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by Keyword: Barrier

Vera, Daniel, Garcia-Diaz, Maria, Torras, Nuria, Castillo, Oscar, Illa, Xavi, Villa, Rosa, Alvarez, Mar, Martinez, Elena, (2024). A 3D bioprinted hydrogel gut-on-chip with integrated electrodes for transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurements Biofabrication 16, 035008

Conventional gut-on-chip (GOC) models typically represent the epithelial layer of the gut tissue, neglecting other important components such as the stromal compartment and the extracellular matrix (ECM) that play crucial roles in maintaining intestinal barrier integrity and function. These models often employ hard, flat porous membranes for cell culture, thus failing to recapitulate the soft environment and complex 3D architecture of the intestinal mucosa. Alternatively, hydrogels have been recently introduced in GOCs as ECM analogs to support the co-culture of intestinal cells in in vivo-like configurations, and thus opening new opportunities in the organ-on-chip field. In this work, we present an innovative GOC device that includes a 3D bioprinted hydrogel channel replicating the intestinal villi architecture containing both the epithelial and stromal compartments of the gut mucosa. The bioprinted hydrogels successfully support both the encapsulation of fibroblasts and their co-culture with intestinal epithelial cells under physiological flow conditions. Moreover, we successfully integrated electrodes into the microfluidic system to monitor the barrier formation in real time via transepithelial electrical resistance measurements.

JTD Keywords: A-chip, Bioprinted, Caco-2, Cells, Culture, Gut-on-a-chip, Hydrogels, Impedance spectroscopy, Integrated electrodes, Intestinal barrier, Intestinal mucos, Model


Ruiz-González, N, Esporrín-Ubieto, D, Hortelao, AC, Fraire, JC, Bakenecker, AC, Guri-Canals, M, Cugat, R, Carrillo, JM, Garcia-Batlletbó, M, Laiz, P, Patiño, T, Sánchez, S, (2024). Swarms of Enzyme-Powered Nanomotors Enhance the Diffusion of Macromolecules in Viscous Media Small 20, 2309387

Over the past decades, the development of nanoparticles (NPs) to increase the efficiency of clinical treatments has been subject of intense research. Yet, most NPs have been reported to possess low efficacy as their actuation is hindered by biological barriers. For instance, synovial fluid (SF) present in the joints is mainly composed of hyaluronic acid (HA). These viscous media pose a challenge for many applications in nanomedicine, as passive NPs tend to become trapped in complex networks, which reduces their ability to reach the target location. This problem can be addressed by using active NPs (nanomotors, NMs) that are self-propelled by enzymatic reactions, although the development of enzyme-powered NMs, capable of navigating these viscous environments, remains a considerable challenge. Here, the synergistic effects of two NMs troops, namely hyaluronidase NMs (HyaNMs, Troop 1) and urease NMs (UrNMs, Troop 2) are demonstrated. Troop 1 interacts with the SF by reducing its viscosity, thus allowing Troop 2 to swim more easily through the SF. Through their collective motion, Troop 2 increases the diffusion of macromolecules. These results pave the way for more widespread use of enzyme-powered NMs, e.g., for treating joint injuries and improving therapeutic effectiveness compared with traditional methods. The conceptual idea of the novel approach using hyaluronidase NMs (HyaNMs) to interact with and reduce the viscosity of the synovial fluid (SF) and urease NMs (UrNMs) for a more efficient transport of therapeutic agents in joints.image

JTD Keywords: Biological barrier, Clinical research, Clinical treatments, Collective motion, Collective motion,nanomotors,nanorobots,swarming,viscous medi, Collective motions, Complex networks, Enzymatic reaction, Enzymes, Hyaluronic acid, Hyaluronic-acid,ph,viscoelasticity,adsorption,barriers,behavior,ureas, Macromolecules, Medical nanotechnology, Nano robots, Nanomotors, Nanorobots, Swarming, Synovial fluid, Target location, Viscous media, Viscous medium


Porro, GM, Lorandi, I, Liu, XY, Kataoka, K, Battaglia, G, Gonzalez-Carter, D, (2023). Identifying molecular tags selectively retained on the surface of brain endothelial cells to generate artificial targets for therapy delivery Fluids And Barriers Of The Cns 20, 88

Current strategies to identify ligands for brain delivery select candidates based on preferential binding to cell-membrane components (CMC) on brain endothelial cells (EC). However, such strategies generate ligands with inherent brain specificity limitations, as the CMC (e.g., the transferrin receptor TfR1) are also significantly expressed on peripheral EC. Therefore, novel strategies are required to identify molecules allowing increased specificity of therapy brain delivery. Here, we demonstrate that, while individual CMC are shared between brain EC and peripheral EC, their endocytic internalization rate is markedly different. Such differential endocytic rate may be harnessed to identify molecular tags for brain targeting based on their selective retention on the surface of brain EC, thereby generating 'artificial' targets specifically on the brain vasculature. By quantifying the retention of labelled proteins on the cell membrane, we measured the general endocytic rate of primary brain EC to be less than half that of primary peripheral (liver and lung) EC. In addition, through bio-panning of phage-displayed peptide libraries, we unbiasedly probed the endocytic rate of individual CMC of liver, lung and brain endothelial cells. We identified phage-displayed peptides which bind to CMC common to all three endothelia phenotypes, but which are preferentially endocytosed into peripheral EC, resulting in selective retention on the surface of brain EC. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the synthesized free-form peptides are capable of generating artificial cell-surface targets for the intracellular delivery of model proteins into brain EC with increasing specificity over time. The developed identification paradigm, therefore, demonstrates that the lower endocytic rate of individual CMC on brain EC can be harnessed to identify peptides capable of generating 'artificial' targets for the selective delivery of proteins into the brain vasculature. In addition, our approach identifies brain-targeting peptides which would have been overlooked by conventional identification strategies, thereby increasing the repertoire of candidates to achieve specific therapy brain delivery.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: brain endothelium, endocytic rates, ligand identification, nanoparticles, phage-display, Barrier, Brain endothelium, Brain targeting, Endocytic rates, Ligand identification, Phage-display


Loeck, M, Placci, M, Muro, S, (2023). Effect of acid sphingomyelinase deficiency in type A Niemann-Pick disease on the transport of therapeutic nanocarriers across the blood-brain barrier Drug Delivery And Translational Research 13, 3077-3093

ASM deficiency in Niemann-Pick disease type A results in aberrant cellular accumulation of sphingomyelin, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and early death. There is no available treatment because enzyme replacement therapy cannot surmount the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Nanocarriers (NCs) targeted across the BBB via transcytosis might help; yet, whether ASM deficiency alters transcytosis remains poorly characterized. We investigated this using model NCs targeted to intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), transferrin receptor (TfR), or plasmalemma vesicle-associated protein-1 (PV1) in ASM-normal vs. ASM-deficient BBB models. Disease differentially changed the expression of all three targets, with ICAM-1 becoming the highest. Apical binding and uptake of anti-TfR NCs and anti-PV1 NCs were unaffected by disease, while anti-ICAM-1 NCs had increased apical binding and decreased uptake rate, resulting in unchanged intracellular NCs. Additionally, anti-ICAM-1 NCs underwent basolateral reuptake after transcytosis, whose rate was decreased by disease, as for apical uptake. Consequently, disease increased the effective transcytosis rate for anti-ICAM-1 NCs. Increased transcytosis was also observed for anti-PV1 NCs, while anti-TfR NCs remained unaffected. A fraction of each formulation trafficked to endothelial lysosomes. This was decreased in disease for anti-ICAM-1 NCs and anti-PV1 NCs, agreeing with opposite transcytosis changes, while it increased for anti-TfR NCs. Overall, these variations in receptor expression and NC transport resulted in anti-ICAM-1 NCs displaying the highest absolute transcytosis in the disease condition. Furthermore, these results revealed that ASM deficiency can differently alter these processes depending on the particular target, for which this type of study is key to guide the design of therapeutic NCs.© 2023. Controlled Release Society.

JTD Keywords: asm deficiency, blood-brain barrier, delivery, determines, drug, endocytosis, enzymes, icam-1, lysosomal storage disease, mechanisms, nanoparticles, natural-history, niemann-pick disease type a, pv-1, receptor-mediated transcytosis, trafficking, transferrin receptor, Asm deficiency, Blood–brain barrier, Drug nanocarriers, Icam-1, Icam-1-targeted nanocarriers, Lysosomal storage disease, Niemann-pick disease type a, Pv-1, Receptor-mediated transcytosis, Transferrin receptor


Pereira, Ines, Lopez-Martinez, Maria J, Samitier, Josep, (2023). Advances in current in vitro models on neurodegenerative diseases Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1260397

Many neurodegenerative diseases are identified but their causes and cure are far from being well-known. The problem resides in the complexity of the neural tissue and its location which hinders its easy evaluation. Although necessary in the drug discovery process, in vivo animal models need to be reduced and show relevant differences with the human tissues that guide scientists to inquire about other possible options which lead to in vitro models being explored. From organoids to organ-on-a-chips, 3D models are considered the cutting-edge technology in cell culture. Cell choice is a big parameter to take into consideration when planning an in vitro model and cells capable of mimicking both healthy and diseased tissue, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), are recognized as good candidates. Hence, we present a critical review of the latest models used to study neurodegenerative disease, how these models have evolved introducing microfluidics platforms, 3D cell cultures, and the use of induced pluripotent cells to better mimic the neural tissue environment in pathological conditions.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, bioprinting, ipsc cell culture, microfluidic device, 3d in vitro models, Bioprinting, Blood-brain-barrier, Cerebral organoids, Culture model, Endothelial-cells, Expression profile, Extracellular-matrix, Ipsc cell culture, Microfluidic device, Neurodegenerative diseases, On-a-chip, Pluripotent stem-cells, Shear-stress, Substrate stiffness


Bodrenko, I, Ceccarelli, M, Acosta-Gutierrez, S, (2023). The mechanism of an electrostatic nanofilter: overcoming entropy with electrostatics Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 25, 26497-26506

General porins are nature's sieving machinery in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Their unique hourglass-shaped architecture is highly conserved among different bacterial membrane proteins and other biological channels. These biological nanopores have been designed to protect the interior of the bacterial cell from leakage of toxic compounds while selectively allowing the entry of the molecules needed for cell growth and function. The mechanism of transport through porins is of utmost and direct interest for drug discovery, extending toward nanotechnology applications for blue energy, separations, and sequencing. Here we present a theoretical framework for analysing the filter of general porins in relation to translocating molecules with the aid of enhanced molecular simulations quantitatively. Using different electrostatic probes in the form of a series of related molecules, we describe the nature of this filter and how to finely tune permeability by exploiting electrostatic interactions between the pore and the translocating molecule. Eventually, we show how enhanced simulations constitute today a valid tool for characterising the mechanism and quantifying energetically the transport of molecules through nanopores. General porins are nature's sieving machinery in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. In the diffusive transport process of molecules, electrostatic interactions can help to decrease the entropic free energy barrier.

JTD Keywords: Channel, Diffusion barrier, Electric-field, Molecular-dynamics, Outer-membrane permeability, Permeation, Porins, Simulations, Translocation, Transport


Perich, MP, Palma-Florez, S, Solé, C, Goberna-Ferrón, S, Samitier, J, Gómez-Romero, P, Mir, M, Lagunas, A, (2023). Polyoxometalate-Decorated Gold Nanoparticles Inhibit β-Amyloid Aggregation and Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier in a µphysiological Model Nanomaterials 13, 2697

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a combination of several neuropathological hallmarks, such as extracellular aggregates of beta amyloid (Aβ). Numerous alternatives have been studied for inhibiting Aβ aggregation but, at this time, there are no effective treatments available. Here, we developed the tri-component nanohybrid system AuNPs@POM@PEG based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) covered with polyoxometalates (POMs) and polyethylene glycol (PEG). In this work, AuNPs@POM@PEG demonstrated the inhibition of the formation of amyloid fibrils, showing a 75% decrease in Aβ aggregation in vitro. As it is a potential candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, we evaluated the cytotoxicity of AuNPs@POM@PEG and its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We achieved a stable nanosystem that is non-cytotoxic below 2.5 nM to human neurovascular cells. The brain permeability of AuNPs@POM@PEG was analyzed in an in vitro microphysiological model of the BBB (BBB-on-a-chip), containing 3D human neurovascular cell co-cultures and microfluidics. The results show that AuNPs@POM@PEG was able to cross the brain endothelial barrier in the chip and demonstrated that POM does not affect the barrier integrity, giving the green light to further studies into this system as a nanotherapeutic.

JTD Keywords: beta-amyloid, blood-brain barrier organ-on-a-chip, cellular uptake, citrate, cytotoxicity, electrocatalytic reduction, gold nanoparticles, hypothesis, nanorods, polyoxometalates, size, stability, surface, Alzheimers-disease, Blood–brain barrier organ-on-a-chip, Gold nanoparticles, Nanovehicle, Polyoxometalates, Β-amyloid


Torras, N, Zabalo, J, Abril, E, Carré, A, García-Díaz, M, Martínez, E, (2023). A bioprinted 3D gut model with crypt-villus structures to mimic the intestinal epithelial-stromal microenvironment Biomaterials Advances 153, 213534

The intestine is a complex tissue with a characteristic three-dimensional (3D) crypt-villus architecture, which plays a key role in the intestinal function. This function is also regulated by the intestinal stroma that actively supports the intestinal epithelium, maintaining the homeostasis of the tissue. Efforts to account for the 3D complex structure of the intestinal tissue have been focused mainly in mimicking the epithelial barrier, while solutions to include the stromal compartment are scarce and unpractical to be used in routine experiments. Here we demonstrate that by employing an optimized bioink formulation and the suitable printing parameters it is possible to produce fibroblast-laden crypt-villus structures by means of digital light projection stereolithography (DLP-SLA). This process provides excellent cell viability, accurate spatial resolution, and high printing throughput, resulting in a robust biofabrication approach that yields functional gut mucosa tissues compatible with conventional testing techniques.Copyright © 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: 3d microstructure, barrier, cells, epithelial-stromal interactions, gelma-pegda soft hydrogels, growth, hydrogel, intestinal mucosa model, methacrylamide, microfabrication, proliferation, scaffold, stereolithography, 3d bioprinting, 3d microstructure, Epithelial-stromal interactions, Fibroblasts, Gelma-pegda soft hydrogels, Intestinal mucosa model


Placci, M, Giannotti, MI, Muro, S, (2023). Polymer-based drug delivery systems under investigation for enzyme replacement and other therapies of lysosomal storage disorders Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 197, 114683

Lysosomes play a central role in cellular homeostasis and alterations in this compartment associate with many diseases. The most studied example is that of lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs), a group of 60 + maladies due to genetic mutations affecting lysosomal components, mostly enzymes. This leads to aberrant intracellular storage of macromolecules, altering normal cell function and causing multiorgan syndromes, often fatal within the first years of life. Several treatment modalities are available for a dozen LSDs, mostly consisting of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) strategies. Yet, poor biodistribution to main targets such as the central nervous system, musculoskeletal tissue, and others, as well as generation of blocking antibodies and adverse effects hinder effective LSD treatment. Drug delivery systems are being studied to surmount these obstacles, including polymeric constructs and nanoparticles that consti-tute the focus of this article. We provide an overview of the formulations being tested, the diseases they aim to treat, and the results observed from respective in vitro and in vivo studies. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these strategies, the remaining gaps of knowledge regarding their per-formance, and important items to consider for their clinical translation. Overall, polymeric nanocon-structs hold considerable promise to advance treatment for LSDs.(c) 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cellular and animal models, enzyme replacement therapy, lysosomal storage disorders, nanoemulsions, nanoparticles, Beta-glucuronidase deficiency, Blood-brain-barrier, Cellular and animal models, Central-nervous-system, Enzyme replacement therapy, Feline gm1 gangliosidosis, Human acid sphingomyelinase, Human alpha-galactosidase, Lysosomal storage disorders, Mucopolysaccharidosis type-ii, Nanoemulsions, Nanoparticles, Neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis, Niemann-pick-disease, Pluripotent stem-cells, Polymer-based drug delivery systems


Palma-Florez, Sujey, Lopez-Canosa, Adrian, Moralez-Zavala, Francisco, Castano, Oscar, Kogan, Marcelo J, Samitier, Josep, Lagunas, Anna, Mir, Monica, (2023). BBB-on-a-chip with integrated micro-TEER for permeability evaluation of multi-functionalized gold nanorods against Alzheimer's disease Journal Of Nanobiotechnology 21, 115

The lack of predictive models that mimic the blood-brain barrier (BBB) hinders the development of effective drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. Animal models behave differently from humans, are expensive and have ethical constraints. Organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platforms offer several advantages to resembling physiological and pathological conditions in a versatile, reproducible, and animal-free manner. In addition, OoC give us the possibility to incorporate sensors to determine cell culture features such as trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER). Here, we developed a BBB-on-a-chip (BBB-oC) platform with a TEER measurement system in close distance to the barrier used for the first time for the evaluation of the permeability performance of targeted gold nanorods for theranostics of Alzheimer's disease. GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 is a therapeutic nanosystem previously developed by us consisting of gold nanorods (GNR) functionalized with polyethylene glycol (PEG), angiopep-2 peptide (Ang2) to overcome the BBB and the D1 peptide as beta amyloid fibrillation inhibitor, finally obtaining GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 which showed to be useful for disaggregation of the amyloid in in vitro and in vivo models. In this work, we evaluated its cytotoxicity, permeability, and some indications of its impact on the brain endothelium by employing an animal-free device based on neurovascular human cells.In this work, we fabricated a BBB-oC with human astrocytes, pericytes and endothelial cells and a TEER measuring system (TEER-BBB-oC) integrated at a micrometric distance of the endothelial barrier. The characterization displayed a neurovascular network and the expression of tight junctions in the endothelium. We produced GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 and determined its non-cytotoxic range (0.05-0.4 nM) for plated cells included in the BBB-oC and confirmed its harmless effect at the highest concentration (0.4 nM) in the microfluidic device. The permeability assays revealed that GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 cross the BBB and this entry is facilitated by Ang2 peptide. Parallel to the permeability analysis of GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1, an interesting behavior of the TJs expression was observed after its administration probably related to the ligands on the nanoparticle surface.BBB-oC with a novel TEER integrated setup which allow a correct read-out and cell imaging monitoring was proven as a functional and throughput platform to evaluate the brain permeability performance of nanotherapeutics in a physiological environment with human cells, putting forward a viable alternative to animal experimentation.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: alzheimer disease (ad), cell-culture, cytotoxicity, endothelial-cells, gold nanoparticles, microfluidic platform, model, organ-on-a-chip (ooc), peptide, tight junction, trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer), transport, Alzheimer disease (ad), Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Blood-brain-barrier, Blood–brain barrier (bbb), Gold nanoparticles, Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer)


Solomon, M, Loeck, M, Silva-Abreu, M, Moscoso, R, Bautista, R, Vigo, M, Muro, S, (2022). Altered blood-brain barrier transport of nanotherapeutics in lysosomal storage diseases Journal Of Controlled Release 349, 1031-1044

Treatment of neurological lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are limited because of impermeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to macromolecules. Nanoformulations targeting BBB transcytosis are being explored, but the status of these routes in LSDs is unknown. We studied nanocarriers (NCs) targeted to the transferrin receptor (TfR), ganglioside GM1 or ICAM1, associated to the clathrin, caveolar or cell adhesion molecule (CAM) routes, respectively. We used brain endothelial cells and mouse models of acid sphingomyelinase-deficient Niemann Pick disease (NPD), and postmortem LSD patients' brains, all compared to respective controls. NC transcytosis across brain endothelial cells and brain distribution in mice were affected, yet through different mechanisms. Reduced TfR and clathrin expression were found, along with decreased transcytosis in cells and mouse brain distribution. Caveolin-1 expression and GM1 transcytosis were also reduced, yet increased GM1 levels seemed to compensate, providing similar NC brain distribution in NPD vs. control mice. A tendency to lower NHE-1 levels was seen, but highly increased ICAM1 expression in cells and human brains correlated with increased transcytosis and brain distribution in mice. Thus, transcytosis-related alterations in NPD and likely other LSDs may impact therapeutic access to the brain, illustrating the need for these mechanistic studies.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: acid sphingomyelinase, antibody-affinity, blood -brain barrier, drug-delivery, icam-1-targeted nanocarriers, in-vivo, mediated endocytosis, model, neurological diseases, niemann-pick, targeted nanocarriers, trafficking, transcytosis pathways, Blood-brain barrier, Central-nervous-system, Lysosomal storage disorders, Neurological diseases, Targeted nanocarriers, Transcytosis pathways


García-Díaz, M, Cendra, MD, Alonso-Roman, R, Urdániz, M, Torrents, E, Martínez, E, (2022). Mimicking the Intestinal Host–Pathogen Interactions in a 3D In Vitro Model: The Role of the Mucus Layer Pharmaceutics 14, 1552

The intestinal mucus lines the luminal surface of the intestinal epithelium. This mucus is a dynamic semipermeable barrier and one of the first-line defense mechanisms against the outside environment, protecting the body against chemical, mechanical, or biological external insults. At the same time, the intestinal mucus accommodates the resident microbiota, providing nutrients and attachment sites, and therefore playing an essential role in the host–pathogen interactions and gut homeostasis. Underneath this mucus layer, the intestinal epithelium is organized into finger-like protrusions called villi and invaginations called crypts. This characteristic 3D architecture is known to influence the epithelial cell differentiation and function. However, when modelling in vitro the intestinal host–pathogen interactions, these two essential features, the intestinal mucus and the 3D topography are often not represented, thus limiting the relevance of the models. Here we present an in vitro model that mimics the small intestinal mucosa and its interactions with intestinal pathogens in a relevant manner, containing the secreted mucus layer and the epithelial barrier in a 3D villus-like hydrogel scaffold. This 3D architecture significantly enhanced the secretion of mucus. In infection with the pathogenic adherent invasive E. coli strain LF82, characteristic of Crohn’s disease, we observed that this secreted mucus promoted the adhesion of the pathogen and at the same time had a protective effect upon its invasion. This pathogenic strain was able to survive inside the epithelial cells and trigger an inflammatory response that was milder when a thick mucus layer was present. Thus, we demonstrated that our model faithfully mimics the key features of the intestinal mucosa necessary to study the interactions with intestinal pathogens.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, barrier function, bile-salts, cells, drug-delivery, host-pathogen interaction, host–pathogen interaction, hydrogels, ileal mucosa, infection, intestinal models, intestinal mucus, microbiome, patient, responses, 3d in vitro models, Intestinal mucus, Invasive escherichia-coli


Andreu, I, Granero-Moya, I, Chahare, NR, Clein, K, Molina-Jordan, M, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Abenza, JF, Rossetti, L, Trepat, X, Raveh, B, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2022). Mechanical force application to the nucleus regulates nucleocytoplasmic transport Nature Cell Biology 24, 896-905

Mechanical force controls fundamental cellular processes in health and disease, and increasing evidence shows that the nucleus both experiences and senses applied forces. Such forces can lead to the nuclear translocation of proteins, but whether force controls nucleocytoplasmic transport, and how, remains unknown. Here we show that nuclear forces differentially control passive and facilitated nucleocytoplasmic transport, setting the rules for the mechanosensitivity of shuttling proteins. We demonstrate that nuclear force increases permeability across nuclear pore complexes, with a dependence on molecular weight that is stronger for passive than for facilitated diffusion. Owing to this differential effect, force leads to the translocation of cargoes into or out of the nucleus within a given range of molecular weight and affinity for nuclear transport receptors. Further, we show that the mechanosensitivity of several transcriptional regulators can be both explained by this mechanism and engineered exogenously by introducing appropriate nuclear localization signals. Our work unveils a mechanism of mechanically induced signalling, probably operating in parallel with others, with potential applicability across signalling pathways.; Andreu et al. show that force regulates nucleocytoplasmic transport by weakening the permeability barrier of nuclear pore complexes, affecting passive and facilitated diffusion in different ways.

JTD Keywords: Activation, Inhibitor, Matrix, Mechanotransduction, Nesprins, Nucleoporins, Permeability barrier, Pore complex, Proteins, Transmission


Mir, Monica, Palma-Florez, Sujey, Lagunas, Anna, Jose Lopez-Martinez, Maria, Samitier, Josep, (2022). Biosensors Integration in Blood-Brain Barrier-on-a-Chip: Emerging Platform for Monitoring Neurodegenerative Diseases Acs Sensors 7, 1237-1247

Over the most recent decades, the development of new biological platforms to study disease progression and drug efficacy has been of great interest due to the high increase in the rate of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Therefore, blood-brain barrier (BBB) as an organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platform to mimic brain-barrier performance could offer a deeper understanding of NDDs as well as a very valuable tool for drug permeability testing for new treatments. A very attractive improvement of BBB-oC technology is the integration of detection systems to provide continuous monitoring of biomarkers in real time and a fully automated analysis of drug permeably, rendering more efficient platforms for commercialization. In this Perspective, an overview of the main BBB-oC configurations is introduced and a critical vision of the BBB-oC platforms integrating electronic read out systems is detailed, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of current devices, proposing the great potential for biosensors integration in BBB-oC. In this direction, we name potential biomarkers to monitor the evolution of NDDs related to the BBB and/or drug cytotoxicity using biosensor technology in BBB-oC.

JTD Keywords: biosensors, blood−brain barrier (bbb), neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Bbb, Biosensors, Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Electrical-resistance, Electrochemical biosensors, Endothelial-cells, In-vitro model, Matrix metalloproteinases, Mechanisms, Neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Permeability, Stress, Transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transepithelial, Transepithelial/transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transport


Aydin, O, Passaro, AP, Raman, R, Spellicy, SE, Weinberg, RP, Kamm, RD, Sample, M, Truskey, GA, Zartman, J, Dar, RD, Palacios, S, Wang, J, Tordoff, J, Montserrat, N, Bashir, R, Saif, MTA, Weiss, R, (2022). Principles for the design of multicellular engineered living systems Apl Bioengineering 6, 10903

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.

JTD Keywords: cell-fate specification, endothelial-cells, escherichia-coli, extracellular-matrix, gene-expression noise, nuclear hormone-receptors, pluripotent stem-cells, primitive endoderm, transcription factors, Artificial tissues, Assembly cells, Biological parts, Biological systems, Bioremediation, Blood-brain-barrier, 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


Leite, DM, Seifi, M, Ruiz-Perez, L, Nguemo, F, Plomann, M, Swinny, JD, Battaglia, G, (2022). Syndapin-2 mediated transcytosis of amyloid-beta across the blood brain barrier Brain Commun 4, fcac093

A deficient transport of amyloid-beta across the blood-brain barrier, and its diminished clearance from the brain, contribute to neurodegenerative and vascular pathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, respectively. At the blood-brain barrier, amyloid-beta efflux transport is associated with the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1. However, the precise mechanisms governing amyloid-beta transport across the blood-brain barrier, in health and disease, remain to be fully understood. Recent evidence indicates that the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 transcytosis occurs through a tuhulation-mediated mechanism stabilized by syndapin-2. Here, we show that syndapin-2 is associated with amyloid-beta clearance via low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 across the blood-brain barrier. We further demonstrate that risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, amyloid-beta expression and ageing, are associated with a decline in the native expression of syndapin-2 within the brain endothelium. Our data reveals that syndapin-2-mediated pathway, and its balance with the endosomal sorting, are important for amyloid-beta clearance proposing a measure to evaluate Alzheimer's disease and ageing, as well as a target for counteracting amyloid-beta build-up. Moreover, we provide evidence for the impact of the avidity of amyloid-beta assemblies in their trafficking across the brain endothelium and in low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 expression levels, which may affect the overall clearance of amyloid-beta across the blood-brain barrier.

JTD Keywords: alzheimer’s disease, amyloid-β, blood–brain barrier, syndapin-2, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimers-disease, Amyloid-beta, Apolipoprotein-j, Blood-brain barrier, Clearance, Expression, Membrane invagination, Peptide, Protein, Rab gtpases, Receptor, Syndapin-2, Transport, Tubular transcytosis


Badiola-Mateos, Maider, Di Giuseppe, Davide, Paoli, Roberto, Lopez-Martinez, Maria Jose, Mencattini, Arianna, Samitier, Josep, Martinelli, Eugenio, (2021). A novel multi-frequency trans-endothelial electrical resistance (MTEER) sensor array to monitor blood-brain barrier integrity Sensors And Actuators B-Chemical 334, 129599

© 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.

JTD 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


Vera, D, García-Díaz, M, Torras, N, Alvarez, M, Villa, R, Martinez, E, (2021). Engineering Tissue Barrier Models on Hydrogel Microfluidic Platforms Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 13920-13933

Tissue barriers play a crucial role in human physiology by establishing tissue compartmentalization and regulating organ homeostasis. At the interface between the extracellular matrix (ECM) and flowing fluids, epithelial and endothelial barriers are responsible for solute and gas exchange. In the past decade, microfluidic technologies and organ-on-chip devices became popular as in vitro models able to recapitulate these biological barriers. However, in conventional microfluidic devices, cell barriers are primarily grown on hard polymeric membranes within polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) channels that do not mimic the cell-ECM interactions nor allow the incorporation of other cellular compartments such as stromal tissue or vascular structures. To develop models that accurately account for the different cellular and acellular compartments of tissue barriers, researchers have integrated hydrogels into microfluidic setups for tissue barrier-on-chips, either as cell substrates inside the chip, or as self-contained devices. These biomaterials provide the soft mechanical properties of tissue barriers and allow the embedding of stromal cells. Combining hydrogels with microfluidics technology provides unique opportunities to better recreate in vitro the tissue barrier models including the cellular components and the functionality of the in vivo tissues. Such platforms have the potential of greatly improving the predictive capacities of the in vitro systems in applications such as drug development, or disease modeling. Nevertheless, their development is not without challenges in their microfabrication. In this review, we will discuss the recent advances driving the fabrication of hydrogel microfluidic platforms and their applications in multiple tissue barrier models.

JTD Keywords: hydrogel, microfabrication, microfluidics, organ-on-chip, tissue barrier, Hydrogel, Microfabrication, Microfluidics, Organ-on-chip, Tissue barrier


Woythe, L, Tito, NB, Albertazzi, L, (2021). A quantitative view on multivalent nanomedicine targeting Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 169, 1-21

© 2020 The Authors Although the concept of selective delivery has been postulated over 100 years ago, no targeted nanomedicine has been clinically approved so far. Nanoparticles modified with targeting ligands to promote the selective delivery of therapeutics towards a specific cell population have been extensively reported. However, the rational design of selective particles is still challenging. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of quantitative theoretical and experimental understanding of the interactions involved in cell targeting. In this review, we discuss new theoretical models and experimental methods that provide a quantitative view of targeting. We show the new advancements in multivalency theory enabling the rational design of super-selective nanoparticles. Furthermore, we present the innovative approaches to obtain key targeting parameters at the single-cell and single molecule level and their role in the design of targeting nanoparticles. We believe that the combination of new theoretical multivalent design and experimental methods to quantify receptors and ligands aids in the rational design and clinical translation of targeted nanomedicines.

JTD Keywords: binding-kinetics, biological identity, biomolecular corona, blood-brain-barrier, drug-delivery, gold nanoparticles, multivalency, nanotechnology, protein corona, quantitative characterization, rational design, super-selectivity, superresolution microscopy, tumor heterogeneity, Ligand-receptor interactions, Multivalency, Nanotechnology, Quantitative characterization, Rational design, Super-selectivity


Duro-Castano, A., Moreira Leite, D., Forth, J., Deng, Y., Matias, D., Noble Jesus, C., Battaglia, G., (2020). Designing peptide nanoparticles for efficient brain delivery Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 160, 52-77

The targeted delivery of therapeutic compounds to the brain is arguably the most significant open problem in drug delivery today. Nanoparticles (NPs) based on peptides and designed using the emerging principles of molecular engineering show enormous promise in overcoming many of the barriers to brain delivery faced by NPs made of more traditional materials. However, shortcomings in our understanding of peptide self-assembly and blood–brain barrier (BBB) transport mechanisms pose significant obstacles to progress in this area. In this review, we discuss recent work in engineering peptide nanocarriers for the delivery of therapeutic compounds to the brain: from synthesis, to self-assembly, to in vivo studies, as well as discussing in detail the biological hurdles that a nanoparticle must overcome to reach the brain.

JTD Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Blood-brain barrier, Drug delivery, Glioma, Parkinson's disease, Peptides, Self-assembly, Transcytosis


Manthe, Rachel L., Loeck, Maximilian, Bhowmick, Tridib, Solomon, Melani, Muro, Silvia, (2020). Intertwined mechanisms define transport of anti-ICAM nanocarriers across the endothelium and brain delivery of a therapeutic enzyme Journal of Controlled Release 324, 181-193

The interaction of drug delivery systems with tissues is key for their application. An example is drug carriers targeted to endothelial barriers, which can be transported to intra-endothelial compartments (lysosomes) or transcellularly released at the tissue side (transcytosis). Although carrier targeting valency influences this process, the mechanism is unknown. We studied this using polymer nanocarriers (NCs) targeted to intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), an endothelial-surface glycoprotein whose expression is increased in pathologies characterized by inflammation. A bell-shaped relationship was found between NC targeting valency and the rate of transcytosis, where high and low NC valencies rendered less efficient transcytosis rates than an intermediate valency formulation. In contrast, an inverted bell-shape relationship was found for NC valency and lysosomal trafficking rates. Data suggested a model where NC valency plays an opposing role in the two sub-processes involved in transcytosis: NC binding-uptake depended directly on valency and exocytosis-detachment was inversely related to this parameter. This is because the greater the avidity of the NC-receptor interaction the more efficient uptake becomes, but NC-receptor detachment post-transport is more compromised. Cleavage of the receptor at the basolateral side of endothelial cells facilitated NC transcytosis, likely by helping NC detachment post-transport. Since transcytosis encompasses both sets of events, the full process finds an optimum at the intersection of these inverted relationships, explaining the bell-shaped behavior. NCs also trafficked to lysosomes from the apical side and, additionally, from the basolateral side in the case of high valency NCs which are slower at detaching from the receptor. This explains the opposite behavior of NC valency for transcytosis vs. lysosomal transport. Anti-ICAM NCs were verified to traffic into the brain after intravenous injection in mice, and both cellular and in vivo data showed that intermediate valency NCs resulted in higher delivery of a therapeutic enzyme, acid sphingomyelinase, required for types A and B Niemann-Pick disease.

JTD Keywords: Blood-brain barrier, ICAM-1-targeted nanocarriers, Targeting valency, Receptor-mediated transport, Lysosomal transcytosis destinations


M Leite, D., Matias, D., Battaglia, G., (2020). The role of BAR proteins and the glycocalyx in brain endothelium transcytosis Cells 9, (12), 2685

Within the brain, endothelial cells lining the blood vessels meticulously coordinate the transport of nutrients, energy metabolites and other macromolecules essential in maintaining an appropriate activity of the brain. While small molecules are pumped across specialised molecular transporters, large macromolecular cargos are shuttled from one side to the other through membrane-bound carriers formed by endocytosis on one side, trafficked to the other side and released by exocytosis. Such a process is collectively known as transcytosis. The brain endothelium is recognised to possess an intricate vesicular endosomal network that mediates the transcellular transport of cargos from blood-to-brain and brain-to-blood. However, mounting evidence suggests that brain endothelial cells (BECs) employ a more direct route via tubular carriers for a fast and efficient transport from the blood to the brain. Here, we compile the mechanism of transcytosis in BECs, in which we highlight intracellular trafficking mediated by tubulation, and emphasise the possible role in transcytosis of the Bin/Amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) proteins and glycocalyx (GC)-a layer of sugars covering BECs, in transcytosis. Both BAR proteins and the GC are intrinsically associated with cell membranes and involved in the modulation and shaping of these membranes. Hence, we aim to summarise the machinery involved in transcytosis in BECs and highlight an uncovered role of BAR proteins and the GC at the brain endothelium.

JTD Keywords: BAR proteins, Blood-brain barrier, Endothelium, Glycocalyx, Transcytosis, Tubulation


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.

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


Tajes, M., Ramos-Fernández, E., Weng-Jiang, X., Bosch-Morató, M., Guivernau, B., Eraso-Pichot, A., Salvador, B., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Roquer, J., Muñoz, F. J., (2014). The blood-brain barrier: Structure, function and therapeutic approaches to cross it Molecular Membrane Biology , 31, (5), 152-167

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is constituted by a specialized vascular endothelium that interacts directly with astrocytes, neurons and pericytes. It protects the brain from the molecules of the systemic circulation but it has to be overcome for the proper treatment of brain cancer, psychiatric disorders or neurodegenerative diseases, which are dramatically increasing as the population ages. In the present work we have revised the current knowledge on the cellular structure of the BBB and the different procedures utilized currently and those proposed to cross it. Chemical modifications of the drugs, such as increasing their lipophilicity, turn them more prone to be internalized in the brain. Other mechanisms are the use of molecular tools to bind the drugs such as small immunoglobulins, liposomes or nanoparticles that will act as Trojan Horses favoring the drug delivery in brain. This fusion of the classical pharmacology with nanotechnology has opened a wide field to many different approaches with promising results to hypothesize that BBB will not be a major problem for the new generation of neuroactive drugs. The present review provides an overview of all state-of-the-art of the BBB structure and function, as well as of the classic strategies and these appeared in recent years to deliver drugs into the brain for the treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases.

JTD Keywords: Blood brain barrier, Drug delivery, Membrane transport


Díez-Pérez, Ismael, Sanz, Fausto, Gorostiza, Pau, (2006). Electronic barriers in the iron oxide film govern its passivity and redox behavior: Effect of electrode potential and solution pH Electrochemistry Communications , 8, (10), 1595-1602

We have measured in situ the electronic conductance spectra of the passive film formed on an Fe electrode immersed in a borate buffer solution using electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy (ECTS) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) techniques, and we have followed their changes as the electrode is electrochemically oxidized and reduced. We demonstrate that pre-passive Fe(II) oxide and the passive Fe(II)/Fe(III) film, behave as p- and n-type semiconductors, respectively and that their reversible inter-conversion is mediated by the availability of free charge carriers on the electrode surface. ECTS spectra have been also modeled to obtain the main electrochemical kinetic parameters of the electron transfer through both p-Fe(II) and n-Fe(III) oxides at different sample potentials and pHs values. We find that the electronic energy barrier in the oxide and its dependence with electrode potential and solution pH, determine the reactivity and passivity of iron.

JTD Keywords: Electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy, Fe passivity Electronic energy barriers, pH effect on passivity