomic mechanisms regulating the cardiovascular system in BS. The joint analysis of the extracted autonomic parameters and classic electrophysiological markers could improve BS risk stratification.

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system, Brugada syndrome, Computational model, Recursive identification

Klein, S., Frohn, F., Magdaleno, F., Reker-Smit, C., Schierwagen, R., Schierwagen, I., Uschner, F. E., van Dijk, F., Fürst, D. O., Djudjaj, S., Boor, P., Poelstra, K., Beljaars, L., Trebicka, J., (2019). Rho-kinase inhibitor coupled to peptide-modified albumin carrier reduces portal pressure and increases renal perfusion in cirrhotic rats Scientific Reports 9, (1), 2256

Rho-kinase (ROCK) activation in hepatic stellate cells (HSC) is a key mechanism promoting liver fibrosis and portal hypertension (PTH). Specific delivery of ROCK-inhibitor Y-27632 (Y27) to HSC targeting mannose-6-phosphate-receptors reduces portal pressure and fibrogenesis. In decompensated cirrhosis, presence of ascites is associated with reduced renal perfusion. Since in cirrhosis, platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRβ) is upregulated in the liver as well as the kidney, this study coupled Y27 to human serum albumin (HSA) substituted with PDGFRβ-recognizing peptides (pPB), and investigated its effect on PTH in cirrhotic rats. In vitro collagen contraction assays tested biological activity on LX2 cells. Hemodynamics were analyzed in BDL and CCl4 cirrhotic rats 3 h, 6 h and 24 h after i.v. administration of Y27pPBHSA (0.5/1 mg/kg b.w). Phosphorylation of moesin and myosin light chain (MLC) assessed ROCK activity in liver, femoral muscle, mesenteric artery, kidney and heart. Three Y27 molecules were coupled to pPBHSA as confirmed by HPLC/MS, which was sufficient to relax LX2 cells. In vivo, Y27pPBHSA-treated rats exhibited lower portal pressure, hepatic vascular resistance without effect on systemic vascular resistance, but a tendency towards lower cardiac output compared to non-treated cirrhotic rats. Y27pPBHSA reduced intrahepatic resistance by reduction of phosphorylation of moesin and MLC in Y27pPBHSA-treated cirrhotic rats. Y27pPBHSA was found in the liver of rats up to 6 hours after its injection, in the HSC demonstrated by double-immunostainings. Interestingly, Y27pPBHSA increased renal arterial flow over time combined with an antifibrotic effect as shown by decreased renal acta2 and col1a1 mRNA expression. Therefore, targeting the ROCK inhibitor Y27 to PDGFRβ decreases portal pressure with potential beneficial effects in the kidney. This unique approach should be tested in human cirrhosis.

Keywords: Hepatic stellate cells, Hepatorenal syndrome

Oliveira, V. R., Uriarte, J. J., Falcones, B., Zin, W. A., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., (2019). Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide induces alveolar epithelial cell stiffening Journal of Biomechanics 83, 315-318

Introduction: Application of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a widely employed model to mimic acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Available data regarding LPS-induced biomechanical changes on pulmonary epithelial cells are limited only to P. aeruginosa LPS. Considering that LPS from different bacteria could promote a specific mechanical response in epithelial cells, we aim to assess the effect of E. coli LPS, widely employed as a model of ARDS, in the biomechanics of alveolar epithelial cells. Methods: Young’s modulus (E) of alveolar epithelial cells (A549) was measured by atomic force microscopy every 5 min throughout 60 min of experiment after treatment with LPS from E. coli (100 μg/mL). The percentage of cells presenting actin stress fibers (F-actin staining) was also evaluated. Control cells were treated with culture medium and the values obtained were compared with LPS-treated cells for each time-point. Results: Application of LPS induced significant increase in E after 20 min (77%) till 60 min (104%) in comparison to controls. Increase in lung epithelial cell stiffness induced by LPS was associated with a higher number of cells presenting cytoskeletal remodeling. Conclusions: The observed effects of E. coli LPS on alveolar epithelial cells suggest that this widely-used LPS is able to promote a quick formation of actin stress fibers and stiffening cells, thereby facilitating the disruption of the pulmonary epithelial barrier.

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome model, Alveolar epithelium, Biomechanics, E. coli, Lipopolysaccharide

Fuentes-Mera, L., Camacho, A., Engel, E., Pérez-Silos, V., Lara-Arias, J., Marino-Martínez, I., Peña-Martínez, V., (2019). Therapeutic potential of articular cartilage regeneration using tissue engineering based on multiphase designs Cartilage Tissue Engineering and Regeneration Techniques (ed. Nikolopoulos, Dimitrios D., Safos, George K., Dimitrios, Kalpaxis), IntechOpen (Budapest, Hungary) , 331-359

Articular cartilage tissue possesses poor ability to regenerate; as the lesion progresses, it extends to the underlying subchondral bone and an osteochondral (OC) defect appears complicating the therapeutic approaches. Cartilage tissue engineering has become a very active research area capable of contributing to medical technology innovation. In this regard, the development of new biomaterials in combination with cells represents one of the best alternatives for the treatment of OC injuries. In the last decades, the strategies have been designed without considering the cartilage as a complex tissue with a functionally stratified three-dimensional structure. Today, efforts are focused on creating a starting point in the process of cartilage formation with the development of a multiphase implants that recapitulates the cartilage as an OC unit, which improves its integration. This chapter will focus on a review of tissue engineering based on multiphase designs for cartilage and OC injuries, highlighting the importance of the biomaterial selection, and also the relevance of a biomimetic approach to reach a suitable microenvironment for the differentiation and maturation of the chondral tissue.

Keywords: Osteochondral regeneration, Cartilage tissue engineering, Multiphasic designs, Biofunctionalization, Vascularization

Garcia-Esparcia, P., Koneti, A., Rodríguez-Oroz, M. C., Gago, B., del Rio, J. A., Ferrer, Isidro, (2018). Mitochondrial activity in the frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease with dementia Brain Pathology 28, (1), 43-57

Altered mitochondrial function is characteristic in the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease (PD). Information about mitochondria in other brain regions such as the cerebral cortex is conflicting mainly because most studies have not contemplated the possibility of variable involvement depending on the region, stage of disease progression and clinical symptoms such as the presence or absence of dementia. RT-qPCR of 18 nuclear mRNAs encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and 12 mRNAs encoding energy metabolism-related enzymes; western blotting of mitochondrial proteins; and analysis of enzymatic activities of complexes I, II, II, IV and V of the respiratory chain were assessed in frontal cortex area 8 and the angular gyrus of middle-aged individuals (MA), and those with incidental PD (iPD), long-lasting PD with parkinsonism without dementia (PD) and long-lasting PD with dementia (PDD). Up-regulation of several genes was found in frontal cortex area 8 in PD when compared with MA and in the angular gyrus in iPD when compared with MA. Marked down-regulation of genes encoding mitochondrial subunits and energy metabolism-related enzymes occurs in frontal cortex but only of genes coding for energy metabolism-related enzymes in the angular gyrus in PDD. Significant decrease in the protein expression levels of several mitochondrial subunits encoded by these genes occurs in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in PDD. Moreover, expression of MT-ND1 which is encoded by mitochondrial DNA is also reduced in PDD. Reduced enzymatic activity of complex III in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus is observed in PD, but dramatic reduction in the activity of complexes I, II, II and IV in both regions characterizes PDD. Dementia in the context of PD is linked to region-specific deregulation of genomic genes encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and to marked reduction in the activity of mitochondrial complexes I, II, III and IV.

Keywords: Cerebral cortex, Dementia, Energy metabolism, Incidental PD, Mitochondria, Oxidative phosphorylation, Parkinson disease, PDD, Respiratory chain

Mata, A., Gil, V., Pérez-Clausell, J., Dasilva, M., González-Calixto, M. C., Soriano, E., García-Verdugo, J. M., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., Del Río, J. A., (2018). New functions of Semaphorin 3E and its receptor PlexinD1 during developing and adult hippocampal formation Scientific Reports 8, (1), 1381

The development and maturation of cortical circuits relies on the coordinated actions of long and short range axonal guidance cues. In this regard, the class 3 semaphorins and their receptors have been seen to be involved in the development and maturation of the hippocampal connections. However, although the role of most of their family members have been described, very few data about the participation of Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) and its receptor PlexinD1 during the development and maturation of the entorhino-hippocampal (EH) connection are available. In the present study, we focused on determining their roles both during development and in adulthood. We determined a relevant role for Sema3E/PlexinD1 in the layer-specific development of the EH connection. Indeed, mice lacking Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling showed aberrant layering of entorhinal axons in the hippocampus during embryonic and perinatal stages. In addition, absence of Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling results in further changes in postnatal and adult hippocampal formation, such as numerous misrouted ectopic mossy fibers. More relevantly, we describe how subgranular cells express PlexinD1 and how the absence of Sema3E induces a dysregulation of the proliferation of dentate gyrus progenitors leading to the presence of ectopic cells in the molecular layer. Lastly, Sema3E mutant mice displayed increased network excitability both in the dentate gyrus and the hippocampus proper.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Axon and dendritic guidance

Franco, Rafael, Aguinaga, David, Reyes, Irene, Canela, Enric I., Lillo, Jaume, Tarutani, Airi, Hasegawa, Masato, del Ser-Badia, Anna, del Rio, José A., Kreutz, Michael R., Saura, Carlos A., Navarro, Gemma, (2018). N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor link to the MAP kinase pathway in cortical and hippocampal neurons and microglia Is dependent on calcium sensors and Is blocked by α-Synuclein, Tau, and phospho-Tau in non-transgenic and transgenic APPSw,Ind Mice Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 11, (273), Article 273

N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) respond to glutamate to allow the influx of calcium ions and the signaling to the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. Both MAPK- and Ca2+-mediated events are important for both neurotransmission and neural cell function and fate. Using a heterologous expression system, we demonstrate that NMDAR may interact with the EF-hand calcium-binding proteins calmodulin, calneuron-1, and NCS1 but not with caldendrin. NMDARs were present in primary cultures of both neurons and microglia from cortex and hippocampus. Calmodulin in microglia, and calmodulin and NCS1 in neurons, are necessary for NMDA-induced MAP kinase pathway activation. Remarkably, signaling to the MAP kinase pathway was blunted in primary cultures of cortical and hippocampal neurons and microglia from wild-type animals by proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases: α-synuclein, Tau, and p-Tau. A similar blockade by pathogenic proteins was found using samples from the APPSw,Ind transgenic Alzheimer’s disease model. Interestingly, a very marked increase in NMDAR–NCS1 complexes was identified in neurons and a marked increase of both NMDAR–NCS1 and NMDAR–CaM complexes was identified in microglia from the transgenic mice. The results show that α-synuclein, Tau, and p-Tau disrupt the signaling of NMDAR to the MAPK pathway and that calcium sensors are important for NMDAR function both in neurons and microglia. Finally, it should be noted that the expression of receptor–calcium sensor complexes, specially those involving NCS1, is altered in neural cells from APPSw,Ind mouse embryos/pups.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, Calmodulin, Calneuron-1, Caldendrin, NCS1, Extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Glutamate receptor, Proximity ligation assay

Garreta, E., González, F., Montserrat, N., (2018). Studying kidney disease using tissue and genome engineering in human pluripotent stem cells Nephron 138, 48-59

Kidney morphogenesis and patterning have been extensively studied in animal models such as the mouse and zebrafish. These seminal studies have been key to define the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex multistep process. Based on this knowledge, the last 3 years have witnessed the development of a cohort of protocols allowing efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards defined kidney progenitor populations using two-dimensional (2D) culture systems or through generating organoids. Kidney organoids are three-dimensional (3D) kidney-like tissues, which are able to partially recapitulate kidney structure and function in vitro. The current possibility to combine state-of-the art tissue engineering with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated systems 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome engineering provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying kidney disease with hPSCs. Recently, hPSCs with genetic mutations introduced through CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering have shown to produce kidney organoids able to recapitulate phenotypes of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulopathies. This mini review provides an overview of the most recent advances in differentiation of hPSCs into kidney lineages, and the latest implementation of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the organoid setting, as promising platforms to study human kidney development and disease.

Keywords: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated systems 9, Disease modeling, Gene editing, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney genetics, Tissue engineering

Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis

Frau-Méndez, Margalida A., Fernández-Vega, Iván, Ansoleaga, Belén, Blanco, Rosa, Carmona, Margarita, Antonio del Rio, Jose, Zerr, Inga, Llorens, Franc, Zarranz, Juan José, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Fatal familial insomnia: Mitochondrial and protein synthesis machinery decline in the mediodorsal thalamus Brain Pathology 27, (1), 95-106

The expression of subunits of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and components of the protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome was analyzed in the mediodorsal thalamus in seven cases of Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI) compared with age-matched controls. NDUFB8 (complex I subunit), SDHB (complex II subunit), UQCRC2 (complex III subunit), COX2 (complex IV subunit) and ATP50 (complex V subunit) expression levels, as revealed by western blotting, were reduced in FFI. Voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and ATP5H were also reduced due to the marked depopulation of neurons. In contrast, a marked increase in superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) was found in reactive astrocytes thus suggesting that astrocytes are key factors in oxidative stress responses. The histone-binding chaperones nucleolin and nucleoplasmin 3, and histone H3 di-methylated K9 were markedly reduced together with a decrease in the expression of protein transcription elongation factor eEF1A. These findings show severe impairment in the expression of crucial components of mitochondrial function and protein synthesis in parallel with neuron loss in mediodorsal thalamus at terminal stages of FFI. Therapeutic measures must be taken long before the appearance of clinical symptoms to prevent the devastating effects of FFI.

Keywords: Fatal familial insomnia, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Mitochondrial respiratory chain, Nucleolus, Ribosome

Garcia-Esparcia, Paula, López-González, Irene, Grau-Rivera, Oriol, García-Garrido, María Francisca, Konetti, Anusha, Llorens, Franc, Zafar, Saima, Carmona, Margarita, del Rio, José Antonio, Zerr, Inga, Gelpi, Ellen, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Dementia with Lewy Bodies: Molecular pathology in the frontal cortex in typical and rapidly progressive forms Frontiers in Neurology 8, Article 89

Objectives: The goal of this study was to assess mitochondrial function, energy, and purine metabolism, protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome, inflammation, and expression of newly identified ectopic olfactory receptors (ORs) and taste receptors (TASRs) in the frontal cortex of typical cases of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and cases with rapid clinical course (rpDLB: 2 years or less) compared with middle-aged non-affected individuals, in order to learn about the biochemical abnormalities underlying Lewy body pathology. Methods: Real-time quantitative PCR, mitochondrial enzymatic assays, and analysis of β-amyloid, tau, and synuclein species were used. Results: The main alterations in DLB and rpDLB, which are more marked in the rapidly progressive forms, include (i) deregulated expression of several mRNAs and proteins of mitochondrial subunits, and reduced activity of complexes I, II, III, and IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain; (ii) reduced expression of selected molecules involved in energy metabolism and increased expression of enzymes involved in purine metabolism; (iii) abnormal expression of nucleolar proteins, rRNA18S, genes encoding ribosomal proteins, and initiation factors of the transcription at the ribosome; (iv) discrete inflammation; and (v) marked deregulation of brain ORs and TASRs, respectively. Severe mitochondrial dysfunction involving activity of four complexes, minimal inflammatory responses, and dramatic altered expression of ORs and TASRs discriminate DLB from Alzheimer’s disease. Altered solubility and aggregation of α-synuclein, increased β-amyloid bound to membranes, and absence of soluble tau oligomers are common in DLB and rpDLB. Low levels of soluble β-amyloid are found in DLB. However, increased soluble β-amyloid 1–40 and β-amyloid 1–42, and increased TNFα mRNA and protein expression, distinguish rpDLB. Conclusion: Molecular alterations in frontal cortex in DLB involve key biochemical pathways such as mitochondria and energy metabolism, protein synthesis, purine metabolism, among others and are accompanied by discrete innate inflammatory response.

Keywords: Dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer’s disease, α-synuclein, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Inflammation, β-amyloid, Olfactory receptors

Bosch, M., Castro, J., Sur, M., Hayashi, Y., (2017). Photomarking relocalization technique for correlated two-photon and electron microcopy imaging of single stimulated synapses Synapse Development - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Poulopoulos , A.), Humana Press (New York, USA) 1538, 185-214

Synapses learn and remember by persistent modifications of their internal structures and composition but, due to their small size, it is difficult to observe these changes at the ultrastructural level in real time. Two-photon fluorescence microscopy (2PM) allows time-course live imaging of individual synapses but lacks ultrastructural resolution. Electron microscopy (EM) allows the ultrastructural imaging of subcellular components but cannot detect fluorescence and lacks temporal resolution. Here, we describe a combination of procedures designed to achieve the correlated imaging of the same individual synapse under both 2PM and EM. This technique permits the selective stimulation and live imaging of a single dendritic spine and the subsequent localization of the same spine in EM ultrathin serial sections. Landmarks created through a photomarking method based on the 2-photon-induced precipitation of an electrodense compound are used to unequivocally localize the stimulated synapse. This technique was developed to image, for the first time, the ultrastructure of the postsynaptic density in which long-term potentiation was selectively induced just seconds or minutes before, but it can be applied for the study of any biological process that requires the precise relocalization of micron-wide structures for their correlated imaging with 2PM and EM.

Keywords: Correlated imaging, DAB, Dendritic spine, Photobranding, Photoetching, Photomarking, Postsynaptic density, Serial-section transmission electron microscopy, Synapse, Time-lapse live two-photon fluorescence microscopy

De Koker, Stefaan, Cui, Jiwei, Vanparijs, Nane, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Grooten, Johan, Caruso, Frank, De Geest, Bruno G., (2016). Engineering polymer hydrogel nanoparticles for lymph node-targeted delivery Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 55, (4), 1334-1339

The induction of antigen-specific adaptive immunity exclusively occurs in lymphoid organs. As a consequence, the efficacy by which vaccines reach these tissues strongly affects the efficacy of the vaccine. Here, we report the design of polymer hydrogel nanoparticles that efficiently target multiple immune cell subsets in the draining lymph nodes. Nanoparticles are fabricated by infiltrating mesoporous silica particles (ca. 200 nm) with poly(methacrylic acid) followed by disulfide-based crosslinking and template removal. PEGylation of these nanoparticles does not affect their cellular association in vitro, but dramatically improves their lymphatic drainage in vivo. The functional relevance of these observations is further illustrated by the increased priming of antigen-specific T cells. Our findings highlight the potential of engineered hydrogel nanoparticles for the lymphatic delivery of antigens and immune-modulating compounds.

Keywords: Dendritic cells, Disulfides, Hydrogels, Nanoparticles, Vaccines

Ansoleaga, B., Garcia-Esparcia, Paula, Llorens, Franc, Hernández-Ortega, Karina, Carmona Tech, Margarita, Antonio del Rio, José, Zerr, Inga, Ferrer, Isidro, (2016). Altered mitochondria, protein synthesis machinery, and purine metabolism are molecular contributors to the pathogenesis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology , 75, (8), 755-769

Neuron loss, synaptic decline, and spongiform change are the hallmarks of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD), and may be related to deficiencies in mitochondria, energy metabolism, and protein synthesis. To investigate these relationships, we determined the expression levels of genes encoding subunits of the 5 protein complexes of the electron transport chain, proteins involved in energy metabolism, nucleolar and ribosomal proteins, and enzymes of purine metabolism in frontal cortex samples from 15 cases of sCJD MM1 and age-matched controls. We also assessed the protein expression levels of subunits of the respiratory chain, initiation and elongation translation factors of protein synthesis, and localization of selected mitochondrial components. We identified marked, generalized alterations of mRNA and protein expression of most subunits of all 5 mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in sCJD cases. Expression of molecules involved in protein synthesis and purine metabolism were also altered in sCJD. These findings point to altered mRNA and protein expression of components of mitochondria, protein synthesis machinery, and purine metabolism as components of the pathogenesis of CJD.

Keywords: Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, Electron transport chain, Mitochondria, Oxidative phosphorylation, Protein synthesis, Purine.

Forget, J., Awaja, F., Gugutkov, D., Gustavsson, J., Gallego Ferrer, G., Coelho-Sampaio, T., Hochman-Mendez, C., Salmeron-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2016). Differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells toward quality cartilage using fibrinogen-based nanofibers Macromolecular Bioscience 16, (9), 1348-1359

Mimicking the complex intricacies of the extra cellular matrix including 3D configurations and aligned fibrous structures were traditionally perused for producing cartilage tissue from stem cells. This study shows that human adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (hADMSCs) establishes significant chondrogenic differentiation and may generate quality cartilage when cultured on 2D and randomly oriented fibrinogen/poly-lactic acid nanofibers compared to 3D sandwich-like environments. The adhering cells show well-developed focal adhesion complexes and actin cytoskeleton arrangements confirming the proper cellular interaction with either random or aligned nanofibers. However, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis for Collagen 2 and Collagen 10 genes expression confirms favorable chondrogenic response of hADMSCs on random nanofibers and shows substantially higher efficacy of their differentiation in 2D configuration versus 3D constructs. These findings introduce a new direction for cartilage tissue engineering through providing a simple platform for the routine generation of transplantable stem cells derived articular cartilage replacement that might improve joint function.

Keywords: Cartilage, Chondrogenic response, Collagen, FBG/PLA nanofibers, Mesenchymal stem cells

Reginensi, Diego, Carulla, Patricia, Nocentini, Sara, Seira, Oscar, Serra-Picamal, Xavier, Torres-Espín, Abel, Matamoros-Angles, Andreu, Gavín, Rosalina, Moreno-Flores, María Teresa, Wandosell, Francisco, Samitier, Josep, Trepat, Xavier, Navarro, Xavier, del Río, José Antonio, (2015). Increased migration of olfactory ensheathing cells secreting the Nogo receptor ectodomain over inhibitory substrates and lesioned spinal cord Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences , 72, (14), 2719-2737

Olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) transplantation emerged some years ago as a promising therapeutic strategy to repair injured spinal cord. However, inhibitory molecules are present for long periods of time in lesioned spinal cord, inhibiting both OEC migration and axonal regrowth. Two families of these molecules, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPG) and myelin-derived inhibitors (MAIs), are able to trigger inhibitory responses in lesioned axons. Mounting evidence suggests that OEC migration is inhibited by myelin. Here we demonstrate that OEC migration is largely inhibited by CSPGs and that inhibition can be overcome by the bacterial enzyme Chondroitinase ABC. In parallel, we have generated a stable OEC cell line overexpressing the Nogo receptor (NgR) ectodomain to reduce MAI-associated inhibition in vitro and in vivo. Results indicate that engineered cells migrate longer distances than unmodified OECs over myelin or oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein (OMgp)-coated substrates. In addition, they also show improved migration in lesioned spinal cord. Our results provide new insights toward the improvement of the mechanisms of action and optimization of OEC-based cell therapy for spinal cord lesion.

Keywords: Olfactory ensheathing cells, Traction force microscopy, Chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans, Cell migration, Nogo receptor ectodomain

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

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

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

Movellan, J., Urbán, P., Moles, E., de la Fuente, J. M., Sierra, T., Serrano, J. L., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Amphiphilic dendritic derivatives as nanocarriers for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Biomaterials 35, (27), 7940-7950

It can be foreseen that in a future scenario of malaria eradication, a varied armamentarium will be required, including strategies for the targeted administration of antimalarial compounds. The development of nanovectors capable of encapsulating drugs and of delivering them to Plasmodium-infected cells with high specificity and efficacy and at an affordable cost is of particular interest. With this objective, dendritic derivatives based on 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)propionic acid (bis-MPA) and Pluronic® polymers have been herein explored. Four different dendritic derivatives have been tested for their capacity to encapsulate the antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine (PQ), their specific targeting to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs), and their antimalarial activity in vitro against the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and in vivo against the rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii. The results obtained have allowed the identification of two dendritic derivatives exhibiting specific targeting to pRBCs vs. non-infected RBCs, which reduce the in vitro IC50 of CQ and PQ by ca. 3- and 4-fold down to 4.0 nm and 1.1 μm, respectively. This work on the application of dendritic derivatives to antimalarial targeted drug delivery opens the way for the use of this new type of chemicals in future malaria eradication programs.

Keywords: Antimalarial targeted drug delivery, Dendrimers, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polymeric nanoparticles

Lagunas, A., Garcia, A., Artés, J. M., Vida, Y., Collado, D., Pérez-Inestrosa, E., Gorostiza, P., Claros, S., Andrades, J. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Large-scale dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns for the study of local arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion Nano Research , 7, (3), 399-409

Cell adhesion processes are governed by the nanoscale arrangement of the extracellular matrix (ECM), being more affected by local rather than global concentrations of cell adhesive ligands. In many cell-based studies, grafting of dendrimers on surfaces has shown the benefits of the local increase in concentration provided by the dendritic configuration, although the lack of any reported surface characterization has limited any direct correlation between dendrimer disposition and cell response. In order to establish a proper correlation, some control over dendrimer surface deposition is desirable. Here, dendrimer nanopatterning has been employed to address arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion. Nanopatterned surfaces were fully characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), showing that tunable distributions of cell adhesive ligands on the surface are obtained as a function of the initial dendrimer bulk concentration. Cell experiments showed a clear correlation with dendrimer surface layout: Substrates presenting regions of high local ligand density resulted in a higher percentage of adhered cells and a higher degree of maturation of focal adhesions (FAs). Therefore, dendrimer nanopatterning is presented as a suitable and controlled approach to address the effect of local ligand density on cell response. Moreover, due to the easy modification of dendrimer peripheral groups, dendrimer nanopatterning can be further extended to other ECM ligands having density effects on cells.

Keywords: Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Atomic force microscopy, Cell adhesion, Dendrimer, Focal adhesions, Scanning tunneling microscopy

Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery

Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2014). Analysis of normal and continuous adventitious sounds for the assessment of asthma IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 981-984

Assessment of asthma is a difficult procedure which is based on the correlation of multiple factors. A major component in the diagnosis of asthma is the assessment of BD response, which is performed by traditional spirometry. In this context, the analysis of respiratory sounds (RS) provides relevant and complementary information about the function of the respiratory system. In particular, continuous adventitious sounds (CAS), such as wheezes, contribute to assess the severity of patients with obstructive diseases. On the other hand, the intensity of normal RS is dependent on airflow level and, therefore, it changes depending on the level of obstruction. This study proposes a new approach to RS analysis for the assessment of asthmatic patients, by combining the quantification of CAS and the analysis of the changes in the normal sound intensity-airflow relationship. According to results obtained from three patients with different characteristics, the proposed technique seems more sensitive and promising for the assessment of asthma.

Keywords: Asthma, Bronchodilator response, Continuous adventitious sound, Respiratory sound intensity, Wheezes

La Torre, A., Del Mar Masdeu, M., Cotrufo, T., Moubarak, R. S., Del Río, J. A., Comella, J. X., Soriano, E., Ureña, J. M., (2013). A role for the tyrosine kinase ACK1 in neurotrophin signaling and neuronal extension and branching Cell Death and Disease , 4, (4), e602

Neurotrophins are involved in many crucial cellular functions, including neurite outgrowth, synapse formation, and plasticity. Although these events have long been known, the molecular determinants underlying neuritogenesis have not been fully characterized. Ack1 (activated Cdc42-associated tyrosine kinase) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that is highly expressed in the brain. Here, we demonstrate that Ack1 is a molecular constituent of neurotrophin signaling cascades in neurons and PC12 cells. We report that Ack1 interacts with Trk receptors and becomes tyrosine phosphorylated and its kinase activity is increased in response to neurotrophins. Moreover, our data indicate that Ack1 acts upstream of the Akt and MAPK pathways. We show that Ack1 overexpression induces neuritic outgrowth and promotes branching in neurotrophin-treated neuronal cells, whereas the expression of Ack1 dominant negatives or short-hairpin RNAs counteract neurotrophin-stimulated differentiation. Our results identify Ack1 as a novel regulator of neurotrophin-mediated events in primary neurons and in PC12 cells.

Keywords: Axonal, Branching, Dendritic, Neurotrophins, Tyrosine kinase

Guo, S., Artés, J. M., Díez-Pérez, I., (2013). Electrochemically-gated single-molecule electrical devices Electrochimica Acta 63rd Annual Meeting of the International Society of Electrochemistry , Elsevier (Prague, Czech Republic) 110, 741-753

In the last decade, single-molecule electrical contacts have emerged as a new experimental platform that allows exploring charge transport phenomena in individual molecular blocks. This novel tool has evolved into an essential element within the Molecular Electronics field to understand charge transport processes in hybrid (bio)molecule/electrode interfaces at the nanoscale, and prospect the implementation of active molecular components into functional nanoscale optoelectronic devices. Within this area, three-terminal single-molecule devices have been sought, provided that they are highly desired to achieve full functionality in logic electronic circuits. Despite the latest experimental developments offer consistent methods to bridge a molecule between two electrodes (source and drain in a transistor notation), placing a third electrode (gate) close to the single-molecule electrical contact is still technically challenging. In this vein, electrochemically-gated single-molecule devices have emerged as an experimentally affordable alternative to overcome these technical limitations. In this review, the operating principle of an electrochemically-gated single-molecule device is presented together with the latest experimental methodologies to built them and characterize their charge transport characteristics. Then, an up-to-date comprehensive overview of the most prominent examples will be given, emphasizing on the relationship between the molecular structure and the final device electrical behaviour.

Keywords: Electrochemical gate, Electrochemical switches, NDR, Single-molecule junctions, Unipolar/ambipolar FETs

Dries, Koen, Helden, Suzanne, Riet, Joostte, Diez-Ahedo, Ruth, Manzo, Carlo, Oud, Machteld, Leeuwen, Frank, Brock, Roland, Garcia-Parajo, Maria, Cambi, Alessandra, Figdor, CarlG, (2012). Geometry sensing by dendritic cells dictates spatial organization and PGE2-induced dissolution of podosomes Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences , 69, (11), 1889-1901

Assembly and disassembly of adhesion structures such as focal adhesions (FAs) and podosomes regulate cell adhesion and differentiation. On antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs), acquisition of a migratory and immunostimulatory phenotype depends on podosome dissolution by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Whereas the effects of physico-chemical and topographical cues have been extensively studied on FAs, little is known about how podosomes respond to these signals. Here, we show that, unlike for FAs, podosome formation is not controlled by substrate physico-chemical properties. We demonstrate that cell adhesion is the only prerequisite for podosome formation and that substrate availability dictates podosome density. Interestingly, we show that DCs sense 3-dimensional (3-D) geometry by aligning podosomes along the edges of 3-D micropatterned surfaces. Finally, whereas on a 2-dimensional (2-D) surface PGE2 causes a rapid increase in activated RhoA levels leading to fast podosome dissolution, 3-D geometric cues prevent PGE2-mediated RhoA activation resulting in impaired podosome dissolution even after prolonged stimulation. Our findings indicate that 2-D and 3-D geometric cues control the spatial organization of podosomes. More importantly, our studies demonstrate the importance of substrate dimensionality in regulating podosome dissolution and suggest that substrate dimensionality plays an important role in controlling DC activation, a key process in initiating immune responses.

Keywords: Mechanosensitivity, Podosomes, Dendritic cell, Adhesion

Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets , 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting

Armendáriz, Beatriz G., Bribian, Ana, Pérez-Martínez, Esther, Martínez, Albert, de Castro, Fernando, Soriano, Eduardo, Burgaya, Ferran, (2012). Expression of Semaphorin 4F in neurons and brain oligodendrocytes and the regulation of oligodendrocyte precursor migration in the optic nerve Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience , 49, (1), 54-67

Semaphorins are secreted or membrane-anchored proteins that play critical roles in neural development and adult brain plasticity. Sema4F is a transmembrane semaphorin found on glutamatergic synapses, in which it is attached to the PSD-95-scaffolding protein. Here we further examined the expression of Sema4F by raising specific antibodies. We show that Sema4F protein is widely expressed by neurons during neural development and in the adult brain. We also demonstrate a preferential localization of this protein in postsynaptic dendrites. Moreover, Sema4F is expressed not only by neurons but also by oligodendrocyte precursors in the optic nerve and along the migratory pathways of oligodendroglial cells, and also by subsets of postnatal oligodendroglial cells in the brain. Finally, in vitro experiments demonstrate that endogenous Sema4F expressed by brain cells of oligodendroglial lineage regulates the outgrowth migration of oligodendrocyte precursors and promotes their differentiation. The present data extend our knowledge about the expression of Sema4F and uncover a novel function in the control of oligodendrocyte precursor migration in the developing brain.

Keywords: Semaphorin, Oligodendrocyte, Guidance, Optic nerve, Brain

Mesquita, J., Poree, F., Carrault, G., Fiz, J. A., Abad, J., Jané, R., (2012). Respiratory and spontaneous arousals in patients with Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 6337-6340

Sleep in patients with Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) is frequently interrupted with arousals. Increased amounts of arousals result in shortening total sleep time and repeated sleep-arousal change can result in sleep fragmentation. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA) an arousal is a marker of sleep disruption representing a detrimental and harmful feature for sleep. The nature of arousals and its role on the regulation of the sleep process raises controversy and has sparked the debate in the last years. In this work, we analyzed and compared the EEG spectral content of respiratory and spontaneous arousals on a database of 45 SAHS subjects. A total of 3980 arousals (1996 respiratory and 1984 spontaneous) were analyzed. The results showed no differences between the spectral content of the two kinds of arousals. Our findings raise doubt as to whether these two kinds of arousals are truly triggered by different organic mechanisms. Furthermore, they may also challenge the current beliefs regarding the underestimation of the importance of spontaneous arousals and their contribution to sleep fragmentation in patients suffering from SAHS.

Keywords: Adaptive filters, Correlation, Databases, Electroencephalography, Hospitals, Sleep apnea, Electroencephalography, Medical signal processing, Pneumodynamics, Sleep, EEG spectral content, Organic mechanism, Respiratory, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Sleep fragmentation, Spectral content, Spontaneous arousal

Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., (2011). Plithotaxis and emergent dynamics in collective cellular migration Trends in Cell Biology 21, (11), 638-646

For a monolayer sheet to migrate cohesively, it has long been suspected that each constituent cell must exert physical forces not only upon its extracellular matrix but also upon neighboring cells. The first comprehensive maps of these distinct force components reveal an unexpected physical picture. Rather than showing smooth and systematic variation within the monolayer, the distribution of physical forces is dominated by heterogeneity, both in space and in time, which emerges spontaneously, propagates over great distances, and cooperates over the span of many cell bodies. To explain the severe ruggedness of this force landscape and its role in collective cell guidance, the well known mechanisms of chemotaxis, durotaxis, haptotaxis are clearly insufficient. In a broad range of epithelial and endothelial cell sheets, collective cell migration is governed instead by a newly discovered emergent mechanism of innately collective cell guidance - plithotaxis.

Keywords: Positional information, Drosophila embryo, Sheet migration, Dpp gradient, Cells, Force, Morphogenesis, Transition, Identification, Proliferation

Izquierdo-Useros, Nuria, Esteban, Olga, Rodriguez-Plata, Maria T., Erkizia, Itziar, Prado, Julia G., Blanco, Julia, Garcia-Parajo, Maria F., Martinez-Picado, Javier, (2011). Dynamic imaging of cell-free and cell-associated viral capture in mature dendritic cells Traffic , 12, (12), 1702-1713

Dendritic cells (DCs) capture human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through a non-fusogenic mechanism that enables viral transmission to CD4(+) T cells, contributing to in vivo viral dissemination. Although previous studies have provided important clues to cell-free viral capture by mature DCs (mDCs), dynamic and kinetic insight on this process is still missing. Here, we used three-dimensional videomicroscopy and single-particle tracking approaches to dynamically dissect both cell-free and cell-associated viral capture by living mDCs. We show that cell-free virus capture by mDCs operates through three sequential phases: virus binding through specific determinants expressed in the viral particle, polarized or directional movements toward concrete regions of the cell membrane and virus accumulation in a sac-like structure where trapped viral particles display a hindered diffusive behavior. Moreover, real-time imaging of cell-associated viral transfer to mDCs showed a similar dynamics to that exhibited by cell-free virus endocytosis leading to viral accumulation in compartments. However, cell-associated HIV type 1 transfer to mDCs was the most effective pathway, boosted throughout enhanced cellular contacts with infected CD4(+) T cells. Our results suggest that in lymphoid tissues, mDC viral uptake could occur either by encountering cell-free or cell-associated virus produced by infected cells generating the perfect scenario to promote HIV pathogenesis and impact disease progression.

Keywords: Dendritic cells, HIV-1, Live cell imaging, Trans-infection

Fiz, José Antonio, Solà, J., Jané, Raimon, (2011). Métodos de análisis del ronquido Medicina Clínica , 137, (1), 36-42

El ronquido es un sonido respiratorio que se produce durante el sueño, ya sea nocturno o diurno. El ronquido puede ser inspiratorio, espiratorio o puede ocupar todo el ciclo respiratorio. Tiene su origen en la vibración de los diferentes tejidos de la vía aérea superior. Se han descrito numerosos métodos para analizarlo, desde el simple interrogatorio, pasando por cuestionarios estándares, hasta llegar a los métodos acústicos más sofisticados, que se han desarrollado gracias al gran avance de las técnicas biomédicas en los últimos años. El presente trabajo describe el estado del arte actual en los procedimientos de análisis del ronquido.

Keywords: Ronquido, Apnea del sueño, Síndrome de apnea-hipoapnea del sueño, Snoring, Sleep apnea, Sleep Apnea and Hipoapnea Syndrome

Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., Solà, J., Abad, J., Garcia, M. A., Morera, J., (2010). Continuous analysis and monitoring of snores and their relationship to the apnea-hypopnea index Laryngoscope , 120, (4), 854-862

Objectives/Hypothesis: We used a new automatic snoring detection and analysis system to monitor snoring during full-night polysomnography to assess whether the acoustic characteristics of snores differ in relation to the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and to classify subjects according to their AHI Study Design: Individual Case-Control Study. Methods: Thirty-seven snorers (12 females and 25 males, ages 40-65 years; body mass index (BMI), 29.65 +/- 4.7 kg/m(2)) participated Subjects were divided into three groups: G1 (AHI <5), G2 (AHI >= 5, <15) and G3 (AHI >= 15) Snore and breathing sounds were : recorded with a tracheal microphone throughout 6 hours of nighttime polysomnography The snoring episodes identified were automatically and continuously analyzed with a previously trained 2-layer feed-forward neural network. Snore number, average intensity, and power spectral density parameters were computed for every subject and compared among AHI groups. Subjects were classified using different AHI thresholds by means of a logistic regression model. Results: There were significant differences in supine position between G1 and G3 in sound intensity, number of snores; standard deviation of the spectrum, power ratio in bands 0-500, 100-500, and 0-800 Hz, and the symmetry coefficient (P < .03); Patients were classified with thresholds AHI = 5 and AHI = 15 with a sensitivity (specificity) of 87% (71%) and 80% (90%), respectively. Conclusions: A new system for automatic monitoring and analysis of snores during the night is presented. Sound intensity and several snore frequency parameters allow differentiation of snorers according to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome severity (OSAS). Automatic snore intensity and frequency monitoring and analysis could be a promising tool for screening OSAS patients, significantly improving the managing of this pathology.

Keywords: Breathing sounds, Signal interpretation, Sleep apnea syndromes, Snoring

Mesquita, J., Fiz, J. A., Solà, J., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2010). Regular and non regular snore features as markers of SAHS Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 6138-6141

Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) diagnosis is still done with an overnight multi-channel polysomnography. Several efforts are being made to study profoundly the snore mechanism and discover how it can provide an opportunity to diagnose the disease. This work introduces the concept of regular snores, defined as the ones produced in consecutive respiratory cycles, since they are produced in a regular way, without interruptions. We applied 2 thresholds (TH/sub adaptive/ and TH/sub median/) to the time interval between successive snores of 34 subjects in order to select regular snores from the whole all-night snore sequence. Afterwards, we studied the effectiveness that parameters, such as time interval between successive snores and the mean intensity of snores, have on distinguishing between different levels of SAHS severity (AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index)<5h/sup -1/, AHI<10 h/sup -1/, AHI<15h/sup -1/, AHI<30h/sup -1/). Results showed that TH/sub adaptive/ outperformed TH/sub median/ on selecting regular snores. Moreover, the outcome achieved with non-regular snores intensity features suggests that these carry key information on SAHS severity.

Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ acoustic signal processing, Bioacoustics, Biomedical measurement, Diseases, Feature extraction, Medical signal processing, Patient diagnosis, Pneumodynamics, Sleep/ nonregular snore features, SAHS markers, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Overnight multichannel polysomnography, Snore mechanism

Calvo, D., Salvador, J. P., Tort, N., Centi, F., Marco, M. P., Marco, S., (2009). Multidetection of anabolic androgenic steroids using immunoarrays and pattern recognition techniques Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and the Electronic Nose (ed. Pardo, M., Sberveglieri, G.), Amer Inst Physics (Brescia, Italy) 1137, 547-550

A first step towards the multidetection of anabolic androgenic steroids by Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) has been performed in this study. This proposal combines an array of classical ELISA assays with different selectivities and multivariate data analysis techniques. Data has been analyzed by principal component analysis in conjunction with a k-nearest line classifier has been used. This proposal allows to detect simultaneously four different compounds in the range of concentration from 10(-1.5) to 10(3) mM with a total rate of 90.6% of correct detection.

Keywords: Immunoarray, Anabolic androgenic steroid, Multidetection, Pattern recognition, K-nearlest line

Bravo, R., Arimon, M., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Garcia, R., Durany, N., Castel, S., Cruz, M., Ventura, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2008). Sulfated polysaccharides promote the assembly of amyloid beta(1-42) peptide into stable fibrils of reduced cytotoxicity Journal of Biological Chemistry , 283, (47), 32471-32483

The histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease are the self-aggregation of the amyloid beta peptide (A beta) in extracellular amyloid fibrils and the formation of intraneuronal Tau filaments, but a convincing mechanism connecting both processes has yet to be provided. Here we show that the endogenous polysaccharide chondroitin sulfate B (CSB) promotes the formation of fibrillar structures of the 42-residue fragment, A beta(1-42). Atomic force microscopy visualization, thioflavin T fluorescence, CD measurements, and cell viability assays indicate that CSB-induced fibrils are highly stable entities with abundant beta-sheet structure that have little toxicity for neuroblastoma cells. We propose a wedged cylinder model for A beta(1-42) fibrils that is consistent with the majority of available data, it is an energetically favorable assembly that minimizes the exposure of hydrophobic areas, and it explains why fibrils do not grow in thickness. Fluorescence measurements of the effect of different A beta(1-42) species on Ca2+ homeostasis show that weakly structured nodular fibrils, but not CSB-induced smooth fibrils, trigger a rise in cytosolic Ca2+ that depends on the presence of both extracellular and intracellular stocks. In vitro assays indicate that such transient, local Ca2+ increases can have a direct effect in promoting the formation of Tau filaments similar to those isolated from Alzheimer disease brains.

Keywords: AFM, Alzheimers-disease, Chondroitin sulfate, Heparan-sulfate, Lipid-bilayers, Beta-peptide, In-vitro, Neurodegenerative diseases, Extracellular-matrix, Prion protein