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Clark, AG, Maitra, A, Jacques, C, Bergert, M, Perez-Gonzalez, C, Simon, A, Lederer, L, Diz-Munoz, A, Trepat, X, Voituriez, R, Vignjevic, DM, (2022). Self-generated gradients steer collective migration on viscoelastic collagen networks Nature Materials

Growing evidence suggests that the physical properties of the cellular microenvironment influence cell migration. However, it is not currently understood how active physical remodelling by cells affects migration dynamics. Here we report that cell clusters seeded on deformable collagen-I networks display persistent collective migration despite not showing any apparent intrinsic polarity. Clusters generate transient gradients in collagen density and alignment due to viscoelastic relaxation of the collagen networks. Combining theory and experiments, we show that crosslinking collagen networks or reducing cell cluster size results in reduced network deformation, shorter viscoelastic relaxation time and smaller gradients, leading to lower migration persistence. Traction force and Brillouin microscopy reveal asymmetries in force distributions and collagen stiffness during migration, providing evidence of mechanical cross-talk between cells and their substrate during migration. This physical model provides a mechanism for self-generated directional migration on viscoelastic substrates in the absence of internal biochemical polarity cues.; Cell clusters mechanically reorganize viscoelastic collagen networks, resulting in transient gradients in collagen density, alignment and stiffness that promote spontaneous persistent migration.

Keywords: Cell-migration, Design, Invasion, Limits, Mechanics, Microscopy, Morphogenesis, Motility, Rear, Rigidity


Casanellas, I, Lagunas, A, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, Rodriguez-Pereira, C, Magalhaes, J, Andrades, JA, Becerra, J, Samitier, J, (2022). Nanoscale ligand density modulates gap junction intercellular communication of cell condensates during chondrogenesis Nanomedicine ,

Aim: To unveil the influence of cell-matrix adhesions in the establishment of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) during cell condensation in chondrogenesis. Materials & methods: Previously developed nanopatterns of the cell adhesive ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid were used as cell culture substrates to control cell adhesion at the nanoscale. In vitro chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells was conducted on the nanopatterns. Cohesion and GJIC were evaluated in cell condensates. Results: Mechanical stability and GJIC are enhanced by a nanopattern configuration in which 90% of the surface area presents adhesion sites separated less than 70 nm, thus providing an onset for cell signaling. Conclusion: Cell-matrix adhesions regulate GJIC of mesenchymal cell condensates during in vitro chondrogenesis from a threshold configuration at the nanoscale.

Keywords: Actin, Adhesion, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell adhesion, Collagen, Condensation, Connexin-43, Dendrimer-based nanopatterning, Dynamics, Extracellular-matrix, Fibronectin, Gap junction intercellular communication, Mesenchymal stem cells, Permeability, Phenotype, Vinculin


Almici E, Chiappini V, López-Márquez A, Badosa C, Blázquez B, Caballero D, Montero J, Natera-de Benito D, Nascimento A, Roldán M, Lagunas A, Jiménez-Mallebrera C, Samitier J, (2022). Personalized in vitro Extracellular Matrix Models of Collagen VI-Related Muscular Dystrophies Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10,

Collagen VI-related dystrophies (COL6-RDs) are a group of rare congenital neuromuscular dystrophies that represent a continuum of overlapping clinical phenotypes that go from the milder Bethlem myopathy (BM) to the severe Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy, for which there is no effective treatment. Mutations in one of the three Collagen VI genes alter the incorporation of this protein into the extracellular matrix (ECM), affecting the assembly and the structural integrity of the whole fibrillar network. Clinical hallmarks of COL6-RDs are secondary to the ECM disruption and include muscle weakness, proximal joint contractures, and distal hyperlaxity. Although some traits have been identified in patients’ ECMs, a correlation between the ECM features and the clinical phenotype has not been established, mainly due to the lack of predictive and reliable models of the pathology. Herein, we engineered a new personalized pre-clinical model of COL6-RDs using cell-derived matrices (CDMs) technology to better recapitulate the complexity of the native scenario. We found that CDMs from COL6-RD patients presented alterations in ECM structure and composition, showing a significantly decreased Collagen VI secretion, especially in the more severe phenotypes, and a decrease in Fibrillin-1 inclusion. Next, we examined the Collagen VI-mediated deposition of Fibronectin in the ECM, finding a higher alignment, length, width, and straightness than in patients with COL6-RDs. Overall, these results indicate that CDMs models are promising tools to explore the alterations that arise in the composition and fibrillar architecture due to mutations in Collagen VI genes, especially in early stages of matrix organization. Ultimately, CDMs derived from COL6-RD patients may become relevant pre-clinical models, which may help identifying novel biomarkers to be employed in the clinics and to investigate novel therapeutic targets and treatments. Copyright © 2022 Almici, Chiappini, López-Márquez, Badosa, Blázquez, Caballero, Montero, Natera-de Benito, Nascimento, Roldán, Lagunas, Jiménez-Mallebrera and Samitier.

Keywords: alpha-3 chain, binding, collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, decellularisation, decellularized matrices, deficiency, expression, fibroblasts, fibronectin, in vitro model, patient-derived ecms, skeletal-muscle, ullrich, Cell-derived matrices, Collagen, Collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, Decellularisation, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Genes, In vitro model, In-vitro, In-vitro models, Matrix, Matrix model, Muscular dystrophy, Pathology, Patient-derived ecm, Patient-derived ecms, Pre-clinical


F Amil A, Rubio Ballester B, Maier M, FMJ Verschure P, (2022). Chronic use of cannabis might impair sensory error processing in the cerebellum through endocannabinoid dysregulation Addictive Behaviors 131, 107297

Chronic use of cannabis leads to both motor deficits and the downregulation of CB1 receptors (CB1R) in the cerebellum. In turn, cerebellar damage is often related to impairments in motor learning and control. Further, a recent motor learning task that measures cerebellar-dependent adaptation has been shown to distinguish well between healthy subjects and chronic cannabis users. Thus, the deteriorating effects of chronic cannabis use in motor performance point to cerebellar adaptation as a key process to explain such deficits. We review the literature relating chronic cannabis use, the endocannabinoid system in the cerebellum, and different forms of cerebellar-dependent motor learning, to suggest that CB1R downregulation leads to a generalized underestimation and misprocessing of the sensory errors driving synaptic updates in the cerebellar cortex. Further, we test our hypothesis with a computational model performing a motor adaptation task and reproduce the behavioral effect of decreased implicit adaptation that appears to be a sign of chronic cannabis use. Finally, we discuss the potential of our hypothesis to explain similar phenomena related to motor impairments following chronic alcohol dependency. © 2022

Keywords: Adaptation, Adaptation, physiological, Alcoholism, Article, Behavioral science, Cannabinoid 1 receptor, Cannabis, Cannabis addiction, Cerebellum, Cerebellum cortex, Cerebellum disease, Chronic cannabis use, Computer model, Down regulation, Endocannabinoid, Endocannabinoid system, Endocannabinoids, Error processing, Hallucinogens, Human, Humans, Motor dysfunction, Motor learning, Nerve cell plasticity, Nonhuman, Physiology, Psychedelic agent, Regulatory mechanism, Sensation, Sensory dysfunction, Sensory error processing impairment, Synaptic transmission, Task performance


Karkali, K, Tiwari, P, Singh, A, Tlili, S, Jorba, I, Navajas, D, Munoz, JJ, Saunders, TE, Martin-Blanco, E, (2022). Condensation of the Drosophila nerve cord is oscillatory and depends on coordinated mechanical interactions Developmental Cell 57, 867-882

During development, organs reach precise shapes and sizes. Organ morphology is not always obtained through growth; a classic counterexample is the condensation of the nervous system during Drosophila embryogenesis. The mechanics underlying such condensation remain poorly understood. Here, we characterize the condensation of the embryonic ventral nerve cord (VNC) at both subcellular and tissue scales. This analysis reveals that condensation is not a unidirectional continuous process but instead occurs through oscillatory contractions. The VNC mechanical properties spatially and temporally vary, and forces along its longitudinal axis are spatially heterogeneous. We demonstrate that the process of VNC condensation is dependent on the coordinated mechanical activities of neurons and glia. These outcomes are consistent with a viscoelastic model of condensation, which incorporates time delays and effective frictional interactions. In summary, we have defined the progressive mechanics driving VNC condensation, providing insights into how a highly viscous tissue can autonomously change shape and size.

Keywords: Collagen-iv, Contraction, Forces, Gene, Glial-cells, Migration, Morphogenesis, Quantification, System, Tissue


Dias JMS, Estima D, Punte H, Klingner A, Marques L, Magdanz V, Khalil ISM, (2022). Modeling and Characterization of the Passive Bending Stiffness of Nanoparticle-Coated Sperm Cells using Magnetic Excitation Advanced Theory And Simulations 5,

Of all the various locomotion strategies in low- (Formula presented.), traveling-wave propulsion methods with an elastic tail are preferred because they can be developed using simple designs and fabrication procedures. The only intrinsic property of the elastic tail that governs the form and rate of wave propagation along its length is the bending stiffness. Such traveling wave motion is performed by spermatozoa, which possess a tail that is characterized by intrinsic variable stiffness along its length. In this paper, the passive bending stiffness of the magnetic nanoparticle-coated flagella of bull sperm cells is measured using a contactless electromagnetic-based excitation method. Numerical elasto-hydrodynamic models are first developed to predict the magnetic excitation and relaxation of nanoparticle-coated nonuniform flagella. Then solutions are provided for various groups of nonuniform flagella with disparate nanoparticle coatings that relate their bending stiffness to their decay rate after the magnetic field is removed and the flagellum restores its original configuration. The numerical models are verified experimentally, and capture the effect of the nanoparticle coating on the bending stiffness. It is also shown that electrostatic self-assembly enables arbitrarily magnetizable cellular segments with variable stiffness along the flagellum. The bending stiffness is found to depend on the number and location of the magnetized cellular segments. © 2022 The Authors. Advanced Theory and Simulations published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

Keywords: Bending stiffness, Cells, Cellulars, Coatings, Decay (organic), Electric excitation, Excited states, Flagellar propulsion, Locomotion strategies, Low reynolds numbers, Magnetic, Magnetic excitations, Nanoparticle coatings, Passive, Propulsion methods, Self assembly, Simple++, Sperm cell, Sperm cells, Stiffness, Travelling waves, Variable stiffness, Wave propagation


Marhuenda, Esther, Villarino, Alvaro, Narciso, Maria Leonor, Camprubí-Rimblas, Marta, Farré, Ramon, Gavara, Núria, Artigas, Antonio, Almendros, Isaac, Otero, Jorge, (2022). Lung Extracellular Matrix Hydrogels Enhance Preservation of Type II Phenotype in Primary Alveolar Epithelial Cells International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 4888

One of the main limitations of in vitro studies on lung diseases is the difficulty of maintaining the type II phenotype of alveolar epithelial cells in culture. This fact has previously been related to the translocation of the mechanosensing Yes-associated protein (YAP) to the nuclei and Rho signaling pathway. In this work, we aimed to culture and subculture primary alveolar type II cells on extracellular matrix lung-derived hydrogels to assess their suitability for phenotype maintenance. Cells cultured on lung hydrogels formed monolayers and maintained type II phenotype for a longer time as compared with those conventionally cultured. Interestingly, cells successfully grew when they were subsequently cultured on a dish. Moreover, cells cultured on a plate showed the active form of the YAP protein and the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions. The results of chemically inhibiting the Rho pathway strongly suggest that this is one of the mechanisms by which the hydrogel promotes type II phenotype maintenance. These results regarding protein expression strongly suggest that the chemical and biophysical properties of the hydrogel have a considerable impact on the transition from ATII to ATI phenotypes. In conclusion, culturing primary alveolar epithelial cells on lung ECM-derived hydrogels may facilitate the prolonged culturing of these cells, and thus help in the research on lung diseases.

Keywords: adhesion, alveolar cells, expression, hydrogels, pathway, surfactant, type ii phenotype, yap, Extracellular matrix, Transplantation


Rätze, Max AK., Koorman, Thijs, Sijnesael, Thijmen, Bassey-Archibong, Blessing, van de Ven, Robert, Enserink, Lotte, Visser, Daan, Jaksani, Sridevi, Viciano, Ignacio, Bakker, Elvira RM., Richard, François, Tutt, Andrew, O’Leary, Lynda, Fitzpatrick, Amanda, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, van Diest, Paul J., Desmedt, Christine, Daniel, Juliet M., Isacke, Clare M., Derksen, Patrick WB., (2022). Loss of E-cadherin leads to Id2-dependent inhibition of cell cycle progression in metastatic lobular breast cancer Oncogene 41, 2932-2944

Invasive lobular breast carcinoma (ILC) is characterized by proliferative indolence and long-term latency relapses. This study aimed to identify how disseminating ILC cells control the balance between quiescence and cell cycle re-entry. In the absence of anchorage, ILC cells undergo a sustained cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 while maintaining viability. From the genes that are upregulated in anchorage independent ILC cells, we selected Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (Id2), a mediator of cell cycle progression. Using loss-of-function experiments, we demonstrate that Id2 is essential for anchorage independent survival (anoikis resistance) in vitro and lung colonization in mice. Importantly, we find that under anchorage independent conditions, E-cadherin loss promotes expression of Id2 in multiple mouse and (organotypic) human models of ILC, an event that is caused by a direct p120-catenin/Kaiso-dependent transcriptional de-repression of the canonical Kaiso binding sequence TCCTGCNA. Conversely, stable inducible restoration of E-cadherin expression in the ILC cell line SUM44PE inhibits Id2 expression and anoikis resistance. We show evidence that Id2 accumulates in the cytosol, where it induces a sustained and CDK4/6-dependent G0/G1 cell cycle arrest through interaction with hypo-phosphorylated Rb. Finally, we find that Id2 is indeed enriched in ILC when compared to other breast cancers, and confirm cytosolic Id2 protein expression in primary ILC samples. In sum, we have linked mutational inactivation of E-cadherin to direct inhibition of cell cycle progression. Our work indicates that loss of E-cadherin and subsequent expression of Id2 drive indolence and dissemination of ILC. As such, E-cadherin and Id2 are promising candidates to stratify low and intermediate grade invasive breast cancers for the use of clinical cell cycle intervention drugs.

Keywords: anoikis resistance, carcinoma, d1, differentiation, gene-expression, growth, id2, proliferation, repression, Mammary epithelial-cells


Narciso M, Ulldemolins A, Júnior C, Otero J, Navajas D, Farré R, Gavara N, Almendros I, (2022). Novel Decellularization Method for Tissue Slices Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10,

Decellularization procedures have been developed and optimized for the entire organ or tissue blocks, by either perfusion of decellularizing agents through the tissue’s vasculature or submerging large sections in decellularizing solutions. However, some research aims require the analysis of native as well as decellularized tissue slices side by side, but an optimal protocol has not yet been established to address this need. Thus, the main goal of this work was to develop a fast and efficient decellularization method for tissue slices—with an emphasis on lung—while attached to a glass slide. To this end, different decellularizing agents were compared for their effectiveness in cellular removal while preserving the extracellular matrix. The intensity of DNA staining was taken as an indicator of remaining cells and compared to untreated sections. The presence of collagen, elastin and laminin were quantified using immunostaining and signal quantification. Scaffolds resulting from the optimized protocol were mechanically characterized using atomic force microscopy. Lung scaffolds were recellularized with mesenchymal stromal cells to assess their biocompatibility. Some decellularization agents (CHAPS, triton, and ammonia hydroxide) did not achieve sufficient cell removal. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was effective in cell removal (1% remaining DNA signal), but its sharp reduction of elastin signal (only 6% remained) plus lower attachment ratio (32%) singled out sodium deoxycholate (SD) as the optimal treatment for this application (6.5% remaining DNA signal), due to its higher elastin retention (34%) and higher attachment ratio (60%). Laminin and collagen were fully preserved in all treatments. The SD decellularization protocol was also successful for porcine and murine (mice and rat) lungs as well as for other tissues such as the heart, kidney, and bladder. No significant mechanical differences were found before and after sample decellularization. The resulting acellular lung scaffolds were shown to be biocompatible (98% cell survival after 72 h of culture). This novel method to decellularize tissue slices opens up new methodological possibilities to better understand the role of the extracellular matrix in the context of several diseases as well as tissue engineering research and can be easily adapted for scarce samples like clinical biopsies. Copyright © 2022 Narciso, Ulldemolins, Júnior, Otero, Navajas, Farré, Gavara and Almendros.

Keywords: biocompatibility, bioscaffold recellularization, extracellular matrix, flow, impact, lung, scaffolds, tissue slices, Ammonia, Bio-scaffolds, Biocompatibility, Biological organs, Bioscaffold recellularization, Cell removal, Cells, Collagen, Cytology, Decellularization, Dna, Dna signals, Elastin, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular-matrix, Glycoproteins, Laminin, Lung, Mammals, Recellularization, Scaffolds (biology), Sodium deoxycholate, Sulfur compounds, Tissue, Tissue slice, Tissue slices


Fischer NG, Aparicio C, (2022). Junctional epithelium and hemidesmosomes: Tape and rivets for solving the “percutaneous device dilemma” in dental and other permanent implants Bioactive Materials 18, 178-198

The percutaneous device dilemma describes etiological factors, centered around the disrupted epithelial tissue surrounding non-remodelable devices, that contribute to rampant percutaneous device infection. Natural percutaneous organs, in particular their extracellular matrix mediating the “device”/epithelium interface, serve as exquisite examples to inspire longer lasting long-term percutaneous device design. For example, the tooth's imperviousness to infection is mediated by the epithelium directly surrounding it, the junctional epithelium (JE). The hallmark feature of JE is formation of hemidesmosomes, cell/matrix adhesive structures that attach surrounding oral gingiva to the tooth's enamel through a basement membrane. Here, the authors survey the multifaceted functions of the JE, emphasizing the role of the matrix, with a particular focus on hemidesmosomes and their five main components. The authors highlight the known (and unknown) effects dental implant – as a model percutaneous device – placement has on JE regeneration and synthesize this information for application to other percutaneous devices. The authors conclude with a summary of bioengineering strategies aimed at solving the percutaneous device dilemma and invigorating greater collaboration between clinicians, bioengineers, and matrix biologists. © 2022 The Authors

Keywords: amino-acid-sequence, bioinspired surfaces, cell-secreted protein, growth-factor receptor, hemidesmosome, integrin beta-4 subunit, junctional epithelium, keratinocyte-derived chemokine, laminin-binding integrins, marginal bone loss, percutaneous implant, pressure wound therapy, soft-tissue integration, Bioinspired surfaces, Bullous-pemphigoid antigen, Hemidesmosome, Junctional epithelium, Percutaneous device, Percutaneous implant


Georgiev VN, Avalos-Padilla Y, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Dimova R, (2022). Femtoliter Injection of ESCRT-III Proteins into Adhered Giant Unilamellar Vesicles Bio Protoc 12, e4328

The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery mediates membrane fission reactions that exhibit a different topology from that observed in clathrin-coated vesicles. In all of the ESCRT-mediated events, the nascent vesicle buds away from the cytosol. However, ESCRT proteins are able to act upon membranes with different geometries. For instance, the formation of multivesicular bodies (MVBs) and the biogenesis of extracellular vesicles both require the participation of the ESCRT-III sub-complex, and they differ in their initial membrane geometry before budding starts: the protein complex acts either from outside the membrane organelle (causing inward budding) or from within (causing outward budding). Several studies have reconstituted the action of the ESCRT-III subunits in supported bilayers and cell-sized vesicles mimicking the geometry occurring during MVBs formation (in-bud), but extracellular vesicle budding (out-bud) mechanisms remain less explored, because of the outstanding difficulties encountered in encapsulation of functional ESCRT-III in vesicles. Here, we provide a different approach that allows the recreation of the out-bud formation, by combining giant unilamellar vesicles as a membrane model and a microinjection system. The vesicles are immobilized prior to injection via weak adhesion to the chamber coverslip, which also ensures preserving the membrane excess area required for budding. After protein injection, vesicles exhibit outward budding. The approach presented in this work can be used in the future to disentangle the mechanisms underlying ESCRT-III-mediated fission, recreating the geometry of extracellular bud production, which remains a challenge. Moreover, the microinjection methodology can be also adapted to interrogate the action of other cytosolic components on the encapsulating membranous organelle. Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.

Keywords: adhesion, budding, electroformation, escrt-iii, exosomes, extracellular vesicles, light, microinjection, microparticles, plasma, Adhesion, Budding, Escrt-iii, Extracellular vesicles, Giant unilamellar vesicle (guv), Membrane, Microinjection


Páscoa dos Santos F, Verschure PFMJ, (2022). Excitatory-Inhibitory Homeostasis and Diaschisis: Tying the Local and Global Scales in the Post-stroke Cortex Frontiers In Systems Neuroscience 15, 806544

Maintaining a balance between excitatory and inhibitory activity is an essential feature of neural networks of the neocortex. In the face of perturbations in the levels of excitation to cortical neurons, synapses adjust to maintain excitatory-inhibitory (EI) balance. In this review, we summarize research on this EI homeostasis in the neocortex, using stroke as our case study, and in particular the loss of excitation to distant cortical regions after focal lesions. Widespread changes following a localized lesion, a phenomenon known as diaschisis, are not only related to excitability, but also observed with respect to functional connectivity. Here, we highlight the main findings regarding the evolution of excitability and functional cortical networks during the process of post-stroke recovery, and how both are related to functional recovery. We show that cortical reorganization at a global scale can be explained from the perspective of EI homeostasis. Indeed, recovery of functional networks is paralleled by increases in excitability across the cortex. These adaptive changes likely result from plasticity mechanisms such as synaptic scaling and are linked to EI homeostasis, providing a possible target for future therapeutic strategies in the process of rehabilitation. In addition, we address the difficulty of simultaneously studying these multiscale processes by presenting recent advances in large-scale modeling of the human cortex in the contexts of stroke and EI homeostasis, suggesting computational modeling as a powerful tool to tie the meso- and macro-scale processes of recovery in stroke patients. Copyright © 2022 Páscoa dos Santos and Verschure.

Keywords: Algorithm, Biological marker, Brain, Brain cell, Brain cortex, Brain function, Brain radiography, Cerebrovascular accident, Cortical reorganization, Diaschisis, Down regulation, Excitability, Excitatory-inhibitory balance, Fluorine magnetic resonance imaging, Functional networks, Homeostasis, Homeostatic plasticity, Human, Motor dysfunction, Neuromodulation, Plasticity, Pyramidal nerve cell, Review, Simulation, Stroke, Stroke patient, Visual cortex


Gawish R, Starkl P, Pimenov L, Hladik A, Lakovits K, Oberndorfer F, Cronin SJF, Ohradanova-Repic A, Wirnsberger G, Agerer B, Endler L, Capraz T, Perthold JW, Cikes D, Koglgruber R, Hagelkruys A, Montserrat N, Mirazimi A, Boon L, Stockinger H, Bergthaler A, Oostenbrink C, Penninger JM, Knapp S, (2022). ACE2 is the critical in vivo receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in a novel COVID-19 mouse model with TNF-and IFNy-driven immunopathology Elife 11, e74623

Despite tremendous progress in the understanding of COVID-19, mechanistic insight into immunological, disease-driving factors remains limited. We generated maVie16, a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2, by serial passaging of a human isolate. In silico modeling revealed how only three Spike mutations of maVie16 enhanced interaction with murine ACE2. maVie16 induced profound pathology in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice, and the resulting mouse COVID-19 (mCOVID-19) replicated critical aspects of human disease, including early lymphopenia, pulmonary immune cell infiltration, pneumonia, and specific adaptive immunity. Inhibition of the proinflammatory cyto-kines IFN? and TNF substantially reduced immunopathology. Importantly, genetic ACE2-deficiency completely prevented mCOVID-19 development. Finally, inhalation therapy with recombinant ACE2 fully protected mice from mCOVID-19, revealing a novel and efficient treatment. Thus, we here present maVie16 as a new tool to model COVID-19 for the discovery of new therapies and show that disease severity is determined by cytokine-driven immunopathology and critically dependent on ACE2 in vivo. © Gawish et al.

Keywords: covid-19 mouse model, covid-19 therapy, cytokine storm, mavie16, mouse, program, recombinant soluble ace2, tmprss2, Adaptive immunity, Angiotensin converting enzyme 2, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Animals, Apoptosis, Article, Bagg albino mouse, Breathing rate, Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, C57bl mouse, Cell composition, Cell infiltration, Controlled study, Coronavirus disease 2019, Coronavirus spike glycoprotein, Covid-19, Cytokeratin 18, Cytokine production, Dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase, Disease model, Disease models, animal, Disease severity, Drosophila-melanogaster, Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, Expression vector, Flow cytometry, Gamma interferon, Gene editing, Gene expression, Gene mutation, Genetic engineering, Genetics, Glycosylation, High mobility group b1 protein, Histology, Histopathology, Immune response, Immunocompetent cell, Immunology, Immunopathology, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin 2, Metabolism, Mice, inbred balb c, Mice, inbred c57bl, Mouse-adapted sars-cov-2, Myeloperoxidase, Neuropilin 1, Nonhuman, Nucleocapsid protein, Pathogenicity, Peptidyl-dipeptidase a, Pyroptosis, Renin angiotensin aldosterone system, Rna extraction, Rna isolation, Sars-cov-2, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Spike glycoprotein, coronavirus, T lymphocyte activation, Trabecular meshwork, Tumor necrosis factor, Virology, Virus load, Virus replication, Virus transmission, Virus virulence


Bonilla-Pons SÀ, Nakagawa S, Bahima EG, Fernández-Blanco Á, Pesaresi M, D'Antin JC, Sebastian-Perez R, Greco D, Domínguez-Sala E, Gómez-Riera R, Compte RIB, Dierssen M, Pulido NM, Cosma MP, (2022). Müller glia fused with adult stem cells undergo neural differentiation in human retinal models Ebiomedicine 77, 103914

Visual impairments are a critical medical hurdle to be addressed in modern society. Müller glia (MG) have regenerative potential in the retina in lower vertebrates, but not in mammals. However, in mice, in vivo cell fusion between MG and adult stem cells forms hybrids that can partially regenerate ablated neurons.We used organotypic cultures of human retina and preparations of dissociated cells to test the hypothesis that cell fusion between human MG and adult stem cells can induce neuronal regeneration in human systems. Moreover, we established a microinjection system for transplanting human retinal organoids to demonstrate hybrid differentiation.We first found that cell fusion occurs between MG and adult stem cells, in organotypic cultures of human retina as well as in cell cultures. Next, we showed that the resulting hybrids can differentiate and acquire a proto-neural electrophysiology profile when the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is activated in the adult stem cells prior fusion. Finally, we demonstrated the engraftment and differentiation of these hybrids into human retinal organoids.We show fusion between human MG and adult stem cells, and demonstrate that the resulting hybrid cells can differentiate towards neural fate in human model systems. Our results suggest that cell fusion-mediated therapy is a potential regenerative approach for treating human retinal dystrophies.This work was supported by La Caixa Health (HR17-00231), Velux Stiftung (976a) and the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, (BFU2017-86760-P) (AEI/FEDER, UE), AGAUR (2017 SGR 689, 2017 SGR 926).Published by Elsevier B.V.

Keywords: cell fusion, expression, fusion, ganglion-cells, in-vitro, mouse, müller glia, neural differentiation, organoids, regeneration, retina regeneration, stem cells, stromal cells, transplantation, 4',6 diamidino 2 phenylindole, 5' nucleotidase, Agarose, Alcohol, Arpe-19 cell line, Article, Beta catenin, Beta tubulin, Bone-marrow-cells, Bromophenol blue, Buffer, Calcium cell level, Calcium phosphate, Calretinin, Canonical wnt signaling, Cd34 antigen, Cell culture, Cell fusion, Cell viability, Coculture, Complementary dna, Confocal microscopy, Cornea transplantation, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotection, Crystal structure, Current clamp technique, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Dodecyl sulfate sodium, Edetic acid, Electrophysiology, Endoglin, Fetal bovine serum, Fibroblast growth factor 2, Flow cytometry, Fluorescence activated cell sorting, Fluorescence intensity, Glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase, Glycerol, Glycine, Hoe 33342, Immunofluorescence, Immunohistochemistry, Incubation time, Interleukin 1beta, Lentivirus vector, Matrigel, Mercaptoethanol, Microinjection, Mueller cell, Müller glia, N methyl dextro aspartic acid, Nerve cell differentiation, Neural differentiation, Nitrogen, Nonhuman, Organoids, Paraffin, Paraffin embedding, Paraformaldehyde, Patch clamp technique, Penicillin derivative, Phenolsulfonphthalein, Phenotype, Phosphate buffered saline, Phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitor, Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Potassium chloride, Povidone iodine, Promoter region, Proteinase inhibitor, Real time polymerase chain reaction, Receptor type tyrosine protein phosphatase c, Restriction endonuclease, Retina, Retina dystrophy, Retina regeneration, Retinol, Rhodopsin, Rna extraction, Stem cell, Stem cells, Subcutaneous fat, Tunel assay, Visual impairment, Western blotting


Guallar-Garrido, S, Campo-Perez, V, Perez-Trujillo, M, Cabrera, C, Senserrich, J, Sanchez-Chardi, A, Rabanal, RM, Gomez-Mora, E, Noguera-Ortega, E, Luquin, M, Julian, E, (2022). Mycobacterial surface characters remodeled by growth conditions drive different tumor-infiltrating cells and systemic IFN-gamma/IL-17 release in bladder cancer treatment Oncoimmunology 11, 2051845

The mechanism of action of intravesical Mycobacterium bovis BCG immunotherapy treatment for bladder cancer is not completely known, leading to misinterpretation of BCG-unresponsive patients, who have scarce further therapeutic options. BCG is grown under diverse culture conditions worldwide, which can impact the antitumor effect of BCG strains and could be a key parameter of treatment success. Here, BCG and the nonpathogenic Mycobacterium brumae were grown in four culture media currently used by research laboratories and BCG manufacturers: Sauton-A60, -G15 and -G60 and Middlebrook 7H10, and used as therapies in the orthotopic murine BC model. Our data reveal that each mycobacterium requires specific culture conditions to induce an effective antitumor response. since higher survival rates of tumor-bearing mice were achieved using M. brumae-A60 and BCG-G15 than the rest of the treatments. M. brumae-A60 was the most efficacious among all tested treatments in terms of mouse survival, cytotoxic activity of splenocytes against tumor cells, higher systemic production of IL-17 and IFN-gamma, and bladder infiltration of selected immune cells such as ILCs and CD4(TEM). BCG-G15 triggered an antitumor activity based on a massive infiltration of immune cells, mainly CD3(+) (CD4(+) and CD8(+)) T cells, together with high systemic IFN-gamma release. Finally, a reduced variety of lipids was strikingly observed in the outermost layer of M. brumae-A60 and BCG-G15 compared to the rest of the cultures, suggesting an influence on the antitumor immune response triggered. These findings contribute to understand how mycobacteria create an adequate niche to help the host subvert immunosuppressive tumor actions.

Keywords: Bcg, Calmette-guerin bcg, Glycerol, Identification, Immune-response, Innate immune response, Innate-lymphoid cells, Lipid, Lipids, Mycolic acids, Neutral-red, Non-muscle invasive, Phenolic glycolipids, Tuberculosis, Tumor microenvironment, Virulence


Riera, Roger, Tauler, Jana, Feiner Gracia, Natàlia, Borrós, Salvador, Fornaguera, Cristina, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2022). Complex pBAE Nanoparticle Cell Trafficking: Tracking Both Position and Composition Using Super Resolution Microscopy Chemmedchem ,

Nanomedicine emerged some decades ago with the hope to be the solution for most unmet medical needs. However, tracking materials at nanoscale is challenging to their reduced size, below the resolution limit of most conventional techniques. In this context, we propose the use of direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to study time stability and cell trafficking after transfection of oligopeptide end-modified poly(?-aminoester) (OM-pBAE) nanoparticles. We selected different combinations of cationic end oligopeptides (arginine - R; histidine - H; and lysine - K) among polymer libraries, since the oligopeptide combination demonstrated to be useful for different applications, such as vaccination and gene silencing. We demonstrate that their time evolution as well as their cell uptake and trafficking are dependent on the oligopeptide. This study opens the pave to broad mechanistic studies at nanoscale that could enable a rational selection of specific pBAE nanoparticles composition after determining their stability and cell trafficking.© 2022 The Authors. ChemMedChem published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

Keywords: cell trafficking, direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dstorm), nanoparticle stability, Poly(?-aminoester) nanoparticles


Woythe L, Madhikar P, Feiner-Gracia N, Storm C, Albertazzi L, (2022). A Single-Molecule View at Nanoparticle Targeting Selectivity: Correlating Ligand Functionality and Cell Receptor Density Acs Nano 16, 3785-3796

Antibody-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) are commonly used to increase the targeting selectivity toward cells of interest. At a molecular level, the number of functional antibodies on the NP surface and the density of receptors on the target cell determine the targeting interaction. To rationally develop selective NPs, the single-molecule quantitation of both parameters is highly desirable. However, techniques able to count molecules with a nanometric resolution are scarce. Here, we developed a labeling approach to quantify the number of functional cetuximabs conjugated to NPs and the expression of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) in breast cancer cells using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). The single-molecule resolution of dSTORM allows quantifying molecules at the nanoscale, giving a detailed insight into the distributions of individual NP ligands and cell receptors. Additionally, we predicted the fraction of accessible antibody-conjugated NPs using a geometrical model, showing that the total number exceeds the accessible number of antibodies. Finally, we correlated the NP functionality, cell receptor density, and NP uptake to identify the highest cell uptake selectivity regimes. We conclude that single-molecule functionality mapping using dSTORM provides a molecular understanding of NP targeting, aiding the rational design of selective nanomedicines.

Keywords: active targeting, active targeting dstorm, antibodies, dstorm, heterogeneity, multivalency, nanomedicine, nanoparticle functionality, size, super-resolution microscopy, surface, Active targeting, Antibodies, Cell membranes, Cell receptors, Cytology, Direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, Dstorm, Heterogeneity, Ligands, Medical nanotechnology, Molecules, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticle functionality, Nanoparticle targeting, Nanoparticles, Optical reconstruction, Single molecule, Stochastic systems, Stochastics, Super-resolution microscopy, Superresolution microscopy


Clua-Ferré, Laura, Chiara, Francesco, Rodríguez-Comas, Júlia, Comelles, Jordi, Martinez, Elena, Godeau, Amelie Luise, García-Alamán, Ainhoa, Gasa, Rosa, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2022). Collagen-Tannic Acid Spheroids for beta-Cell Encapsulation Fabricated Using a 3D Bioprinter Advanced Materials Technologies , 2101696

Aydin, Onur, Passaro, Austin P., Raman, Ritu, Spellicy, Samantha E., Weinberg, Robert P., Kamm, Roger D., Sample, Matthew, Truskey, George A., Zartman, Jeremiah, Dar, Roy D., Palacios, Sebastian, Wang, Jason, Tordoff, Jesse, Montserrat, Nuria, Bashir, Rashid, Saif, MTaher A., Weiss, Ron, (2022). Principles for the design of multicellular engineered living systems Apl Bioengineering 6, 010903

Remarkable progress in bioengineering over the past two decades has enabled the formulation of fundamental design principles for a variety of medical and non-medical applications. These advancements have laid the foundation for building multicellular engineered living systems (M-CELS) from biological parts, forming functional modules integrated into living machines. These cognizant design principles for living systems encompass novel genetic circuit manipulation, self-assembly, cell–cell/matrix communication, and artificial tissues/organs enabled through systems biology, bioinformatics, computational biology, genetic engineering, and microfluidics. Here, we introduce design principles and a blueprint for forward production of robust and standardized M-CELS, which may undergo variable reiterations through the classic design-build-test-debug cycle. This Review provides practical and theoretical frameworks to forward-design, control, and optimize novel M-CELS. Potential applications include biopharmaceuticals, bioreactor factories, biofuels, environmental bioremediation, cellular computing, biohybrid digital technology, and experimental investigations into mechanisms of multicellular organisms normally hidden inside the “black box” of living cells.

Keywords: Artificial tissues, Assembly cells, Biological parts, Biological systems, Bioremediation, Cell engineering, Cell/matrix communication, Design principles, Environmental technology, Functional modules, Fundamental design, Genetic circuits, Genetic engineering, Living machines, Living systems, Medical applications, Molecular biology, Synthetic biology


Kadkhodaie-Elyaderani A, de Lama-Odría MC, Rivas M, Martínez-Rovira I, Yousef I, Puiggalí J, Del Valle LJ, (2022). Medicated Scaffolds Prepared with Hydroxyapatite/Streptomycin Nanoparticles Encapsulated into Polylactide Microfibers International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23,

The preparation, characterization, and controlled release of hydroxyapatite (HAp) nanopar-ticles loaded with streptomycin (STR) was studied. These nanoparticles are highly appropriate for the treatment of bacterial infections and are also promising for the treatment of cancer cells. The analyses involved scanning electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and Z-potential measurements, as well as infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Both amorphous (ACP) and crystalline (cHAp) hydroxyapatite nanoparticles were considered since they differ in their release behavior (faster and slower for amorphous and crystalline particles, respectively). The encapsulated nanoparticles were finally incorporated into biodegradable and biocompatible polylactide (PLA) scaf-folds. The STR load was carried out following different pathways during the synthesis/precipitation of the nanoparticles (i.e., nucleation steps) and also by simple adsorption once the nanoparticles were formed. The loaded nanoparticles were biocompatible according to the study of the cytotoxicity of extracts using different cell lines. FTIR microspectroscopy was also employed to evaluate the cytotoxic effect on cancer cell lines of nanoparticles internalized by endocytosis. The results were promising when amorphous nanoparticles were employed. The nanoparticles loaded with STR increased their size and changed their superficial negative charge to positive. The nanoparticles’ crystallinity decreased, with the consequence that their crystal sizes reduced, when STR was incorporated into their structure. STR maintained its antibacterial activity, although it was reduced during the adsorption into the nanoparticles formed. The STR release was faster from the amorphous ACP nanoparticles and slower from the crystalline cHAp nanoparticles. However, in both cases, the STR release was slower when incorporated in calcium and phosphate during the synthesis. The biocompatibility of these nanoparticles was assayed by two approximations. When extracts from the nanoparticles were evaluated in cultures of cell lines, no cytotoxic damage was observed at concen-trations of less than 10 mg/mL. This demonstrated their biocompatibility. Another experiment using FTIR microspectroscopy evaluated the cytotoxic effect of nanoparticles internalized by endocytosis in cancer cells. The results demonstrated slight damage to the biomacromolecules when the cells were treated with ACP nanoparticles. Both ACP and cHAp nanoparticles were efficiently encapsulated in PLA electrospun matrices, providing functionality and bioactive properties. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: antibiotics, antimicrobial activity, behavior, cytotoxicity, delivery, drug, drug delivery, hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, in-vitro, mechanisms, mitochondria, polylactide, release, streptomycin, Antimicrobial activity, Cancer stem-cells, Cytotoxicity, Drug delivery, Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, Polylactide, Streptomycin


Cascione M, Rizzello L, Manno D, Serra A, De Matteis V, (2022). Green Silver Nanoparticles Promote Inflammation Shutdown in Human Leukemic Monocytes Materials (Basel) 15,

The use of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) in the biomedical field deserves a mindful analysis of the possible inflammatory response which could limit their use in the clinic. Despite the anti-cancer properties of Ag NPs having been widely demonstrated, there are still few studies concerning their involvement in the activation of specific inflammatory pathways. The inflammatory outcome depends on the synthetic route used in the NPs production, in which toxic reagents are employed. In this work, we compared two types of Ag NPs, obtained by two different chemical routes: conventional synthesis using sodium citrate and a green protocol based on leaf extracts as a source of reduction and capping agents. A careful physicochemical characterization was carried out showing spherical and stable Ag NPs with an average size between 20 nm and 35 nm for conventional and green Ag NPs respectively. Then, we evaluated their ability to induce the activation of inflammation in Human Leukemic Monocytes (THP-1) differentiated into M0 macrophages using 1 µM and 2 µM NPs concentrations (corresponded to 0.1 µg/mL and 0.2 µg/mL respectively) and two-time points (24 h and 48 h). Our results showed a clear difference in Nuclear Factor ?B (NF-?b) activation, Interleukins 6–8 (IL-6, IL-8) secretion, Tumor Necrosis Factor-? (TNF-?) and Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression exerted by the two kinds of Ag NPs. Green Ag NPs were definitely tolerated by macrophages compared to conventional Ag NPs which induced the activation of all the factors mentioned above. Subsequently, the exposure of breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) to the green Ag NPs showed that they exhibited antitumor activity like the conventional ones, but surprisingly, using the MCF-10A line (not tumoral breast cells) the green Ag NPs did not cause a significant decrease in cell viability. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: activation, biosynthesis, gold nanoparticles, green route, inflammation response, mechanism, metal, nanotechnology, physico-chemical properties, raman-spectroscopy, resonance, silver nanoparticles, surface, Biomedical fields, Cell culture, Cell death, Chemical activation, Chemical routes, Conventional synthesis, Diseases, Green route, Inflammation response, Inflammatory response, Macrophages, Metal nanoparticles, Nf-kappa-b, Pathology, Physico-chemical properties, Physicochemical property, Property, Silver nanoparticles, Sodium compounds, Synthetic routes, Toxic reagents


Matamoros-Angles, A, Hervera, A, Soriano, J, Marti, E, Carulla, P, Llorens, F, Nuvolone, M, Aguzzi, A, Ferrer, I, Gruart, A, Delgado-Garcia, JM, Del Rio, JA, (2022). Analysis of co-isogenic prion protein deficient mice reveals behavioral deficits, learning impairment, and enhanced hippocampal excitability Bmc Biology 20, 17

Background Cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) is a cell surface GPI-anchored protein, usually known for its role in the pathogenesis of human and animal prionopathies. However, increasing knowledge about the participation of PrP(C) in prion pathogenesis contrasts with puzzling data regarding its natural physiological role. PrP(C) is expressed in a number of tissues, including at high levels in the nervous system, especially in neurons and glial cells, and while previous studies have established a neuroprotective role, conflicting evidence for a synaptic function has revealed both reduced and enhanced long-term potentiation, and variable observations on memory, learning, and behavior. Such evidence has been confounded by the absence of an appropriate knock-out mouse model to dissect the biological relevance of PrP(C), with some functions recently shown to be misattributed to PrP(C) due to the presence of genetic artifacts in mouse models. Here we elucidate the role of PrP(C) in the hippocampal circuitry and its related functions, such as learning and memory, using a recently available strictly co-isogenic Prnp(0/0) mouse model (Prnp(ZH3/ZH3)). Results We performed behavioral and operant conditioning tests to evaluate memory and learning capabilities, with results showing decreased motility, impaired operant conditioning learning, and anxiety-related behavior in Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) animals. We also carried in vivo electrophysiological recordings on CA3-CA1 synapses in living behaving mice and monitored spontaneous neuronal firing and network formation in primary neuronal cultures of Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) vs wildtype mice. PrP(C) absence enhanced susceptibility to high-intensity stimulations and kainate-induced seizures. However, long-term potentiation (LTP) was not enhanced in the Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) hippocampus. In addition, we observed a delay in neuronal maturation and network formation in Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) cultures. Conclusion Our results demonstrate that PrP(C) promotes neuronal network formation and connectivity. PrP(C) mediates synaptic function and protects the synapse from excitotoxic insults. Its deletion may underlie an epileptogenic-susceptible brain that fails to perform highly cognitive-demanding tasks such as associative learning and anxiety-like behaviors.

Keywords: anxiety, behavior, cellular prion protein, epilepsy, hippocampus, Anxiety, Behavior, Cellular prion protein, Developmental expression, Epilepsy, Gene-expression, Hippocampus, Kainate-induced seizures, Lacking, Ltp, Memory, Messenger-rna, Motor behavior, Mouse, Prp


Jain, A, Calo, A, Barcelo, D, Kumar, M, (2022). Supramolecular systems chemistry through advanced analytical techniques Analytical And Bioanalytical Chemistry

Supramolecular chemistry is the quintessential backbone of all biological processes. It encompasses a wide range from the metabolic network to the self-assembled cytoskeletal network. Combining the chemical diversity with the plethora of functional depth that biological systems possess is a daunting task for synthetic chemists to emulate. The only route for approaching such a challenge lies in understanding the complex and dynamic systems through advanced analytical techniques. The supramolecular complexity that can be successfully generated and analyzed is directly dependent on the analytical treatment of the system parameters. In this review, we illustrate advanced analytical techniques that have been used to investigate various supramolecular systems including complex mixtures, dynamic self-assembly, and functional nanomaterials. The underlying theme of such an overview is not only the exceeding detail with which traditional experiments can be probed but also the fact that complex experiments can now be attempted owing to the analytical techniques that can resolve an ensemble in astounding detail. Furthermore, the review critically analyzes the current state of the art analytical techniques and suggests the direction of future development. Finally, we envision that integrating multiple analytical methods into a common platform will open completely new possibilities for developing functional chemical systems.

Keywords: analytical techniques, dynamic self-assembly, high-speed afm, liquid cell tem, Analytical technique, Analytical techniques, Biological process, Chemical analysis, Chemical diversity, Complex networks, Cytoskeletal network, Dynamic self-assembly, High-speed afm, Hydrogels, In-situ, Liquid cell tem, Metabolic network, Microscopy, Nanoscale, Proteins, Self assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular systems, System chemistry, Systems chemistry


Macedo, MH, Barros, AS, Martinez, E, Barrias, CC, Sarmento, B, (2022). All layers matter: Innovative three-dimensional epithelium-stroma-endothelium intestinal model for reliable permeability outcomes Journal Of Controlled Release 341, 414-430

Drug development is an ever-growing field, increasingly requesting reliable in vitro tools to speed up early screening phases, reducing the need for animal experiments. In oral delivery, understanding the absorption pattern of a new drug in the small intestine is paramount. Classical two-dimensional (2D) in vitro models are generally too simplistic and do not accurately represent native tissues. The main goal of this work was to develop an advanced three-dimensional (3D) in vitro intestinal model to test absorption in a more reliable manner, by better mimicking the native environment. The 3D model is composed of a collagen-based stromal layer with embedded fibroblasts mimicking the intestinal lamina propria and providing support for the epithelium, composed of enterocytes and mucus-secreting cells. An endothelial layer, surrogating the absorptive capillary network, is also present. The cellular crosstalk between the different cells present in the model is unveiled, disclosing key players, namely those involved in the contraction of collagen by fibroblasts. The developed 3D model presents lower levels of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and Multidrug Resistance Protein 2 (MRP2) efflux transporters, which are normally overexpressed in traditional Caco-2 models, and are paramount in the absorption of many compounds. This, allied with transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) values closer to physiological ranges, leads to improved and more reliable permeability outcomes, which are observed when comparing our results with in vivo data.

Keywords: 3d intestinal model, drug absorption, drug development, endothelium, hydrogel, 3d intestinal model, 3d modeling, 3d models, 3d-modeling, Alkaline-phosphatase, Animal experiments, Biopharmaceutics classification, Caco-2 cells, Cell culture, Collagen, Collagen gel, Drug absorption, Drug development, Endothelium, Fibroblasts, Glycoproteins, Hydrogel, In-vitro, Matrix metalloproteinases, Membrane-permeability, Paracellular transport, Permeability, Single-pass vs., Speed up


Gouveia, Virgínia M., Rizzello, Loris, Vidal, Bruno, Nunes, Claudia, Poma, Alessandro, Lopez?Vasquez, Ciro, Scarpa, Edoardo, Brandner, Sebastian, Oliveira, António, Fonseca, João E., Reis, Salette, Battaglia, Giuseppe, (2022). Targeting Macrophages and Synoviocytes Intracellular Milieu to Augment Anti-Inflammatory Drug Potency Advanced Therapeutics 5,

Zeinali, Reza, del Valle, Luis J., Franco, Lourdes, Yousef, Ibraheem, Rintjema, Jeroen, Alemán, Carlos, Bravo, Fernando, Kleij, Arjan W., Puiggalí, Jordi, (2022). Biobased Terpene Derivatives: Stiff and Biocompatible Compounds to Tune Biodegradability and Properties of Poly(butylene succinate) Polymers 14,

Different copolymers incorporating terpene oxide units (e.g., limonene oxide) have been evaluated considering thermal properties, degradability, and biocompatibility. Thus, polycarbonates and polyesters derived from aromatic, monocyclic and bicyclic anhydrides have been considered. Furthermore, ring substitution with myrcene terpene has been evaluated. All polymers were amorphous when evaluated directly from synthesis. However, spherulites could be observed after the slow evaporation of diluted chloroform solutions of polylimonene carbonate, with all isopropene units possessing an R configuration. This feature was surprising considering the reported information that suggested only the racemic polymer was able to crystallize. All polymers were thermally stable and showed a dependence of the maximum degradation rate temperature (from 242 °C to 342 °C) with the type of terpene oxide. The graduation of glass transition temperatures (from 44 °C to 172 °C) was also observed, being higher than those corresponding to the unsubstituted polymers. The chain stiffness of the studied polymers hindered both hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation while a higher rate was detected when an oxidative medium was assayed (e.g., weight losses around 12% after 21 days of exposure). All samples were biocompatible according to the adhesion and proliferation tests performed with fibroblast cells. Hydrophobic and mechanically consistent films (i.e., contact angles between 90° and 110°) were obtained after the evaporation of chloroform from the solutions, having different ratios of the studied biobased polyterpenes and poly(butylene succinate) (PBS). The blend films were comparable in tensile modulus and tensile strength with the pure PBS (e.g., values of 330 MPa and 7 MPa were determined for samples incorporating 30 wt.% of poly(PA-LO), the copolyester derived from limonene oxide and phthalic anhydride. Blends were degradable, biocompatible and appropriate to produce oriented-pore and random-pore scaffolds via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) method and using 1,4-dioxane as solvent. The best results were attained with the blend composed of 70 wt.% PBS and 30 wt.% poly(PA-LO). In summary, the studied biobased terpene derivatives showed promising properties to be used in a blended form for biomedical applications such as scaffolds for tissue engineering.

Keywords: alternating copolymerization, biobased materials, biodegradability, composites, crystallization, cyclohexene oxide, induced phase-separation, limonene oxide, mechanical-properties, polyesters, scaffolds, spherulites, terpene derivatives, thermal properties, thermally-induced phase separation, Acetone, Bio-based, Bio-based materials, Biobased materials, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Butenes, Cell culture, Chlorine compounds, Degradation, Evaporation, Glass transition, Limonene oxide, Monoterpenes, Phase separation, Poly (butylenes succinate), Polybutylene succinate, Property, Ring-opening copolymerization, Scaffolds, Spheru-lites, Tensile strength, Terpene derivatives, Thermal properties, Thermally induced phase separation, Thermally-induced phase separation, Thermally?induced phase separation, Thermodynamic properties, Thermogravimetric analysis


Guasch-Girbau A, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Review of the current landscape of the potential of nanotechnology for future malaria diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination strategies Pharmaceutics 13,

Malaria eradication has for decades been on the global health agenda, but the causative agents of the disease, several species of the protist parasite Plasmodium, have evolved mechanisms to evade vaccine-induced immunity and to rapidly acquire resistance against all drugs entering clinical use. Because classical antimalarial approaches have consistently failed, new strategies must be explored. One of these is nanomedicine, the application of manipulation and fabrication technology in the range of molecular dimensions between 1 and 100 nm, to the development of new medical solutions. Here we review the current state of the art in malaria diagnosis, prevention, and therapy and how nanotechnology is already having an incipient impact in improving them. In the second half of this review, the next generation of antimalarial drugs currently in the clinical pipeline is presented, with a definition of these drugs’ target product profiles and an assessment of the potential role of nanotechnology in their development. Opinions extracted from interviews with experts in the fields of nanomedicine, clinical malaria, and the economic landscape of the disease are included to offer a wider scope of the current requirements to win the fight against malaria and of how nanoscience can contribute to achieve them. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: antibody-bearing liposomes, antimalarial drugs, combination therapies, drug-delivery strategies, malaria diagnosis, malaria prophylaxis, malaria therapy, nanocarriers, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, nanotechnology, plasmodium, plasmodium-falciparum, red-blood-cells, targeted delivery, targeted drug delivery, vitro antimalarial activity, Antimalarial drugs, Isothermal amplification lamp, Malaria diagnosis, Malaria prophylaxis, Malaria therapy, Nanocarriers, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Beltrán G, Navajas D, García-Aznar JM, (2022). Mechanical modeling of lung alveoli: From macroscopic behaviour to cell mechano-sensing at microscopic level Journal Of The Mechanical Behavior Of Biomedical Materials 126, 105043

The mechanical signals sensed by the alveolar cells through the changes in the local matrix stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM) are determinant for regulating cellular functions. Therefore, the study of the mechanical response of lung tissue becomes a fundamental aspect in order to further understand the mechanosensing signals perceived by the cells in the alveoli. This study is focused on the development of a finite element (FE) model of a decellularized rat lung tissue strip, which reproduces accurately the mechanical behaviour observed in the experiments by means of a tensile test. For simulating the complex structure of the lung parenchyma, which consists of a heterogeneous and non-uniform network of thin-walled alveoli, a 3D model based on a Voronoi tessellation is developed. This Voronoi-based model is considered very suitable for recreating the geometry of cellular materials with randomly distributed polygons like in the lung tissue. The material model used in the mechanical simulations of the lung tissue was characterized experimentally by means of AFM tests in order to evaluate the lung tissue stiffness on the micro scale. Thus, in this study, the micro (AFM test) and the macro scale (tensile test) mechanical behaviour are linked through the mechanical simulation with the 3D FE model based on Voronoi tessellation. Finally, a micro-mechanical FE-based model is generated from the Voronoi diagram for studying the stiffness sensed by the alveolar cells in function of two independent factors: the stretch level of the lung tissue and the geometrical position of the cells on the extracellular matrix (ECM), distinguishing between pneumocyte type I and type II. We conclude that the position of the cells within the alveolus has a great influence on the local stiffness perceived by the cells. Alveolar cells located at the corners of the alveolus, mainly type II pneumocytes, perceive a much higher stiffness than those located in the flat areas of the alveoli, which correspond to type I pneumocytes. However, the high stiffness, due to the macroscopic lung tissue stretch, affects both cells in a very similar form, thus no significant differences between them have been observed. © 2021 The Authors

Keywords: Afm, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Article, Biological organs, Cell function, Cells, Computational geometry, Cytology, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Geometry, High stiffness, Human, Lung alveolus cell type 1, Lung alveolus cell type 2, Lung parenchyma, Lung tissue, Male, Mechanical behavior, Mechanical modeling, Mechanical simulations, Mechanosensing, Model-based opc, Nonhuman, Physical model, Rat, Rigidity, Stiffness, Stiffness matrix, Tensile testing, Thin walled structures, Three dimensional finite element analysis, Tissue, Type ii, Voronoi tessellations


Júnior C, Narciso M, Marhuenda E, Almendros I, Farré R, Navajas D, Otero J, Gavara N, (2021). Baseline stiffness modulates the non-linear response to stretch of the extracellular matrix in pulmonary fibrosis INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a progressive disease that disrupts the mechanical homeostasis of the lung extracellular matrix (ECM). These effects are particularly relevant in the lung context, given the dynamic nature of cyclic stretch that the ECM is continuously subjected to during breathing. This work uses an in vivo model of pulmonary fibrosis to characterize the macro-and micromechanical properties of lung ECM subjected to stretch. To that aim, we have compared the micromechanical properties of fibrotic ECM in baseline and under stretch conditions, using a novel combination of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and a stretchable membrane-based chip. At the macroscale, fibrotic ECM displayed strain-hardening, with a stiffness one order of magnitude higher than its healthy counterpart. Conversely, at the microscale, we found a switch in the stretch-induced mechanical behaviour of the lung ECM from strain-hardening at physiological ECM stiffnesses to strain-softening at fibrotic ECM stiffnesses. Similarly, we observed solidification of healthy ECM versus fluidization of fibrotic ECM in response to stretch. Our results suggest that the mechanical behaviour of fibrotic ECM under stretch involves a potential built-in mechanotransduction mechanism that may slow down the progression of PF by steering resident fibroblasts away from a pro-fibrotic profile. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: atomic force microscopy, extracellular matrix, fibrosis, mechanics, mechanosensing, strain, system, viscoelasticity, Atomic force microscopy, Extracellular matrix, Fibrosis, Lung fibrosis, Mechanosensing


Song, S, Mason, AF, Post, RAJ, De Corato, M, Mestre, R, Yewdall, NA, Cao, S, van der Hofstad, RW, Sanchez, S, Abdelmohsen, LKEA, van Hest, JCM, (2021). Engineering transient dynamics of artificial cells by stochastic distribution of enzymes Nature Communications 12,

Here the authors develop a coacervate micromotor that can display autonomous motion as a result of stochastic distribution of propelling units. This stochastic-induced mobility is validated and explained through experiments and theory. Random fluctuations are inherent to all complex molecular systems. Although nature has evolved mechanisms to control stochastic events to achieve the desired biological output, reproducing this in synthetic systems represents a significant challenge. Here we present an artificial platform that enables us to exploit stochasticity to direct motile behavior. We found that enzymes, when confined to the fluidic polymer membrane of a core-shell coacervate, were distributed stochastically in time and space. This resulted in a transient, asymmetric configuration of propulsive units, which imparted motility to such coacervates in presence of substrate. This mechanism was confirmed by stochastic modelling and simulations in silico. Furthermore, we showed that a deeper understanding of the mechanism of stochasticity could be utilized to modulate the motion output. Conceptually, this work represents a leap in design philosophy in the construction of synthetic systems with life-like behaviors.

Keywords: Cell, Cell component, Enzyme, Enzyme activity, Membrane, Philosophy, Polymer, Stochasticity, Substrate


Vila, JC, Castro-Aguirre, N, Lopez-Munoz, GA, Ferret-Minana, A, De Chiara, F, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2021). Disposable Polymeric Nanostructured Plasmonic Biosensors for Cell Culture Adhesion Monitoring Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 9,

Over the last years, optical biosensors based on plasmonic nanomaterials have gained great scientific interest due to their unquestionable advantages compared to other biosensing technologies. They can achieve sensitive, direct, and label-free analysis with exceptional potential for multiplexing and miniaturization. Recently, it has been demonstrated the potential of using optical discs as high throughput nanotemplates for the development of plasmonic biosensors in a cost-effective way. This work is a pilot study focused on the development of an integrated plasmonic biosensor for the monitoring of cell adhesion and growth of human retinal pigmented cell line (ARPE-19) under different media conditions (0 and 2% of FBS). We observed an increase of the plasmonic band displacement under 2% FBS compared to 0% conditions over time (1, 3, and 5 h). These preliminary results show that the proposed plasmonic biosensing approach is a direct, non-destructive, and real-time tool that could be employed in the study of living cells behavior and culture conditions. Furthermore, this setup could assess the viability of the cells and their growth over time with low variability between the technical replicates improving the experimental replicability.

Keywords: cell confluency, cell culture, nanocrystals, optical biosensor, Adhesion monitoring, Biosensing, Biosensors, Cell adhesion, Cell confluency, Cell culture, Cells, Condition, Cost effectiveness, Disposables, Nano-structured, Nanocrystals, Optical bio-sensors, Optical biosensor, Plasmonic biosensors, Plasmonic nanostructures, Plasmonics, Polylysine


Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Almiñana-Rapún, Farners, Campo-Pérez, Víctor, Torrents, Eduard, Luquin, Marina, Julián, Esther, (2022). BCG Substrains Change Their Outermost Surface as a Function of Growth Media Vaccines 10, 40

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) efficacy as an immunotherapy tool can be influenced by the genetic background or immune status of the treated population and by the BCG substrain used. BCG comprises several substrains with genetic differences that elicit diverse phenotypic characteristics. Moreover, modifications of phenotypic characteristics can be influenced by culture conditions. However, several culture media formulations are used worldwide to produce BCG. To elucidate the influence of growth conditions on BCG characteristics, five different substrains were grown on two culture media, and the lipidic profile and physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Our results show that each BCG substrain displays a variety of lipidic profiles on the outermost surface depending on the growth conditions. These modifications lead to a breadth of hydrophobicity patterns and a different ability to reduce neutral red dye within the same BCG substrain, suggesting the influence of BCG growth conditions on the interaction between BCG cells and host cells.

Keywords: cell wall, efficacy, glycerol, hydrophobicity, lipid, neutral red, pdim, pgl, protein, strains, viability, virulence, Acylglycerol, Albumin, Article, Asparagine, Bacterial cell wall, Bacterial gene, Bacterium culture, Bcg vaccine, Catalase, Cell wall, Chloroform, Controlled study, Escherichia coli, Gene expression, Genomic dna, Glycerol, Glycerol monomycolate, Hexadecane, Housekeeping gene, Hydrophobicity, Immune response, Immunogenicity, Immunotherapy, Lipid, Lipid fingerprinting, Magnesium sulfate, Mercaptoethanol, Methanol, Methylglyoxal, Molybdatophosphoric acid, Mycobacterium bovis bcg, Neutral red, Nonhuman, Pdim, Petroleum ether, Pgl, Phenotype, Physical chemistry, Real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Rna 16s, Rna extraction, Rv0577, Staining, Thin layer chromatography, Unclassified drug


Pérez-González, Carlos, Ceada, Gerardo, Matejcic, Marija, Trepat, Xavier, (2022). Digesting the mechanobiology of the intestinal epithelium Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 72, 82-90

The dizzying life of the homeostatic intestinal epithelium is governed by a complex interplay between fate, form, force and function. This interplay is beginning to be elucidated thanks to advances in intravital and ex vivo imaging, organoid culture, and biomechanical measurements. Recent discoveries have untangled the intricate organization of the forces that fold the monolayer into crypts and villi, compartmentalize cell types, direct cell migration, and regulate cell identity, proliferation and death. These findings revealed that the dynamic equilibrium of the healthy intestinal epithelium relies on its ability to precisely coordinate tractions and tensions in space and time. In this review, we discuss recent findings in intestinal mechanobiology, and highlight some of the many fascinating questions that remain to be addressed in this emerging field.Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

Keywords: crypt fission, designer matrices, differentiation, growth, gut, migration, model, scaffold, tissue mechanics, Cell migration, Cell proliferation, Ex vivo study, Human tissue, Intestine epithelium, Monolayer culture, Organoid, Review, Stem-cell, Tension, Traction therapy


Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Montserrat, N, (2021). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids toward clinical implementations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 20,

The generation of kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has represented a relevant scientific achievement in the organoid field. Importantly, hPSC-derived kidney organoids contain multiple nephron-like structures that exhibit some renal functional characteristics and have the capacity to respond to nephrotoxic agents. In this review, we first discuss how bioengineering approaches can help overcome current kidney organoid challenges. Next, we focus on recent works exploiting kidney organoids for drug screening and disease modeling applications. Finally, we provide a state of the art on current research toward the potential application of kidney organoids and renal cells derived from hPSCs for future renal replacement therapies.

Keywords: Bioengineering, Converting enzyme-ii, Crispr/cas9 gene editing, Disease, Disease modeling, Extracellular-matrix, Generation, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney organoids, Kidney regeneration, Model, Mouse, Reveals, Scaffold, Transplantation


Boloix, A, Feiner-Gracia, N, Kober, M, Repetto, J, Pascarella, R, Soriano, A, Masanas, M, Segovia, N, Vargas-Nadal, G, Merlo-Mas, J, Danino, D, Abutbul-Ionita, I, Foradada, L, Roma, J, Cordoba, A, Sala, S, Toledo, JS, Gallego, S, Veciana, J, Albertazzi, L, Segura, MF, Ventosa, N, (2022). Engineering pH-Sensitive Stable Nanovesicles for Delivery of MicroRNA Therapeutics Small 18,

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding endogenous RNAs, which are attracting a growing interest as therapeutic molecules due to their central role in major diseases. However, the transformation of these biomolecules into drugs is limited due to their unstability in the bloodstream, caused by nucleases abundantly present in the blood, and poor capacity to enter cells. The conjugation of miRNAs to nanoparticles (NPs) could be an effective strategy for their clinical delivery. Herein, the engineering of non-liposomal lipid nanovesicles, named quatsomes (QS), for the delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs into the cytosol of tumor cells, triggering a tumor-suppressive response is reported. The engineered pH-sensitive nanovesicles have controlled structure (unilamellar), size (<150 nm) and composition. These nanovesicles are colloidal stable (>24 weeks), and are prepared by a green, GMP compliant, and scalable one-step procedure, which are all unavoidable requirements for the arrival to the clinical practice of NP based miRNA therapeutics. Furthermore, QS protect miRNAs from RNAses and when injected intravenously, deliver them into liver, lung, and neuroblastoma xenografts tumors. These stable nanovesicles with tunable pH sensitiveness constitute an attractive platform for the efficient delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs with therapeutic activity and their exploitation in the clinics.

Keywords: cancer therapy, mirnas delivery, nanocarriers, nanovesicles, neuroblastoma, pediatric cancer, quatsomes, Biodistribution, Cancer therapy, Cell engineering, Cells, Cholesterol, Controlled drug delivery, Diseases, Dna, Dysregulated ph, Lipoplex, Microrna delivery, Mirnas delivery, Nanocarriers, Nanoparticles, Nanovesicle, Nanovesicles, Neuroblastoma, Neuroblastomas, Pediatric cancer, Ph sensitive, Ph sensors, Quatsome, Quatsomes, Rna, Sirna, Sirna delivery, Sirnas delivery, Small interfering rna, Small rna, Targeted drug delivery, Tumors, Vesicles


Duro-Castano, Aroa, Rodríguez-Arco, Laura, Ruiz-Pérez, Lorena, De Pace, Cesare, Marchello, Gabriele, Noble-Jesus, Carlos, Battaglia, Giuseppe, (2021). One-Pot Synthesis of Oxidation-Sensitive Supramolecular Gels and Vesicles BIOMACROMOLECULES 22, 5052-5064

Polypeptide-based nanoparticles offer unique advantages from a nanomedicine perspective such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, and stimuli-responsive properties to (patho)physiological conditions. Conventionally, self-assembled polypeptide nanostructures are prepared by first synthesizing their constituent amphiphilic polypeptides followed by postpolymerization self-assembly. Herein, we describe the one-pot synthesis of oxidation-sensitive supramolecular micelles and vesicles. This was achieved by polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) of the N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) precursor of methionine using poly(ethylene oxide) as a stabilizing and hydrophilic block in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). By adjusting the hydrophobic block length and concentration, we obtained a range of morphologies from spherical to wormlike micelles, to vesicles. Remarkably, the secondary structure of polypeptides greatly influenced the final morphology of the assemblies. Surprisingly, wormlike micellar morphologies were obtained for a wide range of methionine block lengths and solid contents, with spherical micelles restricted to very short hydrophobic lengths. Wormlike micelles further assembled into oxidation-sensitive, self-standing gels in the reaction pot. Both vesicles and wormlike micelles obtained using this method demonstrated to degrade under controlled oxidant conditions, which would expand their biomedical applications such as in sustained drug release or as cellular scaffolds in tissue engineering.

Keywords: alpha-amino-acid, hydrogels, leuchs anhydrides, platform, polypeptides, transformation, triggered cargo release, Amino acids, Amphiphilics, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Block lengths, Controlled drug delivery, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Ethylene, Gels, Hydrophobicity, Medical nanotechnology, Methionine, Micelles, Morphology, One-pot synthesis, Organic solvents, Oxidation, Physiological condition, Polyethylene oxides, Post-polymerization, Ring-opening polymerization, Scaffolds (biology), Self assembly, Stimuli-responsive properties, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular gels, Supramolecular micelles, Wormlike micelle


Riera, Roger, Hogervorst, Tim P., Doelman, Ward, Ni, Yan, Pujals, Silvia, Bolli, Evangelia, Codée, Jeroen DC., van Kasteren, Sander I., Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2021). Single-molecule imaging of glycan–lectin interactions on cells with Glyco-PAINT Nature Chemical Biology 17, 1281-+

Most lectins bind carbohydrate ligands with relatively low affinity, making the identification of optimal ligands challenging. Here we introduce a point accumulation in nanoscale topography (PAINT) super-resolution microscopy method to capture weak glycan-lectin interactions at the single-molecule level in living cells (Glyco-PAINT). Glyco-PAINT exploits weak and reversible sugar binding to directly achieve single-molecule detection and quantification in cells and is used to establish the relative kon and koff rates of a synthesized library of carbohydrate-based probes, as well as the diffusion coefficient of the receptor-sugar complex. Uptake of ligands correlates with their binding affinity and residence time to establish structure-function relations for various synthetic glycans. We reveal how sugar multivalency and presentation geometry can be optimized for binding and internalization. Overall, Glyco-PAINT represents a powerful approach to study weak glycan-lectin interactions on the surface of living cells, one that can be potentially extended to a variety of lectin-sugar interactions.© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

Keywords: dc-sign, density, dimerization, endocytosis, lateral mobility, ligand-binding, mannose receptor, proteins, recognition, Animal, Animals, Cell membrane, Cell membrane permeability, Chemistry, Cho cell line, Cho cells, Cricetulus, Cysteine-rich domain, Kinetics, Lectin, Lectins, Ligand, Ligands, Molecular library, Multivariate analysis, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides, Procedures, Protein binding, Single molecule imaging, Small molecule libraries, Structure activity relation, Structure-activity relationship


Le Roux, Anabel-Lise, Tozzi, Caterina, Walani, Nikhil, Quiroga, Xarxa, Zalvidea, Dobryna, Trepat, Xavier, Staykova, Margarita, Arroyo, Marino, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2021). Dynamic mechanochemical feedback between curved membranes and BAR protein self-organization Nature Communications 12,

In many physiological situations, BAR proteins reshape membranes with pre-existing curvature (templates), contributing to essential cellular processes. However, the mechanism and the biological implications of this reshaping process remain unclear. Here we show, both experimentally and through modelling, that BAR proteins reshape low curvature membrane templates through a mechanochemical phase transition. This phenomenon depends on initial template shape and involves the co-existence and progressive transition between distinct local states in terms of molecular organization (protein arrangement and density) and membrane shape (template size and spherical versus cylindrical curvature). Further, we demonstrate in cells that this phenomenon enables a mechanotransduction mode, in which cellular stretch leads to the mechanical formation of membrane templates, which are then reshaped into tubules by BAR proteins. Our results demonstrate the interplay between membrane mechanics and BAR protein molecular organization, integrating curvature sensing and generation in a comprehensive framework with implications for cell mechanical responses.

Keywords: aggregation, amphiphysin, domains, vesicles, Article, Cell, Cell component, Curvature, Detection method, Geomembrane, Mechanotransduction, Membrane, Molecular analysis, Phase transition, Physiology, Protein, Self organization


Lozano, Helena, Millan-Solsona, Ruben, Blanco-Cabra, Nuria, Fabregas, Rene, Torrents, Eduard, Gomila, Gabriel, (2021). Electrical properties of outer membrane extensions from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 Nanoscale 13, 18754-18762

Outer membrane extensions from the metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 show an insulating behavior in dry air environment as measured by scanning dielectric microscopy.

Keywords: constant, dielectric polarization, microbial nanowires, nanoscale, transport, Air environment, Bacteria, Bacterial cells, Bacterial nanowires, Dry air, Metal-reducing bacteria, Outer membrane, Phase-minerals, Proteins, Shewanella oneidensis mr-1, Solid phasis, Solid-phase, Space division multiple access, Tubulars


Nyga, Agata, Muñoz, Jose J., Dercksen, Suze, Fornabaio, Giulia, Uroz, Marina, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, Matthews, Helen K., Conte, Vito, (2021). Oncogenic RAS instructs morphological transformation of human epithelia via differential tissue mechanics Science Advances 7,

Chausse, Victor, Schieber, Romain, Raymond, Yago, Ségry, Brian, Sabaté, Ramon, Kolandaivelu, Kumaran, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Pegueroles, Marta, (2021). Solvent-cast direct-writing as a fabrication strategy for radiopaque stents Additive Manufacturing 48, 102392

Lopez-Muñoz, Gerardo A, Fernández-Costa, Juan M, Ortega, Maria Alejandra, Balaguer-Trias, Jordina, Martin-Lasierra, Eduard, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2021). Plasmonic nanocrystals on polycarbonate substrates for direct and label-free biodetection of Interleukin-6 in bioengineered 3D skeletal muscles Nanophotonics 10, 4477-4488

Abstract The development of nanostructured plasmonic biosensors has been widely widespread in the last years, motivated by the potential benefits they can offer in integration, miniaturization, multiplexing opportunities, and enhanced performance label-free biodetection in a wide field of applications. Between them, engineering tissues represent a novel, challenging, and prolific application field for nanostructured plasmonic biosensors considering the previously described benefits and the low levels of secreted biomarkers (?pM–nM) to detect. Here, we present an integrated plasmonic nanocrystals-based biosensor using high throughput nanostructured polycarbonate substrates. Metallic film thickness and incident angle of light for reflectance measurements were optimized to enhance the detection of antibody–antigen biorecognition events using numerical simulations. We achieved an enhancement in biodetection up to 3× as the incident angle of light decreases, which can be related to shorter evanescent decay lengths. We achieved a high reproducibility between channels with a coefficient of variation below 2% in bulk refractive index measurements, demonstrating a high potential for multiplexed sensing. Finally, biosensing potential was demonstrated by the direct and label-free detection of interleukin-6 biomarker in undiluted cell culture media supernatants from bioengineered 3D skeletal muscle tissues stimulated with different concentrations of endotoxins achieving a limit of detection (LOD) of ? 0.03 ng/mL (1.4 pM).

Keywords: assay, crystals, drug, label-free biosensing, molecules, plasmonic nanostructures, sensors, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, Biodetection, Biomarkers, Biosensors, Cell culture, Cells, Chemical detection, Histology, Interleukin-6, Interleukin6 (il6), Label free, Label-free biosensing, Muscle, Nano-structured, Nanocrystals, Plasmonic nanocrystals, Plasmonic nanostructures, Plasmonics, Polycarbonate substrates, Polycarbonates, Refractive index, Sensitivity, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering, Tissues engineerings


Ortiz C, Schierwagen R, Schaefer L, Klein S, Trepat X, Trebicka J, (2021). Extracellular Matrix Remodeling in Chronic Liver Disease Current Tissue Microenvironment Reports 2, 1-12

Abstract Purpose of the Review This review aims to summarize the current knowledge of the extracellular matrix remodeling during hepatic fibrosis. We discuss the diverse interactions of the extracellular matrix with hepatic cells and the surrounding matrix in liver fibrosis, with the focus on the molecular pathways and the mechanisms that regulate extracellular matrix remodeling. Recent Findings The extracellular matrix not only provides structure and support for the cells, but also controls cell behavior by providing adhesion signals and by acting as a reservoir of growth factors and cytokines. Summary Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix. During fibrogenesis, the natural remodeling process of the extracellular matrix varies, resulting in the excessive accumulation of its components, mainly collagens. Signals released by the extracellular matrix induce the activation of hepatic stellate cells, which are the major source of extracellular matrix and most abundant myofibroblasts in the liver. Graphical abstract

Keywords: collagen, extracellular matrix, hepatic stellate cell, liver fibrosis, metalloproteinases, Tgf-?1


Torabi N, Qiu X, López-Ortiz M, Loznik M, Herrmann A, Kermanpur A, Ashrafi A, Chiechi RC, (2021). Fullerenes Enhance Self-Assembly and Electron Injection of Photosystem i in Biophotovoltaic Devices LANGMUIR 37, 11465-11473

This paper describes the fabrication of microfluidic devices with a focus on controlling the orientation of photosystem I (PSI) complexes, which directly affects the performance of biophotovoltaic devices by maximizing the efficiency of the extraction of electron/hole pairs from the complexes. The surface chemistry of the electrode on which the complexes assemble plays a critical role in their orientation. We compared the degree of orientation on self-assembled monolayers of phenyl-C61-butyric acid and a custom peptide on nanostructured gold electrodes. Biophotovoltaic devices fabricated with the C61 fulleroid exhibit significantly improved performance and reproducibility compared to those utilizing the peptide, yielding a 1.6-fold increase in efficiency. In addition, the C61-based devices were more stable under continuous illumination. Our findings show that fulleroids, which are well-known acceptor materials in organic photovoltaic devices, facilitate the extraction of electrons from PSI complexes without sacrificing control over the orientation of the complexes, highlighting this combination of traditional organic semiconductors with biomolecules as a viable approach to coopting natural photosynthetic systems for use in solar cells.

Keywords: architecture, arrays, construction, metal, nanotubes, performance, photosynthetic proteins, polymer-fullerene, solar-cells, Photocurrent generation


Ojosnegros, S, Seriola, A, Godeau, AL, Veiga, A, (2021). Embryo implantation in the laboratory: an update on current techniques HUMAN REPRODUCTION UPDATE 27, 501-530

BACKGROUND: The embryo implantation process is crucial for the correct establishment and progress of pregnancy. During implantation, the blastocyst trophectoderm cells attach to the epithelium of the endometrium, triggering intense cell-to-cell crosstalk that leads to trophoblast outgrowth, invasion of the endometrial tissue, and formation of the placenta. However, this process, which is vital for embryo and foetal development in utero, is still elusive to experimentation because of its inaccessibility. Experimental implantation is cumbersome and impractical in adult animal models and is inconceivable in humans. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: A number of custom experimental solutions have been proposed to recreate different stages of the implantation process in vitro, by combining a human embryo (or a human embryo surrogate) and endometrial cells (or a surrogate for the endometrial tissue). In vitro models allow rapid high-throughput interrogation of embryos and cells, and efficient screening of molecules, such as cytokines, drugs, or transcription factors, that control embryo implantation and the receptivity of the endometrium. However, the broad selection of available in vitro systems makes it complicated to decide which system best fits the needs of a specific experiment or scientific question. To orient the reader, this review will explore the experimental options proposed in the literature, and classify them into amenable categories based on the embryo/cell pairs employed. The goal is to give an overview of the tools available to study the complex process of human embryo implantation, and explain the differences between them, including the advantages and disadvantages of each system. SEARCH METHODS: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature to come up with different categories that mimic the different stages of embryo implantation in vitro, ranging from initial blastocyst apposition to later stages of trophoblast invasion or gastrulation. We will also review recent breakthrough advances on stem cells and organoids, assembling embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues. OUTCOMES: We highlight the most relevant systems and describe the most significant experiments. We focus on in vitro systems that have contributed to the study of human reproduction by discovering molecules that control implantation, including hormones, signalling molecules, transcription factors and cytokines. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: The momentum of this field is growing thanks to the use of stem cells to build embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues, and the use of bioengineering to extend the life of embryos in culture. We propose to merge bioengineering methods derived from the fields of stem cells and reproduction to develop new systems covering a wider window of the implantation process.

Keywords: in vitro models, blastocyst, blastocyst-like structures, early-pregnancy, endometrial cells, epidermal-growth-factor, gene-expression, implantation, in vitro models, in-vitro model, indian hedgehog, organoids, receptivity, self-organization, spheroids, trophoblast, trophoblast invasion, uterine receptivity, Blastocyst, Blastocyst-like structures, Early-pregnancy, Endometrial cells, Endometrial stromal cells, Epidermal-growth-factor, Gene-expression, Implantation, In vitro models, In-vitro model, Indian hedgehog, Organoids, Receptivity, Self-organization, Spheroids, Trophoblast, Trophoblast invasion, Uterine receptivity


Konka, J, Espanol, M, Bosch, BM, de Oliveira, E, Ginebra, MP, (2021). Maturation of biomimetic hydroxyapatite in physiological fluids: a physicochemical and proteomic study MATERIALS TODAY BIO 12,

Biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) as a bioactive material exhibits exceptional intrinsic osteoinductive and osteogenic properties because of its nanostructure and composition, which promote a favorable microenvironment. Its high reactivity has been hypothesized to play a relevant role in the in vivo performance, mediated by the interaction with the biological fluids, which is amplified by its high specific surface area. Paradoxically, this high reactivity is also behind the in vitro cytotoxicity of this material, especially pro-nounced in static conditions. The present work explores the structural and physicochemical changes that CDHA undergoes in contact with physiological fluids and to investigate its interaction with proteins. Calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite discs with different micro/nanostructures, coarse (C) and fine (F), were exposed to cell-free complete culture medium over extended periods of time: 1, 7, 14, 21, 28, and 50 days. Precipitate formation was not observed in any of the materials in contact with the physiological fluid, which would indicate that the ionic exchanges were linked to incorporation into the crystal structure of CDHA or in the hydrated layer. In fact, CDHA experienced a maturation process, with a progressive increase in crystallinity and the Ca/P ratio, accompanied by an uptake of Mg and a B-type carbonation process, with a gradual propagation into the core of the samples. However, the reactivity of biomimetic hydroxyapatite was highly dependent on the specific surface area and was amplified in nanosized needle-like crystal structures (F), whereas in coarse specimens the ionic exchanges were restricted to the surface, with low penetration in the material bulk. In addition to showing a higher protein adsorption on F substrates, the proteomics study revealed the existence of protein selectivity to-ward F or C microstructures, as well as the capability of CDHA, and more remarkably of F-CDHA, to concentrate specific proteins from the culture medium. Finally, a substantial improvement in the material's ability to support cell proliferation was observed after the CDHA maturation process.

Keywords: calcium phosphates, ion exchange, nanostructure, protein adsorption, Biological-systems, Biomaterials, Biomimetic hydroxyapatites, Biomimetics, Bone-formation, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Calcium phosphate, Calcium phosphates, Cell proliferation, Crystal structure, Crystallinity, Crystals structures, Culture medium, Growth, High reactivity, Hydroxyapatite, In-vitro, Ion exchange, Ionic exchange, Molecular biology, Nanocrystalline apatites, Nanostructure, Nanostructures, Octacalcium phosphate, Physicochemical studies, Physiological fluids, Physiology, Protein adsorption, Proteins, Proteomic studies, Raman spectroscopy, Serum-albumin, Specific surface area


Brennan M, Monahan DS, Brulin B, Gallinetti S, Humbert P, Tringides C, Canal C, Ginebra MP, Layrolle P, (2021). Biomimetic versus sintered macroporous calcium phosphate scaffolds enhanced bone regeneration and human mesenchymal stromal cell engraftment in calvarial defects Acta Biomaterialia 135, 689-704

In contrast to sintered calcium phosphates (CaPs) commonly employed as scaffolds to deliver mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) targeting bone repair, low temperature setting conditions of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) yield biomimetic topology with high specific surface area. In this study, the healing capacity of CDHA administering MSCs to bone defects is evaluated for the first time and compared with sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) constructs sharing the same interconnected macroporosity. Xeno-free expanded human bone marrow MSCs attached to the surface of the hydrophobic β-TCP constructs, while infiltrating the pores of the hydrophilic CDHA. Implantation of MSCs on CaPs for 8 weeks in calvaria defects of nude mice exhibited complete healing, with bone formation aligned along the periphery of β-TCP, and conversely distributed within the pores of CDHA. Human monocyte-osteoclast differentiation was inhibited in vitro by direct culture on CDHA compared to β-TCP biomaterials and indirectly by administration of MSC-conditioned media generated on CDHA, while MSCs increased osteoclastogenesis in both CaPs in vivo. MSC engraftment was significantly higher in CDHA constructs, and also correlated positively with bone in-growth in scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that biomimetic CDHA are favorable carriers for MSC therapies and should be explored further towards clinical bone regeneration strategies. Statement of significance: Delivery of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) on calcium phosphate (CaP) biomaterials enhances reconstruction of bone defects. Traditional CaPs are produced at high temperature, but calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) prepared at room temperature yields a surface structure more similar to native bone mineral. The objective of this study was to compare the capacity of biomimetic CDHA scaffolds with sintered β-TCP scaffolds for bone repair mediated by MSCs for the first time. In vitro, greater cell infiltration occurred in CDHA scaffolds and following 8 weeks in vivo, MSC engraftment was higher in CDHA compared to β-TCP, as was bone in-growth. These findings demonstrate the impact of material features such as surface structure, and highlight that CDHA should be explored towards clinical bone regeneration strategies.

Keywords: beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone regeneration, calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, differentiation, engraftment, human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, hydroxyapatite scaffolds, in-vitro, inhibition, osteogenesis, osteoinduction, stem-cells, surface-topography, tissue, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bone regeneration, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Engraftment, Human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells


Rubí-Sans G, Nyga A, Rebollo E, Pérez-Amodio S, Otero J, Navajas D, Mateos-Timoneda MA, Engel E, (2021). Development of Cell-Derived Matrices for Three-Dimensional in Vitro Cancer Cell Models Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 44108-44123

Most morphogenetic and pathological processes are driven by cells responding to the surrounding matrix, such as its composition, architecture, and mechanical properties. Despite increasing evidence for the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) in tissue and disease development, many in vitro substitutes still fail to effectively mimic the native microenvironment. We established a novel method to produce macroscale (>1 cm) mesenchymal cell-derived matrices (CDMs) aimed to mimic the fibrotic tumor microenvironment surrounding epithelial cancer cells. CDMs are produced by human adipose mesenchymal stem cells cultured in sacrificial 3D scaffold templates of fibronectin-coated poly-lactic acid microcarriers (MCs) in the presence of macromolecular crowders. We showed that decellularized CDMs closely mimic the fibrillar protein composition, architecture, and mechanical properties of human fibrotic ECM from cancer masses. CDMs had highly reproducible composition made of collagen types I and III and fibronectin ECM with tunable mechanical properties. Moreover, decellularized and MC-free CDMs were successfully repopulated with cancer cells throughout their 3D structure, and following chemotherapeutic treatment, cancer cells showed greater doxorubicin resistance compared to 3D culture in collagen hydrogels. Collectively, these results support the use of CDMs as a reproducible and tunable tool for developing 3D in vitro cancer models.

Keywords: 3d cell-derived matrices, adipose mesenchymal stem cells, collagen matrix, colorectal adenocarcinoma, cytotoxicity assay, deposition, expansion, extracellular microenvironment, extracellular-matrix, fibronectin, growth, macromolecular crowders, microcarriers, scaffolds, tissue, 3d cell-derived matrices, Adipose mesenchymal stem cells, Cytotoxicity assay, Extracellular microenvironment, Macromolecular crowders, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Microcarriers


Manzano-Muñoz A, Alcon C, Menéndez P, Ramírez M, Seyfried F, Debatin KM, Meyer LH, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). MCL-1 Inhibition Overcomes Anti-apoptotic Adaptation to Targeted Therapies in B-Cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 9,

Multiple targeted therapies are currently explored for pediatric and young adult B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) treatment. However, this new armamentarium of therapies faces an old problem: choosing the right treatment for each patient. The lack of predictive biomarkers is particularly worrying for pediatric patients since it impairs the implementation of new treatments in the clinic. In this study, we used the functional assay dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP) to evaluate two new treatments for BCP-ALL that could improve clinical outcome, especially for relapsed patients. We found that the MEK inhibitor trametinib and the multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib exquisitely increased apoptotic priming in an NRAS-mutant and in a KMT2A-rearranged cell line presenting a high expression of FLT3, respectively. Following these observations, we sought to study potential adaptations to these treatments. Indeed, we identified with DBP anti-apoptotic changes in the BCL-2 family after treatment, particularly involving MCL-1 – a pro-survival strategy previously observed in adult cancers. To overcome this adaptation, we employed the BH3 mimetic S63845, a specific MCL-1 inhibitor, and evaluated its sequential addition to both kinase inhibitors to overcome resistance. We observed that the metronomic combination of both drugs with S63845 was synergistic and showed an increased efficacy compared to single agents. Similar observations were made in BCP-ALL KMT2A-rearranged PDX cells in response to sunitinib, showing an analogous DBP profile to the SEM cell line. These findings demonstrate that rational sequences of targeted agents with BH3 mimetics, now extensively explored in clinical trials, may improve treatment effectiveness by overcoming anti-apoptotic adaptations in BCP-ALL.

Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cancer, dependence, increases, kinase inhibition, pediatric leukemia, precision medicine, resistance, sensitivity, targeted therapies, tumor-cells, venetoclax, Apoptosis, Bcl-2 family proteins, Bh3 mimetics, Pediatric leukemia, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Caddeo C, Lucchesi D, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Valenti D, Penno G, Fadda AM, Pucci L, (2021). Efficacy of a resveratrol nanoformulation based on a commercially available liposomal platform INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICS 608

Scalability is one of the important factors slowing down or even impeding the clinical translation of nanoparticle-based systems. The latter need to be manufactured at a high level of quality, with batch-to-batch reproducibility, and need to be stable after the manufacturing process, during long-term storage and upon clinical administration. In this study, a vesicular formulation intended for cutaneous applications was developed by the easy reconstitution of a commercially available liposomal platform. Resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound with potent antioxidant activity, and Tween80, a hydrophilic non-ionic surfactant, were included in the formulation. The physico-chemical properties of the vesicles were assessed using light scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. Nanosized (around 80 nm) spherical and elongated, unilamellar vesicles were produced, with remarkable storage stability. The incorporation of resveratrol in the vesicular system did not alter its strong antioxidant activity, as demonstrated by antioxidant colorimetric assays (DPPH and FRAP). Furthermore, the resveratrol liposomes were cytocompatible with fibroblasts and capable of protecting skin cells from oxidative stress by reducing both endogenous and chemically induced reactive oxygen species more effectively than free resveratrol. Therefore, the proposed formulation, based on the use of a commercially available liposomal platform, represents an easy-to-prepare, reproducible, up-scaled and efficient means of delivering resveratrol and potentiating its biological activity in vitro.

Keywords: antioxidant, commercial liposomes, resveratrol, skin cells, skin delivery, Antioxidant, Commercial liposomes, Drug-delivery, Resveratrol, Skin cells, Skin delivery


Andreu, I, Falcones, B, Hurst, S, Chahare, N, Quiroga, X, Le Roux, AL, Kechagia, Z, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Betz, T, Almendros, I, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). The force loading rate drives cell mechanosensing through both reinforcement and cytoskeletal softening Nature Communications 12,

Cell response to force regulates essential processes in health and disease. However, the fundamental mechanical variables that cells sense and respond to remain unclear. Here we show that the rate of force application (loading rate) drives mechanosensing, as predicted by a molecular clutch model. By applying dynamic force regimes to cells through substrate stretching, optical tweezers, and atomic force microscopy, we find that increasing loading rates trigger talin-dependent mechanosensing, leading to adhesion growth and reinforcement, and YAP nuclear localization. However, above a given threshold the actin cytoskeleton softens, decreasing loading rates and preventing reinforcement. By stretching rat lungs in vivo, we show that a similar phenomenon may occur. Our results show that cell sensing of external forces and of passive mechanical parameters (like tissue stiffness) can be understood through the same mechanisms, driven by the properties under force of the mechanosensing molecules involved. Cells sense mechanical forces from their environment, but the precise mechanical variable sensed by cells is unclear. Here, the authors show that cells can sense the rate of force application, known as the loading rate, with effects on YAP nuclear localization and cytoskeletal stiffness remodelling.

Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton, Actin filament, Actin-filament, Adhesion, Animal, Animals, Atomic force microscopy, Breathing, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell culture, Cell nucleus, Cells, cultured, Cytoplasm, Extracellular-matrix, Fibroblast, Fibroblasts, Fibronectin, Frequency, Gene knockdown, Gene knockdown techniques, Genetics, Germfree animal, Integrin, Intracellular signaling peptides and proteins, Knockout mouse, Lung, Male, Mechanotransduction, Mechanotransduction, cellular, Metabolism, Mice, Mice, knockout, Microscopy, atomic force, Mouse, Optical tweezers, Paxillin, Physiology, Primary cell culture, Pxn protein, mouse, Rat, Rats, Rats, sprague-dawley, Respiration, Signal peptide, Softening, Specific pathogen-free organisms, Sprague dawley rat, Stress, Substrate, Substrate rigidity, Talin, Talin protein, mouse, Tln2 protein, mouse, Traction, Transmission, Ultrastructure, Yap1 protein, rat


Hamouda I, Labay C, Cvelbar U, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Selectivity of direct plasma treatment and plasma-conditioned media in bone cancer cell lines Scientific Reports 11, 17521

Atmospheric pressure plasma jets have been shown to impact several cancer cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo. These effects are based on the biochemistry of the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by plasmas in physiological liquids, referred to as plasma-conditioned liquids. Plasma-conditioned media are efficient in the generation of reactive species, inducing selective cancer cell death. However, the concentration of reactive species generated by plasma in the cell culture media of different cell types can be highly variable, complicating the ability to draw precise conclusions due to the differential sensitivity of different cells to reactive species. Here, we compared the effects of direct and indirect plasma treatment on non-malignant bone cells (hOBs and hMSCs) and bone cancer cells (SaOs-2s and MG63s) by treating the cells directly or exposing them to previously treated cell culture medium. Biological effects were correlated with the concentrations of reactive species generated in the liquid. A linear increase in reactive species in the cell culture medium was observed with increased plasma treatment time independent of the volume treated. Values up to 700 µM for H2O2 and 140 µM of NO2− were attained in 2 mL after 15 min of plasma treatment in AdvDMEM cell culture media. Selectivity towards bone cancer cells was observed after both direct and indirect plasma treatments, leading to a decrease in bone cancer cell viability at 72 h to 30% for the longest plasma treatment times while maintaining the survival of non-malignant cells. Therefore, plasma-conditioned media may represent the basis for a potentially novel non-invasive technique for bone cancer therapy.

Keywords: expression, in-vitro, jet, mechanisms, nitrate, nitrite, osteosarcoma cells, reactive oxygen, Cold atmospheric plasma


Alcon C, Gómez Tejeda Zañudo J, Albert R, Wagle N, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). ER+ Breast Cancer Strongly Depends on MCL-1 and BCL-xL Anti-Apoptotic Proteins Cells 10,

Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer and the major cause of mortality in women. The rapid development of various therapeutic options has led to the improvement of treatment outcomes; nevertheless, one-third of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients relapse due to cancer cell acquired resistance. Here, we use dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP), a functional predictive assay that measures net changes in apoptotic priming, to find new effective treatments for ER+ breast cancer. We observed anti-apoptotic adaptations upon treatment that pointed to metronomic therapeutic combinations to enhance cytotoxicity and avoid resistance. Indeed, we found that the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-xL and MCL-1 are crucial for ER+ breast cancer cells resistance to therapy, as they exert a dual inhibition of the pro-apoptotic protein BIM and compensate for each other. In addition, we identified the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib and two BH3 mimetics targeting these anti-apoptotic proteins, S63845 and A-1331852, as new potential therapies for this type of cancer. Therefore, we postulate the sequential inhibition of both proteins using BH3 mimetics as a new treatment option for refractory and relapsed ER+ breast cancer tumors.

Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cell-line, chemotherapy, classification, dbp, death, er+ breast cancer, fulvestrant, her2, inhibitor, kinase, pik3ca, priming, resistance, targeted therapies, Apoptosis, Bh3 mimetics, Dbp, Endocrine therapy, Er plus breast cancer, Er+ breast cancer, Priming, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Berishvili E, Casiraghi F, Amarelli C, Scholz H, Piemonti L, Berney T, Montserrat N, (2021). Mini-organs forum: how to advance organoid technology to organ transplant community TRANSPLANT INTERNATIONAL 34, 1588-1593

The generation of human mini-organs, the so-called organoids, is one of the biggest scientific advances in regenerative medicine. This technology exploits traditional three-dimensional culture techniques that support cell-autonomous self-organization responses of stem cells to derive micrometer to millimeter size versions of human organs. The convergence of the organoid technology with organ transplantation is still in its infancy but this alliance is expected to open new venues to change the way we conduct both transplant and organoid research. In this Forum we provide a summary on early achievements facilitating organoid derivation and culture. We further discuss on early advances of organoid transplantation also offering a comprehensive overview of current limitations and challenges to instruct organoid maturation. We expect that this Forum sets the ground for initial discussions between stem cell biologists, bioengineers, and the transplant community to better direct organoid basic research to advance the organ transplantation field.

Keywords: in-vitro, matrix, mice, organoids, regenerative medicine, vivo, Intestinal stem-cell, Organoids, Regenerative medicine


Pilat N, Lefsihane K, Brouard S, Kotsch K, Falk C, Steiner R, Thaunat O, Fusil F, Montserrat N, Amarelli C, Casiraghi F, (2021). T- and B-cell therapy in solid organ transplantation: current evidence and future expectations TRANSPLANT INTERNATIONAL 34, 1594-1606

Cell therapy has emerged as an attractive therapeutic option in organ transplantation. During the last decade, the therapeutic potency of Treg immunotherapy has been shown in various preclinical animal models and safety was demonstrated in first clinical trials. However, there are still critical open questions regarding specificity, survival, and migration to the target tissue so the best Treg population for infusion into patients is still under debate. Recent advances in CAR technology hold the promise for Treg-functional superiority. Another exciting strategy is the generation of B-cell antibody receptor (BAR) Treg/cytotoxic T cells to specifically regulate or deplete alloreactive memory B cells. Finally, B cells are also capable of immune regulation, making them promising candidates for immunomodulatory therapeutic strategies. This article summarizes available literature on cell-based innovative therapeutic approaches aiming at modulating alloimmune response for transplantation. Crucial areas of investigation that need a joined effort of the transplant community for moving the field toward successful achievement of tolerance are highlighted.

Keywords: allograft, autoimmune, b-cell antibody receptor t cells, chimeric antigen receptor tregs, expansion, expression, identification, infectious tolerance, mouse, prevention, regulatory b cells, regulatory t cells, signature, B-cell antibody receptor t cells, Chimeric antigen receptor tregs, Kidney-transplantation, Regulatory b cells, Regulatory t cells


Nashimoto Y, Abe M, Fujii R, Taira N, Ida H, Takahashi Y, Ino K, Ramon-Azcon J, Shiku H, (2021). Topography and Permeability Analyses of Vasculature-on-a-Chip Using Scanning Probe Microscopies Advanced Healthcare Materials 10

Microphysiological systems (MPS) or organs-on-chips (OoC) can emulate the physiological functions of organs in vitro and are effective tools for determining human drug responses in preclinical studies. However, the analysis of MPS has relied heavily on optical tools, resulting in difficulties in real-time and high spatial resolution imaging of the target cell functions. In this study, the role of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) as an analytical tool for MPS is evaluated. An access hole is made in a typical MPS system with stacked microchannels to insert SPM probes into the system. For the first study, a simple vascular model composed of only endothelial cells is prepared for SPM analysis. Changes in permeability and local chemical flux are quantitatively evaluated during the construction of the vascular system. The morphological changes in the endothelial cells after flow stimulation are imaged at the single-cell level for topographical analysis. Finally, the possibility of adapting the permeability and topographical analysis using SPM for the intestinal vascular system is further evaluated. It is believed that this study will pave the way for an in situ permeability assay and structural analysis of MPS using SPM.

Keywords: cell, electrochemical microscopy, membrane-permeability, microphysiological systems, organs-chips, platform, scanning electrochemical microscopy, scanning ion conductance microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, shear-stress, surface-topography, Ion conductance microscopy, Microphysiological systems, Organs-chips, Scanning electrochemical microscopy, Scanning ion conductance microscopy, Scanning probe microscopy


Blanco-Cabra N, López-Martínez MJ, Arévalo-Jaimes BV, Martin-Gómez MT, Samitier J, Torrents E, (2021). A new BiofilmChip device for testing biofilm formation and antibiotic susceptibility Npj Biofilms And Microbiomes 7,

Currently, three major circumstances threaten the management of bacterial infections: increasing antimicrobial resistance, expansion of chronic biofilm-associated infections, and lack of an appropriate approach to treat them. To date, the development of accelerated drug susceptibility testing of biofilms and of new antibiofouling systems has not been achieved despite the availability of different methodologies. There is a need for easy-to-use methods of testing the antibiotic susceptibility of bacteria that form biofilms and for screening new possible antibiofilm strategies. Herein, we present a microfluidic platform with an integrated interdigitated sensor (BiofilmChip). This new device allows an irreversible and homogeneous attachment of bacterial cells of clinical origin, even directly from clinical specimens, and the biofilms grown can be monitored by confocal microscopy or electrical impedance spectroscopy. The device proved to be suitable to study polymicrobial communities, as well as to measure the effect of antimicrobials on biofilms without introducing disturbances due to manipulation, thus better mimicking real-life clinical situations. Our results demonstrate that BiofilmChip is a straightforward tool for antimicrobial biofilm susceptibility testing that could be easily implemented in routine clinical laboratories.

Keywords: cells, model, resistance, shear, technology, In-vitro


Narciso M, Otero J, Navajas D, Farré R, Almendros I, Gavara N, (2021). Image-based method to quantify decellularization of tissue sections INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Tissue decellularization is typically assessed through absorbance-based DNA quantification after tissue digestion. This method has several disadvantages, namely its destructive nature and inadequacy in experimental situations where tissue is scarce. Here, we present an image processing algorithm for quantitative analysis of DNA content in (de)cellularized tissues as a faster, simpler and more comprehensive alternative. Our method uses local entropy measurements of a phase contrast image to create a mask, which is then applied to corresponding nuclei labelled (UV) images to extract average fluorescence intensities as an estimate of DNA content. The method can be used on native or decellularized tissue to quantify DNA content, thus allowing quantitative assessment of decellularization procedures. We confirm that our new method yields results in line with those obtained using the standard DNA quantification method and that it is successful for both lung and heart tissues. We are also able to accurately obtain a timeline of decreasing DNA content with increased incubation time with a decellularizing agent. Finally, the identified masks can also be applied to additional fluorescence images of immunostained proteins such as collagen or elastin, thus allowing further image-based tissue characterization.

Keywords: decellularization, differentiation, fluorescence image, image processing, microscopic image, Decellularization, Fluorescence image, Image processing, Matrix, Microscopic image, Segmentation


Villasante A, Robinson ST, Cohen AR, Lock R, Guo XE, Vunjak-Novakovic G, (2021). Human Serum Enhances Biomimicry of Engineered Tissue Models of Bone and Cancer Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 9,

For decades, fetal bovine serum (FBS) has been used routinely for culturing many cell types, based on its empirically demonstrated effects on cell growth, and the lack of suitable non-xenogeneic alternatives. The FBS-based culture media do not represent the human physiological conditions, and can compromise biomimicry of preclinical models. To recapitulate in vitro the features of human bone and bone cancer, we investigated the effects of human serum and human platelet lysate on modeling osteogenesis, osteoclastogenesis, and bone cancer in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) settings. For monitoring tumor growth within tissue-engineered bone in a non-destructive fashion, we generated cancer cell lines expressing and secreting luciferase. Culture media containing human serum enhanced osteogenesis and osteoclasts differentiation, and provided a more realistic in vitro mimic of human cancer cell proliferation. When human serum was used for building 3D engineered bone, the tissue recapitulated bone homeostasis and response to bisphosphonates observed in native bone. We found disparities in cell behavior and drug responses between the metastatic and primary cancer cells cultured in the bone niche, with the effectiveness of bisphosphonates observed only in metastatic models. Overall, these data support the utility of human serum for bioengineering of bone and bone cancers.

Keywords: 3d cancer models, 3rs, alpha tnf-alpha, culture, cypridina luciferase, ewings-sarcoma, ewing’s sarcoma, human platelet lysate, human serum, human tumor, in-vitro, osteogenic differentiation, stem-cells, zoledronic acid, 3d cancer models, 3rs, Cypridina luciferase, Ewing's sarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, Fetal bovine serum, Human serum


Falcones B, Sanz-Fraile H, Marhuenda E, Mendizábal I, Cabrera-Aguilera I, Malandain N, Uriarte JJ, Almendros I, Navajas D, Weiss DJ, Farré R, Otero J, (2021). Bioprintable lung extracellular matrix hydrogel scaffolds for 3d culture of mesenchymal stromal cells Polymers 13,

Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based cell therapy in acute respiratory diseases is based on MSC secretion of paracrine factors. Several strategies have proposed to improve this are being explored including pre-conditioning the MSCs prior to administration. We here propose a strategy for improving the therapeutic efficacy of MSCs based on cell preconditioning by growing them in native extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from the lung. To this end, a bioink with tunable stiffness based on decellularized porcine lung ECM hydrogels was developed and characterized. The bioink was suitable for 3D culturing of lung-resident MSCs without the need for additional chemical or physical crosslinking. MSCs showed good viability, and contraction assays showed the existence of cell–matrix interactions in the bioprinted scaffolds. Adhesion capacity and length of the focal adhesions formed were increased for the cells cultured within the lung hydrogel scaffolds. Also, there was more than a 20-fold increase of the expression of the CXCR4 receptor in the 3D-cultured cells compared to the cells cultured in plastic. Secretion of cytokines when cultured in an in vitro model of lung injury showed a decreased secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators for the cells cultured in the 3D scaffolds. Moreover, the morphology of the harvested cells was markedly different with respect to conventionally (2D) cultured MSCs. In conclusion, the developed bioink can be used to bioprint structures aimed to improve preconditioning MSCs for therapeutic purposes.

Keywords: 3d bioprinting, acute lung injury, adhesion, collagen, differentiation, dimension, elastic properties, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, in-vitro, mechanical-properties, mesenchymal stromal cells, microenvironment, potentiate, tissue engineering, 3d bioprinting, Acute lung injury, Extracellular matrix, Hydrogels, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Stem-cells, Tissue engineering


Xu D, Hu J, Pan X, Sánchez S, Yan X, Ma X, (2021). Enzyme-Powered Liquid Metal Nanobots Endowed with Multiple Biomedical Functions Acs Nano 15, 11543-11554

Catalytically powered micro/nanobots (MNBs) can perform active movement by harnessing energy from in situ chemical reactions and show tremendous potential in biomedical applications. However, the development of imageable MNBs that are driven by bioavailable fuels and possess multiple therapeutic functions remains challenging. To resolve such issues, we herein propose enzyme (urease) powered liquid metal (LM) nanobots that are naturally of multiple therapeutic functions and imaging signals. The main body of the nanobot is composed of a biocompatible LM nanoparticle encapsulated by polydopamine (PDA). Urease enzyme needed for the powering and desired drug molecules, e.g., cefixime trihydrate antibiotic, are grafted on external surfaces of the PDA shell. Such a chemical composition endows the nanobots with dual-mode ultrasonic (US) and photoacoustic (PA) imaging signals and favorable photothermal effect. These LM nanobots exhibit positive chemotaxis and therefore can be collectively guided along a concentration gradient of urea for targeted transportation. When exposed to NIR light, the LM nanobots would deform and complete the function change from active drug carriers to photothermal reagents, to achieve synergetic antibacterial treatment by both photothermal and chemotherapeutic effects. The US and PA properties of the LM nanoparticle can be used to not only track and monitor the active movement of the nanobots in a microfluidic vessel model but also visualize their dynamics in the bladder of a living mouse in vivo. To conclude, the LM nanobots demonstrated herein represent a proof-of-concept therapeutic nanosystem with multiple biomedical functionalities, providing a feasible tool for preclinical studies and clinical trials of MNB-based imaging-guided therapy.

Keywords: cell, chemo-photothermal therapy, chemotaxis, image tracking, liquid metal nanobots, nanomotors, tracking, Chemo-photothermal therapy, Chemotaxis, Image tracking, Liquid metal nanobots, Nanomotors


Pérez-González C, Ceada G, Greco F, Matejcic M, Gómez-González M, Castro N, Menendez A, Kale S, Krndija D, Clark AG, Gannavarapu VR, Álvarez-Varela A, Roca-Cusachs P, Batlle E, Vignjevic DM, Arroyo M, Trepat X, (2021). Mechanical compartmentalization of the intestinal organoid enables crypt folding and collective cell migration NATURE CELL BIOLOGY 23, 745-757

Intestinal organoids capture essential features of the intestinal epithelium such as crypt folding, cellular compartmentalization and collective movements. Each of these processes and their coordination require patterned forces that are at present unknown. Here we map three-dimensional cellular forces in mouse intestinal organoids grown on soft hydrogels. We show that these organoids exhibit a non-monotonic stress distribution that defines mechanical and functional compartments. The stem cell compartment pushes the extracellular matrix and folds through apical constriction, whereas the transit amplifying zone pulls the extracellular matrix and elongates through basal constriction. The size of the stem cell compartment depends on the extracellular-matrix stiffness and endogenous cellular forces. Computational modelling reveals that crypt shape and force distribution rely on cell surface tensions following cortical actomyosin density. Finally, cells are pulled out of the crypt along a gradient of increasing tension. Our study unveils how patterned forces enable compartmentalization, folding and collective migration in the intestinal epithelium. Perez-Gonzalez et al. explore the mechanical properties of intestinal organoids, and report the existence of distinct mechanical domains and that cells are pulled out of the central crypt along a gradient of increasing tension.

Keywords: Forces, Growth, Gut, Monolayers, Morphogenesis, Reveal, Stem-cells, Tension


Jurado, M, Castano, O, Zorzano, A, (2021). Stochastic modulation evidences a transitory EGF-Ras-ERK MAPK activity induced by PRMT5 COMPUTERS IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 133,

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway involves a three-step cascade of kinases that transduce signals and promote processes such as cell growth, development, and apoptosis. An aberrant response of this pathway is related to the proliferation of cell diseases and tumors. By using simulation modeling, we document that the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) modulates the MAPK pathway and thus avoids an aberrant behavior. PRMT5 methylates the Raf kinase, reducing its catalytic activity and thereby, reducing the activation of ERK in time and amplitude. Two minimal computational models of the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-Ras-ERK MAPK pathway influenced by PRMT5 were proposed: a first model in which PRMT5 is activated by EGF and a second one in which PRMT5 is stimulated by the cascade response. The reported results show that PRMT5 reduces the time duration and the expression of the activated ERK in both cases, but only in the first model PRMT5 limits the EGF range that generates an ERK activation. Based on our data, we propose the protein PRMT5 as a regulatory factor to develop strategies to fight against an excessive activity of the MAPK pathway, which could be of use in chronic diseases and cancer.

Keywords: cancer, cell response modulation, computational model, egf-ras-erk signaling route, mapk pathway, methylation, Arginine methyltransferase 5, Cancer, Cell response modulation, Colorectal-cancer, Computational model, Egf-ras-erk signaling route, Epidermal-growth-factor, Factor receptor, Histone h3, Kinase cascade, Mapk pathway, Methylation, Negative-feedback, Pc12 cells, Prmt5, Protein, Signal-transduction


Velasco-Mallorqui, F, Rodriguez-Comas, J, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2021). Cellulose-based scaffolds enhance pseudoislets formation and functionality Biofabrication 13,

In vitro research for the study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is frequently limited by the availability of a functional model for islets of Langerhans. To overcome the limitations of obtaining pancreatic islets from different sources, such as animal models or human donors, immortalized cell lines as the insulin-producing INS1E beta-cells have appeared as a valid alternative to model insulin-related diseases. However, immortalized cell lines are mainly used in flat surfaces or monolayer distributions, not resembling the spheroid-like architecture of the pancreatic islets. To generate islet-like structures, the use of scaffolds appeared as a valid tool to promote cell aggregations. Traditionally-used hydrogel encapsulation methods do not accomplish all the requisites for pancreatic tissue engineering, as its poor nutrient and oxygen diffusion induces cell death. Here, we use cryogelation technology to develop a more resemblance scaffold with the mechanical and physical properties needed to engineer pancreatic tissue. This study shows that carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) cryogels prompted cells to generate beta-cell clusters in comparison to gelatin-based scaffolds, that did not induce this cell organization. Moreover, the high porosity achieved with CMC cryogels allowed us to create specific range pseudoislets. Pseudoislets formed within CMC-scaffolds showed cell viability for up to 7 d and a better response to glucose over conventional monolayer cultures. Overall, our results demonstrate that CMC-scaffolds can be used to control the organization and function of insulin-producing beta-cells, representing a suitable technique to generate beta-cell clusters to study pancreatic islet function.

Keywords: biomaterial, cryogel, pancreatic islets, scaffold, tissue engineering, ?-cell, Architecture, Beta-cell, Beta-cell heterogeneity, Biomaterial, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Cell culture, Cell death, Cell engineering, Cell organization, Cells, Cellulose, Cryogel, Cryogels, Cytoarchitecture, Delivery, Encapsulation methods, Gelation, Gene-expression, Immortalized cells, Insulin, Insulin secretory responses, Islets of langerhans, Mechanical and physical properties, Monolayer culture, Monolayers, Pancreatic islets, Pancreatic tissue, Pancreatic-islets, Proliferation, Scaffold, Scaffolds, Scaffolds (biology), Size, Tissue, Tissue engineering


Avalos-Padilla Y, Georgiev VN, Dimova R, (2021). ESCRT-III induces phase separation in model membranes prior to budding and causes invagination of the liquid-ordered phase Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes 1863

Membrane fission triggered by the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) is an important process observed in several pathogenic and non-pathogenic cellular events. From a synthetic-biology viewpoint, ESCRT proteins represent an interesting machinery for the construction of cell mimetic sub-compartments produced by fission. Since their discovery, the studies on ESCRT-III-mediated action, have mainly focused on protein dynamics, ignoring the role of lipid organization and membrane phase state. Recently, it has been suggested that membrane buds formed by the action of ESCRT-III are generated from transient microdomains in endosomal membranes. However, the interplay between membrane domain formation and ESCRT remodeling pathways has not been investigated. Here, giant unilamellar vesicles made of ternary lipid mixtures, either homogeneous in phase or exhibiting liquid-ordered/liquid-disordered phase coexistence, were employed as a model membrane system. These vesicles were incubated with purified recombinant ESCRT-III proteins from the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. In homogeneous membranes, we observe that EhVps32 can trigger domain formation while EhVps20 preferentially co-localizes in the liquid disordered phase. The addition of EhVps24 appears to induce the formation of intraluminal vesicles produced from the liquid-ordered phase. In phase separated membranes, the intraluminal vesicles are also generated from the liquid-ordered phase and presumably emerge from the phase boundary region. Our findings reinforce the hypothesis that ESCRT-mediated remodeling depends on the membrane phase state. Furthermore, the obtained results point to a potential synthetic biology approach for establishing eukaryotic mimics of artificial cells with microcompartments of specific membrane composition, which can also differ from that of the mother vesicle.

Keywords: cell-membranes, coexistence, complex, escrt-iii, fission, guvs, lipid domains, lipid rafts, membrane fission, microcompartments, microscopy, phase separation, plasma-membrane, protein microarrays, structural basis, ternary mixtures, Escrt-iii, Giant unilamellar vesicles, Guvs, Lipid domains, Membrane fission, Microcompartments, Phase separation, Ternary mixtures


Rizzuto V, Mencattini A, Álvarez-González B, Di Giuseppe D, Martinelli E, Beneitez-Pastor D, Mañú-Pereira MDM, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Samitier J, (2021). Combining microfluidics with machine learning algorithms for RBC classification in rare hereditary hemolytic anemia Scientific Reports 11,

Combining microfluidics technology with machine learning represents an innovative approach to conduct massive quantitative cell behavior study and implement smart decision-making systems in support of clinical diagnostics. The spleen plays a key-role in rare hereditary hemolytic anemia (RHHA), being the organ responsible for the premature removal of defective red blood cells (RBCs). The goal is to adapt the physiological spleen filtering strategy for in vitro study and monitoring of blood diseases through RBCs shape analysis. Then, a microfluidic device mimicking the slits of the spleen red pulp area and video data analysis are combined for the characterization of RBCs in RHHA. This microfluidic unit is designed to evaluate RBC deformability by maintaining them fixed in planar orientation, allowing the visual inspection of RBC's capacity to restore their original shape after crossing microconstrictions. Then, two cooperative learning approaches are used for the analysis: the majority voting scheme, in which the most voted label for all the cell images is the class assigned to the entire video; and the maximum sum of scores to decide the maximally scored class to assign. The proposed platform shows the capability to discriminate healthy controls and patients with an average efficiency of 91%, but also to distinguish between RHHA subtypes, with an efficiency of 82%.

Keywords: chip, disease, Red-blood-cell


Andrian T, Delcanale P, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Correlating Super-Resolution Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy Reveals Multiparametric Heterogeneity in Nanoparticles NANO LETTERS 21, 5360-5368

The functionalization of nanoparticles with functional moieties is a key strategy to achieve cell targeting in nanomedicine. The interplay between size and ligand number is crucial for the formulation performance and needs to be properly characterized to understand nanoparticle structure-activity relations. However, there is a lack of methods able to measure both size and ligand number at the same time and at the single particle level. Here, we address this issue by introducing a correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) method combining super-resolution microscopy (SRM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. We apply our super-resCLEM method to characterize the relationship between size and ligand number and density in PLGA-PEG nanoparticles. We highlight how heterogeneity found in size can impact ligand distribution and how a significant part of the nanoparticle population goes completely undetected in the single-technique analysis. Super-resCLEM holds great promise for the multiparametric analysis of other parameters and nanomaterials.

Keywords: cellular uptake, correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), density, electron microscopy (em), functionalization, heterogeneity, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, pegylation, plga, progress, quantification, size, Correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), Electron microscopy (em), Heterogeneity, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Physicochemical characterization, Super-resolution microscopy (srm)


Hyun I, Clayton EW, Cong Y, Fujita M, Goldman SA, Hill LR, Monserrat N, Nakauchi H, Pedersen RA, Rooke HM, Takahashi J, Knoblich JA, (2021). ISSCR guidelines for the transfer of human pluripotent stem cells and their direct derivatives into animal hosts Stem Cell Reports 16, 1409-1415

The newly revised 2021 ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation includes scientific and ethical guidance for the transfer of human pluripotent stem cells and their direct derivatives into animal models. In this white paper, the ISSCR subcommittee that drafted these guidelines for research involving the use of nonhuman embryos and postnatal animals explains and summarizes their recommendations.

Keywords: animal research, chimeric embryos, isscr guidelines, Animal research, Chimeric embryos, Isscr guidelines, Stem cell chimeras


Torp N, Israelsen M, Madsen B, Lutz P, Jansen C, Strassburg C, Mortensen C, Knudsen AW, Sorensen GL, Holmskov U, Schlosser A, Thiele M, Trebicka J, Krag A, (2021). Level of MFAP4 in ascites independently predicts 1-year transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis Jhep Rep 3, 100287

Background & Aims: Prognostic models of cirrhosis underestimate disease severity for patients with cirrhosis and ascites. Microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP4) is an extracellular matrix protein linked to hepatic neoangiogenesis and fibrogenesis. We investigated ascites MFAP4 as a predictor of transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. Methods: A dual-centre observational study of patients with cirrhosis and ascites recruited consecutively in relation to a paracentesis was carried out. Patients were followed up for 1 year, until death or liver transplantation (LTx). Ascites MFAP4 was tested with the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD-Na), CLIF Consortium Acute Decompensation (CLIF-C AD), and Child-Pugh score in Cox regression models. Results: Ninety-three patients requiring paracentesis were included. Median ascites MFAP4 was 29.7 U/L [22.3–41.3], and MELD-Na was 19 [16–23]. A low MELD-Na score (<20) was observed in 49 patients (53%). During follow-up, 20 patients died (22%), and 6 received LTx (6%). High ascites MFAP4 (>29.7 U/L) was associated with 1-year transplant-free survival (p = 0.002). In Cox regression, ascites MFAP4 and MELD-Na independently predicted 1-year transplant-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.97, p = 0.03, and HR = 1.08, p = 0.01, respectively). Ascites MFAP4 and CLIF-C AD also predicted survival independently (HR = 0.96, p = 0.02, and HR = 1.05, p = 0.03, respectively), whereas only ascites MFAP4 did, controlling for the Child-Pugh score (HR = 0.97, p = 0.03, and HR = 1.18, p = 0.16, respectively). For patients with MELD-Na <20, ascites MFAP4 but not ascites protein predicted 1-year transplant-free survival (HR 0.91, p = 0.02, and HR = 0.94, p = 0.17, respectively). Conclusions: Ascites MFAP4 predicts 1-year transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. In patients with low MELD-Na scores, ascites MFAP4, but not total ascites protein, significantly predicted 1-year transplant-free survival. Lay summary: Patients with cirrhosis who have fluid in the abdomen, ascites, are at an increased risk of death and in need for liver transplantation. Our study identified patients with ascites and a poor prognosis by measuring microfibrillar associated protein 4 (MFAP4), a protein present in the abdominal fluid. Patients with low levels of the MFAP4 protein are at particularly increased risk of death or liver transplantation, suggesting that clinical care should be intensified in this group of patients. © 2021 The Authors

Keywords: biomarker, clif-c ad, clif consortium acute decompensation, cps, child-pugh score, crp, c-reactive protein, ct, computed tomography, decompensated, ecm, extracellular matrix, fibrosis, fluid protein, gfr, glomerular filtration rate, hr, hazard ratio, inr, internationalised normal ratio, liver disease, liver-cirrhosis, ltx, liver transplantation, markers, meld-na, model for end-stage liver disease, mfap4, microfibrillar associated protein 4, mortality, nash, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, natural-history, prognosis, risk-factors, sbp, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, scores, stage, Biomarker, Decompensated, Egfr, estimated gfr, Fibrosis, Liver disease, Mortality, Prognosis, Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis


Lidón L, Llaó-Hierro L, Nuvolone M, Aguzzi A, Ávila J, Ferrer I, Del Río JA, Gavín R, (2021). Tau exon 10 inclusion by prpc through downregulating gsk3? activity INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Tau protein is largely responsible for tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where it accumulates in the brain as insoluble aggregates. Tau mRNA is regulated by alternative splicing, and inclusion or exclusion of exon 10 gives rise to the 3R and 4R isoforms respectively, whose balance is physiologically regulated. In this sense, one of the several factors that regulate alternative splicing of tau is GSK3?, whose activity is inhibited by the cellular prion protein (PrPC), which has different physiological functions in neuroprotection and neuronal differentiation. Moreover, a relationship between PrPC and tau expression levels has been reported during AD evolution. For this reason, in this study we aimed to analyze the role of PrPC and the implication of GSK3? in the regulation of tau exon 10 alternative splicing. We used AD human samples and mouse models of PrPC ablation and tau overexpression. In addition, we used primary neuronal cultures to develop functional studies. Our results revealed a paralleled association between PrPC expression and tau 4R isoforms in all models analyzed. In this sense, reduction or ablation of PrPC levels induces an increase in tau 3R/4R balance. More relevantly, our data points to GSK3? activity downstream from PrPC in this phenomenon. Our results indicate that PrPC plays a role in tau exon 10 inclusion through the inhibitory capacity of GSK3?. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: alternative splicing, alzheimer's disease, alzheimers-disease, alzheimer’s disease, amyloid-beta, cellular prion protein, frontotemporal dementia, glycogen-synthase kinase-3, gsk3 beta, gsk3?, messenger-rna, microtubule-associated protein tau, neurofibrillary tangles, progressive supranuclear palsy, promotes neuronal differentiation, stem-cells, tauopathies, Alternative splicing, Alzheimer’s disease, Cellular prion protein, Gsk3?, Microtubule-associated protein tau, Tauopathies


Santos-Pata D, Amil AF, Raikov IG, Rennó-Costa C, Mura A, Soltesz I, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Epistemic Autonomy: Self-supervised Learning in the Mammalian Hippocampus Trends In Cognitive Sciences 25, 582-595

Biological cognition is based on the ability to autonomously acquire knowledge, or epistemic autonomy. Such self-supervision is largely absent in artificial neural networks (ANN) because they depend on externally set learning criteria. Yet training ANN using error backpropagation has created the current revolution in artificial intelligence, raising the question of whether the epistemic autonomy displayed in biological cognition can be achieved with error backpropagation-based learning. We present evidence suggesting that the entorhinal–hippocampal complex combines epistemic autonomy with error backpropagation. Specifically, we propose that the hippocampus minimizes the error between its input and output signals through a modulatory counter-current inhibitory network. We further discuss the computational emulation of this principle and analyze it in the context of autonomous cognitive systems. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords: computational model, dentate gyrus, error backpropagation, granule cells, grid cells, hippocampus, inhibition, input, neural-networks, neurons, transformation, Artificial intelligence, Artificial neural network, Back propagation, Backpropagation, Brain, Cognitive systems, Counter current, Error back-propagation, Error backpropagation, Errors, Expressing interneurons, Hippocampal complex, Hippocampus, Human experiment, Input and outputs, Learning, Mammal, Mammalian hippocampus, Mammals, Neural networks, Nonhuman, Review, Self-supervised learning


Watt, AC, Cejas, P, DeCristo, MJ, Metzger, O, Lam, EYN, Qiu, XT, BrinJones, H, Kesten, N, Coulson, R, Font-Tello, A, Lim, K, Vadhi, R, Daniels, VW, Montero, J, Taing, L, Meyer, CA, Gilan, O, Bell, CC, Korthauer, KD, Giambartolomei, C, Pasaniuc, B, Seo, JH, Freedman, ML, Ma, CT, Ellis, MJ, Krop, I, Winer, E, Letai, A, Brown, M, Dawson, MA, Long, HW, Zhao, JJ, Goel, S, (2021). CDK4/6 inhibition reprograms the breast cancer enhancer landscape by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity Nature Cancer 2, 34-+

Goel and colleagues show that CDK4/6 inhibition induces global chromatin changes mediated by AP-1 factors, which mediate key biological and clinical effects in breast cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) were designed to induce cancer cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have suggested that these agents also exert other effects, influencing cancer cell immunogenicity, apoptotic responses and differentiation. Using cell-based and mouse models of breast cancer together with clinical specimens, we show that CDK4/6 inhibitors induce remodeling of cancer cell chromatin characterized by widespread enhancer activation, and that this explains many of these effects. The newly activated enhancers include classical super-enhancers that drive luminal differentiation and apoptotic evasion, as well as a set of enhancers overlying endogenous retroviral elements that are enriched for proximity to interferon-driven genes. Mechanistically, CDK4/6 inhibition increases the level of several activator protein-1 transcription factor proteins, which are in turn implicated in the activity of many of the new enhancers. Our findings offer insights into CDK4/6 pathway biology and should inform the future development of CDK4/6 inhibitors.

Keywords: Abemaciclib, Androgen receptor, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Apoptosis, Article, Breast cancer, C-jun, Cancer cell, Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1, Caspase 3, Cell cycle arrest, Cells, Chromatin, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Controlled study, Cyclin dependent kinase 4, Cyclin dependent kinase 6, Dna damage, Epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Estrogen receptor, Female, Flow cytometry, Fulvestrant, Hla drb1 antigen, Human, Human cell, Immunoblotting, Immunogenicity, Immunoprecipitation, Interferon, Luciferase assay, Mcf-7 cell line, Mda-mb-231 cell line, Microarray analysis, Morphogenesis, Mouse, Nonhuman, Palbociclib, Protein, Protein expression, Rb, Resistance, Rna polymerase ii, Rna sequence, Selective-inhibition, Senescence, Short tandem repeat, Signal transduction, Tamoxifen, Transcription elongation, Transcription factor, Transcription factor ap 1, Transcriptome, Tumor biopsy, Tumor differentiation, Tumor spheroid, Tumor xenograft, Vinculin, Whole exome sequencing


Rubi-Sans, G, Cano-Torres, I, Perez-Amodio, S, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2021). Development and Angiogenic Potential of Cell-Derived Microtissues Using Microcarrier-Template Biomedicines 9,

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches use biomaterials in combination with cells to regenerate lost functions of tissues and organs to prevent organ transplantation. However, most of the current strategies fail in mimicking the tissue's extracellular matrix properties. In order to mimic native tissue conditions, we developed cell-derived matrix (CDM) microtissues (MT). Our methodology uses poly-lactic acid (PLA) and Cultispher(R) S microcarriers' (MCs') as scaffold templates, which are seeded with rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (rBM-MSCs). The scaffold template allows cells to generate an extracellular matrix, which is then extracted for downstream use. The newly formed CDM provides cells with a complex physical (MT architecture) and biochemical (deposited ECM proteins) environment, also showing spontaneous angiogenic potential. Our results suggest that MTs generated from the combination of these two MCs (mixed MTs) are excellent candidates for tissue vascularization. Overall, this study provides a methodology for in-house fabrication of microtissues with angiogenic potential for downstream use in various tissue regenerative strategies.

Keywords: angiogenesis, cell-derived matrix, cultispher® s, microtissue, poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Angiogenesis, Cell-derived matrix, Cultispher (r) s, Microtissue, Poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells


Blaya, D, Pose, E, Coll, M, Lozano, JJ, Graupera, I, Schierwagen, R, Jansen, C, Castro, P, Fernandez, S, Sidorova, J, Vasa-Nicotera, M, Sola, E, Caballeria, J, Trebicka, J, Gines, P, Sancho-Bru, P, (2021). Profiling circulating microRNAs in patients with cirrhosis and acute-on-chronic liver failure Jhep Rep 3, 100233

Background & Aims: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) circulate in several body fluids and can be useful biomarkers. The aim of this study was to identify blood-circulating miRNAs associated with cirrhosis progression and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Methods: Using high-throughput screening of 754 miRNAs, serum samples from 45 patients with compensated cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis, or ACLF were compared with those from healthy individuals (n = 15). miRNA levels were correlated with clinical parameters, organ failure, and disease progression and outcome. Dysregulated miRNAs were evaluated in portal and hepatic vein samples (n = 33), liver tissues (n = 17), and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (n = 16). Results: miRNA screening analysis revealed that circulating miRNAs are dysregulated in cirrhosis progression, with 51 miRNAs being differentially expressed among all groups of patients. Unsupervised clustering and principal component analysis indicated that the main differences in miRNA expression occurred at decompensation, showing similar levels in patients with decompensated cirrhosis and those with ACLF. Of 43 selected miRNAs examined for differences among groups, 10 were differentially expressed according to disease progression. Moreover, 20 circulating miRNAs were correlated with model for end-stage liver disease and Child-Pugh scores. Notably, 11 dysregulated miRNAs were associated with kidney or liver failure, encephalopathy, bacterial infection, and poor outcomes. The most severely dysregulated miRNAs (i.e. miR-146a5p, miR-26a-5p, and miR-191-5p) were further evaluated in portal and hepatic vein blood and liver tissue, but showed no differences. However, PBMCs from patients with cirrhosis showed significant downregulation of miR-26 and miR-146a, suggesting a extrahepatic origin of some circulating miRNAs. Conclusions: This study is a repository of circulating miRNA data following cirrhosis progression and ACLF. Circulating miRNAs were profoundly dysregulated during the progression of chronic liver disease, were associated with failure of several organs and could have prognostic utility. Lay summary: Circulating miRNAs are small molecules in the blood that can be used to identify or predict a clinical condition. Our study aimed to identify miRNAs for use as biomarkers in patients with cirrhosis or acute-on-chronic liver failure. Several miRNAs were found to be dysregulated during the progression of disease, and some were also related to organ failure and disease-related outcomes. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

Keywords: aclf, acute-on-chronic liver failure, alt, alanine aminotransferase, ast, aspartate aminotransferase, biomarkers, chronic liver disease, cxcl10, c-x-c motif chemokine ligand 10, ef clif, european foundation for the study of chronic liver failure, foxo, forkhead box o, inr, international normalised ratio, ldh, lactate dehydrogenase, liver decompensation, mapk, mitogen-activated protein kinase, meld, model for end-stage liver disease, nash, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, non-coding rnas, pbmcs, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, pca, principal component analysis, tgf, transforming growth factor, tips, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, Biomarkers, Chronic liver disease, Expression, Liver decompensation, Markers, Mir-146a, Non-coding rnas, Qpcr, quantitative pcr


Grob, M, Anselmetti, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2021). In memory of Max Burger JOURNAL OF CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY 122, 1259-1261

Fernández-Garibay X, Ortega MA, Cerro-Herreros E, Comelles J, Martínez E, Artero R, Fernández-Costa JM, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). Bioengineered in vitro 3D model of myotonic dystrophy type 1 human skeletal muscle Biofabrication 13,

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is the most common hereditary myopathy in the adult population. The disease is characterized by progressive skeletal muscle degeneration that produces severe disability. At present, there is still no effective treatment for DM1 patients, but the breakthroughs in understanding the molecular pathogenic mechanisms in DM1 have allowed the testing of new therapeutic strategies. Animal models and in vitro two-dimensional cell cultures have been essential for these advances. However, serious concerns exist regarding how faithfully these models reproduce the biological complexity of the disease. Biofabrication tools can be applied to engineer human three-dimensional (3D) culture systems that complement current preclinical research models. Here, we describe the development of the first in vitro 3D model of DM1 human skeletal muscle. Transdifferentiated myoblasts from patient-derived fibroblasts were encapsulated in micromolded gelatin methacryloyl-carboxymethyl cellulose methacrylate hydrogels through photomold patterning on functionalized glass coverslips. These hydrogels present a microstructured topography that promotes myoblasts alignment and differentiation resulting in highly aligned myotubes from both healthy and DM1 cells in a long-lasting cell culture. The DM1 3D microtissues recapitulate the molecular alterations detected in patient biopsies. Importantly, fusion index analyses demonstrate that 3D micropatterning significantly improved DM1 cell differentiation into multinucleated myotubes compared to standard cell cultures. Moreover, the characterization of the 3D cultures of DM1 myotubes detects phenotypes as the reduced thickness of myotubes that can be used for drug testing. Finally, we evaluated the therapeutic effect of antagomiR-23b administration on bioengineered DM1 skeletal muscle microtissues. AntagomiR-23b treatment rescues both molecular DM1 hallmarks and structural phenotype, restoring myotube diameter to healthy control sizes. Overall, these new microtissues represent an improvement over conventional cell culture models and can be used as biomimetic platforms to establish preclinical studies for myotonic dystrophy.

Keywords: 3d cell culture, hydrogel micropatterning, myotonic dystrophy, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, 3d cell culture, Hydrogel micropatterning, Myotonic dystrophy, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering


Elosegui-Artola A, (2021). The extracellular matrix viscoelasticity as a regulator of cell and tissue dynamics Current Opinion In Cell Biology 72, 10-18

The extracellular matrix mechanical properties regulate processes in development, cancer, and fibrosis. Among the distinct mechanical properties, the vast majority of research has focused on the extracellular matrix's elasticity as the primary determinant of cell and tissue behavior. However, both cells and the extracellular matrix are not only elastic but also viscous. Despite viscoelasticity being a universal feature of living tissues, our knowledge of the influence of the extracellular matrix's viscoelasticity in cell behavior is limited. This mini-review describes some of the recent findings that have highlighted the role of the extracellular matrix's viscoelasticity in cell and tissue dynamics.

Keywords: behavior, cell adhesion, cell mechanics, cell migration, deformability, extracellular matrix, extracellular matrix mechanics, fluidity, forces, hydrogels, mechanobiology, mechanotransduction, tissue mechanics, viscoelasticity, viscosity, Cell adhesion, Cell mechanics, Cell migration, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular matrix mechanics, Fluidity, Mechanobiology, Mechanotransduction, Migration, Tissue mechanics, Viscoelasticity, Viscosity


Cereta AD, Oliveira VR, Costa IP, Afonso JPR, Fonseca AL, de Souza ART, Silva GAM, Mello DACPG, Oliveira LVFd, da Palma RK, (2021). Emerging Cell-Based Therapies in Chronic Lung Diseases: What About Asthma? Frontiers In Pharmacology 12, 648506

Asthma is a widespread disease characterized by chronic airway inflammation. It causes substantial disability, impaired quality of life, and avoidable deaths around the world. The main treatment for asthmatic patients is the administration of corticosteroids, which improves the quality of life; however, prolonged use of corticosteroids interferes with extracellular matrix elements. Therefore, cell-based therapies are emerging as a novel therapeutic contribution to tissue regeneration for lung diseases. This study aimed to summarize the advancements in cell therapy involving mesenchymal stromal cells, extracellular vesicles, and immune cells such as T-cells in asthma. Our findings provide evidence that the use of mesenchymal stem cells, their derivatives, and immune cells such as T-cells are an initial milestone to understand how emergent cell-based therapies are effective to face the challenges in the development, progression, and management of asthma, thus improving the quality of life.

Keywords: asthma treatments, cell-based therapies, chronic lung diseases, extracellular vesicles, immune cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, Asthma treatments, Cell-based therapies, Chronic lung diseases, Extracellular vesicles, Immune cells, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Cendra MdM, Torrents E, (2021). Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and their partners in crime BIOTECHNOLOGY ADVANCES 49,

Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and the capacity of the bacterium to coexist and interact with a broad range of microorganisms have a substantial clinical impact. This review focuses on the main traits of P. aeruginosa biofilms, such as the structural composition and regulatory networks involved, placing particular emphasis on the clinical challenges they represent in terms of antimicrobial susceptibility and biofilm infection clearance. Furthermore, the ability of P. aeruginosa to grow together with other microorganisms is a significant pathogenic attribute with clinical relevance; hence, the main microbial interactions of Pseudomonas are especially highlighted and detailed throughout this review. This article also explores the infections caused by single and polymicrobial biofilms of P. aeruginosa and the current models used to recreate them under laboratory conditions. Finally, the antimicrobial and antibiofilm strategies developed against P. aeruginosa mono and multispecies biofilms are detailed at the end of this review.

Keywords: aeruginosa models, antibiotic-resistance, antimicrobials, bacterial biofilms, biofilms, c-di-gmp, chronic infections, enterococcus-faecalis, extracellular dna, in-vitro, lectin pa-iil, p, p. aeruginosa models, polymicrobial, polymicrobial interactions, staphylococcus-aureus, Antimicrobials, Biofilms, Chronic infections, P. aeruginosa models, Polymicrobial, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Urinary-tract-infection


Santos-Pata D, Amil AF, Raikov IG, Rennó-Costa C, Mura A, Soltesz I, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Entorhinal mismatch: A model of self-supervised learning in the hippocampus Iscience 24, 102364

The hippocampal formation displays a wide range of physiological responses to different spatial manipulations of the environment. However, very few attempts have been made to identify core computational principles underlying those hippocampal responses. Here, we capitalize on the observation that the entorhinal-hippocampal complex (EHC) forms a closed loop and projects inhibitory signals “countercurrent” to the trisynaptic pathway to build a self-supervised model that learns to reconstruct its own inputs by error backpropagation. The EHC is then abstracted as an autoencoder, with the hidden layers acting as an information bottleneck. With the inputs mimicking the firing activity of lateral and medial entorhinal cells, our model is shown to generate place cells and to respond to environmental manipulations as observed in rodent experiments. Altogether, we propose that the hippocampus builds conjunctive compressed representations of the environment by learning to reconstruct its own entorhinal inputs via gradient descent.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, grid cells, long-term, networks, neural networks, novelty, oscillations, pattern separation, region, representation, working-memory, Cognitive neuroscience, Neural networks, Rat dentate gyrus, Systems neuroscience


Minguela J, Müller DW, Mücklich F, Llanes L, Ginebra MP, Roa JJ, Mas-Moruno C, (2021). Peptidic biofunctionalization of laser patterned dental zirconia: A biochemical-topographical approach Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 125,

A dual approach employing peptidic biofunctionalization and laser micro-patterns on dental zirconia was explored, with the aim of providing a flexible tool to improve tissue integration of restorations. Direct laser interference patterning with a femtosecond Ti:Sapphire laser was employed, and two periodic grooved patterns were produced with a periodicity of 3 and 10 μm. A platform containing the cell-adhesive RGD and the osteogenic DWIVA peptides was used to functionalize the grooved surfaces. Topography and surface damage were characterized by confocal laser scanning (CLSM), scanning electron and scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques. The surface patterns exhibited a high homogeneity and subsurface damage was found in the form of nano-cracks and nano-pores, at the bottom of the valleys. Accelerated tests in water steam were carried out to assess hydrothermal degradation resistance, which slightly decreased after the laser treatment. Interestingly, the detrimental effects of the laser modification were reverted by a post-laser thermal treatment. The attachment of the molecule was verified trough fluorescence CLSM and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Finally, the biological properties of the surfaces were studied in human mesenchymal stem cells. Cell adhesion, morphology, migration and differentiation were investigated. Cells on grooved surfaces displayed an elongated morphology and aligned along the patterns. On these surfaces, migration was greatly enhanced along the grooves, but also highly restricted in the perpendicular direction as compared to flat specimens. After biofunctionalization, cell number and cell area increased and well-developed cell cytoskeletons were observed. However, no effects on cell migration were found for the peptidic platform. Although some osteogenic potential was found in specimens grooved with a periodicity of 10 μm, the largest effects were observed from the biomolecule, which favored upregulation of several genes related to osteoblastic differentiation in all the surfaces.

Keywords: alumina toughened zirconia, cell alignment, grain-size, implants, interference, laser patterning, osteogenic differentiation, osteointegration, peptides, surface functionalization, surface-topography, tissue, titanium surface, Laser patterning, Low-temperature degradation, Osteointegration, Peptides, Surface functionalization, Zirconia


Hortelao AC, Simó C, Guix M, Guallar-Garrido S, Julián E, Vilela D, Rejc L, Ramos-Cabrer P, Cossío U, Gómez-Vallejo V, Patiño T, Llop J, Sánchez S, (2021). Swarming behavior and in vivo monitoring of enzymatic nanomotors within the bladder Science Robotics 6,

Enzyme-powered nanomotors are an exciting technology for biomedical applications due to their ability to navigate within biological environments using endogenous fuels. However, limited studies into their collective behavior and demonstrations of tracking enzyme nanomotors in vivo have hindered progress toward their clinical translation. Here, we report the swarming behavior of urease-powered nanomotors and its tracking using positron emission tomography (PET), both in vitro and in vivo. For that, mesoporous silica nanoparticles containing urease enzymes and gold nanoparticles were used as nanomotors. To image them, nanomotors were radiolabeled with either I on gold nanoparticles or F-labeled prosthetic group to urease. In vitro experiments showed enhanced fluid mixing and collective migration of nanomotors, demonstrating higher capability to swim across complex paths inside microfabricated phantoms, compared with inactive nanomotors. In vivo intravenous administration in mice confirmed their biocompatibility at the administered dose and the suitability of PET to quantitatively track nanomotors in vivo. Furthermore, nanomotors were administered directly into the bladder of mice by intravesical injection. When injected with the fuel, urea, a homogeneous distribution was observed even after the entrance of fresh urine. By contrast, control experiments using nonmotile nanomotors (i.e., without fuel or without urease) resulted in sustained phase separation, indicating that the nanomotors’ self-propulsion promotes convection and mixing in living reservoirs. Active collective dynamics, together with the medical imaging tracking, constitute a key milestone and a step forward in the field of biomedical nanorobotics, paving the way toward their use in theranostic applications. 124 18

Keywords: cell, reversal, silica nanoparticles, size, step, transport, Propelled micromotors


Castaño O, López-Mengual A, Reginensi D, Matamoros-Angles A, Engel E, del Rio JA, (2021). Chemotactic TEG3 Cells’ Guiding Platforms Based on PLA Fibers Functionalized With the SDF-1α/CXCL12 Chemokine for Neural Regeneration Therapy Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 9, 627805

(Following spinal cord injury, olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) transplantation is a promising therapeutic approach in promoting functional improvement. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical concentration differences. Here we compare the attachment, morphology, and directionality of an OEC-derived cell line, TEG3 cells, seeded on functionalized nanoscale meshes of Poly(l/dl-lactic acid; PLA) nanofibers. The size of the nanofibers has a strong effect on TEG3 cell adhesion and migration, with the PLA nanofibers having a 950 nm diameter being the ones that show the best results. TEG3 cells are capable of adopting a bipolar morphology on 950 nm fiber surfaces, as well as a highly dynamic behavior in migratory terms. Finally, we observe that functionalized nanofibers, with a chemical concentration increment of SDF-1α/CXCL12, strongly enhance the migratory characteristics of TEG3 cells over inhibitory substrates.

Keywords: cell migration, cxcl12, electrospinning, gradients, pla nanofibers, sdf-1alpha, Cell migration, Cxcl12, Electrospinning, Gradients, Olfactory ensheathing cells, Pla nanofibers, Sdf-1alpha


Manca ML, Ferraro M, Pace E, Di Vincenzo S, Valenti D, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Peptu CA, Manconi M, (2021). Loading of beclomethasone in liposomes and hyalurosomes improved with mucin as effective approach to counteract the oxidative stress generated by cigarette smoke extract Nanomaterials 11, 850

In this work beclomethasone dipropionate was loaded into liposomes and hyalurosomes modified with mucin to improve the ability of the payload to counteract the oxidative stress and involved damages caused by cigarette smoke in the airway. The vesicles were prepared by dispersing all components in the appropriate vehicle and sonicating them, thus avoiding the use of organic solvents. Unilamellar and bilamellar vesicles small in size (~117 nm), homogeneously dispersed (polydispersity index lower than 0.22) and negatively charged (~−11 mV), were obtained. Moreover, these vesicle dispersions were stable for five months at room temperature (~25 C). In vitro studies performed using the Next Generation Impactor confirmed the suitability of the formulations to be nebulized as they were capable of reaching the last stages of the impactor that mimic the deeper airways, thus improving the deposition of beclomethasone in the target site. Further, biocompatibility studies performed by using 16HBE bronchial epithelial cells confirmed the high biocompatibility and safety of all the vesicles. Among the tested formulations, only mucin-hyalurosomes were capable of effectively counteracting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by cigarette smoke extract, suggesting that this formulation may represent a promising tool to reduce the damaging effects of cigarette smoke in the lung tissues, thus reducing the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke-associated diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and cancer. ◦

Keywords: 16hbe cells, beclomethasone, cigarette smoke extract, mucin, oxidative stress, phospholipid vesicles, pulmonary delivery, 16hbe cells, Beclomethasone, Cigarette smoke extract, Mucin, Oxidative stress, Phospholipid vesicles, Pulmonary delivery


Mateu-Sanz, M, Tornin, J, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2021). Cold Atmospheric Plasma: A New Strategy Based Primarily on Oxidative Stress for Osteosarcoma Therapy Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, 1-29

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor, and its first line of treatment presents a high failure rate. The 5-year survival for children and teenagers with osteosarcoma is 70% (if diagnosed before it has metastasized) or 20% (if spread at the time of diagnosis), stressing the need for novel therapies. Recently, cold atmospheric plasmas (ionized gases consisting of UV-Vis radiation, electromagnetic fields and a great variety of reactive species) and plasma-treated liquids have been shown to have the potential to selectively eliminate cancer cells in different tumors through an oxidative stress-dependent mechanism. In this work, we review the current state of the art in cold plasma therapy for osteosarcoma. Specifically, we emphasize the mechanisms unveiled thus far regarding the action of plasmas on osteosarcoma. Finally, we review current and potential future approaches, emphasizing the most critical challenges for the development of osteosarcoma therapies based on this emerging technique.

Keywords: cancer stem cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma treated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Antineoplastic activity, Antineoplastic agent, Cancer chemotherapy, Cancer stem cell, Cancer stem cells, Cancer surgery, Cancer survival, Cell therapy, Cold atmospheric plasma, Cold atmospheric plasma therapy, Electromagnetism, Human, In vitro study, Intracellular signaling, Oncogene, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma treated liquids, Reactive nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen metabolite, Review, Tumor microenvironment


Magdanz V, Vivaldi J, Mohanty S, Klingner A, Vendittelli M, Simmchen J, Misra S, Khalil ISM, (2021). Impact of Segmented Magnetization on the Flagellar Propulsion of Sperm-Templated Microrobots Advanced Science 8, 2004037

© 2021 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH Technical design features for improving the way a passive elastic filament produces propulsive thrust can be understood by analyzing the deformation of sperm-templated microrobots with segmented magnetization. Magnetic nanoparticles are electrostatically self-assembled on bovine sperm cells with nonuniform surface charge, producing different categories of sperm-templated microrobots. Depending on the amount and location of the nanoparticles on each cellular segment, magnetoelastic and viscous forces determine the wave pattern of each category during flagellar motion. Passively propagating waves are induced along the length of these microrobots using external rotating magnetic fields and the resultant wave patterns are measured. The response of the microrobots to the external field reveals distinct flow fields, propulsive thrust, and frequency responses during flagellar propulsion. This work allows predictions for optimizing the design and propulsion of flexible magnetic microrobots with segmented magnetization.

Keywords: biohybrid microrobots, flagellar propulsion, magnetic actuation, nanoparticles, sperm cells, Biohybrid microrobots, Flagellar propulsion, Magnetic actuation, Nanoparticles, Sperm cells


Badiola-Mateos M, Di Giuseppe D, Paoli R, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Mencattini A, Samitier J, Martinelli E, (2021). A novel multi-frequency trans-endothelial electrical resistance (MTEER) sensor array to monitor blood-brain barrier integrity Sensors And Actuators B-Chemical 334,

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a dynamic cellular barrier that regulates brain nutrient supply, waste efflux, and paracellular diffusion through specialized junctional complexes. Finding a system to mimic and monitor BBB integrity (i.e., to be able to assess the effect of certain compounds on opening or closing the barrier) is of vital importance in several pathologies. This work aims to overcome some limitations of current barrier integrity measuring techniques thanks to a multi-layer microfluidic platform with integrated electrodes and Multi-frequency Trans-Endothelial Electrical Resistance (MTEER) in synergy with machine learning algorithms. MTEER measurements are performed across the barrier in a range of frequencies up to 10 MHz highlighting the presence of information on different frequency ranges. Results show that the proposed platform can detect barrier formation, opening, and regeneration afterwards, correlating with the results obtained from immunostaining of junctional complexes. This model presents novel techniques for a future biological barrier in-vitro studies that could potentially help on elucidating barrier opening or sealing on treatments with different drugs.

Keywords: blood-brain barrier, cellular barrier integrity monitoring, impedance sensors, machine learning, microelectrodes, mteer, rapid prototyping, Blood-brain barrier, Cellular barrier integrity monitoring, Electrical impedance spectroscopy, Impedance sensors, Machine learning, Microelectrodes, Mteer, Rapid prototyping


Qamar B, Solomon M, Marin A, Fuerst TR, Andrianov AK, Muro S, (2021). Intracellular delivery of active proteins by polyphosphazene polymers Pharmaceutics 13, 1-21

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Achieving intracellular delivery of protein therapeutics within cells remains a significant challenge. Although custom formulations are available for some protein therapeutics, the development of non‐toxic delivery systems that can incorporate a variety of active protein cargo and maintain their stability, is a topic of great relevance. This study utilized ionic polyphosphazenes (PZ) that can assemble into supramolecular complexes through non‐covalent interactions with different types of protein cargo. We tested a PEGylated graft copolymer (PZ‐PEG) and a pyrrolidone containing linear derivative (PZ‐PYR) for their ability to intracellularly deliver FITC‐avidin, a model protein. In endothelial cells, PZ‐PYR/protein exhibited both faster internalization and higher uptake levels than PZ‐PEG/protein, while in cancer cells both polymers achieved similar uptake levels over time, although the internalization rate was slower for PZ‐PYR/protein. Uptake was mediated by endocytosis through multiple mechanisms, PZ‐PEG/avidin colocalized more profusely with endo-lysosomes, and PZ‐PYR/avidin achieved greater cytosolic delivery. Consequently, a PZ‐PYR-delivered anti‐F‐actin antibody was able to bind to cytosolic actin filaments without needing cell permeabilization. Similarly, a cell‐impermeable Bax‐BH3 peptide known to induce apoptosis, decreased cell viability when complexed with PZ‐PYR, demonstrating endo‐lysosomal escape. These biodegradable PZs were non‐toxic to cells and represent a promising platform for drug delivery of protein therapeutics.

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


Garcia J, Fernández-Pradas JM, Lladó A, Serra P, Zalvidea D, Kogan MJ, Giralt E, Sánchez-Navarro M, (2021). The Combined Use of Gold Nanoparticles and Infrared Radiation Enables Cytosolic Protein Delivery Chemistry-A European Journal 27, 4670-4675

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Cytosolic protein delivery remains elusive. The inability of most proteins to cross the cellular membrane is a huge hurdle. Here we explore the unique photothermal properties of gold nanorods (AuNRs) to trigger cytosolic delivery of proteins. Both partners, protein and AuNRs, are modified with a protease-resistant cell-penetrating peptide with nuclear targeting properties to induce internalization. Once internalized, spatiotemporal control of protein release is achieved by near-infrared laser irradiation in the safe second biological window. Importantly, catalytic amounts of AuNRs are sufficient to trigger cytosolic protein delivery. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that AuNRs with their maximum of absorption in the second biological window are used to deliver proteins into the intracellular space. This strategy represents a powerful tool for the cytosolic delivery of virtually any class of protein.

Keywords: cell-penetrating peptide, cytosolic delivery, gold nanorod, near-infrared irradiation, Cell-penetrating peptide, Cytosolic delivery, Gold nanorod, Near-infrared irradiation


Badia M, Bolognesi B, (2021). Assembling the right type of switch: Protein condensation to signal cell death CURRENT OPINION IN CELL BIOLOGY 69, 55-61

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Protein phase transitions are particularly amenable for cell signalling as these highly cooperative processes allow cells to make binary decisions in response to relatively small intracellular changes. The different processes of condensate formation and the distinct material properties of the resulting condensates provide a dictionary to modulate a range of decisions on cell fate. We argue that, on the one hand, the reversibility of liquid demixing offers a chance to arrest cell growth under specific circumstances. On the other hand, the transition to amyloids is better suited for terminal decisions such as those leading to apoptosis and necrosis. Here, we review recent examples of both scenarios, highlighting how mutations in signalling proteins affect the formation of biomolecular condensates with drastic effects on cell survival.

Keywords: amyloid, cell death, deep mutagenesis, llps, rna-binding proteins, Amyloid, Cell death, Deep mutagenesis, Llps, Rna-binding proteins


Tornín J, Villasante A, Solé-Martí X, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Osteosarcoma tissue-engineered model challenges oxidative stress therapy revealing promoted cancer stem cell properties FREE RADICAL BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 164, 107-118

© 2020 The Author(s) The use of oxidative stress generated by Cold Atmospheric Plasma (CAP) in oncology is being recently studied as a novel potential anti-cancer therapy. However, the beneficial effects of CAP for treating osteosarcoma have mostly been demonstrated in 2-dimensional cultures of cells, which do not mimic the complexity of the 3-dimensional (3D) bone microenvironment. In order to evaluate the effects of CAP in a relevant context of the human disease, we developed a 3D tissue-engineered model of osteosarcoma using a bone-like scaffold made of collagen type I and hydroxyapatite nanoparticles. Human osteosarcoma cells cultured within the scaffold showed a high capacity to infiltrate and proliferate and to exhibit osteomimicry in vitro. As expected, we observed significantly different functional behaviors between monolayer and 3D cultures when treated with Cold Plasma-Activated Ringer's Solution (PAR). Our data reveal that the 3D environment not only protects cells from PAR-induced lethality by scavenging and diminishing the amount of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by CAP, but also favours the stemness phenotype of osteosarcoma cells. This is the first study that demonstrates the negative effect of PAR on cancer stem-like cell subpopulations in a 3D biomimetic model of cancer. These findings will allow to suitably re-focus research on plasma-based therapies in future.

Keywords: 3d tumor model, cancer stem-like cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma activated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, 3d tumor model, Cancer stem-like cells, Cold atmospheric plasma, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma activated liquids, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species


Blanco-Fernandez B, Cano-Torres I, Garrido C, Rubi-Sans G, Sanchez-Cid L, Guerra-Rebollo M, Rubio N, Blanco J, Perez-Amodio S, Mateos-Timoneda MA, Engel E, (2021). Engineered microtissues for the bystander therapy against cancer Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 121,

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. Thymidine kinase expressing human adipose mesenchymal stem cells (TK-hAMSCs) in combination with ganciclovir (GCV) are an effective platform for antitumor bystander therapy in mice models. However, this strategy requires multiple TK-hAMSCs administrations and a substantial number of cells. Therefore, for clinical translation, it is necessary to find a biocompatible scaffold providing TK-hAMSCs retention in the implantation site against their rapid wash-out. We have developed a microtissue (MT) composed by TKhAMSCs and a scaffold made of polylactic acid microparticles and cell-derived extracellular matrix deposited by hAMSCs. The efficacy of these MTs as vehicles for TK-hAMSCs/GCV bystander therapy was evaluated in a rodent model of human prostate cancer. Subcutaneously implanted MTs were integrated in the surrounding tissue, allowing neovascularization and maintenance of TK-hAMSCs viability. Furthermore, MTs implanted beside tumors allowed TK-hAMSCs migration towards tumor cells and, after GCV administration, inhibited tumor growth. These results indicate that TK-hAMSCs-MTs are promising cell reservoirs for clinical use of therapeutic MSCs in bystander therapies.

Keywords: adipose mesenchymal stem cells, bioluminescence, bystander therapy, cancer, Adipose mesenchymal stem cells, Bioluminescence, Bystander therapy, Cancer, Self-assembled cell-based microtissues


Feiner-Gracia N, Glinkowska Mares A, Buzhor M, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier Marti J, Amir RJ, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Real-Time Ratiometric Imaging of Micelles Assembly State in a Microfluidic Cancer-on-a-Chip Acs Applied Bio Materials 4, 669-681

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The performance of supramolecular nanocarriers as drug delivery systems depends on their stability in the complex and dynamic biological media. After administration, nanocarriers are challenged by physiological barriers such as shear stress and proteins present in blood, endothelial wall, extracellular matrix, and eventually cancer cell membrane. While early disassembly will result in a premature drug release, extreme stability of the nanocarriers can lead to poor drug release and low efficiency. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of the stability and assembly state of supramolecular carriers in each stage of delivery is the key factor for the rational design of these systems. One of the main challenges is that current 2D in vitro models do not provide exhaustive information, as they fail to recapitulate the 3D tumor microenvironment. This deficiency in the 2D model complexity is the main reason for the differences observed in vivo when testing the performance of supramolecular nanocarriers. Herein, we present a real-time monitoring study of self-assembled micelles stability and extravasation, combining spectral confocal microscopy and a microfluidic cancer-on-a-chip. The combination of advanced imaging and a reliable 3D model allows tracking of micelle disassembly by following the spectral properties of the amphiphiles in space and time during the crucial steps of drug delivery. The spectrally active micelles were introduced under flow and their position and conformation continuously followed by spectral imaging during the crossing of barriers, revealing the interplay between carrier structure, micellar stability, and extravasation. Integrating the ability of the micelles to change their fluorescent properties when disassembled, spectral confocal imaging and 3D microfluidic tumor blood vessel-on-a-chip resulted in the establishment of a robust testing platform suitable for real-time imaging and evaluation of supramolecular drug delivery carrier's stability.

Keywords: cancer-on-a-chip, complex, delivery, endothelial-cells, in-vitro, microfluidic, model, nanoparticle, penetration, shear-stress, stability, supramolecular, Cancer-on-a-chip, Cell-culture, Micelle, Microfluidic, Nanoparticle, Stability, Supramolecular


Dhillon P, Park J, Hurtado del Pozo C, Li L, Doke T, Huang S, Zhao J, Kang HM, Shrestra R, Balzer MS, Chatterjee S, Prado P, Han SY, Liu H, Sheng X, Dierickx P, Batmanov K, Romero JP, Prósper F, Li M, Pei L, Kim J, Montserrat N, Susztak K, (2021). The Nuclear Receptor ESRRA Protects from Kidney Disease by Coupling Metabolism and Differentiation Cell Metabolism 33, 379-394.e8

© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, Susztak and colleagues, show major changes in cell diversity in mouse models of kidney fibrosis. Proximal tubule (PT) cells are highly vulnerable to dysfunction in fibrosis and show altered differentiation. Nuclear receptors such as ESRRA maintain both PT cell metabolism and differentiation by directly regulating PT-cell-specific genes.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease, esrra, fatty-acid oxidation, fibrosis, kidney, organoids, ppara, proximal tubule cells, single-cell atac sequencing, Chronic kidney disease, Esrra, Fatty-acid oxidation, Fibrosis, Kidney, Organoids, Ppara, Proximal tubule cells, Single-cell atac sequencing, Single-cell rna sequencing


Selfa IL, Gallo M, Montserrat N, Garreta E, (2021). Directed Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells for the Generation of High-Order Kidney Organoids Methods In Molecular Biology 2258, 171-192

© 2021, The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Our understanding in the inherent properties of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have made possible the development of differentiation procedures to generate three-dimensional tissue-like cultures, so-called organoids. Here we detail a stepwise methodology to generate kidney organoids from hPSCs. This is achieved through direct differentiation of hPSCs in two-dimensional monolayer culture toward the posterior primitive streak fate, followed by induction of intermediate mesoderm-committed cells, which are further aggregated and cultured in three-dimensions to generate kidney organoids containing segmented nephron-like structures in a process that lasts 20 days. We also provide a concise description on how to assess renal commitment during the time course of kidney organoid generation. This includes the use of flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry analyses for the detection of specific renal differentiation markers.

Keywords: 2d monolayer, 3d organotypic culture, differentiation, flow cytometry, human pluripotent stem cells, immunocytochemistry, intermediate mesoderm, kidney organoid, nephron progenitor cells, nephrons, primitive streak, 2d monolayer, 3d organotypic culture, Differentiation, Flow cytometry, Human pluripotent stem cells, Immunocytochemistry, Intermediate mesoderm, Kidney organoid, Nephron progenitor cells, Nephrons, Primitive streak, Tissue


Moya-Andérico L, Vukomanovic M, Cendra MdM, Segura-Feliu M, Gil V, del Río JA, Torrents E, (2021). Utility of Galleria mellonella larvae for evaluating nanoparticle toxicology Chemosphere 266

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The use of nanoparticles in consumer products is currently on the rise, so it is important to have reliable methods to predict any associated toxicity effects. Traditional in vitro assays fail to mimic true physiological responses of living organisms against nanoparticles whereas murine in vivo models are costly and ethically controversial. For these reasons, this study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Galleria mellonella as an alternative, non-rodent in vivo model for examining nanoparticle toxicity. Silver, selenium, and functionalized gold nanoparticles were synthesized, and their toxicity was assessed in G. mellonella larvae. The degree of acute toxicity effects caused by each type of NP was efficiently detected by an array of indicators within the larvae: LD50 calculation, hemocyte proliferation, NP distribution, behavioral changes, and histological alterations. G. mellonella larvae are proposed as a nanotoxicological model that can be used as a bridge between in vitro and in vivo murine assays in order to obtain better predictions of NP toxicity.

Keywords: cellular uptake, cytotoxicity, galleria mellonella, gold nanoparticles, hemocytes, nanoparticles, nanotoxicity, non-rodent in vivo model, non-rodent in vivo model, oxidative stress, selenium-compounds, silica nanoparticles, silver nanoparticles, toxicity, toxicity screening, vitro, Galleria mellonella, Hemocytes, In-vivo model, Nanoparticles, Nanotoxicity, Non-rodent in vivo model, Toxicity screening


Oliver-Cervelló L, Martin-Gómez H, Reyes L, Noureddine F, Ada Cavalcanti-Adam E, Ginebra MP, Mas-Moruno C, (2021). An Engineered Biomimetic Peptide Regulates Cell Behavior by Synergistic Integrin and Growth Factor Signaling Advanced Healthcare Materials 10, e2001757

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Recreating the healing microenvironment is essential to regulate cell–material interactions and ensure the integration of biomaterials. To repair bone, such bioactivity can be achieved by mimicking its extracellular matrix (ECM) and by stimulating integrin and growth factor (GF) signaling. However, current approaches relying on the use of GFs, such as bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2), entail clinical risks. Here, a biomimetic peptide integrating the RGD cell adhesive sequence and the osteogenic DWIVA motif derived from the wrist epitope of BMP-2 is presented. The approach offers the advantage of having a spatial control over the single binding of integrins and BMP receptors. Such multifunctional platform is designed to incorporate 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine to bind metallic oxides with high affinity in a one step process. Functionalization of glass substrates with the engineered peptide is characterized by physicochemical methods, proving a successful surface modification. The biomimetic interfaces significantly improve the adhesion of C2C12 cells, inhibit myotube formation, and activate the BMP-dependent signaling via p38. These effects are not observed on surfaces displaying only one bioactive motif, a mixture of both motifs or soluble DWIVA. These data prove the biological potential of recreating the ECM and engaging in integrin and GF crosstalk via molecular-based mimics.

Keywords: binding, biomaterials, biomimetic peptides, bone, cell adhesion, cell differentiation, differentiation, dwiva, multifunctional coatings, osseointegration, osteoblasts, rgd, surface, surface functionalization, Biomimetic peptides, Cell adhesion, Cell differentiation, Dwiva, Matrix-bound bmp-2, Rgd, Surface functionalization


Ben Hamouda S, Vargas A, Boivin R, Miglino MA, da Palma RK, Lavoie JP, (2021). Recellularization of Bronchial Extracellular Matrix With Primary Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Journal Of Equine Veterinary Science 96, 103313

© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Severe asthma is associated with an increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and altered composition of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Studies have indicated that ECM-ASM cell interactions contribute to this remodeling and its limited reversibility with current therapy. Three-dimensional matrices allow the study of complex cellular responses to different stimuli in an almost natural environment. Our goal was to obtain acellular bronchial matrices and then develop a recellularization protocol with ASM cells. We studied equine bronchi as horses spontaneously develop a human asthma-like disease. The bronchi were decellularized using Triton/Sodium Deoxycholate. The obtained scaffolds retained their anatomical and histological properties. Using immunohistochemistry and a semi-quantitative score to compare native bronchi to scaffolds revealed no significant variation for matrixial proteins. DNA quantification and electrophoresis revealed that most DNA was 29.6 ng/mg of tissue ± 5.6, with remaining fragments of less than 100 bp. Primary ASM cells were seeded on the scaffolds. Histological analysis of the recellularizations showed that ASM cells migrated and proliferated primarily in the decellularized smooth muscle matrix, suggesting a chemotactic effect of the scaffolds. This is the first report of primary ASM cells preferentially repopulating the smooth muscle matrix layer in bronchial matrices. This protocol is now being used to study the molecular interactions occurring between the asthmatic ECMs and ASM to identify effectors of asthmatic bronchial remodeling.

Keywords: 2d, airway smooth muscle cells, asthma, decellularization, disease, elastin, extracellular matrix, lung scaffolds, migration, peptide, recellularization, tissues, Airway smooth muscle cells, Asthma, Culture-systems, Decellularization, Extracellular matrix, Recellularization


Puiggalí-Jou A, Wedepohl S, Theune LE, Alemán C, Calderón M, (2021). Effect of conducting/thermoresponsive polymer ratio on multitasking nanogels Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 119

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Semi-interpenetrated nanogels (NGs) able to release and sense diclofenac (DIC) have been designed to act as photothermal agents with the possibility to ablate cancer cells using mild-temperatures (<45 °C). Combining mild heat treatments with simultaneous chemotherapy appears as a very promising therapeutic strategy to avoid heat resistance or damaging the surrounding tissues. Particularly, NGs consisted on a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) and dendritic polyglycerol (dPG) mesh containing a semi-interpenetrating network (SIPN) of poly(hydroxymethyl 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHMeEDOT). The PHMeEDOT acted as photothermal and conducting agent, while PNIPAM-dPG NG provided thermoresponsivity and acted as stabilizer. We studied how semi-interpenetration modified the physicochemical characteristics of the thermoresponsive SIPN NGs and selected the best condition to generate a multifunctional photothermal agent. The thermoswitchable conductiveness of the multifunctional NGs and the redox activity of DIC could be utilized for its electrochemical detection. Besides, as proof of the therapeutic concept, we investigated the combinatorial effect of photothermal therapy (PTT) and DIC treatment using the HeLa cancer cell line in vitro. Within 15 min NIR irradiation without surpassing 45 °C we were able to kill 95% of the cells, demonstrating the potential of SIPN NGs as drug carriers, sensors and agents for mild PTT.

Keywords: cells, cellulose, conducting polymers, controlled delivery, diclofenac, efficiency, electrochemical oxidation, electrochemical sensors, nanogels, nanoparticles, photothermal therapy, pnipam, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Conducting polymers, Electrochemical sensors, Nanogels, Photothermal therapy


Andrian T, Bakkum T, van Elsland DM, Bos E, Koster AJ, Albertazzi L, van Kasteren SI, Pujals S, (2021). Super-resolution correlative light-electron microscopy using a click-chemistry approach for studying intracellular trafficking Methods in Cell Biology 162, 303-331

© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) entails a group of multimodal imaging techniques that are combined to pinpoint to the location of fluorescently labeled molecules in the context of their ultrastructural cellular environment. Here we describe a detailed workflow for STORM-CLEM, in which STochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM), an optical super-resolution technique, is correlated with transmission electron microscopy (TEM). This protocol has the advantage that both imaging modalities have resolution at the nanoscale, bringing higher synergies on the information obtained. The sample is prepared according to the Tokuyasu method followed by click-chemistry labeling and STORM imaging. Then, after heavy metal staining, electron microscopy imaging is performed followed by correlation of the two images. The case study presented here is on intracellular pathogens, but the protocol is versatile and could potentially be applied to many types of samples.

Keywords: cells, click-chemistry, complex, correlative light and electron microscopy, cycloaddition, ligation, localization, proteins, resolution limit, single molecule localization microscopy, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (storm), storm, super-resolution microscopy, tokuyasu cryo-sectioning, tool, Click-chemistry, Correlative light and electron microscopy, Fluorescent-probes, Single molecule localization microscopy, Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (storm), Super-resolution microscopy, Tokuyasu cryo-sectioning, Transmission electron microscopy


Conti S, Kato T, Park D, Sahai E, Trepat X, Labernadie A, (2021). CAFs and cancer cells co-migration in 3D spheroid invasion assay Methods in Molecular Biology 2179, 243-256

© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. In many solid tumors, collective cell invasion prevails over single-cell dissemination strategies. Collective modes of invasion often display specific front/rear cellular organization, where invasive leader cells arise from cancer cell populations or the tumor stroma. Collective invasion involves coordinated cellular movements which require tight mechanical crosstalk through specific combinations of cell–cell interactions and cell–matrix adhesions. Cancer Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs) have been recently reported to drive the dissemination of epithelial cancer cells through ECM remodeling and direct intercellular contact. However, the cooperation between tumor and stromal cells remains poorly understood. Here we present a simple spheroid invasion assay to assess the role of CAFs in the collective migration of epithelial tumor cells. This method enables the characterization of 3D spheroid invasion patterns through live cell fluorescent labeling combined with spinning disc microscopy. When embedded in extracellular matrix, the invasive strands of spheroids can be tracked and leader/follower organization of CAFs and cancer cells can be quantified.

Keywords: 3d spheroid invasion, cancer associated fibroblasts, collective migration, dissemination, epithelial cancer cells, leader/follower cells, 3d spheroid invasion, Cancer associated fibroblasts, Collective invasion, Collective migration, Epithelial cancer cells, Leader/follower cells


Garreta, Elena, Kamm, Roger D., Chuva de Sousa Lopes, Susana M., Lancaster, Madeline A., Weiss, Ron, Trepat, Xavier, Hyun, Insoo, Montserrat, Nuria, (2021). Rethinking organoid technology through bioengineering NATURE MATERIALS 20, 145-155

In recent years considerable progress has been made in the development of faithful procedures for the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). An important step in this direction has also been the derivation of organoids. This technology generally relies on traditional three-dimensional culture techniques that exploit cell-autonomous self-organization responses of hPSCs with minimal control over the external inputs supplied to the system. The convergence of stem cell biology and bioengineering offers the possibility to provide these stimuli in a controlled fashion, resulting in the development of naturally inspired approaches to overcome major limitations of this nascent technology. Based on the current developments, we emphasize the achievements and ongoing challenges of bringing together hPSC organoid differentiation, bioengineering and ethics. This Review underlines the need for providing engineering solutions to gain control of self-organization and functionality of hPSC-derived organoids. We expect that this knowledge will guide the community to generate higher-grade hPSC-derived organoids for further applications in developmental biology, drug screening, disease modelling and personalized medicine. This Review provides an overview of bioengineering technologies that can be harnessed to facilitate the culture, self-organization and functionality of human pluripotent stem cell-derived organoids.

Keywords: Differentiation, Embryonic-tissues, Extracellular-matrix, In-vitro, Kidney organoids, Model, Neural-tube, Pluripotent stem-cells, Reconstitution, Self-organization


Soriente A, Amodio SP, Fasolino I, Raucci MG, Demitri C, Engel E, Ambrosio L, (2021). Chitosan/PEGDA based scaffolds as bioinspired materials to control in vitro angiogenesis Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 118

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. In the current work, our purpose was based on the assessment of bioactive chitosan (CS)/Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) based scaffolds ability to stimulate in vitro angiogenesis process. The bioactivation of the scaffolds was accomplished by using organic (BMP-2 peptide) and inorganic (hydroxyapatite nanoparticles) cues. In particular, the properties of the materials in terms of biological response promotion on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were studied by using in vitro angiogenesis tests based on cell growth and proliferation. Furthermore, our interest was to examine the scaffolds capability to modulate two important steps involved in angiogenesis process: migration and tube formation of cells. Our data underlined that bioactive signals on CS/PEGDA scaffolds surface induce a desirable effect on angiogenic response concerning angiogenic marker expression (CD-31) and endothelial tissue formation (tube formation). Taken together, the results emphasized the concept that bioactive CS/PEGDA scaffolds may be novel implants for stimulating neovascularization of tissue-engineered constructs in regenerative medicine field.

Keywords: angiogenesis, bmp-2 peptide, chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Angiogenesis, Bmp-2 peptide, Chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, Human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Osteogenesis


Perez-Amodio, Soledad, Rubio, Nuria, Vila, Olaia F, Navarro-Requena, Claudia, Castano, Oscar, Sanchez-Ferrero, Aitor, Marti-Munoz, Joan, Alsina-Giber, Merce, Blanco, Jeronimo, Engel, Elisabeth, (2021). Polymeric Composite Dressings Containing Calcium-Releasing Nanoparticles Accelerate Wound Healing in Diabetic Mice Advances in Wound Care 10, 301-316

Objective: Wound healing is a complex process that involves the interaction between different cell types and bioactive factors. Impaired wound healing is characterized by a loss in synchronization of these interactions, resulting in nonhealing chronic wounds. Chronic wounds are a socioeconomic burden, one of the most prominent clinical manifestations of diabetes, however, they lack satisfactory treatment options. The objective of this study was to develop polymeric composites that deliver ions having wound healing properties and evaluate its performance using a pressure ulcer model in diabetic mice. Approach: To develop a polymeric composite wound dressing containing ion-releasing nanoparticles for chronic wound healing. This composite was chemically and physically characterized and evaluated using a pressure ulcer wound model in diabetic (db/db) mice to explore their potential as novel wound dressing. Results: This dressing exhibits a controlled ion release and a goodin vitrobioactivity. The polymeric composite dressing treatment stimulates angiogenesis, collagen synthesis, granulation tissue formation, and accelerates wound closure of ischemic wounds created in diabetic mice. In addition, the performance of the newly designed composite is remarkably better than a commercially available dressing frequently used for the treatment of low-exuding chronic wounds. Innovation: The developed nanoplatforms are cell- and growth factor free and control the host microenvironment resulting in enhanced wound healing. These nanoplatforms are available by cost-effective synthesis with a defined composition, offering an additional advantage in potential clinical application. Conclusion: Based on the obtained results, these polymeric composites offer an optimum approach for chronic wound healing without adding cells or external biological factors.

Keywords: angiogenesis, bioactive dressings, chronic wounds, Angiogenesis, Bioactive dressings, Bioactive glass, Bioglass, Cells, Chronic wounds, Diabetes, Endothelial growth-factor, Expression, Hydrogel, Induction


Blanco-Fernandez, B, Castano, O, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, Perez-Amodio, S, (2021). Nanotechnology Approaches in Chronic Wound Healing Advances in Wound Care 10, 234-256

Significance: The incidence of chronic wounds is increasing due to our aging population and the augment of people afflicted with diabetes. With the extended knowledge on the biological mechanisms underlying these diseases, there is a novel influx of medical technologies into the conventional wound care market. Recent Advances: Several nanotechnologies have been developed demonstrating unique characteristics that address specific problems related to wound repair mechanisms. In this review, we focus on the most recently developed nanotechnology-based therapeutic agents and evaluate the efficacy of each treatment in in vivo diabetic models of chronic wound healing. Critical Issues: Despite the development of potential biomaterials and nanotechnology-based applications for wound healing, this scientific knowledge is not translated into an increase of commercially available wound healing products containing nanomaterials. Future Directions: Further studies are critical to provide insights into how scientific evidences from nanotechnology-based therapies can be applied in the clinical setting.

Keywords: chronic, diabetes, liposomes, nanofibers, nanoparticles, Chronic, Chronic wound, Diabetes, Diabetic wound, Diabetic-rats, Dressings, Drug mechanism, Extracellular-matrix, Growth-factor, Human, In-vitro, Liposome, Liposomes, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Metal nanoparticle, Nanofiber, Nanofibers, Nanofibrous scaffolds, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Nonhuman, Polyester, Polymer, Polysaccharide, Priority journal, Protein, Review, Self assembled protein nanoparticle, Silk fibroin, Skin wounds, Wound healing, Wound healing promoting agent


Kyndiah, A., Leonardi, F., Tarantino, C., Cramer, T., Millan-Solsona, R., Garreta, E., Montserrat, N., Mas-Torrent, M., Gomila, G., (2020). Bioelectronic recordings of cardiomyocytes with accumulation mode electrolyte gated organic field effect transistors Biosensors and Bioelectronics 150, 111844

Organic electronic materials offer an untapped potential for novel tools for low-invasive electrophysiological recording and stimulation devices. Such materials combine semiconducting properties with tailored surface chemistry, elastic mechanical properties and chemical stability in water. In this work, we investigate solution processed Electrolyte Gated Organic Field Effect Transistors (EGOFETs) based on a small molecule semiconductor. We demonstrate that EGOFETs based on a blend of soluble organic semiconductor 2,8-Difluoro-5,11-bis(triethylsilylethynyl)anthradithiophene (diF-TES-ADT) combined with an insulating polymer show excellent sensitivity and long-term recording under electrophysiological applications. Our devices can stably record the extracellular potential of human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocyte cells (hPSCs-CMs) for several weeks. In addition, cytotoxicity tests of pharmaceutical drugs, such as Norepinephrine and Verapamil was achieved with excellent sensitivity. This work demonstrates that organic transistors based on organic blends are excellent bioelectronics transducer for extracellular electrical recording of excitable cells and tissues thus providing a valid alternative to electrochemical transistors.

Keywords: Bioelectronics, Cardiac cells, Organic electronics, Organic field effect transistors, Organic semiconducting blend


Allaw, M., Manca, M. L., Caddeo, C., Recio, M. C., Pérez-Brocal, V., Moya, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Manconi, M., (2020). Advanced strategy to exploit wine-making waste by manufacturing antioxidant and prebiotic fibre-enriched vesicles for intestinal health Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 193, 111146

Grape extract-loaded fibre-enriched vesicles, nutriosomes, were prepared by combining antioxidant extracts obtained from grape pomaces and a prebiotic, soluble fibre (Nutriose®FM06). The nutriosomes were small in size (from ∼140 to 260 nm), homogeneous (polydispersity index < 0.2) and highly negative (∼ −79 mV). The vesicles were highly stable during 12 months of storage at 25 °C. When diluted with warmed (37 °C) acidic medium (pH 1.2) of high ionic strength, the vesicles only displayed an increase of the mean diameter and a low release of the extract, which were dependent on Nutriose concentration. The formulations were highly biocompatible and able to protect intestinal cells (Caco-2) from oxidative stress damage. In vivo results underlined that the composition of mouse microbiota was not affected by the vesicular formulations. Overall results support the potential application of grape nutriosomes as an alternative strategy for the protection of the intestinal tract.

Keywords: Antioxidant activity, Grape pomace, Gut microbiota, In vivo studies, Intestinal cells, Nutriosomes, Phospholipid vesicles, Prebiotic activity


Morgese, G., de Waal, B. F. M., Varela-Aramburu, S., Palmans, A. R. A., Albertazzi, L., Meijer, E. W., (2020). Anchoring supramolecular polymers to human red blood cells by combining dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 59, (39), 17229-17233

Understanding cell/material interactions is essential to design functional cell-responsive materials. While the scientific literature abounds with formulations of biomimetic materials, only a fraction of them focused on mechanisms of the molecular interactions between cells and material. To provide new knowledge on the strategies for materials/cell recognition and binding, supramolecular benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide copolymers bearing benzoxaborole moieties are anchored on the surface of human erythrocytes via benzoxaborole/sialic-acid binding. This interaction based on both dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries is visualized in real time by means of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Exploiting this imaging method, we observe that the functional copolymers specifically interact with the cell surface. An optimal fiber affinity towards the cells as a function of benzoxaborole concentration demonstrates the crucial role of multivalency in these cell/material interactions.

Keywords: Boronic acid, Cell/material interactions, Multivalency, Red blood cells, Supramolecular polymers


Delcanale, P., Porciani, D., Pujals, S., Jurkevich, A., Chetrusca, A., Tawiah, K. D., Burke, D. H., Albertazzi, L., (2020). Aptamers with tunable affinity enable single-molecule tracking and localization of membrane receptors on living cancer cells Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 59, (42), 18546-18555

Tumor cell-surface markers are usually overexpressed or mutated protein receptors for which spatiotemporal regulation differs between and within cancers. Single-molecule fluorescence imaging can profile individual markers in different cellular contexts with molecular precision. However, standard single-molecule imaging methods based on overexpressed genetically encoded tags or cumbersome probes can significantly alter the native state of receptors. We introduce a live-cell points accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (PAINT) method that exploits aptamers as minimally invasive affinity probes. Localization and tracking of individual receptors are based on stochastic and transient binding between aptamers and their targets. We demonstrated single-molecule imaging of a model tumor marker (EGFR) on a panel of living cancer cells. Affinity to EGFR was finely tuned by rational engineering of aptamer sequences to define receptor motion and/or native receptor density.

Keywords: Aptamers, Cell-surface receptors, Live-cell imaging, PAINT, Single-molecule tracking


Sola-Barrado, B., M. Leite, D., Scarpa, E., Duro-Castano, A., Battaglia, G., (2020). Combinatorial intracellular delivery screening of anticancer drugs Molecular Pharmaceutics 17, (12), 4709-4714

Conventional drug solubilization strategies limit the understanding of the full potential of poorly water-soluble drugs during drug screening. Here, we propose a screening approach in which poorly water-soluble drugs are entrapped in poly(2-(methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine)-poly(2-(diisopropylaminoethyl methacryate) (PMPC-PDPA) polymersomes (POs) to enhance drug solubility and facilitate intracellular delivery. By using a human pediatric glioma cell model, we demonstrated that PMPC-PDPA POs mediated intracellular delivery of cytotoxic and epigenetic drugs by receptor-mediated endocytosis. Additionally, when delivered in combination, drug-loaded PMPC-PDPA POs triggered both an enhanced drug efficacy and synergy compared to that of a conventional combinatorial screening. Hence, our comprehensive synergy analysis illustrates that our screening methodology, in which PMPC-PDPA POs are used for intracellular codelivery of drugs, allows us to identify potent synergistic profiles of anticancer drugs.

Keywords: Combination therapy, Drug screening, Drug solubilization, Intracellular drug delivery, Polymeric nanoparticles, Synergy analysis


Del Mar Cendra, Maria, Torrents, Eduard, (2020). Differential adaptability between reference strains and clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa into the lung epithelium intracellular lifestyle Virulence 11, (1), 862-876

Intracellular invasion is an advantageous mechanism used by pathogens to evade host defense and antimicrobial therapy. In patients, the intracellular microbial lifestyle can lead to infection persistence and recurrence, thus worsening outcomes. Lung infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, especially in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, are often aggravated by intracellular invasion and persistence of the pathogen. Proliferation of the infectious species relies on a continuous deoxyribonucleotide (dNTP) supply, for which the ribonucleotide reductase enzyme (RNR) is the unique provider. The large genome plasticity of P. aeruginosa and its ability to rapidly adapt to different environments are challenges for studying the pathophysiology associated with this type of infection. Using different reference strains and clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa independently combined with alveolar (A549) and bronchial (16HBE14o- and CF-CFBE41o-) epithelial cells, we analyzed host–pathogen interactions and intracellular bacterial persistence with the aim of determining a cell type-directed infection promoted by the P. aeruginosa strains. The oscillations in cellular toxicity and oxygen consumption promoted by the intracellular persistence of the strains were also analyzed among the different infectious lung models. Significantly, we identified class II RNR as the enzyme that supplies dNTPs to intracellular P. aeruginosa. This discovery could contribute to the development of RNR-targeted strategies against the chronicity occurring in this type of lung infection. Overall our study demonstrates that the choice of bacterial strain is critical to properly study the type of infectious process with relevant translational outcomes.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Intracellular persistence, Lung, Epithelial cells, Clinical isolates, Host-pathogen interactions, Intracellular lifestyle, Chronic infections, Cystic fibrosis, Ribonucleotide reductase


Hoogduijn, M.J., Montserrat, N., van der Laan, L.J.W., Dazzi, F., Perico, N., Kastrup, J., Gilbo, N., Ploeg, R.J., Roobrouck, V., Casiraghi, F., Johnson, C.L., Franquesa, M., Dahlke, M.H., Massey, E., Hosgood, S., Reinders, M.E.J., (2020). The emergence of regenerative medicine in organ transplantation: 1st European Cell Therapy and Organ Regeneration Section meeting Transplant International 33, (8), 833-840

Regenerative medicine is emerging as a novel field in organ transplantation. In September 2019, the European Cell Therapy and Organ Regeneration Section (ECTORS) of the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT) held its first meeting to discuss the state-of-the-art of regenerative medicine in organ transplantation. The present article highlights the key areas of interest and major advances in this multidisciplinary field in organ regeneration and discusses its implications for the future of organ transplantation.

Keywords: Cell therapy, Machine perfusion, Mesenchymal stromal cell, Organoid, Regeneration, Transplantation


Rubi-Sans, G., Castaño, O., Cano, I., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Perez-Amodio, S., Engel, E., (2020). Engineering cell-derived matrices: From 3D models to advanced personalized therapies Advanced Functional Materials 30, (44), e2000496

Regenerative medicine and disease models have evolved in recent years from two to three dimensions, providing in vitro constructs that are more similar to in vivo tissues. By mimicking native tissues, cell-derived matrices (CDMs) have emerged as new modifiable extracellular matrices for a variety of tissues, allowing researchers to study basic cellular processes in tissue-like structures, test tissue regeneration approaches, and model disease development. In this review, different fabrication techniques and characterization methods of CDMs are presented and examples of their application in cell behavior studies, tissue regeneration, and disease models are provided. In addition, future guidelines and perspectives in the field of CDMs are discussed.

Keywords: 3D models, Biomaterials, Cell-derived matrices, Extracellular matrix, Personalized therapies


Hino, N., Rossetti, L., Marín-Llauradó, A., Aoki, K., Trepat, X., Matsuda, M., Hirashima, T., (2020). ERK-mediated mechanochemical waves direct collective cell polarization Developmental Cell 53, (6), 646-660.e8

During collective migration of epithelial cells, the migration direction is aligned over a tissue-scale expanse. Although the collective cell migration is known to be directed by mechanical forces transmitted via cell-cell junctions, it remains elusive how the intercellular force transmission is coordinated with intracellular biochemical signaling to achieve collective movements. Here, we show that intercellular coupling of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-mediated mechanochemical feedback yields long-distance transmission of guidance cues. Mechanical stretch activates ERK through epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation, and ERK activation triggers cell contraction. The contraction of the activated cell pulls neighboring cells, evoking another round of ERK activation and contraction in the neighbors. Furthermore, anisotropic contraction based on front-rear polarization guarantees unidirectional propagation of ERK activation, and in turn, the ERK activation waves direct multicellular alignment of the polarity, leading to long-range ordered migration. Our findings reveal that mechanical forces mediate intercellular signaling underlying sustained transmission of guidance cues for collective cell migration.

Keywords: Collective cell migration, EGFR, ERK/MAPK, FRET, Front-rear polarity, Intercellular signal transfer, Mathematical model, Mechanochemical feedback, Mechanotransduction, wave propagation


Park, D., Wershof, E., Boeing, S., Labernadie, A., Jenkins, R. P., George, S., Trepat, X., Bates, P. A., Sahai, E., (2020). Extracellular matrix anisotropy is determined by TFAP2C-dependent regulation of cell collisions Nature Materials 19, 227-238

The isotropic or anisotropic organization of biological extracellular matrices has important consequences for tissue function. We study emergent anisotropy using fibroblasts that generate varying degrees of matrix alignment from uniform starting conditions. This reveals that the early migratory paths of fibroblasts are correlated with subsequent matrix organization. Combined experimentation and adaptation of Vicsek modelling demonstrates that the reorientation of cells relative to each other following collision plays a role in generating matrix anisotropy. We term this behaviour ‘cell collision guidance’. The transcription factor TFAP2C regulates cell collision guidance in part by controlling the expression of RND3. RND3 localizes to cell–cell collision zones where it downregulates actomyosin activity. Cell collision guidance fails without this mechanism in place, leading to isotropic matrix generation. The cross-referencing of alignment and TFAP2C gene expression signatures against existing datasets enables the identification and validation of several classes of pharmacological agents that disrupt matrix anisotropy.

Keywords: Biomaterials – cells, Cell migration, Self-assembly, Tissues


Borgheti-Cardoso, L. N., Kooijmans, S. A. A., Gutiérrez Chamorro, L., Biosca, A., Lantero, E., Ramírez, M., Avalos-Padilla, Y., Crespo, I., Fernández, I., Fernandez-Becerra, C., del Portillo, H. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Extracellular vesicles derived from Plasmodium-infected and non-infected red blood cells as targeted drug delivery vehicles International Journal of Pharmaceutics 587, 119627

Among several factors behind drug resistance evolution in malaria is the challenge of administering overall doses that are not toxic for the patient but that, locally, are sufficiently high to rapidly kill the parasites. Thus, a crucial antimalarial strategy is the development of drug delivery systems capable of targeting antimalarial compounds to Plasmodium with high specificity. In the present study, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been evaluated as a drug delivery system for the treatment of malaria. EVs derived from naive red blood cells (RBCs) and from Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs (pRBCs) were isolated by ultrafiltration followed by size exclusion chromatography. Lipidomic characterization showed that there were no significant qualitative differences between the lipidomic profiles of pRBC-derived EVs (pRBC-EVs) and RBC-derived EVs (RBC-EVs). Both EVs were taken up by RBCs and pRBCs, although pRBC-EVs were more efficiently internalized than RBC-EVs, which suggested their potential use as drug delivery vehicles for these cells. When loaded into pRBC-EVs, the antimalarial drugs atovaquone and tafenoquine inhibited in vitro P. falciparum growth more efficiently than their free drug counterparts, indicating that pRBC-EVs can potentially increase the efficacy of several small hydrophobic drugs used for the treatment of malaria.

Keywords: Antimalarial drugs, Drug delivery, Extracellular vesicles, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum


Prat-Vidal, C., Rodríguez-Gómez, L., Aylagas, M., Nieto-Nicolau, N., Gastelurrutia, P., Agustí, E., Gálvez-Montón, C., Jorba, I., Teis, A., Monguió-Tortajada, M., Roura, S., Vives, J., Torrents-Zapata, S., Coca, M. I., Reales, L., Cámara-Rosell, M. L., Cediel, G., Coll, R., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Vilarrodona, A., García-López, J., Muñoz-Guijosa, C., Querol, S., Bayes-Genis, A., (2020). First-in-human PeriCord cardiac bioimplant: Scalability and GMP manufacturing of an allogeneic engineered tissue graft EBioMedicine 54, 102729

Background Small cardiac tissue engineering constructs show promise for limiting post-infarct sequelae in animal models. This study sought to scale-up a 2-cm2 preclinical construct into a human-size advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP; PeriCord), and to test it in a first-in-human implantation. Methods The PeriCord is a clinical-size (12–16 cm2) decellularised pericardial matrix colonised with human viable Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (WJ-MSCs). WJ-MSCs expanded following good manufacturing practices (GMP) met safety and quality standards regarding the number of cumulative population doublings, genomic stability, and sterility. Human decellularised pericardial scaffolds were tested for DNA content, matrix stiffness, pore size, and absence of microbiological growth. Findings PeriCord implantation was surgically performed on a large non-revascularisable scar in the inferior wall of a 63-year-old male patient. Coronary artery bypass grafting was concomitantly performed in the non-infarcted area. At implantation, the 16-cm2 pericardial scaffold contained 12·5 × 106 viable WJ-MSCs (85·4% cell viability; <0·51 endotoxin units (EU)/mL). Intraoperative PeriCord delivery was expeditious, and secured with surgical glue. The post-operative course showed non-adverse reaction to the PeriCord, without requiring host immunosuppression. The three-month clinical follow-up was uneventful, and three-month cardiac magnetic resonance imaging showed ~9% reduction in scar mass in the treated area. Interpretation This preliminary report describes the development of a scalable clinical-size allogeneic PeriCord cardiac bioimplant, and its first-in-human implantation. Funding La Marató de TV3 Foundation, Government of Catalonia, Catalan Society of Cardiology, “La Caixa” Banking Foundation, Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, Institute of Health Carlos III, and the European Regional Development Fund.

Keywords: Advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP), Biofabrication, Cardiac tissue engineering, Myocardial infarction, Scaffold, Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (WJ-MSCs)


Altay, Gizem, Tosi, Sébastien, García-Díaz, María, Martínez, Elena, (2020). Imaging the cell morphological response to 3D topography and curvature in engineered intestinal tissues Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 8, 294

While conventional cell culture methodologies have relied on flat, two-dimensional cell monolayers, three-dimensional engineered tissues are becoming increasingly popular. Often, engineered tissues can mimic the complex architecture of native tissues, leading to advancements in reproducing physiological functional properties. In particular, engineered intestinal tissues often use hydrogels to mimic villi structures. These finger-like protrusions of a few hundred microns in height have a well-defined topography and curvature. Here, we examined the cell morphological response to these villus-like microstructures at single-cell resolution using a novel embedding method that allows for the histological processing of these delicate hydrogel structures. We demonstrated that by using photopolymerisable poly(ethylene) glycol as an embedding medium, the villus-like microstructures were successfully preserved after sectioning with vibratome or cryotome. Moreover, high-resolution imaging of these sections revealed that cell morphology, nuclei orientation, and the expression of epithelial polarization markers were spatially encoded along the vertical axis of the villus-like microstructures and that this cell morphological response was dramatically affected by the substrate curvature. These findings, which are in good agreement with the data reported for in vivo experiments on the native tissue, are likely to be the origin of more physiologically relevant barrier properties of engineered intestinal tissues when compared with standard monolayer cultures. By showcasing this example, we anticipate that the novel histological embedding procedure will have a positive impact on the study of epithelial cell behavior on three-dimensional substrates in both physiological and pathological situations.

Keywords: Hydrogel scaffold, Confocal microscopy, Substrate curvature, Cell morphology, Cell orientation, Histological section, Small intestine, Villus


Steeves, A.J., Ho, W., Munisso, M.C., Lomboni, D.J., Larrañaga, E., Omelon, S., Martínez, Elena, Spinello, D., Variola, F., (2020). The implication of spatial statistics in human mesenchymal stem cell response to nanotubular architectures International Journal of Nanomedicine 15, 2151-2169

Introduction: In recent years there has been ample interest in nanoscale modifications of synthetic biomaterials to understand fundamental aspects of cell-surface interactions towards improved biological outcomes. In this study, we aimed at closing in on the effects of nanotubular TiO2 surfaces with variable nanotopography on the response on human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Although the influence of TiO2 nanotubes on the cellular response, and in particular on hMSC activity, has already been addressed in the past, previous studies overlooked critical morphological, structural and physical aspects that go beyond the simple nanotube diameter, such as spatial statistics. Methods: To bridge this gap, we implemented an extensive characterization of nanotubular surfaces generated by anodization of titanium with a focus on spatial structural variables including eccentricity, nearest neighbour distance (NND) and Voronoi entropy, and associated them to the hMSC response. In addition, we assessed the biological potential of a two-tiered honeycomb nanoarchitecture, which allowed the detection of combinatory effects that this hierarchical structure has on stem cells with respect to conventional nanotubular designs. We have combined experimental techniques, ranging from Scanning Electron (SEM) and Atomic Force (AFM) microscopy to Raman spectroscopy, with computational simulations to characterize and model nanotubular surfaces. We evaluated the cell response at 6 hrs, 1 and 2 days by fluorescence microscopy, as well as bone mineral deposition by Raman spectroscopy, demonstrating substrate-induced differential biological cueing at both the short- and long-term. Results: Our work demonstrates that the nanotube diameter is not sufficient to comprehensively characterize nanotubular surfaces and equally important parameters, such as eccentricity and wall thickness, ought to be included since they all contribute to the overall spatial disorder which, in turn, dictates the overall bioactive potential. We have also demonstrated that nanotubular surfaces affect the quality of bone mineral deposited by differentiated stem cells. Lastly, we closed in on the integrated effects exerted by the superimposition of two dissimilar nanotubular arrays in the honeycomb architecture. Discussion: This work delineates a novel approach for the characterization of TiO2 nanotubes which supports the incorporation of critical spatial structural aspects that have been overlooked in previous research. This is a crucial aspect to interpret cellular behaviour on nanotubular substrates. Consequently, we anticipate that this strategy will contribute to the unification of studies focused on the use of such powerful nanostructured surfaces not only for biomedical applications but also in other technology fields, such as catalysis.

Keywords: Nanotubes, Nanotopography, Spatial statistics, Stem cells, Bone quality


Altay, Gizem, Batlle, Eduard, Fernández-Majada, Vanesa, Martínez, Elena, (2020). In vitro self-organized mouse small intestinal epithelial monolayer protocol Bio-protocol 10, (3), e3514

Developing protocols to obtain intestinal epithelial monolayers that recapitulate in vivo physiology to overcome the limitations of the organoids’ closed geometry has become of great interest during the last few years. Most of the developed culture models showed physiological-relevant cell composition but did not prove self-renewing capacities. Here, we show a simple method to obtain mouse small intestine-derived epithelial monolayers organized into proliferative crypt-like domains, containing stem cells, and differentiated villus-like regions, closely resembling the in vivo cell composition and distribution. In addition, we adapted our model to a tissue culture format compatible with functional studies and prove close to physiological barrier properties of our in vitro epithelial monolayers. Thus, we have set-up a protocol to generate physiologically relevant intestinal epithelial monolayers to be employed in assays where independent access to both luminal and basolateral compartments is needed, such as drug absorption, intracellular trafficking and microbiome-epithelium interaction assays.

Keywords: Mouse intestinal organoids, Adult intestinal stem cells, Matrigel, Intestinal epithelial monolayer, In vitro intestinal epithelial model, Tissue-like functionality, TEER


Minguela, J., Ginebra, M. P., Llanes, L., Mas-Moruno, C., Roa, J. J., (2020). Influence of grinding/polishing on the mechanical, phase stability and cell adhesion properties of yttria-stabilized zirconia Journal of the European Ceramic Society 40, (12), 4304-4314

The changes in mechanical properties, hydrothermal degradation and cell adhesion were studied in 3Y-TZP under two different superficial modification patterns (uni- and multidirectional) with a surface roughness ranging from 16 to 603 nm. In this sense, mechanical properties (i.e. hardness, indentation fracture toughness and scratch) and accelerated tests in water steam were measured to evaluate the influence of the surface treatments on the superficially modified layer. Moreover, a detailed characterization through micro-Raman spectroscopy and X-Ray diffraction was performed. Finally, SaOS-2 osteoblasts were used for the evaluation of the cell adhesion behaviour on the surfaces. Overall, ground/polished specimens increased the mechanical properties and ageing resistance of mirror-like polished specimens, although resistance to degradation was maximum at intermediate conditions (Sa ≈ 40−180 nm). The studied surfaces allowed cell attachment, but promoted contact guidance (i.e. cell alignment) only on unidirectionally ground surfaces above Sa = 150 nm.

Keywords: Cell adhesion, Grinding, Hydrothermal degradation, Mechanical properties, Zirconia


Khurana, K., Guillem-Marti, J., Soldera, F., Mücklich, F., Canal, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2020). Injectable calcium phosphate foams for the delivery of Pitavastatin as osteogenic and angiogenic agent Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials 108, (3), 760-770

Apatitic bone cements have been used as a clinical bone substitutes and drug delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents in orthopedic applications. This has led to their combination with different drugs with known ability to foster bone formation. Recent studies have evaluated Simvastatin for its role in enhanced bone regeneration, but its lipophilicity hampers incorporation and release to and from the bone graft. In this study, injectable calcium phosphate foams (i-CPF) based on α-tricalcium phosphate were loaded for the first time with Pitavastatin. The stability of the drug in different conditions relevant to this study, the effect of the drug on the i-CPFs properties, the release profile, and the in vitro biological performance with regard to mineralization and vascularization were investigated. Pitavastatin did not cause any changes in neither the micro nor the macro structure of the i-CPFs, which retained their biomimetic features. PITA-loaded i-CPFs showed a dose-dependent drug release, with early stage release kinetics clearly affected by the evolving microstructure due to the setting of cement. in vitro studies showed dose-dependent enhancement of mineralization and vascularization. Our findings contribute towards the design of controlled release with low drug dosing bone grafts: i-CPFs loaded with PITA as osteogenic and angiogenic agent.

Keywords: Controlled drug release, Endothelial progenitor cells, Mineralization, Rat mesenchymal stem cells, Vascularization


Lerche, Martina, Elosegui-Artola, Alberto, Kechagia, Jenny Z., Guzmán, Camilo, Georgiadou, Maria, Andreu, Ion, Gullberg, Donald, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Peuhu, Emilia, Ivaska, Johanna, (2020). Integrin binding dynamics modulate ligand-specific mechanosensing in mammary gland fibroblasts iScience 23, (3), 100907

The link between integrin activity regulation and cellular mechanosensing of tissue rigidity, especially on different extracellular matrix ligands, remains poorly understood. Here, we find that primary mouse mammary gland stromal fibroblasts (MSFs) are able to spread efficiently, generate high forces, and display nuclear YAP on soft collagen-coated substrates, resembling the soft mammary gland tissue. We describe that loss of the integrin inhibitor, SHARPIN, impedes MSF spreading specifically on soft type I collagen but not on fibronectin. Through quantitative experiments and computational modeling, we find that SHARPIN-deficient MSFs display faster force-induced unbinding of adhesions from collagen-coated beads. Faster unbinding, in turn, impairs force transmission in these cells, particularly, at the stiffness optimum observed for wild-type cells. Mechanistically, we link the impaired mechanotransduction of SHARPIN-deficient cells on collagen to reduced levels of collagen-binding integrin α11β1. Thus integrin activity regulation and α11β1 play a role in collagen-specific mechanosensing in MSFs.

Keywords: Biological Sciences, Cell Biology, Functional Aspects of Cell Biology


Gabasa, M., Arshakyan, M., Llorente, A., Chuliá-Peris, L., Pavelescu, I., Xaubet, A., Pereda, J., Alcaraz, J., (2020). Interleukin-1β modulation of the mechanobiology of primary human pulmonary fibroblasts: Potential implications in lung repair International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (22), 8417

Pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-1β (IL-1β) are upregulated during early responses to tissue damage and are expected to transiently compromise the mechanical microenvironment. Fibroblasts are key regulators of tissue mechanics in the lungs and other organs. However, the effects of IL-1β on fibroblast mechanics and functions remain unclear. Here we treated human pulmonary fibroblasts from control donors with IL-1β and used Atomic Force Microscopy to unveil that IL-1β significantly reduces the stiffness of fibroblasts concomitantly with a downregulation of filamentous actin (F-actin) and alpha-smooth muscle (α-SMA). Likewise, COL1A1 mRNA was reduced, whereas that of collagenases MMP1 and MMP2 were upregulated, favoring a reduction of type-I collagen. These mechanobiology changes were functionally associated with reduced proliferation and enhanced migration upon IL-1β stimulation, which could facilitate lung repair by drawing fibroblasts to sites of tissue damage. Our observations reveal that IL-1β may reduce local tissue rigidity by acting both intracellularly and extracellularly through the downregulation of fibroblast contractility and type I collagen deposition, respectively. These IL-1β-dependent mechanical effects may enhance lung repair further by locally increasing pulmonary tissue compliance to preserve normal lung distension and function. Moreover, our results support that IL-1β provides innate anti-fibrotic protection that may be relevant during the early stages of lung repair.

Keywords: Cell mechanics, Collagen, IL-1β, MMPs, Pulmonary fibroblasts, Repair


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


Alert, R., Trepat, X., (2020). Physical models of collective cell migration Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics 11, 77-101

Collective cell migration is a key driver of embryonic development, wound healing, and some types of cancer invasion. Here, we provide a physical perspective of the mechanisms underlying collective cell migration. We begin with a catalog of the cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions that govern cell migration, which we classify into positional and orientational interactions. We then review the physical models that have been developed to explain how these interactions give rise to collective cellular movement. These models span the subcellular to the supracellular scales, and they include lattice models, phase-field models, active network models, particle models, and continuum models. For each type of model, we discuss its formulation, its limitations, and the main emergent phenomena that it has successfully explained. These phenomena include flocking and fluid-solid transitions, as well as wetting, fingering, and mechanical waves in spreading epithelial monolayers. We close by outlining remaining challenges and future directions in the physics of collective cell migration.

Keywords: Active network models, Cellular Potts models, Continuum models, Particle models, Phase-field models, Tissue biophysics


Madsen, B. S., Thiele, M., Detlefsen, S., Sørensen, M. D., Kjærgaard, M., Møller, L. S., Rasmussen, D. N., Schlosser, A., Holmskov, U., Trebicka, J., Sorensen, G. L., Krag, A., (2020). Prediction of liver fibrosis severity in alcoholic liver disease by human microfibrillar-associated protein 4 Liver International 40, (7), 1701-1712

Background: Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a public health concern that is the cause of half of all cirrhosis-related deaths. Early detection of fibrosis, ideally in the precirrhotic stage, is a key strategy for improving ALD outcomes and for preventing progression to cirrhosis. Previous studies identified the blood-borne marker human microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP4) as a biomarker for detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related fibrosis. Aim: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of MFAP4 to detect ALD-induced fibrosis. Method: We performed a prospective, liver biopsy-controlled study involving 266 patients with prior or current alcohol overuse. Patients were split into a training and a validation cohort. Results: MFAP4 was present in fibrotic hepatic tissue and serum MFAP4 levels increased with fibrosis grade. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) for detection of cirrhosis was 0.91 (95% CI 0.85-0.96) in the training cohort and 0.91 (95% CI 0.79-1.00) in the validation cohort. For detection of advanced fibrosis, the AUROC was 0.88 (95% CI 0.81-0.94) in the training cohort and 0.92 (95% CI 0.83-1.00) in the validation cohort. The diagnostic accuracy did not differ between MFAP4 and the enhanced liver fibrosis (ELF) test or transient elastography (TE) in an intention-to-diagnose analysis. MFAP4 did not predict hepatic decompensation in a time-to-decompensation analysis in a subgroup of patients with cirrhosis. Conclusion: MFAP4 is a novel biomarker that can detect ALD-related fibrosis with high accuracy.

Keywords: Biomarker, Cirrhosis, Extracellular matrix protein, Liver biopsy, Non-invasive testing


Torres, S., Abdullah, Z., Brol, M. J., Hellerbrand, C., Fernandez, M., Fiorotto, R., Klein, S., Königshofer, P., Liedtke, C., Lotersztajn, S., Nevzorova, Y. A., Schierwagen, R., Reiberger, T., Uschner, F. E., Tacke, F., Weiskirchen, R., Trebicka, J., (2020). Recent advances in practical methods for liver cell biology: A short overview International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (6), 2027

Molecular and cellular research modalities for the study of liver pathologies have been tremendously improved over the recent decades. Advanced technologies offer novel opportunities to establish cell isolation techniques with excellent purity, paving the path for 2D and 3D microscopy and high-throughput assays (e.g., bulk or single-cell RNA sequencing). The use of stem cell and organoid research will help to decipher the pathophysiology of liver diseases and the interaction between various parenchymal and non-parenchymal liver cells. Furthermore, sophisticated animal models of liver disease allow for the in vivo assessment of fibrogenesis, portal hypertension and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and for the preclinical testing of therapeutic strategies. The purpose of this review is to portray in detail novel in vitro and in vivo methods for the study of liver cell biology that had been presented at the workshop of the 8th meeting of the European Club for Liver Cell Biology (ECLCB-8) in October of 2018 in Bonn, Germany.

Keywords: Fibrogenesis, Hepatic stellate cells, Hepatocellular cancer, In vitro models, Steatosis


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


Sierra, J., Marrugo-Ramírez, J., Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2020). Sensor-integrated microfluidic approaches for liquid biopsies applications in early detection of cancer Sensors 20, (5), 1317

Cancer represents one of the conditions with the most causes of death worldwide. Common methods for its diagnosis are based on tissue biopsies—the extraction of tissue from the primary tumor, which is used for its histological analysis. However, this technique represents a risk for the patient, along with being expensive and time-consuming and so it cannot be frequently used to follow the progress of the disease. Liquid biopsy is a new cancer diagnostic alternative, which allows the analysis of the molecular information of the solid tumors via a body fluid draw. This fluid-based diagnostic method displays relevant advantages, including its minimal invasiveness, lower risk, use as often as required, it can be analyzed with the use of microfluidic-based platforms with low consumption of reagent, and it does not require specialized personnel and expensive equipment for the diagnosis. In recent years, the integration of sensors in microfluidics lab-on-a-chip devices was performed for liquid biopsies applications, granting significant advantages in the separation and detection of circulating tumor nucleic acids (ctNAs), circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and exosomes. The improvements in isolation and detection technologies offer increasingly sensitive and selective equipment’s, and the integration in microfluidic devices provides a better characterization and analysis of these biomarkers. These fully integrated systems will facilitate the generation of fully automatized platforms at low-cost for compact cancer diagnosis systems at an early stage and for the prediction and prognosis of cancer treatment through the biomarkers for personalized tumor analysis.

Keywords: Cancer, Circulant tumor cells (CTC), Circulant tumor DNA (ctDNA), Exosomes, Liquid biopsy, Microfluidic, Sensors


Sanz-Fraile, H., Amoros, S., Mendizabal, I., Galvez-Monton, C., Prat-Vidal, C., Bayes-Genis, A., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Otero, J., (2020). Silk-reinforced collagen hydrogels with raised multiscale stiffness for mesenchymal cells 3D culture Tissue Engineering - Part A 26, (5-6), 358-370

Type I collagen hydrogels are of high interest in tissue engineering. With the evolution of 3D bioprinting technologies, a high number of collagen-based scaffolds have been reported for the development of 3D cell cultures. A recent proposal was to mix collagen with silk fibroin derived from Bombyx mori silkworm. Nevertheless, due to the difficulties in the preparation and the characteristics of the protein, several problems such as phase separation and collagen denaturation appear during the procedure. Therefore, the common solution is to diminish the concentration of collagen although in that way the most biologically relevant component is reduced. In this study, we present a new, simple, and effective method to develop a collagen-silk hybrid hydrogel with high collagen concentration and with increased stiffness approaching that of natural tissues, which could be of high interest for the development of cardiac patches for myocardial regeneration and for preconditioning of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to improve their therapeutic potential. Sericin in the silk was preserved by using a physical solubilizing procedure that results in a preserved fibrous structure of type I collagen, as shown by ultrastructural imaging. The macro- and micromechanical properties of the hybrid hydrogels measured by tensile stretch and atomic force microscopy, respectively, showed a more than twofold stiffening than the collagen-only hydrogels. Rheological measurements showed improved printability properties for the developed biomaterial. The suitability of the hydrogels for 3D cell culture was assessed by 3D bioprinting bone marrow-derived MSCs cultured within the scaffolds. The result was a biomaterial with improved printability characteristics that better resembled the mechanical properties of natural soft tissues while preserving biocompatibility owing to the high concentration of collagen. In this study, we report the development of silk microfiber-reinforced type I collagen hydrogels for 3D bioprinting and cell culture. In contrast with previously reported studies, a novel physical method allowed the preservation of the silk sericin protein. Hydrogels were stable, showed no phase separation between the biomaterials, and they presented improved printability. An increase between two- and threefold of the multiscale stiffness of the scaffolds was achieved with no need of using additional crosslinkers or complex methods, which could be of high relevance for cardiac patches development and for preconditioning mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for therapeutic applications. We demonstrate that bone marrow-derived MSCs can be effectively bioprinted and 3D cultured within the stiffened structures.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting, Collagen, Hydrogel, Mesenchymal cells, Multiscale mechanics, Silk


Lidón, Laia, Vergara, Cristina, Ferrer, Isidro, Hernández, Félix, Ávila, Jesús, del Rio, Jose A., Gavín, Rosalina, (2020). Tau protein as a new regulator of cellular prion protein transcription Molecular Neurobiology 57, (10), 4170-4186

Cellular prion protein (PrPC) is largely responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) when it becomes the abnormally processed and protease resistant form PrPSC. Physiological functions of PrPC include protective roles against oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. Relevantly, PrPC downregulates tau levels, whose accumulation and modification are a hallmark in the advance of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition to the accumulation of misfolded proteins, in the initial stages of AD-affected brains display both increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) markers and levels of PrPC. However, the factors responsible for the upregulation of PrPC are unknown. Thus, the aim of this study was to uncover the different molecular actors promoting PrPC overexpression. In order to mimic early stages of AD, we used β-amyloid-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs) and tau cellular treatments, as well as ROS generation, to elucidate their particular roles in human PRNP promoter activity. In addition, we used specific chemical inhibitors and site-specific mutations of the PRNP promoter sequence to analyze the contribution of the main transcription factors involved in PRNP transcription under the analyzed conditions. Our results revealed that tau is a new modulator of PrPC expression independently of ADDL treatment and ROS levels. Lastly, we discovered that the JNK/c-jun-AP-1 pathway is involved in increased PRNP transcription activity by tau but not in the promoter response to ROS.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, Cellular prion protein, Promoter, Tau, Tauopathies


Monferrer, Ezequiel, Martínn-Vañó, Susana, Carretero, Aitor, Garcíaa-Lizarribar, Andrea, Burgos-Panadero, Rebeca, Navarro, Samuel, Samitier, Josep, Noguera, Rosa, (2020). A three-dimensional bioprinted model to evaluate the effect of stiffness on neuroblastoma cell cluster dynamics and behavior Scientific Reports 10, (1), 6370

Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinted culture systems allow to accurately control microenvironment components and analyze their effects at cellular and tissue levels. The main objective of this study was to identify, quantify and localize the effects of physical-chemical communication signals between tumor cells and the surrounding biomaterial stiffness over time, defining how aggressiveness increases in SK-N-BE(2) neuroblastoma (NB) cell line. Biomimetic hydrogels with SK-N-BE(2) cells, methacrylated gelatin and increasing concentrations of methacrylated alginate (AlgMA 0%, 1% and 2%) were used. Young’s modulus was used to define the stiffness of bioprinted hydrogels and NB tumors. Stained sections of paraffin-embedded hydrogels were digitally quantified. Human NB and 1% AlgMA hydrogels presented similar Young´s modulus mean, and orthotopic NB mice tumors were equally similar to 0% and 1% AlgMA hydrogels. Porosity increased over time; cell cluster density decreased over time and with stiffness, and cell cluster occupancy generally increased with time and decreased with stiffness. In addition, cell proliferation, mRNA metabolism and antiapoptotic activity advanced over time and with stiffness. Together, this rheological, optical and digital data show the potential of the 3D in vitro cell model described herein to infer how intercellular space stiffness patterns drive the clinical behavior associated with NB patients.

Keywords: Biomaterials - cells, Paediatric cancer


Cilloni, Daniela, Petiti, Jessica, Campia, Valentina, Podestà , Marina, Squillario, Margherita, Montserrat, Nuria, Bertaina, Alice, Sabatini, Federica, Carturan, Sonia, Berger, Massimo, Saglio, Francesco, Bandini, Giuseppe, Bonifazi, Francesca, Fagioli, Franca, Moretta, Lorenzo, Saglio, Giuseppe, Verri, Alessandro, Barla, Annalisa, Locatelli, Franco, Frassoni, Francesco, (2020). Transplantation induces profound changes in the transcriptional asset of hematopoietic stem cells: Identification of specific signatures using machine learning techniques Journal of Clinical Medicine 9, (6), 1670

During the phase of proliferation needed for hematopoietic reconstitution following transplantation, hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPC) must express genes involved in stem cell self-renewal. We investigated the expression of genes relevant for self-renewal and expansion of HSPC (operationally defined as CD34+ cells) in steady state and after transplantation. Specifically, we evaluated the expression of ninety-one genes that were analyzed by real-time PCR in CD34+ cells isolated from (i) 12 samples from umbilical cord blood (UCB); (ii) 15 samples from bone marrow healthy donors; (iii) 13 samples from bone marrow after umbilical cord blood transplant (UCBT); and (iv) 29 samples from patients after transplantation with adult hematopoietic cells. The results show that transplanted CD34+ cells from adult cells acquire an asset very different from transplanted CD34+ cells from cord blood. Multivariate machine learning analysis (MMLA) showed that four specific gene signatures can be obtained by comparing the four types of CD34+ cells. In several, but not all cases, transplanted HSPC from UCB overexpress reprogramming genes. However, these remarkable changes do not alter the commitment to hematopoietic lineage. Overall, these results reveal undisclosed aspects of transplantation biology.

Keywords: Hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell, Cord blood, Stem cell transplantation


Mencattini, A., Di Giuseppe, D., D'Orazio, M., Rizzuto, V., Manu Pereira, M. M., Colomba Comes, M., Lopez-Martinez, M. J., Samitier, J., Martinelli, E., (2020). A microfluidic device for shape measurement in red blood cells (RBCs) IEEE International Workshop on Medical Measurement and Applications (MEMEA) , IEEE (Bari, Italy) , 1-5

Modern optical sensors coupled with time-lapse microscopy devices and dedicated software tools allow the miniaturization of laboratories for biological experiments leading to the Organ-On-Chip (OoC) framework. OoCs allow performing massive measurements on a large number of cells under the assumption of reproducibility conditions, permitting to investigate the cell dynamics in terms of motility and shape changes over time. In this work, we present the OoC platform used in a preliminary study of the Rare Haemolytic Anaemia (RHA) disease, a group of rare diseases characterized by haemolysis, which is the premature loss of red blood cells (RBCs). Preliminary results demonstrate the effectiveness of shape measurement for the diagnosis of RHA.

Keywords: Anaemia diagnosis, Cell tracking, Plasticity measurement, Time-lapse microscopy


Almici, Enrico, Caballero, David, Montero, Joan, Samitier, Josep, (2020). 3D neuroblastoma in vitro models using engineered cell-derived matrices Biomaterials for 3D Tumor Modeling (ed. Kundu, Subhas C., Reis, Rui L.), Elsevier (Amsterdam, Netherlands) , 107-130

Neuroblastoma (NB) is a malignant tumor that affects the peripheral nervous system and represents one of the most frequent cancers in infants. Its prognosis is poor in older patients and the presence of genetic abnormalities. Metastasis is often present at the time of diagnosis, making treatment more intensive and unsuccessful. Poor prognosis and variable treatment efficacy require a better understanding of the underlying biology. Evidence has shown that the tumor microenvironment is the characteristic of tumor malignancy and progression. A more highly differentiated tissue phenotype represents a positive prognostic marker, while the tumoral tissue is characterized by a distinct composition and morphology of the extracellular matrix (ECM). In this chapter, we discuss the application of decellularized cell-derived matrices (CDMs) to model in vitro the morphology of the ECM encountered in histological hallmarks of NB patients. This technique allows for the in vitro reproduction of the fine structure and composition of native microenvironments. Because of recent advances in culture systems and decellularization techniques, it is possible to engineer CDM composition and microarchitecture to produce differentiated models of tissue niches. The final goal is to repopulate the “scaffold” with malignant NB cells for drug screening and target discovery applications, studying the impact of patient-inspired tissues on signaling, migration, and tissue remodeling.

Keywords: Neuroblastoma, Cancer, Bioengineering, Tumor microenvironment, Cell-derived matrices, Decellularization


Conti, S., Kato, T., Park, D., Sahai, E., Trepat, X., Labernadie, A., (2020). CAFs and cancer cells co-migration in 3D spheroid invasion assay Methods in Molecular Biology (ed. Campbell, K., Thevenea, E.), Humana Press (New York, USA) 2179, 243-256

In many solid tumors, collective cell invasion prevails over single-cell dissemination strategies. Collective modes of invasion often display specific front/rear cellular organization, where invasive leader cells arise from cancer cell populations or the tumor stroma. Collective invasion involves coordinated cellular movements which require tight mechanical crosstalk through specific combinations of cell–cell interactions and cell–matrix adhesions. Cancer Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs) have been recently reported to drive the dissemination of epithelial cancer cells through ECM remodeling and direct intercellular contact. However, the cooperation between tumor and stromal cells remains poorly understood. Here we present a simple spheroid invasion assay to assess the role of CAFs in the collective migration of epithelial tumor cells. This method enables the characterization of 3D spheroid invasion patterns through live cell fluorescent labeling combined with spinning disc microscopy. When embedded in extracellular matrix, the invasive strands of spheroids can be tracked and leader/follower organization of CAFs and cancer cells can be quantified.

Keywords: 3D spheroid invasion, Cancer associated fibroblasts, Collective migration, Epithelial cancer cells, Leader/follower cells


Otero, J., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2020). Characterization of the elastic properties of extracellular matrix models by atomic force microscopy Methods in Cell Biology (ed. Caballero, David, Kundu, Subhas C., Reis, Rui L.), Academic Press (Cambridge, USA) 156, 59-83

Tissue elasticity is a critical regulator of cell behavior in normal and diseased conditions like fibrosis and cancer. Since the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a major regulator of tissue elasticity and function, several ECM-based models have emerged in the last decades, including in vitro endogenous ECM, decellularized tissue ECM and ECM hydrogels. The development of such models has urged the need to quantify their elastic properties particularly at the nanometer scale, which is the relevant length scale for cell-ECM interactions. For this purpose, the versatility of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to quantify the nanomechanical properties of soft biomaterials like ECM models has emerged as a very suitable technique. In this chapter we provide a detailed protocol on how to assess the Young's elastic modulus of ECM models by AFM, discuss some of the critical issues, and provide troubleshooting guidelines as well as illustrative examples of AFM measurements, particularly in the context of cancer.

Keywords: 3D ECM hydrogels, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularized tissue, Elastic modulus, Endogenous ECM, Extracellular matrix


Almici, Enrico, Caballero, David, Montero, Joan, Samitier, Josep, (2020). Engineering cell-derived matrices with controlled 3D architectures for pathophysiological studies Methods in Cell Biology (ed. Caballero, David, Kundu, Subhas C., Reis, Rui Luís), Academic Press (Cambridge, USA) 156, 161-183

The composition and architecture of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and their dynamic alterations, play an important regulatory role on numerous cellular processes. Cells embedded in 3D scaffolds show phenotypes and morphodynamics reminiscent of the native scenario. This is in contrast to flat environments, where cells display artificial phenotypes. The structural and biomolecular properties of the ECM are critical in regulating cell behavior via mechanical, chemical and topological cues, which induce cytoskeleton rearrangement and gene expression. Indeed, distinct ECM architectures are encountered in the native stroma, which depend on tissue type and function. For instance, anisotropic geometries are associated with ECM degradation and remodeling during tumor progression, favoring tumor cell invasion. Overall, the development of innovative in vitro ECM models of the ECM that reproduce the structural and physicochemical properties of the native scenario is of upmost importance to investigate the mechanistic determinants of tumor dissemination. In this chapter, we describe an extremely versatile technique to engineer three-dimensional (3D) matrices with controlled architectures for the study of pathophysiological processes in vitro. To this aim, a confluent culture of “sacrificial” fibroblasts was seeded on top of microfabricated guiding templates to induce the 3D ECM growth with specific isotropic or anisotropic architectures. The resulting matrices, and cells seeded on them, recapitulated the structure, composition, phenotypes and morphodynamics typically found in the native scenario. Overall, this method paves the way for the development of in vitro ECMs for pathophysiological studies with potential clinical relevance.

Keywords: Extracellular matrix, Cell-derived matrix, 3D model, Biomimicry, Anisotropy


Kechagia, Jenny Z., Ivaska, Johanna, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2019). Integrins as biomechanical sensors of the microenvironment Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 20, (8), 457-473

Integrins, and integrin-mediated adhesions, have long been recognized to provide the main molecular link attaching cells to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to serve as bidirectional hubs transmitting signals between cells and their environment. Recent evidence has shown that their combined biochemical and mechanical properties also allow integrins to sense, respond to and interact with ECM of differing properties with exquisite specificity. Here, we review this work first by providing an overview of how integrin function is regulated from both a biochemical and a mechanical perspective, affecting integrin cell-surface availability, binding properties, activation or clustering. Then, we address how this biomechanical regulation allows integrins to respond to different ECM physicochemical properties and signals, such as rigidity, composition and spatial distribution. Finally, we discuss the importance of this sensing for major cell functions by taking cell migration and cancer as examples.

Keywords: Cell migration, Extracellular matrix, Integrins, Mechanotransduction, Single-molecule biophysics


Palmisano, I., Danzi, M. C., Hutson, T. H., Zhou, L., McLachlan, E., Serger, E., Shkura, K., Srivastava, P. K., Hervera, A., Neill, N. O., Liu, T., Dhrif, H., Wang, Z., Kubat, M., Wuchty, S., Merkenschlager, M., Levi, L., Elliott, E., Bixby, J. L., Lemmon, V. P., Di Giovanni, S., (2019). Epigenomic signatures underpin the axonal regenerative ability of dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons Nature Neuroscience 22, (11), 1913-1924

Axonal injury results in regenerative success or failure, depending on whether the axon lies in the peripheral or the CNS, respectively. The present study addresses whether epigenetic signatures in dorsal root ganglia discriminate between regenerative and non-regenerative axonal injury. Chromatin immunoprecipitation for the histone 3 (H3) post-translational modifications H3K9ac, H3K27ac and H3K27me3; an assay for transposase-accessible chromatin; and RNA sequencing were performed in dorsal root ganglia after sciatic nerve or dorsal column axotomy. Distinct histone acetylation and chromatin accessibility signatures correlated with gene expression after peripheral, but not central, axonal injury. DNA-footprinting analyses revealed new transcriptional regulators associated with regenerative ability. Machine-learning algorithms inferred the direction of most of the gene expression changes. Neuronal conditional deletion of the chromatin remodeler CCCTC-binding factor impaired nerve regeneration, implicating chromatin organization in the regenerative competence. Altogether, the present study offers the first epigenomic map providing insight into the transcriptional response to injury and the differential regenerative ability of sensory neurons.

Keywords: Cell biology, Computational biology and bioinformatics, Molecular biology, Neuroscience


Chen, Tianchi, Callan-Jones, Andrew, Fedorov, Eduard, Ravasio, Andrea, Brugués, Agustí, Ong, Hui Ting, Toyama, Yusuke, Low, Boon Chuan, Trepat, Xavier, Shemesh, Tom, Voituriez, Raphaël, Ladoux, Benoît, (2019). Large-scale curvature sensing by directional actin flow drives cellular migration mode switching Nature Physics 15, (4), 393-402

Cell migration over heterogeneous substrates during wound healing or morphogenetic processes leads to shape changes driven by different organizations of the actin cytoskeleton and by functional changes including lamellipodial protrusions and contractile actin cables. Cells distinguish between cell-sized positive and negative curvatures in their physical environment by forming protrusions at positive curvatures and actin cables at negative curvatures; however, the cellular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we report that concave edges promote polarized actin structures with actin flow directed towards the cell edge, in contrast to well-documented retrograde flow at convex edges. Anterograde flow and contractility induce a tension anisotropy gradient. A polarized actin network is formed, accompanied by a local polymerization–depolymerization gradient, together with leading-edge contractile actin cables in the front. These cables extend onto non-adherent regions while still maintaining contact with the substrate through focal adhesions. The contraction and dynamic reorganization of this actin structure allows forward movements enabling cell migration over non-adherent regions on the substrate. These versatile functional structures may help cells sense and navigate their environment by adapting to external geometric and mechanical cues.

Keywords: Biopolymers in vivo, Cellular motility


Hortelão, Ana C., Carrascosa, Rafael, Murillo-Cremaes, Nerea, Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Targeting 3D bladder cancer spheroids with urease-powered nanomotors ACS Nano 13, (1), 429-439

Cancer is one of the main causes of death around the world, lacking efficient clinical treatments that generally present severe side effects. In recent years, various nanosystems have been explored to specifically target tumor tissues, enhancing the efficacy of cancer treatment and minimizing the side effects. In particular, bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer worldwide and presents a high survival rate but serious recurrence levels, demanding an improvement in the existent therapies. Here, we present urease-powered nanomotors based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles that contain both polyethylene glycol and anti-FGFR3 antibody on their outer surface to target bladder cancer cells in the form of 3D spheroids. The autonomous motion is promoted by urea, which acts as fuel and is inherently present at high concentrations in the bladder. Antibody-modified nanomotors were able to swim in both simulated and real urine, showing a substrate-dependent enhanced diffusion. The internalization efficiency of the antibody-modified nanomotors into the spheroids in the presence of urea was significantly higher compared with antibody-modified passive particles or bare nanomotors. Furthermore, targeted nanomotors resulted in a higher suppression of spheroid proliferation compared with bare nanomotors, which could arise from the local ammonia production and the therapeutic effect of anti-FGFR3. These results hold significant potential for the development of improved targeted cancer therapy and diagnostics using biocompatible nanomotors.

Keywords: 3D cell culture, Bladder cancer, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanomachines, Nanomotors, Self-propulsion, Targeting


Park, D. E., Cheng, J., Berrios, C., Montero, J., Cortés-Cros, M., Ferretti, S., Arora, R., Tillgren, M. L., Gokhale, P. C., DeCaprio, J. A., (2019). Dual inhibition of MDM2 and MDM4 in virus-positive Merkel cell carcinoma enhances the p53 response Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, (3), 1027-1032

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) contributes to approximately 80% of all Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs), a highly aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin. MCV-positive MCC expresses small T antigen (ST) and a truncated form of large T antigen (LT) and usually contains wild-type p53 (TP53) and RB (RB1). In contrast, virus-negative MCC contains inactivating mutations in TP53 and RB1. While the MCV-truncated LT can bind and inhibit RB, it does not bind p53. We report here that MCV LT binds to RB, leading to increased levels of ARF, an inhibitor of MDM2, and activation of p53. However, coexpression of ST reduced p53 activation. MCV ST recruits the MYC homologue MYCL (L-Myc) to the EP400 chromatin remodeler complex and transactivates specific target genes. We observed that depletion of EP400 in MCV-positive MCC cell lines led to increased p53 target gene expression. We suspected that the MCV ST–MYCL–EP400 complex could functionally inactivate p53, but the underlying mechanism was not known. Integrated ChIP and RNA-sequencing analysis following EP400 depletion identified MDM2 as well as CK1α, an activator of MDM4, as target genes of the ST–MYCL–EP400 complex. In addition, MCV-positive MCC cells expressed high levels of MDM4. Combining MDM2 inhibitors with lenalidomide targeting CK1α or an MDM4 inhibitor caused synergistic activation of p53, leading to an apoptotic response in MCV-positive MCC cells and MCC-derived xenografts in mice. These results support dual targeting of MDM2 and MDM4 in virus-positive MCC and other p53 wild-type tumors.

Keywords: Casein kinase 1 alpha, Lenalidomide, MDM2-MDM4, Merkel cell carcinoma, P53


Kaurin, D., Arroyo, M., (2019). Surface tension controls the hydraulic fracture of adhesive interfaces bridged by molecular bonds Physical Review Letters 123, (22), 228102

Biological function requires cell-cell adhesions to tune their cohesiveness; for instance, during the opening of new fluid-filled cavities under hydraulic pressure. To understand the physical mechanisms supporting this adaptability, we develop a stochastic model for the hydraulic fracture of adhesive interfaces bridged by molecular bonds. We find that surface tension strongly enhances the stability of these interfaces by controlling flaw sensitivity, lifetime, and optimal architecture in terms of bond clustering. We also show that bond mobility embrittles adhesions and changes the mechanism of decohesion. Our study provides a mechanistic background to understand the biological regulation of cell-cell cohesion and fracture.

Keywords: Biomimetic & bio-inspired materials, Cell adhesion, Fracture, Self-healing


Bos, J. J., Vinck, M., Marchesi, P., Keestra, A., van Mourik-Donga, L. A., Jackson, J. C., Verschure, P., Pennartz, C. M. A., (2019). Multiplexing of self and other information in hippocampal ensembles Cell Reports 29, (12), 3859-3871.e6

In addition to coding a subject’s location in space, the hippocampus has been suggested to code social information, including the spatial position of conspecifics. “Social place cells” have been reported for tasks in which an observer mimics the behavior of a demonstrator. We examine whether rat hippocampal neurons may encode the behavior of a minirobot, but without requiring the animal to mimic it. Rather than finding social place cells, we observe that robot behavioral patterns modulate place fields coding animal position. This modulation may be confounded by correlations between robot movement and changes in the animal’s position. Although rat position indeed significantly predicts robot behavior, we find that hippocampal ensembles code additional information about robot movement patterns. Fast-spiking interneurons are particularly informative about robot position and global behavior. In conclusion, when the animal’s own behavior is conditional on external agents, the hippocampus multiplexes information about self and others.

Keywords: CA1, Decoding, Information theory, Interneuron, Mutual information, Place cells, Place field, Tobot, Docial behavior, Tetrode


Valls-Margarit, M., Iglesias-García, O., Di Guglielmo, C., Sarlabous, L., Tadevosyan, K., Paoli, R., Comelles, J., Blanco-Almazán, D., Jiménez-Delgado, S., Castillo-Fernández, O., Samitier, J., Jané, R., Martínez, Elena, Raya, Á., (2019). Engineered macroscale cardiac constructs elicit human myocardial tissue-like functionality Stem Cell Reports 13, (1), 207-220

In vitro surrogate models of human cardiac tissue hold great promise in disease modeling, cardiotoxicity testing, and future applications in regenerative medicine. However, the generation of engineered human cardiac constructs with tissue-like functionality is currently thwarted by difficulties in achieving efficient maturation at the cellular and/or tissular level. Here, we report on the design and implementation of a platform for the production of engineered cardiac macrotissues from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which we term “CardioSlice.” PSC-derived cardiomyocytes, together with human fibroblasts, are seeded into large 3D porous scaffolds and cultured using a parallelized perfusion bioreactor with custom-made culture chambers. Continuous electrical stimulation for 2 weeks promotes cardiomyocyte alignment and synchronization, and the emergence of cardiac tissue-like properties. These include electrocardiogram-like signals that can be readily measured on the surface of CardioSlice constructs, and a response to proarrhythmic drugs that is predictive of their effect in human patients.

Keywords: Cardiac tissue engineering, CardioSlice, ECG-like signals, Electrical stimulation, Heart physiology, Human induced pluripotent stem cells, Perfusion bioreactor, Tissue-like properties


Santos-Pata, Diogo, Zucca, Riccardo, López-Carral, Héctor, Verschure, P., (2019). Modulating grid cell scale and intrinsic frequencies via slow high-threshold conductances: A simplified model Neural Networks 119, 66-73

Grid cells in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) have known spatial periodic firing fields which provide a metric for the representation of self-location and path planning. The hexagonal tessellation pattern of grid cells scales up progressively along the MEC’s layer II dorsal-to-ventral axis. This scaling gradient has been hypothesized to originate either from inter-population synaptic dynamics as postulated by attractor networks, or from projected theta frequency waves to different axis levels, as in oscillatory models. Alternatively, cellular dynamics and specifically slow high-threshold conductances have been proposed to have an impact on the grid cell scale. To test the hypothesis that intrinsic hyperpolarization-activated cation currents account for both the scaled gradient and the oscillatory frequencies observed along the dorsal-to-ventral axis, we have modeled and analyzed data from a population of grid cells simulated with spiking neurons interacting through low-dimensional attractor dynamics. We observed that the intrinsic neuronal membrane properties of simulated cells were sufficient to induce an increase in grid scale and potentiate differences in the membrane potential oscillatory frequency. Overall, our results suggest that the after-spike dynamics of cation currents may play a major role in determining the grid cells’ scale and that oscillatory frequencies are a consequence of intrinsic cellular properties that are specific to different levels of the dorsal-to-ventral axis in the MEC layer II.

Keywords: Grid cells, Entorhinal, Hyperpolarization, Navigation, Space


Lehmann, J., Praktiknjo, M., Nielsen, M. J., Schierwagen, R., Meyer, C., Thomas, D., Violi, F., Strassburg, C. P., Bendtsen, F., Moller, S., Krag, A., Karsdal, M. A., Leeming, D. J., Trebicka, J., (2019). Collagen type IV remodelling gender-specifically predicts mortality in decompensated cirrhosis Liver International 39, (5), 885-893

Background & Aims: Remodelling of extracellular matrix is crucial in progressive liver fibrosis. Collagen type III desposition has been shown in acute decompensation. Extratracellular matrix is compiled of deposition of various components. The role of basement membrane collagen type IV in advanced cirrhosis and acute decompensation is unclear and investigated in this study. Methods: Patients with decompensated cirrhosis from the prospective NEPTUN cohort (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03628807), who underwent transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt procedure were included. Clinical and laboratory parameters, PRO-C4 and C4M levels were measured in blood samples from portal and hepatic veins just before transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt placement. Results: Levels of C4M and PRO-C4 are significantly lower in patients with massive ascites and impaired renal sodium excretion. C4M and PRO-C4 show gender-specific profiles with significantly lower levels in females compared to males. Females with higher C4M levels show higher mortality. By contrast, males with higher C4M levels show lower mortality. In multivariate Cox regression analysis, C4M is an independent predictor of survival in female patients. Conclusion: This study shows that markers of collagen type IV remodelling do not accumulate in severe renal dysfunction. Although collagen type IV degradation markers derive from the liver, portal venous C4M levels are relevant for survival. Moreover, it demonstrates that circulating C4M shows gender-specific profiles, which can independently predict survival in female patients with decompensated cirrhosis.

Keywords: ACLF, Acute decompensation, Acute-on-chronic liver failure, Cirrhosis, Collagen type IV, Extracellular matrix remodelling, Gender, Liver, Portal hypertension, Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt


Alvarez-Silva, C., Schierwagen, R., Pohlmann, A., Magdaleno, F., Uschner, F. E., Ryan, P., Vehreschild, M. J. G. T., Claria, J., Latz, E., Lelouvier, B., Arumugam, M., Trebicka, J., (2019). Compartmentalization of immune response and microbial translocation in decompensated cirrhosis Frontiers in Immunology 10, 69

Background: Acquired dysfunctional immunity in cirrhosis predisposes patients to frequent bacterial infections, especially spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), leading to systemic inflammation that is associated with poor outcome. But systemic inflammation can also be found in the absence of a confirmed infection. Detection of bacterial DNA has been investigated as a marker of SBP and as a predictor of prognosis. Data is, however, contradictory. Here we investigated whether levels of IL-6 and IL-8 putatively produced by myeloid cells in ascites are associated with systemic inflammation and whether inflammation depends on the presence of specific bacterial DNA. Methods and Materials: We enrolled 33 patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis from whom we collected paired samples of blood and ascites. IL-6 and IL-8 were measured in serum samples of all patients using ELISA. In a subset of 10 representative patients, bacterial DNA was extracted from ascites and whole blood, followed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Results: There were significantly higher levels of IL-6 in ascites fluid compared to blood samples in all patients. Interestingly, IL-6 levels in blood correlated tightly with disease severity and surrogates of systemic inflammation, while IL-6 levels in ascites did not. Moreover, patients with higher blood CRP levels showed greater SBP prevalence compared to patients with lower levels, despite similar positive culture results. Bacterial richness was also significantly higher in ascites compared to the corresponding patient blood. We identified differences in microbial composition and diversity between ascites and blood, but no tight relationship with surrogates of systemic inflammation could be observed. Discussion: In decompensated cirrhosis, markers of systemic inflammation and microbiota composition seem to be dysregulated in ascites and blood. While a relationship between systemic inflammation and microbiota composition seems to exist in blood, this is not the case for ascites in our hands. These data may suggest compartmentalization of the immune response and interaction of the latter with the microbiota especially in the blood compartment.

Keywords: Acute-on-chronic liver failure, Ascites, Cirrhosis, Cytokines, Microbiome, Myeloid cells, Systemic inflammation


Garcia-Puig, A., Mosquera, J. L., Jiménez-Delgado, S., García-Pastor, C., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., Canals, F., Raya, A., (2019). Proteomics analysis of extracellular matrix remodeling during zebrafish heart regeneration Molecular & cellular proteomics 18, (9), 1745-1755

Adult zebrafish, in contrast to mammals, are able to regenerate their hearts in response to injury or experimental amputation. Our understanding of the cellular and molecular bases that underlie this process, although fragmentary, has increased significantly over the last years. However, the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during zebrafish heart regeneration has been comparatively rarely explored. Here, we set out to characterize the ECM protein composition in adult zebrafish hearts, and whether it changed during the regenerative response. For this purpose, we first established a decellularization protocol of adult zebrafish ventricles that significantly enriched the yield of ECM proteins. We then performed proteomic analyses of decellularized control hearts and at different times of regeneration. Our results show a dynamic change in ECM protein composition, most evident at the earliest (7 days post-amputation) time-point analyzed. Regeneration associated with sharp increases in specific ECM proteins, and with an overall decrease in collagens and cytoskeletal proteins. We finally tested by atomic force microscopy that the changes in ECM composition translated to decreased ECM stiffness. Our cumulative results identify changes in the protein composition and mechanical properties of the zebrafish heart ECM during regeneration.

Keywords: Animal models, Atomic force microscopy, Cardiovascular disease, Cardiovascular function or biology, Developmental biology, Extracellular matrix, Heart regeneration, Proteomic analysis


Caddeo, C., Gabriele, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Valenti, D., Fadda, A. M., Pucci, L., Manconi, M., (2019). Antioxidant activity of quercetin in Eudragit-coated liposomes for intestinal delivery International Journal of Pharmaceutics 565, 64-69

Quercetin, a natural polyphenol with strong antioxidant activity, was loaded in Eudragit-coated liposomes conceived for intestinal delivery. Eudragit was used to form a protective shell on the surface of liposomes to resist gastric environment and allow the delivery of quercetin to the intestine. The physico-chemical properties of the liposomes were assessed by light scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. Small, spherical, uni- and bilamellar liposomes were produced, with the presence of multilamellar structures in Eudragit-coated liposomes. The Eudragit coating increased the physical stability of the vesicular system in fluids mimicking the gastrointestinal environment. Further, the incorporation of quercetin in the vesicular system did not affect its intrinsic antioxidant activity, as DPPH radical was almost completely inhibited, and the vesicles were also capable of ensuring optimal protection against oxidative stress in human intestinal cells by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS)production. The proposed approach based on quercetin vesicular formulations may be of value in the treatment of pathological conditions associated with intestinal oxidative stress.

Keywords: Antioxidant, Eudragit, HT-29 cells, Intestinal delivery, Liposomes, Quercetin


Malandrino, Andrea, Trepat, Xavier, Kamm, Roger D., Mak, Michael, (2019). Dynamic filopodial forces induce accumulation, damage, and plastic remodeling of 3D extracellular matrices PLoS Computational Biology 15, (4), e1006684

The mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM)–a complex, 3D, fibrillar scaffold of cells in physiological environments–modulate cell behavior and can drive tissue morphogenesis, regeneration, and disease progression. For simplicity, it is often convenient to assume these properties to be time-invariant. In living systems, however, cells dynamically remodel the ECM and create time-dependent local microenvironments. Here, we show how cell-generated contractile forces produce substantial irreversible changes to the density and architecture of physiologically relevant ECMs–collagen I and fibrin–in a matter of minutes. We measure the 3D deformation profiles of the ECM surrounding cancer and endothelial cells during stages when force generation is active or inactive. We further correlate these ECM measurements to both discrete fiber simulations that incorporate fiber crosslink unbinding kinetics and continuum-scale simulations that account for viscoplastic and damage features. Our findings further confirm that plasticity, as a mechanical law to capture remodeling in these networks, is fundamentally tied to material damage via force-driven unbinding of fiber crosslinks. These results characterize in a multiscale manner the dynamic nature of the mechanical environment of physiologically mimicking cell-in-gel systems.

Keywords: Collagens, Fibrin, Extracellular matrix, Cross-linking, Cell physiology, Deformation, Fluorescence imaging, Cell biology


de la Mata, Ana, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Nieto-Miguel, Teresa, Galindo, Sara, López-Paniagua, Marina, Planell, Josep A., Engel, Elisabeth, Calonge, Margarita, (2019). Poly-l/dl-lactic acid films functionalized with collagen IV as carrier substrata for corneal epithelial stem cells Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 177, 121-129

Limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) are responsible for the renewal of corneal epithelium. Cultivated limbal epithelial transplantation is the current treatment of choice for restoring the loss or dysfunction of LESCs. To perform this procedure, a substratum is necessary for in vitro culturing of limbal epithelial cells and their subsequent transplantation onto the ocular surface. In this work, we evaluated poly-L/DL-lactic acid 70:30 (PLA) films functionalized with type IV collagen (col IV) as potential in vitro carrier substrata for LESCs. We first demonstrated that PLA-col IV films were biocompatible and suitable for the proliferation of human corneal epithelial cells. Subsequently, limbal epithelial cell suspensions, isolated from human limbal rings, were cultivated using culture medium that did not contain animal components. The cells adhered significantly faster to PLA-col IV films than to tissue culture plastic (TCP). The mRNA expression levels for the LESC specific markers, K15, P63α and ABCG2 were similar or greater (significantly in the case of K15) in limbal epithelial cells cultured on PLA-col IV films than limbal epithelial cells cultured on TCP. The percentage of cells expressing the corneal (K3, K12) and the LESC (P63α, ABCG2) specific markers was similar for both substrata. These results suggest that the PLA-col IV films promoted LESC attachment and helped to maintain their undifferentiated stem cell phenotype. Consequently, these substrata offer an alternative for the transplantation of limbal cells onto the ocular surface.

Keywords: Corneal epithelium, Collagen IV, Limbal stem cells, Polylactic acid, Tissue engineering


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


Cozzolino, M., Delcanale, P., Montali, C., Tognolini, M., Giorgio, C., Corrado, M., Cavanna, L., Bianchini, P., Diaspro, A., Abbruzzetti, S., Viappiani, C., (2019). Enhanced photosensitizing properties of protein bound curcumin Life Sciences 233, 116710

Aims: The naturally occurring compound curcumin has been proposed for a number of pharmacological applications. In spite of the promising chemotherapeutic properties of the molecule, the use of curcumin has been largely limited by its chemical instability in water. In this work, we propose the use of water soluble proteins to overcome this issue in perspective applications to photodynamic therapy of tumors. Materials and methods: Curcumin was bound to bovine serum albumin and its photophysical properties was studied as well as its effect on cell viability after light exposure through MTT assay and confocal imaging. Key findings: Bovine serum albumin binds curcumin with moderate affinity and solubilizes the hydrophobic compound preserving its photophysical properties for several hours. Cell viability assays demonstrate that when bound to serum albumin, curcumin is an effective photosensitizer for HeLa cells, with better performance than curcumin alone. Confocal fluorescence imaging reveals that when curcumin is delivered alone, it preferentially associates with mitochondria, whereas curcumin bound to bovine serum albumin is found in additional locations within the cell, a fact that may be related to the higher phototoxicity observed in this case. Significance: The higher bioavailability of the photosensitizing compound curcumin when bound to serum albumin may be exploited to increase the efficiency of the drug in photodynamic therapy of tumors.

Keywords: Cancer, Curcumin, Live cell imaging, Photodynamic therapy


Oliveira, V. R., Uriarte, J. J., Falcones, B., Jorba, I., Zin, W. A., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., (2019). Biomechanical response of lung epithelial cells to iron oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles Frontiers in Physiology 10, 1047

Increasing evidence shows that lungs can be damaged by inhalation of nanoparticles (NPs) at environmental and occupational settings. Recent findings have associated the exposure to iron oxide (Fe2O3) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) – NPs widely used in biomedical and clinical research – with pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammation. Although changes on cellular mechanics could contribute to pulmonary inflammation, there is no information regarding the effects of Fe2O3 and TiO2 on alveolar epithelial cell biomechanics. The aim was to investigate the NPs-induced biomechanical effects in terms of cell stiffness and traction forces exerted by human alveolar epithelial cells. Cell Young’s modulus (E) measured by atomic force microscopy in alveolar epithelial cells significantly decreased after exposure to Fe2O3 and TiO2 (-28 and -25%, respectively) compared to control conditions. Moreover, both NPs induced a similar reduction in the traction forces exerted by the alveolar epithelial cells in comparison to the control conditions. Accordingly, immunofluorescence images revealed a reduction of actomyosin stress fibers in response to the exposure to NPs. However, no inflammatory response was detected. In conclusion, an acute exposure of epithelial pulmonary cells to Fe2O3 and TiO2 NPs, which was mild since it was non-cytotoxic and did not induce inflammation, modified cell biomechanical properties which could be translated into damage of the epithelial barrier integrity, suggesting that mild environmental inhalation of Fe2O3 and TiO2 NPs could not be innocuous.

Keywords: Actomyosin fibers, Air pollution, Cell biomechanics, Lung epithelium, Nanoparticles


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

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

Keywords: Capsule/cell dynamics, Computational methods, Membranes


Aguiar, L., Biosca, A., Lantero, E., Gut, J., Vale, N., Rosenthal, P. J., Nogueira, F., Andreu, D., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Gomes, P., (2019). Coupling the antimalarial cell penetrating peptide TP10 to classical antimalarial drugs primaquine and chloroquine produces strongly hemolytic conjugates Molecules 24, (24), 4559

Recently, we disclosed primaquine cell penetrating peptide conjugates that were more potent than parent primaquine against liver stage Plasmodium parasites and non-toxic to hepatocytes. The same strategy was now applied to the blood-stage antimalarial chloroquine, using a wide set of peptides, including TP10, a cell penetrating peptide with intrinsic antiplasmodial activity. Chloroquine-TP10 conjugates displaying higher antiplasmodial activity than the parent TP10 peptide were identified, at the cost of an increased hemolytic activity, which was further confirmed for their primaquine analogues. Fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry suggest that these drug-peptide conjugates strongly bind, and likely destroy, erythrocyte membranes. Taken together, the results herein reported put forward that coupling antimalarial aminoquinolines to cell penetrating peptides delivers hemolytic conjugates. Hence, despite their widely reported advantages as carriers for many different types of cargo, from small drugs to biomacromolecules, cell penetrating peptides seem unsuitable for safe intracellular delivery of antimalarial aminoquinolines due to hemolysis issues. This highlights the relevance of paying attention to hemolytic effects of cell penetrating peptide-drug conjugates.

Keywords: Antimalarial, Cell penetrating peptide, Chloroquine, Erythrocyte fluorescence, Flow cytometry, Hemolysis, Microscopy, Plasmodium, Primaquine, Red blood cell


Gil, V., Del Río, J. A., (2019). Generation of 3-d collagen-based hydrogels to analyze axonal growth and behavior during nervous system development Journal of Visualized Experiments , (148), e59481

This protocol uses natural type I collagen to generate three-dimensional (3-D) hydrogel for monitoring and analyzing the axonal growth. The protocol is centered on culturing small pieces of embryonic or early postnatal rodent brains inside a 3-D hydrogel formed by the rat tail tendon-derived type I collagen with specific porosity. Tissue pieces are cultured inside the hydrogel and confronted to specific brain fragments or genetically-modified cell aggregates to produce and secrete molecules suitable for creating a gradient inside the porous matrix. The steps of this protocol are simple and reproducible but include critical steps to be considered carefully during its development. Moreover, the behavior of growing axons can be monitored and analyzed directly using a phase-contrast microscope or mono/multiphoton fluorescence microscope after fixation by immunocytochemical methods.

Keywords: 3-D hydrogel cultures, Axonal growth, Cell transfection, Chemoattraction, Chemorepulsion, Embryonic nervous system, Issue 148, Neuroscience, Tissue explants


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2019). Matrix nanopatterning regulates mesenchymal differentiation through focal adhesion size and distribution according to cell fate Biomimetics Biomimetic Nanotechnology for Biomedical Applications (NanoBio&Med 2018) , MDPI (Barcelona, Spain) 4, (2), 43

Extracellular matrix remodeling plays a pivotal role during mesenchyme patterning into different lineages. Tension exerted from cell membrane receptors bound to extracellular matrix ligands is transmitted by the cytoskeleton to the cell nucleus inducing gene expression. Here, we used dendrimer-based arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD) uneven nanopatterns, which allow the control of local surface adhesiveness at the nanoscale, to unveil the adhesive requirements of mesenchymal tenogenic and osteogenic commitments. Cell response was found to depend on the tension resulting from cell–substrate interactions, which affects nuclear morphology and is regulated by focal adhesion size and distribution.

Keywords: Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD), Nanopattern, Mesenchymal stem cells, Tenogenesis, Osteogenesis, Cell nuclei, Focal adhesions


Muro, Silvia, (2018). Alterations in cellular processes involving vesicular trafficking and implications in drug delivery Biomimetics 3, (3), 19

Endocytosis and vesicular trafficking are cellular processes that regulate numerous functions required to sustain life. From a translational perspective, they offer avenues to improve the access of therapeutic drugs across cellular barriers that separate body compartments and into diseased cells. However, the fact that many factors have the potential to alter these routes, impacting our ability to effectively exploit them, is often overlooked. Altered vesicular transport may arise from the molecular defects underlying the pathological syndrome which we aim to treat, the activity of the drugs being used, or side effects derived from the drug carriers employed. In addition, most cellular models currently available do not properly reflect key physiological parameters of the biological environment in the body, hindering translational progress. This article offers a critical overview of these topics, discussing current achievements, limitations and future perspectives on the use of vesicular transport for drug delivery applications.

Keywords: Cellular vesicles, Vesicle fusion, Fission and intracellular trafficking, Drug delivery systems and nanomedicines, Transcytosis and endocytosis of drugs carriers, Disease effects on vesicular trafficking, Drug effects on vesicular trafficking, Role of the biological environment


Magdaleno, Fernando, Schierwagen, R., Uschner, Frank E., Trebicka, J., (2018). “Tipping” extracellular matrix remodeling towards regression of liver fibrosis: novel concepts Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica , 64, (1), 51-61

Fibrosis development was initially conceived as an incessant progressive condition. Nowadays, it has become evident that fibrotic tissue undergoes a continuous two-way process: fibrogenesis and fibrinolysis, characterizing the remodeling of extracellular matrix (ECM). However, in established fibrosis, this two-way process is tipped towards fibrogenesis and this leads to a self-perpetuating accumulation of ECM, a distinct metabolic unit, together with other cells and processes promoting fibrosis deposition. Several mechanisms promote fibrosis regression, such as degradation of ECM, infiltration of restorative macrophages, prevention of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition of hepatocytes, restoration of the liver sinusoidal endothelial cells’ differentiation phenotype, and reversion to quiescence, apoptosis and senescence of hepatic stellate cells (HSC). Hence, fibrosis is the result of an unbalanced two-way process of matrix remodeling. At the late stage of the disease, antifibrotic interventions could become necessary to reverse self-perpetuating fibrogenesis and accelerate regression of fibrosis even if cause and cofactors of hepatic injury have been eliminated. This review outlines some of the important mechanisms leading towards regression of liver fibrosis.

Keywords: Hepatic stellate cells, Extracellular matrix, remodeling, Rho-associated kinases, Janus kinases


Del Río, J. A., Ferrer, Isidre, Gavín, R., (2018). Role of cellular prion protein in interneuronal amyloid transmission Progress in Neurobiology 165-167, 87-102

Several studies have indicated that certain misfolded amyloids composed of tau, β-amyloid or α-synuclein can be transferred from cell to cell, suggesting the contribution of mechanisms reminiscent of those by which infective prions spread through the brain. This process of a ‘prion-like’ spreading between cells is also relevant as a novel putative therapeutic target that could block the spreading of proteinaceous aggregates throughout the brain which may underlie the progressive nature of neurodegenerative diseases. The relevance of β-amyloid oligomers and cellular prion protein (PrPC) binding has been a focus of interest in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the molecular level, β-amyloid/PrPC interaction takes place in two differently charged clusters of PrPC. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in α-synuclein binding and brain spreading also appears to be relevant in α-synucleopathies. This review summarizes current knowledge about PrPC as a putative receptor for amyloid proteins and the physiological consequences of these interactions..

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Amyloid, Proteinaceous species, ‘prion-like’ spreading, Spreading, Neurodegeneration


Bennett, Mark, Cantini, Marco, Reboud, Julien, Cooper, Jonathan M., Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2018). Molecular clutch drives cell response to surface viscosity Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, (6), 1192-1197

Cell response to matrix rigidity has been explained by the mechanical properties of the actin-talin-integrin-fibronectin clutch. Here the molecular clutch model is extended to account for cell interactions with purely viscous surfaces (i.e., without an elastic component). Supported lipid bilayers present an idealized and controllable system through which to study this concept. Using lipids of different diffusion coefficients, the mobility (i.e., surface viscosity) of the presented ligands (in this case RGD) was altered by an order of magnitude. Cell size and cytoskeletal organization were proportional to viscosity. Furthermore, there was a higher number of focal adhesions and a higher phosphorylation of FAK on less-mobile (more-viscous) surfaces. Actin retrograde flow, an indicator of the force exerted on surfaces, was also seen to be faster on more mobile surfaces. This has consequential effects on downstream molecules; the mechanosensitive YAP protein localized to the nucleus more on less-mobile (more-viscous) surfaces and differentiation of myoblast cells was enhanced on higher viscosity. This behavior was explained within the framework of the molecular clutch model, with lower viscosity leading to a low force loading rate, preventing the exposure of mechanosensitive proteins, and with a higher viscosity causing a higher force loading rate exposing these sites, activating downstream pathways. Consequently, the understanding of how viscosity (regardless of matrix stiffness) influences cell response adds a further tool to engineer materials that control cell behavior.

Keywords: Matrix rigidity, Molecular clutch, Surface viscosity, Mechanotransduction, Cell differentiation


Sadowska, Joanna Maria, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Espanol, Montserrat, Stähli, Christoph, Döbelin, Nicola, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). In vitro response of mesenchymal stem cells to biomimetic hydroxyapatite substrates: A new strategy to assess the effect of ion exchange Acta Biomaterialia 76, 319-332

Biomaterials can interact with cells directly, that is, by direct contact of the cells with the material surface, or indirectly, through soluble species that can be released to or uptaken from the surrounding fluids. However, it is difficult to characterise the relevance of this fluid-mediated interaction separately from the topography and composition of the substrate, because they are coupled variables. These fluid-mediated interactions are amplified in the case of highly reactive calcium phosphates (CaPs) such as biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA), particularly in static in vitro cultures. The present work proposes a strategy to decouple the effect of ion exchange from topographical features by adjusting the volume ratio between the cell culture medium and biomaterial (VCM/VB). Increasing this ratio allowed mitigating the drastic ionic exchanges associated to the compositional changes experienced by the material exposed to the cell culture medium. This strategy was validated using rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) cultured on CDHA and beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) discs using different VCM/VB ratios. Whereas in the case of β-TCP the cell response was not affected by this ratio, a significant effect on cell adhesion and proliferation was found for the more reactive CDHA. The ionic exchange, produced by CDHA at low VCM/VB, altered cell adhesion due to the reduced number of focal adhesions, caused cell shrinkage and further rMCSs apoptosis. This was mitigated when using a high VCM/VB, which attenuated the changes of calcium and phosphate concentrations in the cell culture medium, resulting in rMSCs spreading and a viability over time. Moreover, rMSCs showed an earlier expression of osteogenic genes on CDHA compared to sintered β-TCP when extracellular calcium fluctuations were reduced. Statement of Significance: Fluid mediated interactions play a significant role in the bioactivity of calcium phosphates. Ionic exchange is amplified in the case of biomimetic hydroxyapatite, which makes the in vitro characterisation of cell-material interactions especially challenging. The present work proposes a novel and simple strategy to explore the mechanisms of interaction of biomimetic and sintered calcium phosphates with mesenchymal stem cells. The effects of topography and ion exchange are analysed separately by modifying the volume ratio between cell culture medium and biomaterial. High ionic fluctuations interfered in the maturation of focal adhesions, hampering cell adhesion and leading to increased apoptosis and reduced proliferation rate.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Mesenchymal stem cells, Intracellular calcium, Cell adhesion


Alcaraz, J., Otero, J., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., (2018). Bidirectional mechanobiology between cells and their local extracellular matrix probed by atomic force microscopy Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 73, 71-81

There is growing recognition that the mechanical interactions between cells and their local extracellular matrix (ECM) are central regulators of tissue development, homeostasis, repair and disease progression. The unique ability of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe quantitatively mechanical properties and forces at the nanometer or micrometer scales in all kinds of biological samples has been instrumental in the recent advances in cell and tissue mechanics. In this review we illustrate how AFM has provided important insights on our current understanding of the mechanobiology of cells, ECM and cell-ECM bidirectional interactions, particularly in the context of soft acinar tissues like the mammary gland or pulmonary tissue. AFM measurements have revealed that intrinsic cell micromechanics is cell-type specific, and have underscored the prominent role of β1 integrin/FAK(Y397) signaling and the actomyosin cytoskeleton in the mechanoresponses of both parenchymal and stromal cells. Moreover AFM has unveiled that the micromechanics of the ECM obtained by tissue decellularization is unique for each anatomical compartment, which may support both its specific function and cell differentiation. AFM has also enabled identifying critical mechanoregulatory proteins involved in branching morphogenesis (MMP14) and acinar differentiation (α3β1 integrin), and has clarified the role of altered tissue mechanics and architecture in a variety of pathologic conditions. Critical technical issues of AFM mechanical measurements like tip geometry effects are also discussed.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Beta1 integrin, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Morphogenesis, Tissue decellularization


Torras, N., García-Díaz, M., Fernández-Majada, V., Martínez, Elena, (2018). Mimicking epithelial tissues in three-dimensional cell culture models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 197

Epithelial tissues are composed of layers of tightly connected cells shaped into complex three-dimensional (3D) structures such as cysts, tubules, or invaginations. These complex 3D structures are important for organ-specific functions and often create biochemical gradients that guide cell positioning and compartmentalization within the organ. One of the main functions of epithelia is to act as physical barriers that protect the underlying tissues from external insults. In vitro, epithelial barriers are usually mimicked by oversimplified models based on cell lines grown as monolayers on flat surfaces. While useful to answer certain questions, these models cannot fully capture the in vivo organ physiology and often yield poor predictions. In order to progress further in basic and translational research, disease modeling, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine, it is essential to advance the development of new in vitro predictive models of epithelial tissues that are capable of representing the in vivo-like structures and organ functionality more accurately. Here, we review current strategies for obtaining biomimetic systems in the form of advanced in vitro models that allow for more reliable and safer preclinical tests. The current state of the art and potential applications of self-organized cell-based systems, organ-on-a-chip devices that incorporate sensors and monitoring capabilities, as well as microfabrication techniques including bioprinting and photolithography, are discussed. These techniques could be combined to help provide highly predictive drug tests for patient-specific conditions in the near future.

Keywords: 3D cell culture models, Biofabrication, Disease modeling, Drug screening, Epithelial barriers, Microengineered tissues, Organ-on-a-chip, Organoids


Matamoros-Angles, A., Gayosso, L. M., Richaud-Patin, Y., Di Domenico, A., Vergara, C., Hervera, A., Sousa, A., Fernández-Borges, N., Consiglio, A., Gavín, R., López de Maturana, R., Ferrer, Isidro, López de Munain, A., Raya, A., Castilla, J., Sánchez-Pernaute, R., Del Río, J. A., (2018). iPS cell cultures from a Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker patient with the Y218N PRNP mutation recapitulate tau pathology Molecular Neurobiology 55, (4), 3033-3048

Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome is a fatal autosomal dominant neurodegenerative prionopathy clinically characterized by ataxia, spastic paraparesis, extrapyramidal signs and dementia. In some GSS familiar cases carrying point mutations in the PRNP gene, patients also showed comorbid tauopathy leading to mixed pathologies. In this study we developed an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell model derived from fibroblasts of a GSS patient harboring the Y218N PRNP mutation, as well as an age-matched healthy control. This particular PRNP mutation is unique with very few described cases. One of the cases presented neurofibrillary degeneration with relevant Tau hyperphosphorylation. Y218N iPS-derived cultures showed relevant astrogliosis, increased phospho-Tau, altered microtubule-associated transport and cell death. However, they failed to generate proteinase K-resistant prion. In this study we set out to test, for the first time, whether iPS cell-derived neurons could be used to investigate the appearance of disease-related phenotypes (i.e, tauopathy) identified in the GSS patient.

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Tau


Marrugo-Ramírez, José, Mir, M., Samitier, Josep, (2018). Blood-based cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy: A promising non-invasive alternative to tissue biopsy International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19, (10), 2877

Cancer is one of the greatest threats facing our society, being the second leading cause of death globally. Currents strategies for cancer diagnosis consist of the extraction of a solid tissue from the affected area. This sample enables the study of specific biomarkers and the genetic nature of the tumor. However, the tissue extraction is risky and painful for the patient and in some cases is unavailable in inaccessible tumors. Moreover, a solid biopsy is expensive and time consuming and cannot be applied repeatedly. New alternatives that overcome these drawbacks are rising up nowadays, such as liquid biopsy. A liquid biopsy is the analysis of biomarkers in a non-solid biological tissue, mainly blood, which has remarkable advantages over the traditional method; it has no risk, it is non-invasive and painless, it does not require surgery and reduces cost and diagnosis time. The most studied cancer non-invasive biomarkers are circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), and exosomes. These circulating biomarkers play a key role in the understanding of metastasis and tumorigenesis, which could provide a better insight into the evolution of the tumor dynamics during treatment and disease progression. Improvements in isolation technologies, based on a higher grade of purification of CTCs, exosomes, and ctDNA, will provide a better characterization of biomarkers and give rise to a wide range of clinical applications, such as early detection of diseases, and the prediction of treatment responses due to the discovery of personalized tumor-related biomarkers

Keywords: Liquid biopsy, Cancer, Biomarkers, Non-invasive, Circulant tumor DNA (ctDNA), Circulant tumor cells (CTC)


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


Borgheti-Cardoso, L.N., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Turning Plasmodium survival strategies against itself Future Medicinal Chemistry 10, (19), 2245-2248

Navarro, C., Pérez-Amodio, S., Castaño, O., Engel, E., (2018). Wound healing-promoting effects stimulated by extracellular calcium and calcium-releasing nanoparticles on dermal fibroblasts Nanotechnology 29, (39), 395102

Extracellular calcium has been proved to influence the healing process of injuries and could be used as a novel therapy for skin wound healing. However, a better understanding of its effect, together with a system to obtain a controlled release is needed. In this study, we examined whether the ionic dissolution of the calcium–phosphate-based ormoglass nanoparticles coded SG5 may produce a similar stimulating effect as extracellular calcium (from CaCl2) on rat dermal fibroblast in vitro. Cells were cultured in the presence of medium containing different calcium concentrations, normally ranging from 0.1 to 3.5 mM Ca2+. A concentration of 3.5 mM of CaCl2 increased metabolic activity, in vitro wound closure, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) activity, collagen synthesis and cytokine expression, and reduced cell contraction capacity. Interestingly, the levels of migration and contraction capacity measured followed a dose-dependent behavior. In addition, media conditioned with SG5 stimulated the same activities as media conditioned with CaCl2, but undesired effects in chronic wound healing such as inflammatory factor expression and MMP activity were reduced compared to the equivalent CaCl2 concentration. In summary, calcium-releasing particles such as SG5 are potential biological-free biostimulators to be applied in dressings for chronic wound healing.

Keywords: Nanomaterials, Cell signaling, Skin wound healing


Farré, N., Jorba, I., Torres, M., Falcones, B., Martí-Almor, J., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2018). Passive stiffness of left ventricular myocardial tissue is reduced by ovariectomy in a post-menopause mouse model Frontiers in Physiology 9, Article 1545

Background: Heart failure (HF) – a very prevalent disease with high morbidity and mortality – usually presents with diastolic dysfunction. Although post-menopause women are at increased risk of HF and diastolic dysfunction, poor attention has been paid to clinically and experimentally investigate this group of patients. Specifically, whether myocardial stiffness is affected by menopause is unknown. Aim: To investigate whether loss of female sexual hormones modifies the Young’s modulus (E) of left ventricular (LV) myocardial tissue in a mouse model of menopause induced by ovariectomy (OVX). Methods: After 6 months of bilateral OVX, eight mice were sacrificed, fresh LV myocardial strips were prepared (∼8 × 1 × 1 mm), and their passive stress–stretch relationship was measured. E was computed by exponential fitting of the stress–stretch relationship. Subsequently, to assess the relative role of cellular and extracellular matrix components in determining OVX-induced changes in E, the tissues strips were decellularized and subjected to the same stretching protocol to measure E. A control group of eight sham-OVX mice was simultaneously studied. Results: E (kPa; m ± SE) in OVX mice was ∼twofold lower than in controls (11.7 ± 1.8 and 22.1 ± 4.4, respectively; p < 0.05). No significant difference between groups was found in E of the decellularized tissue (31.4 ± 12.05 and 40.9 ± 11.5, respectively; p = 0.58). Conclusion: Loss of female sexual hormones in an OVX model induces a reduction in the passive stiffness of myocardial tissue, suggesting that active relaxation should play a counterbalancing role in diastolic dysfunction in post-menopausal women with HF.

Keywords: Decellularized tissue, Female hormones, Heart tissue, Ovariectomy, Stress-strain


Ino, Kosuke, Nashimoto, Yuji, Taira, Noriko, Ramón-Azcon, Javier, Shiku, Hitoshi, (2018). Intracellular electrochemical sensing Electroanalysis 30, (10), 2195-2209

Observing biochemical processes within living cell is imperative for biological and medical research. Fluoresce imaging is widely used for intracellular sensing of cell membranes, nuclei, lysosomes, and pH. Electrochemical assays have been proposed as an alternative to fluorescence-based assays because of excellent analytical features of electrochemical devices. Notably, thanks to the rapid progress of micro/nanotechnologies and electrochemical techniques, intracellular electrochemical sensing is making rapid progress, leading to a successful detection of intracellular components. Such insight can provide a deep understanding of cellular biological processes and, ultimately, define the human healthy and diseased states. In this review, we present an overview of recent research progress in intracellular electrochemical sensing. We focus on two main topics, electrochemical extraction of cytosolic contents from cells and intracellular electrochemical sensing in situ.

Keywords: Micro/nanoelectrode, Analytical electrochemistry, Intracellular sensing, Cell analysis


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


Hristova-Panusheva, K., Keremidarska-Markova, M., Altankov, G., Krasteva, N., (2017). Age-related changes in adhesive phenotype of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells on extracellular matrix proteins Journal of New Results in Science , 6, (1), 11-19

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a promising cell source for cell-based therapies because of their self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation potential. Unlike embryonic stem cells adult stem cells are subject of aging processes and the concomitant decline in their function. Age-related changes in MSCs have to be well understood in order to develop clinical techniques and therapeutics based on these cells. In this work we have studied the effect of aging on adhesive behaviour of bone marrow-derived MSC and MG- 63 osteoblastic cells onto three extracellular matrix proteins: fibronectin (FN), vitronectin (VN) and collagen I (Coll I). The results revealed substantial differences in adhesive behaviour of both cell types during 21 days in culture. Bone-marrow derived MSCs decreased significantly their adhesive affinity to all studied proteins after 7th day in culture with further incubation. In contrast, MG-63 cells, demonstrated a stable cell adhesive phenotype with high affinity to FN and Coll I and low affinity to vitronectin over the whole culture period. These data suggest that adhesive behaviour of MSCs to matrix proteins is affected by aging processes unlike MG-63 cells and the age-related changes have to be considered when expanding adult stem cells for clinical applications.

Keywords: Cell morphology, Cell attachment and spreading, Fibronectin, Vitronectin, Collagen I


Barbeck, Mike, Serra, Tiziano, Booms, Patrick, Stojanovic, Sanja, Najman, Stevo, Engel, Elisabeth, Sader, Robert, Kirkpatrick, Charles James, Navarro, Melba, Ghanaati, Shahram, (2017). Analysis of the in vitro degradation and the in vivo tissue response to bi-layered 3D-printed scaffolds combining PLA and biphasic PLA/bioglass components – Guidance of the inflammatory response as basis for osteochondral regeneration Bioactive Materials , 2, (4), 208-223

Abstract The aim of the present study was the in vitro and in vivo analysis of a bi-layered 3D-printed scaffold combining a PLA layer and a biphasic PLA/bioglass G5 layer for regeneration of osteochondral defects in vivo Focus of the in vitro analysis was on the (molecular) weight loss and the morphological and mechanical variations after immersion in SBF. The in vivo study focused on analysis of the tissue reactions and differences in the implant bed vascularization using an established subcutaneous implantation model in CD-1 mice and established histological and histomorphometrical methods. Both scaffold parts kept their structural integrity, while changes in morphology were observed, especially for the PLA/G5 scaffold. Mechanical properties decreased with progressive degradation, while the PLA/G5 scaffolds presented higher compressive modulus than PLA scaffolds. The tissue reaction to PLA included low numbers of BMGCs and minimal vascularization of its implant beds, while the addition of G5 lead to higher numbers of BMGCs and a higher implant bed vascularization. Analysis revealed that the use of a bi-layered scaffold shows the ability to observe distinct in vivo response despite the physical proximity of PLA and PLA/G5 layers. Altogether, the results showed that the addition of G5 enables to reduce scaffold weight loss and to increase mechanical strength. Furthermore, the addition of G5 lead to a higher vascularization of the implant bed required as basis for bone tissue regeneration mediated by higher numbers of BMGCs, while within the PLA parts a significantly lower vascularization was found optimally for chondral regeneration. Thus, this data show that the analyzed bi-layered scaffold may serve as an ideal basis for the regeneration of osteochondral tissue defects. Additionally, the results show that it might be able to reduce the number of experimental animals required as it may be possible to analyze the tissue response to more than one implant in one experimental animal.

Keywords: Bioactive glass, Polylactic acid (PLA), Bi-layer scaffold, Multinucleated giant cells, Bone substitute, Vascularization, Calcium phosphate glass


Neri, L., Lasa, M., Elosegui-Artola, A., D'Avola, D., Carte, B., Gazquez, C., Alve, S., Roca-Cusachs, P., Iñarrairaegui, M., Herrero, J., Prieto, J., Sangro, B., Aldabe, R., (2017). NatB-mediated protein N-α-terminal acetylation is a potential therapeutic target in hepatocellular carcinoma Oncotarget 8, (25), 40967-40981

The identification of new targets for systemic therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an urgent medical need. Recently, we showed that hNatB catalyzes the N-α-terminal acetylation of 15% of the human proteome and that this action is necessary for proper actin cytoskeleton structure and function. In tumors, cytoskeletal changes influence motility, invasion, survival, cell growth and tumor progression, making the cytoskeleton a very attractive antitumor target. Here, we show that hNatB subunits are upregulated in in over 59% HCC tumors compared to non-tumor tissue and that this upregulation is associated with microscopic vascular invasion. We found that hNatB silencing blocks proliferation and tumor formation in HCC cell lines in association with hampered DNA synthesis and impaired progression through the S and the G2/M phases. Growth inhibition is mediated by the degradation of two hNatB substrates, tropomyosin and CDK2, which occurs when these proteins lack N-α-terminal acetylation. In addition, hNatB inhibition disrupts the actin cytoskeleton, focal adhesions and tight/adherens junctions, abrogating two proliferative signaling pathways, Hippo/YAP and ERK1/2. Therefore, inhibition of NatB activity represents an interesting new approach to treating HCC by blocking cell proliferation and disrupting actin cytoskeleton function.

Keywords: CDK2, Cell cycle arrest, Cell-cell junctions, Focal adhesions, Tropomyosin


Rodriguez-Franco, P., Brugués, A., Marin-Llaurado, A., Conte, V., Solanas, G., Batlle, E., Fredberg, J. J., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., (2017). Long-lived force patterns and deformation waves at repulsive epithelial boundaries Nature Materials 16, (10), 1029-1036

For an organism to develop and maintain homeostasis, cell types with distinct functions must often be separated by physical boundaries. The formation and maintenance of such boundaries are commonly attributed to mechanisms restricted to the cells lining the boundary. Here we show that, besides these local subcellular mechanisms, the formation and maintenance of tissue boundaries involves long-lived, long-ranged mechanical events. Following contact between two epithelial monolayers expressing, respectively, EphB2 and its ligand ephrinB1, both monolayers exhibit oscillatory patterns of traction forces and intercellular stresses that tend to pull cell-matrix adhesions away from the boundary. With time, monolayers jam, accompanied by the emergence of deformation waves that propagate away from the boundary. This phenomenon is not specific to EphB2/ephrinB1 repulsion but is also present during the formation of boundaries with an inert interface and during fusion of homotypic epithelial layers. Our findings thus unveil a global physical mechanism that sustains tissue separation independently of the biochemical and mechanical features of the local tissue boundary.

Keywords: Biological physics, Cellular motility


Caballero, D., Palacios, L., Freitas, P. P., Samitier, J., (2017). An interplay between matrix anisotropy and actomyosin contractility regulates 3D-directed cell migration Advanced Functional Materials 27, (35), 1702322

Directed cell migration is essential for many biological processes, such as embryonic development or cancer progression. Cell contractility and adhesion to the extracellular matrix are known to regulate cell locomotion machinery. However, the cross-talk between extrinsic and intrinsic factors at the molecular level on the biophysical mechanism of three dimensional (3D)-directed cell migration is still unclear. In this work, a novel physiologically relevant in vitro model of the extracellular microenvironment is used to reveal how the topological anisotropy of the extracellular matrix synergizes with actomyosin contractility to modulate directional cell migration morphodynamics. This study shows that cells seeded on polarized 3D matrices display asymmetric protrusion morphodynamics and in-vivo-like phenotypes. It is found that matrix anisotropy significantly enhances cell directionality, but strikingly, not the invasion distance of cells. In Rho-inhibited cells, matrix anisotropy counteracts the lack of actomyosin-driven forces to stabilize cell directionality suggesting a myosin-II-independent mechanism for cell guidance. Finally, this study shows that on isotropic 3D environments, cell directionality is independent of actomyosin contractility. Altogether, this study provides novel quantitative data on the biomechanical regulation of directional cell motion and shows the important regulatory role of matrix anisotropy and actomyosin forces to guide cell migration in 3D microenvironments.

Keywords: Anisotropy, Directed cell migration, Extracellular matrices, Migration modes, Three dimensional microenvironments


Ojosnegros', Samuel, Cutrale, Francesco, Rodríguez, Daniel, Otterstrom, Jason J., Chiu, Chi Li, Hortigüela, Verónica, Tarantino, Carolina, Seriola', Anna, Mieruszynski, Stephen, Martínez, Elena, Lakadamyali, Melike, Raya, Angel, Fraser, Scott E., (2017). Eph-ephrin signaling modulated by polymerization and condensation of receptors Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114, (50), 13188-13193

Eph receptor signaling plays key roles in vertebrate tissue boundary formation, axonal pathfinding, and stem cell regeneration by steering cells to positions defined by its ligand ephrin. Some of the key events in Eph-ephrin signaling are understood: ephrin binding triggers the clustering of the Eph receptor, fostering transphosphorylation and signal transduction into the cell. However, a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of how the signal is processed by the recipient cell into precise and proportional responses is largely lacking. Studying Eph activation kinetics requires spatiotemporal data on the number and distribution of receptor oligomers, which is beyond the quantitative power offered by prevalent imaging methods. Here we describe an enhanced fluorescence fluctuation imaging analysis, which employs statistical resampling to measure the Eph receptor aggregation distribution within each pixel of an image. By performing this analysis over time courses extending tens of minutes, the information-rich 4D space (x, y, oligomerization, time) results were coupled to straightforward biophysical models of protein aggregation. This analysis reveals that Eph clustering can be explained by the combined contribution of polymerization of receptors into clusters, followed by their condensation into far larger aggregates. The modeling reveals that these two competing oligomerization mechanisms play distinct roles: polymerization mediates the activation of the receptor by assembling monomers into 6- to 8-mer oligomers; condensation of the preassembled oligomers into large clusters containing hundreds of monomers dampens the signaling. We propose that the polymerization–condensation dynamics creates mechanistic explanation for how cells properly respond to variable ligand concentrations and gradients.

Keywords: Eph, Ephrin, Receptor tyrosine kinase, Gradients, Cell communication


Hoyos-Nogués, M., Velasco, F., Ginebra, M. P., Manero, J. M., Gil, F. J., Mas-Moruno, C., (2017). Regenerating bone via multifunctional coatings: The blending of cell integration and bacterial inhibition properties on the surface of biomaterials ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (26), 21618-21630

In dentistry and orthopedics, it is well accepted that implant fixation is a major goal. However, an emerging concern is bacterial infection. Infection of metallic implants can be catastrophic and significantly reduce patient quality of life. Accordingly, in this work, we focus on multifunctional coatings to simultaneously address and mitigate both these problems. We have developed a tailor-made peptide-based chemical platform that integrates the well-known RGD cell adhesive sequence and the lactoferrin-derived LF1-11 antimicrobial peptide. The platform was covalently grafted on titanium via silanization and the functionalization process characterized by contact angle, XPS, and QCM-D. The presence of the platform statistically improved the adhesion, proliferation and mineralization of osteoblast-like cells compared to control surfaces. At the same time, colonization by representative bacterial strains was significantly reduced on the surfaces. Furthermore, the biological potency of the multifunctional platform was verified in a co-culture in vitro model. Our findings demonstrate that this multifunctional approach can be useful to functionalize biomaterials to both improve cell integration and reduce the risk of bacterial infection.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides, Cell adhesive peptides, Multifunctionality, Osseointegration, Surface functionalization


Caballero, D., Samitier, J., (2017). Topological control of extracellular matrix growth: A native-like model for cell morphodynamics studies ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (4), 4159-4170

The interaction of cells with their natural environment influences a large variety of cellular phenomena, including cell adhesion, proliferation, and migration. The complex extracellular matrix network has challenged the attempts to replicate in vitro the heterogeneity of the cell environment and has threatened, in general, the relevance of in vitro studies. In this work, we describe a new and extremely versatile approach to generate native-like extracellular matrices with controlled morphologies for the in vitro study of cellular processes. This general approach combines the confluent culture of fibroblasts with microfabricated guiding templates to direct the three-dimensional growth of well-defined extracellular networks which recapitulate the structural and biomolecular complexity of features typically found in vivo. To evaluate its performance, we studied fundamental cellular processes, including cell cytoskeleton organization, cell-matrix adhesion, proliferation, and protrusions morphodynamics. In all cases, we found striking differences depending on matrix architecture and, in particular, when compared to standard two-dimensional environments. We also assessed whether the engineered matrix networks influenced cell migration dynamics and locomotion strategy, finding enhanced migration efficiency for cells seeded on aligned matrices. Altogether, our methodology paves the way to the development of high-performance models of the extracellular matrix for potential applications in tissue engineering, diagnosis, or stem-cell biology.

Keywords: Biomimetics, Cell migration, Engineered cell-derived matrices, Extracellular matrix, In vitro model


Schieber, R., Lasserre, F., Hans, M., Fernández-Yagüe, M., Díaz-Ricart, M., Escolar, G., Ginebra, M. P., Mücklich, F., Pegueroles, M., (2017). Direct laser interference patterning of CoCr alloy surfaces to control endothelial cell and platelet response for cardiovascular applications Advanced Healthcare Materials 6, (19), 1700327

The main drawbacks of cardiovascular bare-metal stents (BMS) are in-stent restenosis and stent thrombosis as a result of an incomplete endothelialization after stent implantation. Nano- and microscale modification of implant surfaces is a strategy to recover the functionality of the artery by stimulating and guiding molecular and biological processes at the implant/tissue interface. In this study, cobalt-chromium (CoCr) alloy surfaces are modified via direct laser interference patterning (DLIP) in order to create linear patterning onto CoCr surfaces with different periodicities (≈3, 10, 20, and 32 μm) and depths (≈20 and 800 nm). Changes in surface topography, chemistry, and wettability are thoroughly characterized before and after modification. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells' adhesion and spreading are similar for all patterned and plain CoCr surfaces. Moreover, high-depth series induce cell elongation, alignment, and migration along the patterned lines. Platelet adhesion and aggregation decrease in all patterned surfaces compared to CoCr control, which is associated with changes in wettability and oxide layer characteristics. Cellular studies provide evidence of the potential of DLIP topographies to foster endothelialization without enhancement of platelet adhesion, which will be of high importance when designing new BMS in the future.

Keywords: CoCr, Direct laser interference patterning, Endothelial cells, Linear surface pattern, Platelets


Bianchi, M. V., Awaja, F., Altankov, G., (2017). Dynamic adhesive environment alters the differentiation potential of young and ageing mesenchymal stem cells Materials Science and Engineering: C 78, 467-474

Engineering dynamic stem cell niche-like environment offers opportunity to obtain better control of the fate of stem cells. We identified, for the first time, that periodic changes in the adhesive environment of human adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) alters dramatically their asymmetric division but not their ability for symmetric renewal. Hereby, we used smart thermo-responsive polymer (PNIPAM) to create a dynamic adhesive environment for ADSCs by applying periodic temperature cycles to perturb adsorbed adhesive proteins to substratum interaction. Cumulative population doubling time (CPDT) curves showed insignificant decline in the symmetric cell growth studied for up to 13th passages accompanied with small changes in the overall cell morphology and moderately declined fibronectin (FN) matrix deposition probably as a functional consequence of ADSCs ageing. However, a substantial alteration in the differentiation potential of ADSCs from both early and late passages (3rd and 14th, respectively) was found when the cells were switched to osteogenic differentiation conditions. This behavior was evidenced by the significantly altered alkaline phosphatase activity and Ca deposition (Alizarin red) assayed at 3, 14 and 21 day in comparison to the control samples of regular TC polystyrene processed under same temperature settings.

Keywords: Cell ageing, Dynamic adhesive environment, Extracellular matrix, Mesenchymal stem cells, PNIPAM, Stem cell niche, Symmetric and asymmetric cell growth, Thermo-cycling, Thermo-responsive polymer


Mata, Agata, Urrea, Laura, Vilches, Silvia, Llorens, Franc, Thüne, Katrin, Espinosa, Juan-Carlos, Andréoletti, Olivier, Sevillano, Alejandro M., Torres, Juan María, Requena, Jesús Rodríguez, Zerr, Inga, Ferrer, Isidro, Gavín, Rosalina, del Río, José Antonio, (2017). Reelin expression in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and experimental models of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies Molecular Neurobiology 54, (8), 6412-6425

Reelin is an extracellular glycoprotein involved in key cellular processes in developing and adult nervous system, including regulation of neuronal migration, synapse formation, and plasticity. Most of these roles are mediated by the intracellular phosphorylation of disabled-1 (Dab1), an intracellular adaptor molecule, in turn mediated by binding Reelin to its receptors. Altered expression and glycosylation patterns of Reelin in cerebrospinal and cortical extracts have been reported in Alzheimer’s disease. However, putative changes in Reelin are not described in natural prionopathies or experimental models of prion infection or toxicity. With this is mind, in the present study, we determined that Reelin protein and mRNA levels increased in CJD human samples and in mouse models of human prion disease in contrast to murine models of prion infection. However, changes in Reelin expression appeared only at late terminal stages of the disease, which prevent their use as an efficient diagnostic biomarker. In addition, increased Reelin in CJD and in in vitro models does not correlate with Dab1 phosphorylation, indicating failure in its intracellular signaling. Overall, these findings widen our understanding of the putative changes of Reelin in neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Reelin, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Dab-1, Cellular prion protein


Castellanos, M. I., Mas-Moruno, C., Grau, A., Serra-Picamal, X., Trepat, X., Albericio, F., Joner, M., Gil, F. J., Ginebra, M. P., Manero, J. M., Pegueroles, M., (2017). Functionalization of CoCr surfaces with cell adhesive peptides to promote HUVECs adhesion and proliferation Applied Surface Science , 393, 82-92

Biomimetic surface modification with peptides that have specific cell-binding moieties is a promising approach to improve endothelialization of metal-based stents. In this study, we functionalized CoCr surfaces with RGDS, REDV, YIGSR peptides and their combinations to promote endothelial cells (ECs) adhesion and proliferation. An extensive characterization of the functionalized surfaces was performed by XPS analysis, surface charge and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), which demonstrated the successful immobilization of the peptides to the surface. Cell studies demonstrated that the covalent functionalization of CoCr surfaces with an equimolar combination of RGDS and YIGSR represents the most powerful strategy to enhance the early stages of ECs adhesion and proliferation, indicating a positive synergistic effect between the two peptide motifs. Although these peptide sequences slightly increased smooth muscle cells (SMCs) adhesion, these values were ten times lower than those observed for ECs. The combination of RGDS with the REDV sequence did not show synergistic effects in promoting the adhesion or proliferation of ECs. The strategy presented in this study holds great potential to overcome clinical limitations of current metal stents by enhancing their capacity to support surface endothelialization.

Keywords: Cell adhesive peptides, CoCr alloy, Endothelialization, HUVEC proliferation, SMCs adhesion, Surface functionalization


Li, Haiyue, Xu, Bin, Zhou, Enhua H., Sunyer, Raimon, Zhang, Yanhang, (2017). Multiscale measurements of the mechanical properties of collagen matrix ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 3, (11), 2815-2824

The underlying mechanisms by which extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanics influences cell and tissue function remain to be elucidated because the events associated with this process span size scales from tissue to molecular level. Furthermore, ECM has an extremely complex hierarchical 3D structure and the load distribution is highly dependent on the architecture and mechanical properties of ECM. In the present study, the macro- and microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were studied. Dynamic rheological testing was performed to study the macroscale mechanical properties of collagen gel. The microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were measured using optical magnetic twisting cytometry (OMTC). Ferromagnetic beads embedded in the matrix were used as mechanical probes. Our study on the multiscale mechanical properties of collage matrix suggests several interesting differences between macro and microscale mechanical properties originated from the scales of measurements. At the macroscopic scale, storage and loss modulus increase with collagen concentrations. Nonaffine collagen fibril structural network deformation plays an important role in determining the macroscopic mechanical properties of the collagen matrix. At the microscopic scale, however, the local mechanical properties are less sensitive to changes in collagen concentration because of the more immediate/direct deformation of collagen fibrils in the OMTC measurements through forces exerted by locally attached ferromagnetic beads. The loss modulus is more affected by the local interstitial fluid environment, leading to a rather dramatic increase in viscosity with frequency, especially at higher frequencies (>10 Hz). A finite element model was developed to study the geometric factors in the OMTC measurements when the collagen matrix was considered to be hyperelastic. Our results show that the geometric factors are dependent on collagen concentration, or the stiffness of matrix, when nonlinear material properties of the matrix are considered, and thus interpretation of the apparent modulus from OMTC measurements should be conducted carefully.

Keywords: Keywords: collagen, Extracellular matrix, Geometric factor, Nonaffine deformation, Optical magnetic twisting cytometry


Crespo, A., Gavaldà, J., Julián, E., Torrents, E., (2017). A single point mutation in class III ribonucleotide reductase promoter renders Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 inefficient for anaerobic growth and infection Scientific Reports 7, (1), 13350

Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAO1 has become the reference strain in many laboratories. One enzyme that is essential for its cell division is the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) enzyme that supplies the deoxynucleotides required for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few microorganisms that encodes three different RNR classes (Ia, II and III) in its genome, enabling it to grow and adapt to diverse environmental conditions, including during infection. In this work, we demonstrate that a lack of RNR activity induces cell elongation in P. aeruginosa PAO1. Moreover, RNR gene expression during anaerobiosis differs among P. aeruginosa strains, with class III highly expressed in P. aeruginosa clinical isolates relative to the laboratory P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain. A single point mutation was identified in the P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain class III RNR promoter region that disrupts its anaerobic transcription by the Dnr regulator. An engineered strain that induces the class III RNR expression allows P. aeruginosa PAO1 anaerobic growth and increases its virulence to resemble that of clinical strains. Our results demonstrate that P. aeruginosa PAO1 is adapted to laboratory conditions and is not the best reference strain for anaerobic or infection studies.

Keywords: Bacterial genes, Cellular microbiology, Pathogens


Fraioli, R., Tsimbouri, P. M., Fisher, L. E., Nobbs, A. H., Su, B., Neubauer, S., Rechenmacher, F., Kessler, H., Ginebra, M. P., Dalby, M. J., Manero, J. M., Mas-Moruno, C., (2017). Towards the cell-instructive bactericidal substrate: Exploring the combination of nanotopographical features and integrin selective synthetic ligands Scientific Reports 7, (1), 16363

Engineering the interface between biomaterials and tissues is important to increase implant lifetime and avoid failures and revision surgeries. Permanent devices should enhance attachment and differentiation of stem cells, responsible for injured tissue repair, and simultaneously discourage bacterial colonization; this represents a major challenge. To take first steps towards such a multifunctional surface we propose merging topographical and biochemical cues on the surface of a clinically relevant material such as titanium. In detail, our strategy combines antibacterial nanotopographical features with integrin selective synthetic ligands that can rescue the adhesive capacity of the surfaces and instruct mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) response. To this end, a smooth substrate and two different high aspect ratio topographies have been produced and coated either with an αvβ3-selective peptidomimetic, an α5β1-selective peptidomimetic, or an RGD/PHSRN peptidic molecule. Results showed that antibacterial effects of the substrates could be maintained when tested on pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Further, functionalization increased MSC adhesion to the surfaces and the αvβ3-selective peptidomimetic-coated nanotopographies promoted osteogenesis. Such a dual physicochemical approach to achieve multifunctional surfaces represents a first step in the design of novel cell-instructive biomaterial surfaces.

Keywords: Bioinspired materials, Biomaterials – cells


Gugutkov, D., Gustavsson, J., Cantini, M., Salmeron-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2017). Electrospun fibrinogen-PLA nanofibres for vascular tissue engineering Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 11, (10), 2774-2784

Here we report on the development of a new type of hybrid fibrinogen-polylactic acid (FBG-PLA) nanofibres (NFs) with improved stiffness, combining the good mechanical properties of PLA with the excellent cell recognition properties of native FBG. We were particularly interested in the dorsal and ventral cell response to the nanofibres' organization (random or aligned), using human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) as a model system. Upon ventral contact with random NFs, the cells developed a stellate-like morphology with multiple projections. The well-developed focal adhesion complexes suggested a successful cellular interaction. However, time-lapse analysis shows significantly lowered cell movements, resulting in the cells traversing a relatively short distance in multiple directions. Conversely, an elongated cell shape and significantly increased cell mobility were observed in aligned NFs. To follow the dorsal cell response, artificial wounds were created on confluent cell layers previously grown on glass slides and covered with either random or aligned NFs. Time-lapse analysis showed significantly faster wound coverage (within 12 h) of HUVECs on aligned samples vs. almost absent directional migration on random ones. However, nitric oxide (NO) release shows that endothelial cells possess lowered functionality on aligned NFs compared to random ones, where significantly higher NO production was found. Collectively, our studies show that randomly organized NFs could support the endothelization of implants while aligned NFs would rather direct cell locomotion for guided neovascularization.

Keywords: Electrospun nanofibers, Endothelial cells, Fibrinogen, Guided cellular behavior, Polylactic acid, Vascular tissue engineering


Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Montufar, E. B., Espanol, M., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Biomimetic versus sintered calcium phosphates: The in vitro behavior of osteoblasts and mesenchymal stem cells Tissue Engineering Part A , 23, (23-24), 1297-1309

The fabrication of calcium phosphates using biomimetic routes, namely, precipitation processes at body temperature, results in distinct features compared to conventional sintered calcium phosphate ceramics, such as a high specific surface area (SSA) and micro-or nanometric crystal size. The aim of this article is to analyze the effects of these parameters on cell response, focusing on two bone cell types: rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) and human osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2). Biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) was obtained by a low temperature setting reaction, and α-Tricalcium phosphate (α-TCP) and β-Tricalcium phosphate were subsequently obtained by sintering CDHA either at 1400°C or 1100°C. Sintered stoichiometric hydroxyapatite (HA) was also prepared using ceramic routes. The materials were characterized in terms of SSA, skeletal density, porosity, and pore size distribution. SaOS-2 cells and rMSCs were seeded either directly on the surfaces of the materials or on glass coverslips subsequently placed on top of the materials to expose the cells to the CaP-induced ionic changes in the culture medium, while avoiding any topography-related effects. CDHA produced higher ionic fluctuations in both cell culture media than sintered ceramics, with a strong decrease of calcium and a release of phosphate. Indirect contact cell cultures revealed that both cell types were sensitive to these ionic modifications, resulting in a decrease in proliferation rate, more marked for CDHA, this effect being more pronounced for rMSCs. In direct contact cultures, good cell adhesion was found on all materials, but, while cells were able to proliferate on the sintered calcium phosphates, cell number was significantly reduced with time on biomimetic CDHA, which was associated to a higher percentage of apoptotic cells. Direct contact of the cells with biomimetic CDHA resulted also in a higher alkaline phosphatase activity for both cell types compared to sintered CaPs, indicating a promotion of the osteoblastic phenotype.

Keywords: Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Calcium phosphate, Mesenchymal stem cell, Osteoblast


Castellanos, M. I., Guillem-Marti, J., Mas-Moruno, C., Díaz-Ricart, M., Escolar, G., Ginebra, M. P., Gil, F. J., Pegueroles, M., Manero, J. M., (2017). Cell adhesive peptides functionalized on CoCr alloy stimulate endothelialization and prevent thrombogenesis and restenosis Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 105, (4), 973-983

Immobilization of bioactive peptide sequences on CoCr surfaces is an effective route to improve endothelialization, which is of great interest for cardiovascular stents. In this work, we explored the effect of physical and covalent immoblization of RGDS, YIGSR and their equimolar combination peptides on endothelial cells (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) adhesion and on thrombogenicity. We extensively investigated using RT-qPCR, the expression by ECs cultured on functionalised CoCr surfaces of different genes. Genes relevant for adhesion (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1), vascularization (VEGFA, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2) and anti-thrombogenicity (tPA and eNOS) were over-expressed in the ECs grown to covalently functionalized CoCr surfaces compared to physisorbed and control surfaces. Pro-thrombogenic genes expression (PAI-1 and vWF) decreased over time. Cell co-cultures of ECs/SMCs found that functionalization increased the amount of adhered ECs onto modified surfaces compared to plain CoCr, independently of the used peptide and the strategy of immobilization. SMCs adhered less compared to ECs in all surfaces. All studied peptides showed a lower platelet cell adhesion compared to TCPS. Covalent functionalization of CoCr surfaces with an equimolar combination of RGDS and YIGSR represented prevailing strategy to enhance the early stages of ECs adhesion and proliferation, while preventing SMCs and platelet adhesion.

Keywords: Cell coculture, CoCr alloy, Functionalization, Gene expression, Platelet adhesion


Gugutkov, D., Awaja, F., Belemezova, K., Keremidarska, M., Krasteva, N., Kuyrkchiev, S., GallegoFerrer, G., Seker, S., Elcin, A. E., Elcin, Y. M., Altankov, G., (2017). Osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells using hybrid nanofibers with different configurations and dimensionality Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 105, (7), 2065-2074

Novel hybrid, fibrinogen/polylactic acid (FBG/PLA) nanofibers with different configuration (random vs. aligned) and dimensionality (2D vs.3D environment) were used to control the overall behaviour and the osteogenic differentiation of human Adipose Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells (ADMSCs). Aligned nanofibers in both the 2D and 3D configurations are proved to be favoured for osteo-differentiation. Morphologically we found that on randomly configured nanofibers, the cells developed a stellate-like morphology with multiple projections, however, time-lapse analysis showed significantly diminished cell movements. Conversely, an elongated cell shape with advanced cell spreading and extended actin cytoskeleton accompanied with significantly increased cell mobility were observed when cells attached on aligned nanofibers. Moreover, a clear tendency for higher alkaline phosphatase activity was also found on aligned fibres when ADMSCs were switched to osteogenic induction medium. The strongest accumulation of Alizarin red (AR) and von Kossa stain at 21 day of culture in osteogenic medium were found on 3D aligned constructs while the rest showed lower and rather undistinguishable activity. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis for Osteopontin (OSP) and RUNX 2 generally confirmed this trend showing favourable expression of osteogenic genes activity in 3D environment particularly in aligned configuration.

Keywords: Mesenchymal stem cells, Nanofibers, Osteogenic, Fibrinogen, Cell movements


Santos-Pata, D., Zucca, R., Low, S. C., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2017). Size matters: How scaling affects the interaction between grid and border cells Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience , 11, Article 65

Many hippocampal cell types are characterized by a progressive increase in scale along the dorsal-to-ventral axis, such as in the cases of head-direction, grid and place cells. Also located in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), border cells would be expected to benefit from such scale modulations. However, this phenomenon has not been experimentally observed. Grid cells in the MEC of mammals integrate velocity related signals to map the environment with characteristic hexagonal tessellation patterns. Due to the noisy nature of these input signals, path integration processes tend to accumulate errors as animals explore the environment, leading to a loss of grid-like activity. It has been suggested that border-to-grid cells' associations minimize the accumulated grid cells' error when rodents explore enclosures. Thus, the border-grid interaction for error minimization is a suitable scenario to study the effects of border cell scaling within the context of spatial representation. In this study, we computationally address the question of (i) border cells' scale from the perspective of their role in maintaining the regularity of grid cells' firing fields, as well as (ii) what are the underlying mechanisms of grid-border associations relative to the scales of both grid and border cells. Our results suggest that for optimal contribution to grid cells' error minimization, border cells should express smaller firing fields relative to those of the associated grid cells, which is consistent with the hypothesis of border cells functioning as spatial anchoring signals.

Keywords: Border cells, Error minimization, Grid cells, Navigation, Path integration


Giménez, A., Uriarte, J. J., Vieyra, J., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2017). Elastic properties of hydrogels and decellularized tissue sections used in mechanobiology studies probed by atomic force microscopy Microscopy Research and Technique , 80, (1), 85-96

The increasing recognition that tissue elasticity is an important regulator of cell behavior in normal and pathologic conditions such as fibrosis and cancer has driven the development of cell culture substrata with tunable elasticity. Such development has urged the need to quantify the elastic properties of these cell culture substrata particularly at the nanometer scale, since this is the relevant length scale involved in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical interactions. To address this need, we have exploited the versatility of atomic force microscopy to quantify the elastic properties of a variety of cell culture substrata used in mechanobiology studies, including floating collagen gels, ECM-coated polyacrylamide gels, and decellularized tissue sections. In this review we summarize major findings in this field from our group within the context of the state-of-the-art in the field, and provide a critical discussion on the applicability and complementarity of currently available cell culture assays with tunable elasticity. In addition, we briefly describe how the limitations of these assays provide opportunities for future research, which is expected to continue expanding our understanding of the mechanobiological aspects that support both normal and diseased conditions.

Keywords: 3D culture, Atomic force microscopy, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Polyacrylamide


Climent, A. M., Hernandez-Romero, I., Guillem, M. S., Montserrat, N., Fernandez, M. E., Atienza, F., Fernandez-Aviles, F., (2017). High resolution microscopic optical mapping of anatomical and functional reentries in human cardiac cell cultures IEEE Conference Publications Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC), 2016 , IEEE (Vancouver, Canada) 43, 233-236

Anatomical and/or functional reentries have been proposed as one of the main mechanism of perpetuation of cardiac fibrillation processes. However, technical limitations have difficult the characterization of those reentries and are hampering the development of effective anti-arrhythmic treatments. The goal of this study is to present a novel technology to map with high resolution the center of fibrillation drivers in order to characterize the mechanisms of reentry. Cell cultures of human cardiac-like cells differentiated from pluripotent stem cells were analyzed with a novel microscopic optical mapping system. The pharmacological response to verapamil administration of each type of reentry was analyzed. In all analyzed cell cultures, a reentry was identified as the mechanism of maintenance of the arrhythmia. Interestingly, the administration of verapamil produced opposite effects on activation rate depending on the mechanisms of reentry (i.e. anatomical or functional). Microscopic optical mapping of reentries allows the identification of perpetuation mechanisms which has been demonstrated to be linked with different pharmacological response.

Keywords: Stem cells, Rotors, Microscopy, Optical filters, Calcium, Optical microscopy, Biomedical optical imaging


Garreta, Elena, Marco, Andrés, Eguizábal, Cristina, Tarantino, Carolina, Samitier, Mireia, Badiola, Maider, Gutiérrez, Joaquín, Samitier, Josep, Montserrat, Nuria, (2017). Pluripotent stem cells and skeletal muscle differentiation: Challenges and immediate applications The Plasticity of Skeletal Muscle: From Molecular Mechanism to Clinical Applications (ed. Sakuma, Kunihiro), Springer Singapore (Singapore, Singapore) 2018, 1-35

Recent advances in the generation of skeletal muscle derivatives from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) provide innovative tools for muscle development, disease modeling, and cell replacement therapies. Here, we revise major relevant findings that have contributed to these advances in the field, by the revision of how early findings using mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) set the bases for the derivation of skeletal muscle cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and patient-derived human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to the use of genome editing platforms allowing for disease modeling in the petri dish.

Keywords: Pluripotent stem cells, Differentiation, Genome editing, Disease modeling


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


Noguera-Ortega, Estela, Secanella-Fandos, Silvia, Eraña, Hasier, Gasión, Jofre, Rabanal, Rosa M., Luquin, Marina, Torrents, Eduard, Julián, Esther, (2016). Nonpathogenic Mycobacterium brumae inhibits bladder cancer growth in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo European Urology Focus , 2, (1), 67-76

Background Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) prevents tumour recurrence and progression in non–muscle-invasive bladder cancer (BC). However, common adverse events occur, including BCG infections. Objective To find a mycobacterium with similar or superior antitumour activity to BCG but with greater safety. Design In vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo comparisons of the antitumour efficacy of nonpathogenic mycobacteria and BCG. Intervention The in vitro antitumour activity of a broad set of mycobacteria was studied in seven different BC cell lines. The most efficacious was selected and its ex vivo capacity to activate immune cells and its in vivo antitumour activity in an orthotopic murine model of BC were investigated. Outcome measurements and statistical analysis Growth inhibition of BC cells was the primary outcome measurement. Parametric and nonparametric tests were use to analyse the in vitro results, and a Kaplan-Meier test was applied to measure survival in mycobacteria-treated tumour-bearing mice. Results and limitations Mycobacterium brumae is superior to BCG in inhibiting low-grade BC cell growth, and has similar effects to BCG against high-grade cells. M. brumae triggers an indirect antitumour response by activating macrophages and the cytotoxic activity of peripheral blood cells against BC cells. Although no significant differences were observed between BCG and M. brumae treatments in mice, M. brumae treatment prolonged survival in comparison to BCG treatment in tumour-bearing mice. In contrast to BCG, M. brumae does not persist intracellularly or in tumour-bearing mice, so the risk of infection is lower. Conclusions Our preclinical data suggest that M. brumae represents a safe and efficacious candidate as a therapeutic agent for non–muscle-invasive BC. Patient summary We investigated the antitumour activity of nonpathogenic mycobacteria in in vitro and in vivo models of non–muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We found that Mycobacterium brumae effectively inhibits bladder cancer growth and helps the host immune system to eradicate cancer cells, and is a promising agent for antitumour immunotherapy.

Keywords: Animal models, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, Cytokines, Immunomodulation, Immunotherapy, Mycobacteria, Urothelial cell line


Wolfenson, Haguy, Meacci, Giovanni, Liu, Shuaimin, Stachowiak, Matthew R., Iskratsch, Thomas, Ghassemi, Saba, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Oshaughnessy, Ben, Hone, James, Sheetz, Michael P., (2016). Tropomyosin controls sarcomere-like contractions for rigidity sensing and suppressing growth on soft matrices Nature Cell Biology 18, 33-42

Cells test the rigidity of the extracellular matrix by applying forces to it through integrin adhesions. Recent measurements show that these forces are applied by local micrometre-scale contractions, but how contraction force is regulated by rigidity is unknown. Here we performed high temporal- and spatial-resolution tracking of contractile forces by plating cells on sub-micrometre elastomeric pillars. We found that actomyosin-based sarcomere-like contractile units (CUs) simultaneously moved opposing pillars in net steps of [sim]2.5[thinsp]nm, independent of rigidity. What correlated with rigidity was the number of steps taken to reach a force level that activated recruitment of [alpha]-actinin to the CUs. When we removed actomyosin restriction by depleting tropomyosin 2.1, we observed larger steps and higher forces that resulted in aberrant rigidity sensing and growth of non-transformed cells on soft matrices. Thus, we conclude that tropomyosin 2.1 acts as a suppressor of growth on soft matrices by supporting proper rigidity sensing.

Keywords: Cell adhesion, Mechanotransduction


Torras, Núria, Agusil, Juan Pablo, Vázquez, Patricia, Duch, Marta, Hernández-Pinto, Alberto M., Samitier, Josep, de la Rosa, Enrique J., Esteve, Jaume, Suárez, Teresa, Pérez-García, Lluïsa, Plaza, José A., (2016). Suspended planar-array chips for molecular multiplexing at the microscale Advanced Materials 28, (7), 1449–1454

A novel suspended planar-array chips technology is described, which effectively allows molecular multiplexing using a single suspended chip to analyze extraordinarily small volumes. The suspended chips are fabricated by combining silicon-based technology and polymer-pen lithography, obtaining increased molecular pattern flexibility, and improving miniaturization and parallel production. The chip miniaturization is so dramatic that it permits the intracellular analysis of living cells.

Keywords: Chip-in-a-cell, Suspended-arrays, Planar-arrays, Silicon chips, Single-cell analysis


Ladoux, B., Mège, R. M., Trepat, X., (2016). Front-rear polarization by mechanical cues: From single cells to tissues Trends in Cell Biology 26, (6), 420-433

Directed cell migration is a complex process that involves front-rear polarization, characterized by cell adhesion and cytoskeleton-based protrusion, retraction, and contraction of either a single cell or a cell collective. Single cell polarization depends on a variety of mechanochemical signals including external adhesive cues, substrate stiffness, and confinement. In cell ensembles, coordinated polarization of migrating tissues results not only from the application of traction forces on the extracellular matrix but also from the transmission of mechanical stress through intercellular junctions. We focus here on the impact of mechanical cues on the establishment and maintenance of front-rear polarization from single cell to collective cell behaviors through local or large-scale mechanisms.

Keywords: Cell forces, Cell polarity, Collective cell migration, Mechanobiology, Micropatterning, Substrate stiffness


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


Garreta, E., de Oñate, L., Fernández-Santos, M. E., Oria, R., Tarantino, C., Climent, A. M., Marco, A., Samitier, M., Martínez, Elena, Valls-Margarit, M., Matesanz, R., Taylor, D. A., Fernández-Avilés, F., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., Montserrat, N., (2016). Myocardial commitment from human pluripotent stem cells: Rapid production of human heart grafts Biomaterials 98, 64-78

Genome editing on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) together with the development of protocols for organ decellularization opens the door to the generation of autologous bioartificial hearts. Here we sought to generate for the first time a fluorescent reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line by means of Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to efficiently produce cardiomyocyte-like cells (CLCs) from hPSCs and repopulate decellularized human heart ventricles for heart engineering. In our hands, targeting myosin heavy chain locus (MYH6) with mCherry fluorescent reporter by TALEN technology in hESCs did not alter major pluripotent-related features, and allowed for the definition of a robust protocol for CLCs production also from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) in 14 days. hPSCs-derived CLCs (hPSCs-CLCs) were next used to recellularize acellular cardiac scaffolds. Electrophysiological responses encountered when hPSCs-CLCs were cultured on ventricular decellularized extracellular matrix (vdECM) correlated with significant increases in the levels of expression of different ion channels determinant for calcium homeostasis and heart contractile function. Overall, the approach described here allows for the rapid generation of human cardiac grafts from hPSCs, in a total of 24 days, providing a suitable platform for cardiac engineering and disease modeling in the human setting.

Keywords: Cardiac function, Extracellular matrix, Gene targeting, Pluripotent stem cells


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

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

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


Zhao, M., Altankov, G., Grabiec, U., Bennett, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., Dehghani, F., Groth, T., (2016). Molecular composition of GAG-collagen I multilayers affects remodeling of terminal layers and osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells Acta Biomaterialia 41, 86-99

The effect of molecular composition of multilayers, by pairing type I collagen (Col I) with either hyaluronic acid (HA) or chondroitin sulfate (CS) was studied regarding the osteogenic differentiation of adhering human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs). Polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) formation was based primarily on ion pairing and on additional intrinsic cross-linking through imine bond formation with Col I replacing native by oxidized HA (oHA) or CS (oCS). Significant amounts of Col I fibrils were found on both native and oxidized CS-based PEMs, resulting in higher water contact angles and surface potential under physiological condition, while much less organized Col I was detected in either HA-based multilayers, which were more hydrophilic and negatively charged. An important finding was that hADSCs remodeled Col I at the terminal layers of PEMs by mechanical reorganization and pericellular proteolytic degradation, being more pronounced on CS-based PEMs. This was in accordance with the higher quantity of Col I deposition in this system, accompanied by more cell spreading, focal adhesions (FA) formation and significant α2β1 integrin recruitment compared to HA-based PEMs. Both CS-based PEMs caused also an increased fibronectin (FN) secretion and cell growth. Furthermore, significant calcium phosphate deposition, enhanced ALP, Col I and Runx2 expression were observed in hADSCs on CS-based PEMs, particularly on oCS-containing one. Overall, multilayer composition can be used to direct cell-matrix interactions, and hence stem cell fates showing for the first time that PEMs made of biogenic polyelectrolytes undergo significant remodeling of terminal protein layers, which seems to enable cells to form a more adequate extracellular matrix-like environment. Statement of Significance: Natural polymer derived polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) have been recently applied to adjust biomaterials to meet specific tissue demands. However, the effect of molecular composition of multilayers on both surface properties and cellular response, especially the fate of human adipose derived stem cells (hADSCs) upon osteogenic differentiation has not been studied extensively, yet. In addition, no studies exist that investigate a potential cell-dependent remodeling of PEMs made of extracellular matrix (ECM) components like collagens and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Furthermore, there is no knowledge whether the ability of cells to remodel PEM components may provide an added value regarding cell growth and differentiation. Finally, it has not been explored yet, how intrinsic cross-linking of ECM derived polyelectrolytes that improve the stability of PEMs will affect the differentiation potential of hADSCs. The current work aims to address these questions and found that the type of GAG has a strong effect on properties of multilayers and osteogenic differentiation of hADSCs. Additionally, we also show for the first time that PEMs made of biogenic polyelectrolytes undergo significant remodeling of terminal layers as completely new finding, which allows cells to form an ECM-like environment supporting differentiation upon osteogenic lineage. The finding of this work may open new avenues of application of PEM systems made by layer by layer (LbL) technique in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Keywords: Collagen reorganization, Glycosaminoglycans, Layer-by-layer technique, Mesenchymal stem cells, Osteogenic differentiation


Vilches, S., Vergara, C., Nicolás, O., Mata, A., Del Río, J. A., Gavín, R., (2016). Domain-specific activation of death-associated intracellular signalling cascades by the cellular prion protein in neuroblastoma cells Molecular Neurobiology 53, (7), 4438–4448

The biological functions of the cellular prion protein remain poorly understood. In fact, numerous studies have aimed to determine specific functions for the different protein domains. Studies of cellular prion protein (PrPC) domains through in vivo expression of molecules carrying internal deletions in a mouse Prnp null background have provided helpful data on the implication of the protein in signalling cascades in affected neurons. Nevertheless, understanding of the mechanisms underlying the neurotoxicity induced by these PrPC deleted forms is far from complete. To better define the neurotoxic or neuroprotective potential of PrPC N-terminal domains, and to overcome the heterogeneity of results due to the lack of a standardized model, we used neuroblastoma cells to analyse the effects of overexpressing PrPC deleted forms. Results indicate that PrPC N-terminal deleted forms were properly processed through the secretory pathway. However, PrPΔF35 and PrPΔCD mutants led to death by different mechanisms sharing loss of alpha-cleavage and activation of caspase-3. Our data suggest that both gain-of-function and loss-of-function pathogenic mechanisms may be associated with N-terminal domains and may therefore contribute to neurotoxicity in prion disease. Dissecting the molecular response induced by PrPΔF35 may be the key to unravelling the physiological and pathological functions of the prion protein.

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Neurotoxicity, Truncated prion protein


Eguizabal, C., Herrera, L., De Oñate, L., Montserrat, N., Hajkova, P., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., (2016). Characterization of the epigenetic changes during human gonadal primordial germ cells reprogramming Stem Cells , 34, (9), 2418-2428

Abstract: Epigenetic reprogramming is a central process during mammalian germline development. Genome-wide DNA demethylation in primordial germ cells (PGCs) is a prerequisite for the erasure of epigenetic memory, preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. Apart from DNA demethylation, germline reprogramming has been shown to entail reprogramming of histone marks and chromatin remodelling. Contrary to other animal models, there is limited information about the epigenetic dynamics during early germ cell development in humans. Here, we provide further characterization of the epigenetic configuration of the early human gonadal PGCs. We show that early gonadal human PGCs are DNA hypomethylated and their chromatin is characterized by low H3K9me2 and high H3K27me3 marks. Similarly to previous observations in mice, human gonadal PGCs undergo dynamic chromatin changes concomitant with the erasure of genomic imprints. Interestingly, and contrary to mouse early germ cells, expression of BLIMP1/PRDM1 persists in through all gestational stages in human gonadal PGCs and is associated with nuclear lysine-specific demethylase-1. Our work provides important additional information regarding the chromatin changes associated with human PGCs development between 6 and 13 weeks of gestation in male and female gonads.

Keywords: Epigenetic, Human primordial germ cells, Reprograming


Fernanda, Andrade, Pedro, Fonte, Ana, Costa, Cassilda Cunha, Reis, Rute, Nunes, Andreia, Almeida, Domingos, Ferreira, Mireia, Oliva, Bruno, Sarmento, (2016). Pharmacological and toxicological assessment of innovative self-assembled polymeric micelles as powders for insulin pulmonary delivery Nanomedicine 11, (17), 2305-2317

Aim: Explore the use of polymeric micelles in the development of powders intended for pulmonary delivery of biopharmaceuticals, using insulin as a model protein. Materials & methods: Formulations were assessed in vitro for aerosolization properties and in vivo for efficacy and safety using a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model. Results: Powders presented good aerosolization properties like fine particle fraction superior to 40% and a mass median aerodynamic diameter inferior of 6 μm. Endotracheally instilled powders have shown a faster onset of action than subcutaneous administration of insulin at a dose of 10 IU/kg, with pharmacological availabilities up to 32.5% of those achieved by subcutaneous route. Additionally, micelles improved the hypoglycemic effect of insulin. Bronchoalveolar lavage screening for toxicity markers (e.g., lactate dehydrogenase, cytokines) revealed no signs of lung inflammation and cytotoxicity 14 days postadministration. Conclusion: Developed powders showed promising safety and efficacy characteristics for the systemic delivery of insulin by pulmonary administration.

Keywords: Fine particle fraction, Inhalation, Insulin, In vivo, Pharmacological availability, Polymeric micelles, Pulmonary toxicity


Asadipour, N., Trepat, X., Muñoz, J. J., (2016). Porous-based rheological model for tissue fluidisation Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 96, 535-549

It has been experimentally observed that cells exhibit a fluidisation process when subjected to a transient stretch, with an eventual recovery of the mechanical properties upon removal of the applied deformation. This fluidisation process is characterised by a decrease of the storage modulus and an increase of the phase angle. We propose a rheological model which is able to reproduce this combined mechanical response. The model is described in the context of continua and adapted to a cell-centred particle system that simulates cell–cell interactions. Mechanical equilibrium is coupled with two evolution laws: (i) one for the reference configuration, and (ii) another for the porosity or polymer density. The first law depends on the actual strain of the tissue, while the second assumes different remodelling rates during porosity increase and decrease. The theory is implemented on a particle based model and tested on a stretching experiment. The numerical results agree with the experimental measurements for different stretching magnitudes.

Keywords: Cell remodelling, Cell rheology, Fluidisation, Softening, Viscoelasticity


Wills, C. R., Malandrino, A., Van Rijsbergen, M., Lacroix, D., Ito, K., Noailly, J., (2016). Simulating the sensitivity of cell nutritive environment to composition changes within the intervertebral disc Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 90, 108-123

Altered nutrition in the intervertebral disc affects cell viability and can generate catabolic cascades contributing to extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation. Such degradation is expected to affect couplings between disc mechanics and nutrition, contributing to accelerate degenerative processes. However, the relation of ECM changes to major biophysical events within the loaded disc remains unclear. A L4-L5 disc finite element model including the nucleus (NP), annulus (AF) and endplates was used and coupled to a transport-cell viability model. Solute concentrations and cell viability were evaluated along the mid-sagittal plane path. A design of experiment (DOE) was performed. DOE parameters corresponded to AF and NP biochemical tissue measurements in discs with different degeneration grades. Cell viability was not affected by any parameter combinations defined. Nonetheless, the initial water content was the parameter that affected the most the solute contents, especially glucose. Calculations showed that altered NP composition could negatively affect AF cell nutrition. Results suggested that AF and NP tissue degeneration are not critical to nutrition-related cell viability at early-stage of disc degeneration. However, small ECM degenerative changes may alter significantly disc nutrition under mechanical loads. Coupling disc mechano-transport simulations and enzyme expression studies could allow identifying spatiotemporal sequences related to tissue catabolism.

Keywords: Cell nutrition, Finite element analysis, Intervertebral disc degeneration, Multiphysics, Tissue composition


Campillo, N., Jorba, I., Schaedel, L., Casals, B., Gozal, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2016). A novel chip for cyclic stretch and intermittent hypoxia cell exposures mimicking obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Physiology 7, Article 319

Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated morbidities, especially in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced by IH are suggested as main contributors of end-organ dysfunction in OSA patients and animal models. Since the molecular mechanisms underlying these in vivo pathological responses remain poorly understood, implementation of experimental in vitro cell-based systems capable of inducing high-frequency IH would be highly desirable. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and validation of a versatile chip for subjecting cultured cells to fast changes in gas partial pressure and to cyclic stretch. The chip is fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and consists of a cylindrical well-covered by a thin membrane. Cells cultured on top of the membrane can be subjected to fast changes in oxygen concentration (equilibrium time ~6 s). Moreover, cells can be subjected to cyclic stretch at cardiac or respiratory frequencies independently or simultaneously. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exposed to IH mimicking OSA and cyclic stretch at cardiac frequencies revealed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) expression was increased in response to both stimuli. Thus, the chip provides a versatile tool for the study of cellular responses to cyclical hypoxia and stretch.

Keywords: Cell stretch, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Intermittent hypoxia, Lab-on-a-chip, Obstructive sleep apnea


Montserrat, N., Garreta, E., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., (2016). Regenerative strategies for kidney engineering FEBS Journal , 283, (18), 3303-3324

The kidney is the most important organ for water homeostasis and waste excretion. It performs several important physiological functions for homeostasis: it filters the metabolic waste out of circulation, regulates body fluid balances, and acts as an immune regulator and modulator of cardiovascular physiology. The development of in vitro renal disease models with pluripotent stem cells (both human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) and the generation of robust protocols for in vitro derivation of renal-specific-like cells from patient induced pluripotent stem cells have just emerged. Here we review major findings in the field of kidney regeneration with a major focus on the development of stepwise protocols for kidney cell production from human pluripotent stem cells and the latest advances in kidney bioengineering (i.e. decellularized kidney scaffolds and bioprinting). The possibility of generating renal-like three-dimensional structures to be recellularized with renal-derived induced pluripotent stem cells may offer new avenues to develop functional kidney grafts on-demand.

Keywords: Induced pluripotent stem cells, Kidney disease, Kidney engineering, Pluripotent stem cells, Renal differentiation


Przybyla, L., Lakins, J. N., Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Weaver, V. M., (2016). Monitoring developmental force distributions in reconstituted embryonic epithelia Methods , 94, 101-113

The way cells are organized within a tissue dictates how they sense and respond to extracellular signals, as cues are received and interpreted based on expression and organization of receptors, downstream signaling proteins, and transcription factors. Part of this microenvironmental context is the result of forces acting on the cell, including forces from other cells or from the cellular substrate or basement membrane. However, measuring forces exerted on and by cells is difficult, particularly in an in vivo context, and interpreting how forces affect downstream cellular processes poses an even greater challenge. Here, we present a simple method for monitoring and analyzing forces generated from cell collectives. We demonstrate the ability to generate traction force data from human embryonic stem cells grown in large organized epithelial sheets to determine the magnitude and organization of cell-ECM and cell-cell forces within a self-renewing colony. We show that this method can be used to measure forces in a dynamic hESC system and demonstrate the ability to map intracolony protein localization to force organization.

Keywords: Epiblast, Human embryonic stem cells, Mechanotransduction, Monolayer stress microscopy, Self-organization, Traction force


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


Valero, C., Navarro, B., Navajas, D., García-Aznar, J. M., (2016). Finite element simulation for the mechanical characterization of soft biological materials by atomic force microscopy Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 62, 222-235

The characterization of the mechanical properties of soft materials has been traditionally performed through uniaxial tensile tests. Nevertheless, this method cannot be applied to certain extremely soft materials, such as biological tissues or cells that cannot be properly subjected to these tests. Alternative non-destructive tests have been designed in recent years to determine the mechanical properties of soft biological tissues. One of these techniques is based on the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to perform nanoindentation tests. In this work, we investigated the mechanical response of soft biological materials to nanoindentation with spherical indenters using finite element simulations. We studied the responses of three different material constitutive laws (elastic, isotropic hyperelastic and anisotropic hyperelastic) under the same process and analyzed the differences thereof. Whereas linear elastic and isotropic hyperelastic materials can be studied using an axisymmetric simplification, anisotropic hyperelastic materials require three-dimensional analyses. Moreover, we established the limiting sample size required to determine the mechanical properties of soft materials while avoiding boundary effects. Finally, we compared the results obtained by simulation with an estimate obtained from Hertz theory. Hertz theory does not distinguish between the different material constitutive laws, and thus, we proposed corrections to improve the quantitative measurement of specific material properties by nanoindentation experiments.

Keywords: AFM, Cell mechanics, FEM, Nanoindentation, Soft-tissue


da Palma, R. K., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Uriarte, J. J., Urbano, J. J., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2016). Behavior of vascular resistance undergoing various pressure insufflation and perfusion on decellularized lungs Journal of Biomechanics 49, (7), 1230-1232

Bioengineering of functional lung tissue by using whole lung scaffolds has been proposed as a potential alternative for patients awaiting lung transplant. Previous studies have demonstrated that vascular resistance (Rv) could be altered to optimize the process of obtaining suitable lung scaffolds. Therefore, this work was aimed at determining how lung inflation (tracheal pressure) and perfusion (pulmonary arterial pressure) affect vascular resistance. This study was carried out using the lungs excised from 5 healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats. The trachea was cannulated and connected to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to provide a tracheal pressure ranging from 0 to 15cmH2O. The pulmonary artery was cannulated and connected to a controlled perfusion system with continuous pressure (gravimetric level) ranging from 5 to 30cmH2O. Effective Rv was calculated by ratio of pulmonary artery pressure (P PA) by pulmonary artery flow (V'PA). Rv in the decellularized lungs scaffolds decreased at increasing V' PA, stabilizing at a pulmonary arterial pressure greater than 20cmH2O. On the other hand, CPAP had no influence on vascular resistance in the lung scaffolds after being subjected to pulmonary artery pressure of 5cmH2O. In conclusion, compared to positive airway pressure, arterial lung pressure markedly influences the mechanics of vascular resistance in decellularized lungs.

Keywords: Decellularized lung, Scaffolds, Vascular resistance


González, F., (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells: Harnessing human genetics in a dish Developmental Dynamics , 245, (7), 788-806

Abstract: Because of their extraordinary differentiation potential, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can differentiate into virtually any cell type of the human body, providing a powerful platform not only for generating relevant cell types useful for cell replacement therapies, but also for modeling human development and disease. Expanding this potential, structures resembling human organs, termed organoids, have been recently obtained from hPSCs through tissue engineering. Organoids exhibit multiple cell types self-organizing into structures recapitulating in part the physiology and the cellular interactions observed in the organ in vivo, offering unprecedented opportunities for human disease modeling. To fulfill this promise, tissue engineering in hPSCs needs to be supported by robust and scalable genome editing technologies. With the advent of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, manipulating the genome of hPSCs has now become an easy task, allowing modifying their genome with superior precision, speed, and throughput. Here we review current and potential applications of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in hPSCs and how they contribute to establish hPSCs as a model of choice for studying human genetics.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9, Disease modeling, Human genetics, Human pluripotent stem cells, Tissue and genome engineering


Coelho, N. M., Llopis-Hernández, V., Salmerón-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2016). Dynamic reorganization and enzymatic remodeling of type IV collagen at cell–biomaterial interface Advances in Protein Chemistry and Structural Biology (ed. Christo, Z. Christov), Academic Press (San Diego, USA) 105, 81-104

Abstract Vascular basement membrane remodeling involves assembly and degradation of its main constituents, type IV collagen (Col IV) and laminin, which is critical during development, angiogenesis, and tissue repair. Remodeling can also occur at cell–biomaterials interface altering significantly the biocompatibility of implants. Here we describe the fate of adsorbed Col IV in contact with endothelial cells adhering on positively charged NH2 or hydrophobic CH3 substrata, both based on self-assembly monolayers (SAMs) and studied alone or mixed in different proportions. AFM studies revealed distinct pattern of adsorbed Col IV, varying from single molecular deposition on pure NH2 to network-like assembly on mixed SAMs, turning to big globular aggregates on bare CH3. Human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) interact better with Col IV adsorbed as single molecules on NH2 surface and readily rearrange it in fibril-like pattern that coincide with secreted fibronectin fibrils. The cells show flattened morphology and well-developed focal adhesion complexes that are rich on phosphorylated FAK while expressing markedly low pericellular proteolytic activity. Conversely, on hydrophobic CH3 substrata HUVECs showed abrogated spreading and FAK phosphorylation, combined with less reorganization of the aggregated Col IV and significantly increased proteolytic activity. The later involves both MMP-2 and MMP-9, as measured by zymography and FITC-Col IV release. The mixed SAMs support intermediate remodeling activity. Taken together these results show that chemical functionalization combined with Col IV preadsorption provides a tool for guiding the endothelial cells behavior and pericellular proteolytic activity, events that strongly affect the fate of cardiovascular implants.

Keywords: Type IV collagen, Adsorption, Remodeling, Pericellular proteolysis, Reorganization, Substratum chemistry, CH3 and NH2 groups, Self-assembly monolayers


Malandrino, Andrea, Pozo, Jose Maria, Castro-Mateos, Isaac, Frangi, Alejandro F., van Rijsbergen, Marc M., Ito, Keita, Wilke, Hans-Joachim, Dao, Tien Tuan, Ho Ba Tho, Marie-Christine, Noailly, Jerome, (2015). On the relative relevance of subject-specific geometries and degeneration-specific mechanical properties for the study of cell death in human intervertebral disc models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 3, (Article 5), 1-15

Capturing patient- or condition-specific intervertebral disk (IVD) properties in finite element models is outmost important in order to explore how biomechanical and biophysical processes may interact in spine diseases. However, disk degenerative changes are often modeled through equations similar to those employed for healthy organs, which might not be valid. As for the simulated effects of degenerative changes, they likely depend on specific disk geometries. Accordingly, we explored the ability of continuum tissue models to simulate disk degenerative changes. We further used the results in order to assess the interplay between these simulated changes and particular IVD morphologies, in relation to disk cell nutrition, a potentially important factor in disk tissue regulation. A protocol to derive patient-specific computational models from clinical images was applied to different spine specimens. In vitro, IVD creep tests were used to optimize poro-hyperelastic input material parameters in these models, in function of the IVD degeneration grade. The use of condition-specific tissue model parameters in the specimen-specific geometrical models was validated against independent kinematic measurements in vitro. Then, models were coupled to a transport-cell viability model in order to assess the respective effects of tissue degeneration and disk geometry on cell viability. While classic disk poro-mechanical models failed in representing known degenerative changes, additional simulation of tissue damage allowed model validation and gave degeneration-dependent material properties related to osmotic pressure and water loss, and to increased fibrosis. Surprisingly, nutrition-induced cell death was independent of the grade-dependent material properties, but was favored by increased diffusion distances in large IVDs. Our results suggest that in situ geometrical screening of IVD morphology might help to anticipate particular mechanisms of disk degeneration.

Keywords: Intervertebral Disc Degeneration, Finite element modelling, Lumbar spine, Poroelasticity, Damage model, Subject-specific modelling, Disc cell nutrition


Lagunas, Anna, Martinez, Elena, Samitier, Josep, (2015). Surface-bound molecular gradients for the high throughput screening of cell responses Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 3, Article 132

Chemical gradient surfaces are described as surfaces with a gradually varying composition along their length. Continuous chemical gradients have recently been proposed as alternative to discrete microarrays for the high throughput screening of the effects of ligand concentration in cells. Here we review some of the most recent examples in which gradients have been used to evaluate the effect of a varying ligand concentration in cell adhesion, morphology, growth and differentiation of cells, including some of our recent findings. They show the importance of the organization of ligands at the nanoscale, which is highlighted by abrupt changes in cell behavior at critical concentration thresholds.

Keywords: Cell Adhesion, Cell Differentiation, Cell growth, Cell morphology, Molecular gradient


Manca, M. L., Castangia, I., Zaru, M., Nácher, A., Valenti, D., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2015). Development of curcumin loaded sodium hyaluronate immobilized vesicles (hyalurosomes) and their potential on skin inflammation and wound restoring Biomaterials 71, 100-109

In the present work new highly biocompatible nanovesicles were developed using polyanion sodium hyaluronate to form polymer immobilized vesicles, so called hyalurosomes. Curcumin, at high concentration was loaded into hyalurosomes and physico-chemical properties and in vitro/in vivo performances of the formulations were compared to those of liposomes having the same lipid and drug content. Vesicles were prepared by direct addition of dispersion containing the polysaccharide sodium hyaluronate and the polyphenol curcumin to a commercial mixture of soy phospholipids, thus avoiding the use of organic solvents. An extensive study was carried out on the physico-chemical features and properties of curcumin-loaded hyalurosomes and liposomes. Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering showed that vesicles were spherical, uni- or oligolamellar and small in size (112-220 nm). The in vitro percutaneous curcumin delivery studies on intact skin showed an improved ability of hyalurosomes to favour a fast drug deposition in the whole skin. Hyalurosomes as well as liposomes were biocompatible, protected in vitro human keratinocytes from oxidative stress damages and promoted tissue remodelling through cellular proliferation and migration. Moreover, in vivo tests underlined a good effectiveness of curcumin-loaded hyalurosomes to counteract 12-O-tetradecanoilphorbol (TPA)-produced inflammation and injuries, diminishing oedema formation, myeloperoxydase activity and providing an extensive skin reepithelization. Thanks to the one-step and environmentally-friendly preparation method, component biocompatibility and safety, good in vitro and in vivo performances, the hyalurosomes appear as promising nanocarriers for cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.

Keywords: Cell oxidative stress, Hyaluronic acid/Hyaluronan, Phospholipid vesicles, Polyphenols, Skin inflammation, Wound healing


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

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

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


Levato, R., Planell, J. A., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., (2015). Role of ECM/peptide coatings on SDF-1α triggered mesenchymal stromal cell migration from microcarriers for cell therapy Acta Biomaterialia 18, 59-67

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

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


Crosas-Molist, E., Meirelles, T., López-Luque, J., Serra-Peinado, C., Selva, J., Caja, L., Gorbenko Del Blanco, D., Uriarte, J. J., Bertran, E., Mendizábal, Y., Hernández, V., García-Calero, C., Busnadiego, O., Condom, E., Toral, D., Castellà, M., Forteza, A., Navajas, D., Sarri, E., Rodríguez-Pascual, F., Dietz, H. C., Fabregat, I., Egea, G., (2015). Vascular smooth muscle cell phenotypic changes in patients with marfan syndrome Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology , 35, (4), 960-972

Objective - Marfan's syndrome is characterized by the formation of ascending aortic aneurysms resulting from altered assembly of extracellular matrix microfibrils and chronic tissue growth factor (TGF)-β signaling. TGF-β is a potent regulator of the vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotype. We hypothesized that as a result of the chronic TGF-β signaling, VSMC would alter their basal differentiation phenotype, which could facilitate the formation of aneurysms. This study explores whether Marfan's syndrome entails phenotypic alterations of VSMC and possible mechanisms at the subcellular level. Approach and Results - Immunohistochemical and Western blotting analyses of dilated aortas from Marfan patients showed overexpression of contractile protein markers (α-smooth muscle actin, smoothelin, smooth muscle protein 22 alpha, and calponin-1) and collagen I in comparison with healthy aortas. VSMC explanted from Marfan aortic aneurysms showed increased in vitro expression of these phenotypic markers and also of myocardin, a transcription factor essential for VSMC-specific differentiation. These alterations were generally reduced after pharmacological inhibition of the TGF-β pathway. Marfan VSMC in culture showed more robust actin stress fibers and enhanced RhoA-GTP levels, which was accompanied by increased focal adhesion components and higher nuclear localization of myosin-related transcription factor A. Marfan VSMC and extracellular matrix measured by atomic force microscopy were both stiffer than their respective controls. Conclusions - In Marfan VSMC, both in tissue and in culture, there are variable TGF-β-dependent phenotypic changes affecting contractile proteins and collagen I, leading to greater cellular and extracellular matrix stiffness. Altogether, these alterations may contribute to the known aortic rigidity that precedes or accompanies Marfan's syndrome aneurysm formation.

Keywords: Actin, Aortic aneurysms, Aortic stiffness, Extracellular matrix, Focal adhesion, Myocardin, RhoA, TGF-β


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


Andrade, F., Neves, J. D., Gener, P., Schwartz, S., Ferreira, D., Oliva, M., Sarmento, B., (2015). Biological assessment of self-assembled polymeric micelles for pulmonary administration of insulin Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 11, (7), 1621-1631

Pulmonary delivery of drugs for both local and systemic action has gained new attention over the last decades. In this work, different amphiphilic polymers (Soluplus®, Pluronic® F68, Pluronic® F108 and Pluronic® F127) were used to produce lyophilized formulations for inhalation of insulin. Development of stimuli-responsive, namely glucose-sensitive, formulations was also attempted with the addition of phenylboronic acid (PBA). Despite influencing the in vitro release of insulin from micelles, PBA did not confer glucose-sensitive properties to formulations. Lyophilized powders with aerodynamic diameter (<. 6. μm) compatible with good deposition in the lungs did not present significant in vitro toxicity for respiratory cell lines. Additionally, some formulations, in particular Pluronic® F127-based formulations, enhanced the permeation of insulin through pulmonary epithelial models and underwent minimal internalization by macrophages in vitro. Overall, formulations based on polymeric micelles presenting promising characteristics were developed for the delivery of insulin by inhalation. From the Clinical Editor: The ability to deliver other systemic drugs via inhalation has received renewed interests in the clinical setting. This is especially true for drugs which usually require injections for delivery, like insulin. In this article, the authors investigated their previously developed amphiphilic polymers for inhalation of insulin in an in vitro model. The results should provide basis for future in vivo studies.

Keywords: Cytotoxicity, Inhalation, Permeability, Phagocytosis, Polymeric micelles, Protein delivery


Vergara, C., Ordóñez-Gutiérrez, L., Wandosell, F., Ferrer, Isidro, del Río, J. A., Gavín, R., (2015). Role of PrPC expression in tau protein levels and phosphorylation in alzheimer's disease evolution Molecular Neurobiology 51, (3), 1206-1220

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of amyloid plaques mainly consisting of hydrophobic β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) aggregates and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) composed principally of hyperphosphorylated tau. Aβ oligomers have been described as the earliest effectors to negatively affect synaptic structure and plasticity in the affected brains, and cellular prion protein (PrPC) has been proposed as receptor for these oligomers. The most widely accepted theory holds that the toxic effects of Aβ are upstream of change in tau, a neuronal microtubule-associated protein that promotes the polymerization and stabilization of microtubules. However, tau is considered decisive for the progression of neurodegeneration, and, indeed, tau pathology correlates well with clinical symptoms such as dementia. Different pathways can lead to abnormal phosphorylation, and, as a consequence, tau aggregates into paired helical filaments (PHF) and later on into NFTs. Reported data suggest a regulatory tendency of PrPC expression in the development of AD, and a putative relationship between PrPC and tau processing is emerging. However, the role of tau/PrPC interaction in AD is poorly understood. In this study, we show increased susceptibility to Aβ-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs) in neuronal primary cultures from PrPC knockout mice, compared to wild-type, which correlates with increased tau expression. Moreover, we found increased PrPC expression that paralleled with tau at early ages in an AD murine model and in early Braak stages of AD in affected individuals. Taken together, these results suggest a protective role for PrPC in AD by downregulating tau expression, and they point to this protein as being crucial in the molecular events that lead to neurodegeneration in AD.

Keywords: Aβ oligomers, Alzheimer's disease, Cellular prion protein, Microtubule-associated protein tau


Perez-Balaguer, Ariadna, Ortiz-Martínez, Fernando, García-Martínez, Araceli, Pomares-Navarro, Critina, Lerma, Enrique, Peiró, Gloria, (2015). FOXA2 mRNA expression is associated with relapse in patients with Triple-Negative/Basal-like breast carcinoma Breast Cancer Research and Treatment , 153, (2), 465-474

The FOXA family of transcription factors regulates chromatin structure and gene expression especially during embryonic development. In normal breast tissue FOXA1 acts throughout mammary development; whereas in breast carcinoma its expression promotes luminal phenotype and correlates with good prognosis. However, the role of FOXA2 has not been previously studied in breast cancer. Our purpose was to analyze the expression of FOXA2 in breast cancer cells, to explore its role in breast cancer stem cells, and to correlate its mRNA expression with clinicopathological features and outcome in a series of patients diagnosed with breast carcinoma. We analyzed FOXA2 mRNA expression in a retrospective cohort of 230 breast cancer patients and in cell lines. We also knocked down FOXA2 mRNA expression by siRNA to determine the impact on cell proliferation and mammospheres formation using a cancer stem cells culture assay. In vitro studies demonstrated higher FOXA2 mRNA expression in Triple-Negative/Basal-like cells. Further, when it was knocked down, cells decreased proliferation and its capability of forming mammospheres. Similarly, FOXA2 mRNA expression was detected in 10 % (23/230) of the tumors, especially in Triple-Negative/Basal-like phenotype (p < 0.001, Fisher's test). Patients whose tumors expressed FOXA2 had increased relapses (59 vs. 79 %, p = 0.024, log-rank test) that revealed an independent prognostic value (HR = 3.29, C.I.95 % = 1.45-7.45, p = 0.004, Cox regression). Our results suggest that FOXA2 promotes cell proliferation, maintains cancer stem cells, favors the development of Triple-Negative/Basal-like tumors, and is associated with increase relapses.

Keywords: Breast carcinoma, Cancer stem cells, FOXA2, Prognosis


Andrade, F., Fonte, P., Oliva, M., Videira, M., Ferreira, D., Sarmento, B., (2015). Solid state formulations composed by amphiphilic polymers for delivery of proteins: Characterization and stability International Journal of Pharmaceutics 486, (1-2), 195-206

Abstract Nanocomposite powders composed by polymeric micelles as vehicles for delivery proteins were developed in this work, using insulin as model protein. Results showed that size and polydispersity of micelles were dependent on the amphiphilic polymer used, being all lower than 300 nm, while all the formulations displayed spherical shape and surface charge close to neutrality. Percentages of association efficiency and loading capacity up to 94.15 ± 3.92 and 8.56 ± 0.36, respectively, were obtained. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements confirmed that insulin was partially present at the hydrophilic shell of the micelles. Lyophilization did not significantly change the physical characteristics of micelles, further providing easily dispersion when in contact to aqueous medium. The native-like conformation of insulin was maintained at high percentages (around 80%) after lyophilization as indicated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and far-UV circular dichroism (CD). Moreover, Raman spectroscopy did not evidenced significant interactions among the formulation components. The formulations shown to be physically stable upon storage up to 6 months both at room-temperature (20 C) and fridge (4 C), with only a slight loss (maximum of 15%) of the secondary structure of the protein. Among the polymers tested, Pluronic® F127 produced the carrier formulations more promising for delivery of proteins.

Keywords: Amphiphilic polymers, Insulin, Lyophilization, Polymeric micelles, Stability


Moles, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2015). Loading antimalarial drugs into noninfected red blood cells: An undesirable roommate for Plasmodium Future Medicinal Chemistry 7, (7), 837-840

The malaria parasite, Plasmodium spp., is a delicate unicellular organism unable to survive in free form for more than a couple of minutes in the bloodstream. Upon injection in a human by its Anopheles mosquito vector, Plasmodium sporozoites pass through the liver with the aim of invading hepatocytes. Those which succeed spend inside their host cell a recovery time before replicating and entering the blood circulation as fragile merozoites, although their exposure to host defenses is extraordinarily short. Quick invasion of red blood cells (RBCs) in a process lasting just a few minutes allows the parasite to escape immune system surveillance. For most of its erythrocytic cycle the pathogen feeds mainly on hemoglobin as it progresses from the early blood stages, termed rings, to the late forms trophozoites and schizonts. Early stages are ideal targets for antimalarial therapies because drugs delivered to them would have a longer time to kill the parasite before it completes its development. However, only 6 h after invasion does the permeability of the infected erythrocyte to anions and small nonelectrolytes, including some drugs, start to increase as the parasite matures [1]. During this maturation process the parasite hydrolyzes hemoglobin in a digestive vacuole, which is the target of many amphiphilic drugs that freely cross the RBC membrane and accumulate intracellularly. As a result, most antimalarials start affecting the infected cell relatively late in the intraerythrocytic parasite life cycle, when their effect is probably often too short to be lethal to Plasmodium.

Keywords: Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery


Estévez, M., Martínez, Elena, Yarwood, S. J., Dalby, M. J., Samitier, J., (2015). Adhesion and migration of cells responding to microtopography Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 103, (5), 1659-1668

It is known that cells respond strongly to microtopography. However, cellular mechanisms of response are unclear. Here, we study wild-type fibroblasts responding to 25 μm2 posts and compare their response to that of FAK-/- fibroblasts and fibroblasts with PMA treatment to stimulate protein kinase C (PKC) and the small g-protein Rac. FAK knockout cells modulated adhesion number and size in a similar way to cells on topography; that is, they used more, smaller adhesions, but migration was almost completely stalled demonstrating the importance of FAK signaling in contact guidance and adhesion turnover. Little similarity, however, was observed to PKC stimulated cells and cells on the topography. Interestingly, with PKC stimulation the cell nuclei became highly deformable bringing focus on these surfaces to the study of metastasis. Surfaces that aid the study of cellular migration are important in developing understanding of mechanisms of wound healing and repair in aligned tissues such as ligament and tendon.

Keywords: Adhesion, Cell migration, Cell morphology, Focal adhesion kinase,