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by Keyword: Fibroblasts

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, 851825

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.

JTD 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


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.

JTD 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


Alcaraz J, Ikemori R, Llorente A, Díaz-valdivia N, Reguart N, Vizoso M, (2021). Epigenetic reprogramming of tumor-associated fibroblasts in lung cancer: Therapeutic opportunities Cancers 13, 3782

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The desmoplastic stroma of lung cancer and other solid tumors is rich in tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) exhibiting an activated/myofibroblast-like phenotype. There is growing awareness that TAFs support key steps of tumor progression and are epigenetically reprogrammed compared to healthy fibroblasts. Although the mechanisms underlying such epigenetic reprogramming are incompletely understood, there is increasing evidence that they involve interactions with either cancer cells, pro-fibrotic cytokines such as TGF-β, the stiffening of the surrounding extracellular matrix, smoking cigarette particles and other environmental cues. These aberrant interactions elicit a global DNA hypomethylation and a selective transcriptional repression through hypermethylation of the TGF-β transcription factor SMAD3 in lung TAFs. Likewise, similar DNA methylation changes have been reported in TAFs from other cancer types, as well as histone core modifications and altered microRNA expression. In this review we summarize the evidence of the epigenetic reprogramming of TAFs, how this reprogramming contributes to the acquisition and maintenance of a tumor-promoting phenotype, and how it provides novel venues for therapeutic intervention, with a special focus on lung TAFs.

JTD Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts, desmoplasia, dna methylation, epigenetics, expression, genomic dna, lung cancer, mechanical memory, myofibroblast differentiation, pulmonary fibroblasts, smoking, stromal fibroblasts, tgf-?, tgf-beta, transforming growth-factor-beta-1, tumor stroma, Cancer-associated fibroblasts, Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts, Desmoplasia, Epigenetics, Lung cancer, Smoking, Tgf-β, Tumor stroma


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, 4229

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.

JTD 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


López-Canosa A, Perez-Amodio S, Yanac-Huertas E, Ordoño J, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier J, Castaño O, Engel E, (2021). A microphysiological system combining electrospun fibers and electrical stimulation for the maturation of highly anisotropic cardiac tissue Biofabrication 13, 35047

The creation of cardiac tissue models for preclinical testing is still a non-solved problem in drug discovery, due to the limitations related to thein vitroreplication of cardiac tissue complexity. Among these limitations, the difficulty of mimicking the functional properties of the myocardium due to the immaturity of the used cells hampers the obtention of reliable results that could be translated into human patients.In vivomodels are the current gold standard to test new treatments, although it is widely acknowledged that the used animals are unable to fully recapitulate human physiology, which often leads to failures during clinical trials. In the present work, we present a microfluidic platform that aims to provide a range of signaling cues to immature cardiac cells to drive them towards an adult phenotype. The device combines topographical electrospun nanofibers with electrical stimulation in a microfabricated system. We validated our platform using a co-culture of neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts, showing that it allows us to control the degree of anisotropy of the cardiac tissue inside the microdevice in a cost-effective way. Moreover, a 3D computational model of the electrical field was created and validated to demonstrate that our platform is able to closely match the distribution obtained with the gold standard (planar electrode technology) using inexpensive rod-shaped biocompatible stainless-steel electrodes. The functionality of the electrical stimulation was shown to induce a higher expression of the tight junction protein Cx-43, as well as the upregulation of several key genes involved in conductive and structural cardiac properties. These results validate our platform as a powerful tool for the tissue engineering community due to its low cost, high imaging compatibility, versatility, and high-throughput configuration capabilities.

JTD Keywords: bioreactor, cardiac tissue engineering, cardiomyocytes, electrospinning, fabrication, fibroblasts, heart-on-a-chip, heart-tissue, in vitro models, myocardium, orientation, platform, scaffolds, Cardiac tissue engineering, Electrospinning, Field stimulation, Heart-on-a-chip, In vitro models, Microphysiological system


Gabasa M, Radisky ES, Ikemori R, Bertolini G, Arshakyan M, Hockla A, Duch P, Rondinone O, Llorente A, Maqueda M, Davalos A, Gavilán E, Perera A, Ramírez J, Gascón P, Reguart N, Roz L, Radisky DC, Alcaraz J, (2021). MMP1 drives tumor progression in large cell carcinoma of the lung through fibroblast senescence Cancer Letters 507, 1-12

© 2021 Large cell carcinoma (LCC) is a rare and aggressive lung cancer subtype with poor prognosis and no targeted therapies. Tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) derived from LCC tumors exhibit premature senescence, and coculture of pulmonary fibroblasts with LCC cell lines selectively induces fibroblast senescence, which in turn drives LCC cell growth and invasion. Here we identify MMP1 as overexpressed specifically in LCC cell lines, and we show that expression of MMP1 by LCC cells is necessary for induction of fibroblast senescence and consequent tumor promotion in both cell culture and mouse models. We also show that MMP1, in combination with TGF-β1, is sufficient to induce fibroblast senescence and consequent LCC promotion. Furthermore, we implicate PAR-1 and oxidative stress in MMP1/TGF-β1-induced TAF senescence. Our results establish an entirely new role for MMP1 in cancer, and support a novel therapeutic strategy in LCC based on targeting senescent TAFs.

JTD Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts, lung cancer, mmp1, senescence, tgf-?, tgf-beta, Cancer-associated fibroblasts, Lung cancer, Mmp1, Senescence, Tgf-β


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.

JTD 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


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.

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


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.

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


Caddeo, C., Manca, M. L., Matos, M., Gutierrez, G., Díez-Sales, O., Peris, J. E., Usach, I., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2017). Functional response of novel bioprotective poloxamer-structured vesicles on inflamed skin Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 13, (3), 1127-1136

Resveratrol and gallic acid, a lipophilic and a hydrophilic phenol, were co-loaded in innovative, biocompatible nanovesicles conceived for ensuring the protection of the skin from oxidative- and inflammatory-related affections. The basic vesicles, liposomes and glycerosomes, were produced by a simple, one-step method involving the dispersion of phospholipid and phenols in water or water/glycerol blend, respectively. Liposomes and glycerosomes were modified by the addition of poloxamer, a stabilizer and viscosity enhancer, thus obtaining viscous or semisolid dispersions of structured vesicles. The vesicles were spherical, unilamellar and small in size (~70 nm in diameter). The superior ability of the poloxamer-structured vesicles to promote the accumulation of both phenols in the skin was demonstrated, as well as their low toxicity and great ability to protect fibroblasts from chemically-induced oxidative damage. The in vivo administration of the vesicular phenols on TPA (phorbol ester)-exposed skin led to a significant reduction of oedema and leukocyte infiltration.

JTD Keywords: Fibroblasts, Mice, Phenol, Phospholipid vesicle, Poloxamer, Skin inflammation


Vitonyte, J., Manca, M. L., Caddeo, C., Valenti, D., Peris, J. E., Usach, I., Nacher, A., Matos, M., Gutiérrez, G., Orrù, G., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2017). Bifunctional viscous nanovesicles co-loaded with resveratrol and gallic acid for skin protection against microbial and oxidative injuries European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics 114, 278-287

Resveratrol and gallic acid were co-loaded in phospholipid vesicles aiming at protecting the skin from external injuries, such as oxidative stress and microbial infections. Liposomes were prepared using biocompatible phospholipids dispersed in water. To improve vesicle stability and applicability, the phospholipids and the phenols were dispersed in water/propylene glycol or water/glycerol, thus obtaining PEVs and glycerosomes, respectively. The vesicles were characterized by size, morphology, physical stability, and their therapeutic efficacy was investigated in vitro. The vesicles were spherical, unilamellar and small in size: liposomes and glycerosomes were around 70 nm in diameter, while PEVs were larger (∼170 nm). The presence of propylene glycol or glycerol increased the viscosity of the vesicle systems, positively affecting their stability. The ability of the vesicles to promote the accumulation of the phenols (especially gallic acid) in the skin was demonstrated, as well as their low toxicity and great ability to protect keratinocytes and fibroblasts from oxidative damage. Additionally, an improvement of the antimicrobial activity of the phenols was shown against different skin pathogens. The co-loading of resveratrol and gallic acid in modified phospholipid vesicles represents an innovative, bifunctional tool for preventing and treating skin affections.

JTD Keywords: Fibroblasts, Keratinocytes, Phenol, Phospholipid vesicle, Skin pathogens


Trepat, X., Wasserman, M. R., Angelini, T. E., Millet, E., Weitz, D. A., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2009). Physical forces during collective cell migration Nature Physics 5, (6), 426-430

Fundamental biological processes including morphogenesis, tissue repair and tumour metastasis require collective cell motions(1-3), and to drive these motions cells exert traction forces on their surroundings(4). Current understanding emphasizes that these traction forces arise mainly in 'leader cells' at the front edge of the advancing cell sheet(5-9). Our data are contrary to that assumption and show for the first time by direct measurement that traction forces driving collective cell migration arise predominately many cell rows behind the leading front edge and extend across enormous distances. Traction fluctuations are anomalous, moreover, exhibiting broad non-Gaussian distributions characterized by exponential tails(10-12). Taken together, these unexpected findings demonstrate that although the leader cell may have a pivotal role in local cell guidance, physical forces that it generates are but a small part of a global tug-of-war involving cells well back from the leading edge.

JTD Keywords: Focal adhesions, Granular matter, Bead packs, Morphogenesis, Sheets, Actin, Fluctuations, Fibroblasts, Microscopy, Diversity


Carreras, A., Almendros, I., Acerbi, I., Montserrat, J. M., Navajas, D., Farre, R., (2009). Obstructive apneas induce early release of mesenchymal stem cells into circulating blood Sleep , 32, (1), 117-119

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether noninvasive application of recurrent airway obstructions induces early release of mesenchymal stem cells into the circulating blood in a rat model of obstructive sleep apnea. DESIGN: Prospective controlled animal study. SETTING: University laboratory. PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: Twenty male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g). INTERVENTIONS: A specially designed nasal mask was applied to the anesthetized rats. Ten rats were subjected to a pattern of recurrent obstructive apneas (60 per hour, lasting 15 seconds each) for 5 hours. Ten anesthetized rats were used as controls. MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Mesenchymal stem cells from the blood and bone marrow samples were isolated and cultured to count the total number of colony-forming unit fibroblasts (CFU-F) of adherent cells after 9 days in culture. The number of CFU-F from circulating blood was significantly (P = 0.02) higher in the rats subjected to recurrent obstructive apneas (5.00 +/- 1.16; mean +/- SEM) than in controls (1.70 +/- 0.72). No significant (P = 0.54) differences were observed in CFU-F from bone marrow. CONCLUSIONS: Application of a pattern of airway obstructions similar to those experienced by patients with sleep apnea induced an early mobilization of mesenchymal stem cells into circulating blood.

JTD Keywords: Adipocytes/cytology, Animals, Blood Cell Count, Bone Marrow Cells/ cytology, Cell Adhesion/physiology, Cell Count, Cell Differentiation/physiology, Cell Division/physiology, Disease Models, Animal, Fibroblasts/cytology, Male, Mesenchymal Stem Cells/ cytology, Osteocytes/cytology, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Sleep Apnea, Obstructive/ blood, Stem Cells/cytology


Maneva-Radicheva, L., Ebert, U., Dimoudis, N., Altankov, G., (2008). Fibroblast remodeling of adsorbed collagen type IV is altered in contact with cancer cells Histology and Histopathology , 23, (7), 833-842

A series of co-culture experiments between fibroblasts and H-460 human lung carcinoma cells were performed to learn more about the fate of adsorbed type IV collagen (Coll IV). Fibroblasts were able to spatially rearrange Coll IV in a specific linear pattern, similar but not identical to the fibronectin (FN) fibrils. Coll IV partly co-aligns with fibroblast actin cytoskeleton and transiently co-localize with FN, as well as with beta 1 and a 2 integrin clusters, suggesting a cell-dependent process. We further found that this Coll IV reorganization is suppressed in contact with H460 cells. Zymography revealed strongly elevated MMP-2 activity in supernatants of co-cultures, but no activity when fibroblasts or cancer cells were cultured alone. Thus, we provide evidence that reorganization of substrate associated Coll IV is a useful morphological approach for in vitro studies on matrix remodeling activity during tumorigenesis.

JTD Keywords: Adsorbed collagen IV reorganization, Fibroblasts and cancer cells co-culture, MMP-2