by Keyword: Hydrogel

Hafa L, Breideband L, Ramirez Posada L, Torras N, Martinez E, Stelzer EHK, Pampaloni F, (2023). Light Sheet-Based Laser Patterning Bioprinting Produces Long-Term Viable Full-Thickness Skin Constructs Advanced Materials , e2306258

Tissue engineering holds great promise for biomedical research and healthcare, offering alternatives to animal models and enabling tissue regeneration and organ transplantation. Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting stands out for its design flexibility and reproducibility. Here, we present an integrated fluorescent light sheet bioprinting and imaging system that combines high printing speed (0.66 mm3 /s) and resolution (9 μm) with light sheet-based imaging. This approach employs direct laser patterning and a static light sheet for confined voxel crosslinking in photocrosslinkable materials. The developed bioprinter enables real-time monitoring of hydrogel crosslinking using fluorescent recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and brightfield imaging as well as in situ light sheet imaging of cells. Human fibroblasts encapsulated in a thiol-ene click chemistry-based hydrogel exhibited high viability (83% ± 4.34%) and functionality. Furthermore, full-thickness skin constructs displayed characteristics of both epidermal and dermal layers and remained viable for 41 days. The integrated approach demonstrates the capabilities of light sheet bioprinting, offering high speed, resolution, and real-time characterization. Future enhancements involving solid-state laser scanning devices such as acousto-optic deflectors and modulators will further enhance resolution and speed, opening new opportunities in light-based bioprinting and advancing tissue engineering. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cadherin, collagen, culture, differentiation, fluorescence microscopy, full-thickness skin model, hydrogels, light sheet bioprinter, light sheet fluorescence microscopy, proliferation, survival, tissue engineering, Biofabrication, Full-thickness skin model, Hair follicle, Light sheet bioprinter, Light sheet fluorescence microscopy, Tissue engineering

Englert, J, Witzdam, L, Söder, D, Garay-Sarmiento, M, Joseph, A, Wagner, AM, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2023). Synthetic Evolution of a Supramolecular Harpooning Mechanism to Immobilize Vesicles at Antifouling Interfaces Macromolecular Chemistry And Physics 224, 2300306

The immobilization of vesicles has been conceptualized as a method to functionalize biointerfaces. However, the preservation of their integrity post immobilization remains a considerable challenge. Interfacial interactions can cause vesicle rupture upon close surface contact and non-specific protein adsorption impairing surface functions. To date, immobilization of vesicles has relied solely on either entrapment or prior modification of vesicles, both of which require laborious preparation and limit their applications. This work develops a bioinspired strategy to pin vesicles without prior modification while preserving their intact shape. This work introduces antifouling diblock copolymers and ultrathin surface-attached hydrogels containing a brush-like interface consisting of a bottle brush copolymer of N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) and N-(3-methacrylamidopropyl)-N,N-dimethyldodecan-1-aminiumiodide (C12+). The presence of positive charges generates an attractive force that pulls vesicles toward the surface. At the surface, the amphiphilic properties of the combs facilitate their insertion into the membrane, mimicking the harpooning mechanism observed in antimicrobial peptides. Importantly, the antifouling poly(HPMA) backdrop serves to safeguard the vesicles by preventing deformation and breakage. Using a combination of thermodynamic analysis, surface plasmon resonance, and confocal laser scanning microscopy, this work demonstrates the efficiency of this biomimetic system to capture vesicles while maintaining an antifouling interface necessary for bioapplications. This work presents a novel supramolecular approach that combines three key elements: long-range attraction, vesicle pinning, and short-range repulsion to attract and harpoon vesicles, while protecting them at the surface. This work envisions these coatings as universal and biocompatible platforms that can be used not only to study vesicle interactions, but also as tools for biomedical applications.image

JTD Keywords: Antifouling coatings, Coatings, Delivery, Extracellular vesicles, Fabrication, Hydrogel, Janus dendrimers, Lipid vesicles, Liposomes, Membrane insertion, Polymer brushes, Proteins, Surface-energy components, Ultrathin surface-attached hydrogels, Vesicle pinning

Lanzalaco, S, Sánchez, X, Alemán, C, Weis, C, Traeger, KA, Turon, P, Armelin, E, (2023). Thermo/Pressure-Sensitive Self-Fixation Surgical Meshes: The Role of Adhesive Hydrogels in Interface Attachment Acs Applied Polymer Materials 5, 9898-9908

Herein, an innovative self- and pressure-adhesive biomedical implant was developed. Tissue adhesion was achieved with a thermosensitive hydrogel based on poly-(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylamide), PNIPAAm-co-PAAm, grafted on a substrate composed of knitted fibers of isotactic polypropylene mesh (PP), used as surgical mesh implants. The in vitro studies, carried out with porcine skin, showed an important role of the inclusion of acrylamide-based comonomer (AAm) in the thermosensitive hydrogel PNIPAAm matrix. The bonding, peeling, and shearing energies obtained for PNIPAAm-co-PAAm increased exponentially up to three, two, and six times, respectively, compared to the gel without AAm. The physisorption and mechanical interlocking mechanisms are responsible for such improvement due to the simultaneous creation of hydrophobic and hydrophilic interactions of the thermosensitive hydrogel at temperatures higher than the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), with the porcine tissue. In addition, our bioadhesives present excellent interfacial toughness (similar to 100 J/m(2)) when compared to commercial bioglues (similar to 50 J/m(2) or lower). The results obtained represent a very promising adhesive material that is extensible to other medical devices that require atraumatic fixation to avoid chronic pain related to other fixation approaches.

JTD Keywords: Bioadhesive, Complications, Hernia-repair, Interface adhesion, Mechanicalinterlocking, Physisorption, Poly(n-isopropylacrylamide), Polypropylene mesh, Surgicalmesh, Thermosensitive hydrogel

Martínez-Blanco Á, Noé S, Carreras-Vidal L, Otero J, Gavara N, (2023). Cryosectioning of Hydrogels as a Reliable Approach to Increase Yield and Further Tune Mechanical Properties Gels 9, 834

Decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) hydrogels have emerged as promising materials in tissue engineering. The steps to produce dECM hydrogels containing the bioactive epitopes found in the native matrix are often laborious, including the initial harvesting and decellularization of the animal organ. Furthermore, resulting hydrogels often exhibit weak mechanical properties that require the use of additional crosslinkers such as genipin to truly simulate the mechanical properties of the desired study tissue. In this work, we have developed a protocol to readily obtain tens of thin dECM hydrogel cryosections attached to a glass slide as support, to serve as scaffolds for two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) cell culture. Following extensive atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based mechanical characterization of dECM hydrogels crosslinked with increasing genipin concentrations (5 mM, 10 mM, and 20 mM), we provide detailed protocol recommendations for achieving dECM hydrogels of any biologically relevant stiffness. Given that our protocol requires hydrogel freezing, we also confirm that the approach taken can be further used to increase the mechanical properties of the scaffold in a controlled manner exhibiting twice the stiffness in highly crosslinked arrays. Finally, we explored the effect of ethanol-based short- and long-term sterilization on dECM hydrogels, showing that in some situations it may give rise to significant changes in hydrogel mechanical properties that need to be taken into account in experimental design. The hydrogel cryosections produced were shown to be biocompatible and support cell attachment and spreading for at least 72 h in culture. In brief, our proposed method may provide several advantages for tissue engineering: (1) easy availability and reduction in preparation time, (2) increase in the total hydrogel volume eventually used for experiments being able to obtain 15-22 slides from a 250 µL hydrogel) with a (3) reduction in scaffold variability (only a 17.5 ± 9.5% intraslide variability provided by the method), and (4) compatibility with live-cell imaging techniques or further cell characterization of cells.

JTD Keywords: atomic force microscopy, cryogel, cryosectioning, decellularization, extracellular matrix, genipin, sterilization, stiffness, young's modulus, Atomic force microscopy, Cryogel, Cryosectioning, Decellularization, Extracellular matrix, Genipin, Hydrogel, Sterilization, Stiffness, Young’s modulus

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

Sanz-Fraile H, Herranz-Diez C, Ulldemolins A, Falcones B, Almendros I, Gavara N, Sunyer R, Farré R, Otero J, (2023). Characterization of Bioinks Prepared via Gelifying Extracellular Matrix from Decellularized Porcine Myocardia Gels 9, 745

Since the emergence of 3D bioprinting technology, both synthetic and natural materials have been used to develop bioinks for producing cell-laden cardiac grafts. To this end, extracellular-matrix (ECM)-derived hydrogels can be used to develop scaffolds that closely mimic the complex 3D environments for cell culture. This study presents a novel cardiac bioink based on hydrogels exclusively derived from decellularized porcine myocardium loaded with human-bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells. Hence, the hydrogel can be used to develop cell-laden cardiac patches without the need to add other biomaterials or use additional crosslinkers. The scaffold ultrastructure and mechanical properties of the bioink were characterized to optimize its production, specifically focusing on the matrix enzymatic digestion time. The cells were cultured in 3D within the developed hydrogels to assess their response. The results indicate that the hydrogels fostered inter-cell and cell-matrix crosstalk after 1 week of culture. In conclusion, the bioink developed and presented in this study holds great potential for developing cell-laden customized patches for cardiac repair.

JTD Keywords: biology, biomaterials, collagen, decellularized cardiac tissue, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, mesenchymal stromal cells, 3d bioprinting, Biomaterials, Decellularized cardiac tissue, Extracellular matrix, Hydrogels, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Mesenchymal stromal cells

Malandain, N, Sanz-Fraile, H, Farre, R, Otero, J, Roig, A, Laromaine, A, (2023). Cell-Laden 3D Hydrogels of Type I Collagen Incorporating Bacterial Nanocellulose Fibers Acs Applied Bio Materials 6, 3638-3647

There is a growing interest in developing natural hydrogel-based scaffolds to culture cells in a three-dimensional (3D) millieu that better mimics the in vivo cells' microenvironment. A promising approach is to use hydrogels from animal tissues, such as decellularized extracellular matrices; however, they usually exhibit suboptimal mechanical properties compared to native tissue and their composition with hundreds of different protein complicates to elucidate which stimulus triggers cell's responses. As simpler scaffolds, type I collagen hydrogels are used to study cell behavior in mechanobiology even though they are also softer than native tissues. In this work, type I collagen is mixed with bacterial nanocellulose fibers (BCf) to develop reinforced scaffolds with mechanical properties suitable for 3D cell culture. BCf were produced from blended pellicles biosynthesized from Komagataeibacter xylinus. Then, BCf were mixed with concentrated collagen from rat-tail tendons to form composite hydrogels. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy images confirmed the homogeneous macro- and microdistribution of both natural polymers. Porosity analysis confirmed that BCf do not disrupt the scaffold structure. Tensile strength and rheology measurements demonstrated the reinforcement action of BCf (43% increased stiffness) compared to the collagen hydrogel while maintaining the same viscoelastic response. Additionally, this reinforcement of collagen hydrogels with BCf offers the possibility to mix cells before gelation and then proceed to the culture of the 3D cell scaffolds. We obtained scaffolds with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells or human fibroblasts within the composite hydrogels, allowing a homogeneous 3D viable culture for at least 7 days. A smaller surface shrinkage in the reinforced hydrogels compared to type I collagen hydrogels confirmed the strengthening of the composite hydrogels. These collagen hydrogels reinforced with BCf might emerge as a promising platform for 3D in vitro organ modeling, tissue-engineering applications, and suitable to conduct fundamental mechanobiology studies.

JTD Keywords: 3d cell culture, bacterial cellulose, collagen, composite hydrogels, 3d cell culture, Bacterial cellulose, Cellulose/collagen composite, Collagen, Composite hydrogels, Contraction, Cross-linking, Cytocompatibility, Fibroblasts, Matrix, Mechanical-properties, Reinforcement, Stiffness, Tissue engineering

Fontana-Escartín, A, Lanzalaco, S, Bertran, O, Aradilla, D, Alemán, C, (2023). Aqueous alginate/MXene inks for 3D printable biomedical devices Colloids And Surfaces A-Physicochemical And Engineering Aspects 671, 131632

Electrochemically responsive hydrogel networks have been obtained usin g printable inks made of a biopolymer, alginate (Alg), and an inorganic 2D material , MXene (titaniu m carbide, Ti3C2Tx) nanosheets. While MXene offers an electrically conductive pathway for electron transfer and Alg provides an interconnected framework for ion diffusion, the printed nanocomposite results, after gelation, in an extended active interface for redox reactions, being an ideal framework to design and construct flexible devices for biomedical applications. In this work, after characterization, we demonstrate that hydrogels obtained by cross-linking printed Alg /MXene inks exhibit great potential for bioelectronics. More specifically, we prove that flexible Alg/MXene hydrogels act as self-supported electroactive electrodes for the electrochemical detection of bioanalytes, such as dopamine, with a performance similar to that achieved using more sophisticated electrodes, as for example those containing conducting poly-mers and electrocatalytic gold nanoparticles. In addition, Alg/MXene hydrogels have been successfully used to regulate the release of a previously loaded broad spectrum antibiotic (chloramphenicol) by electrical stimulation.

JTD Keywords: 3d-printing, Biomedical application s, Composites, Conducting polymers, Drug release, Electroresponsive hydrogels, Fabrication, Hydrogels, Platform, Sensors, Strategy, Surface, Thin-film, Titanium carbide

García-Lizarribar A, Villasante A, Lopez-Martin JA, Flandez M, Soler-Vázquez MC, Serra D, Herrero L, Sagrera A, Efeyan A, Samitier J, (2023). 3D bioprinted functional skeletal muscle models have potential applications for studies of muscle wasting in cancer cachexia Biomaterials Advances 150, 213426

Acquired muscle diseases such as cancer cachexia are responsible for the poor prognosis of many patients suffering from cancer. In vitro models are needed to study the underlying mechanisms of those pathologies. Extrusion bioprinting is an emerging tool to emulate the aligned architecture of fibers while implementing additive manufacturing techniques in tissue engineering. However, designing bioinks that reconcile the rheological needs of bioprinting and the biological requirements of muscle tissue is a challenging matter. Here we formulate a biomaterial with dual crosslinking to modulate the physical properties of bioprinted models. We design 3D bioprinted muscle models that resemble the mechanical properties of native tissue and show improved proliferation and high maturation of differentiated myotubes suggesting that the GelMA-AlgMA-Fibrin biomaterial possesses myogenic properties. The electrical stimulation of the 3D model confirmed the contractile capability of the tissue and enhanced the formation of sarcomeres. Regarding the functionality of the models, they served as platforms to recapitulate skeletal muscle diseases such as muscle wasting produced by cancer cachexia. The genetic expression of 3D models demonstrated a better resemblance to the muscular biopsies of cachectic mouse models. Altogether, this biomaterial is aimed to fabricate manipulable skeletal muscle in vitro models in a non-costly, fast and feasible manner.Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cachexia, constructs, skeletal muscle, tissue-engineering, Bioprinting, Cachexia, Hydrogels, Skeletal muscle, Tissue-engineering

Mingot J, Benejam N, Víllora G, Alemán C, Armelin E, Lanzalaco S, (2023). Multimodal Biomedical Implant with Plasmonic and Simulated Body Temperature Responses Macromolecular Bioscience 23, e2300118

This work presents a novel nanoparticle-based thermosensor implant able to reveal the precise temperature variations along the polymer filaments, as it contracts and expands due to changes in the macroscale local temperature. The multimodal device is able to trace the position and the temperature of a polypropylene mesh, employed in abdominal hernia repair, by combining plasmon resonance and Raman spectroscopy with hydrogel responsive system. The novelty relies on the attachment of the biocompatible nanoparticles, based on gold stabilized by a chitosan-shell, already charged with the Raman reporter (RaR) molecules, to the robust prosthesis, without the need of chemical linkers. The SERS enhanced effect observed is potentiated by the presence of a quite thick layer of the copolymer (poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-poly(acrylamide)) hydrogel. At temperatures above the LCST of PNIPAAm-co-PAAm, the water molecules are expulsed and the hydrogel layer contracts, leaving the RaR molecules more accessible to the Raman source. In vitro studies with fibroblast cells reveal that the functionalized surgical mesh is biocompatible and no toxic substances are leached in the medium. The mesh sensor opens new frontiers to semi-invasive diagnosis and infection prevention in hernia repair by using SERS spectroscopy. It also offers new possibilities to the functionalization of other healthcare products.© 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: adhesion, blends, chitosan, gold nanoparticles, poly(n-isopropylacrylamide), polypropylene mesh, polypropylene meshes, repair, scattering, silver, surgical implants, thermosensitive hydrogels, toxicity, Chitosan, Gold nanoparticles, Polypropylene meshes, Surgical implants, Thermosensitive hydrogels

Fernández-Garibay, X, Gómez-Florit, M, Dominguez, RMA, Gomes, ME, Fernández-Costa, JM, Ramón-Azcón, J, (2023). Xeno-free bioengineered human skeletal muscle tissues Tissue Engineering Part a 29, PP-435

Lanzalaco, S, Weis, C, Traeger, KA, Turon, P, Alemán, C, Armelin, E, (2023). Mechanical Properties of Smart Polypropylene Meshes: Effects of Mesh Architecture, Plasma Treatment, Thermosensitive Coating, and Sterilization Process Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 9, 3699-3711

Smart polypropylene (PP) hernia meshes were proposed to detect surgical infections and to regulate cell attachment-modulated properties. For this purpose, lightweight and midweight meshes were modified by applying a plasma treatment for subsequent grafting of a thermosensitive hydrogel, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm). However, both the physical treatment with plasma and the chemical processes required for the covalent incorporation of PNIPAAm can modify the mechanical properties of the mesh and thus have an influence in hernia repair procedures. In this work, the mechanical performance of plasma-treated and hydrogel-grafted meshes preheated at 37 °C has been compared with standard meshes using bursting and the suture pull out tests. Furthermore, the influence of the mesh architecture, the amount of grafted hydrogel, and the sterilization process on such properties have been examined. Results reveal that although the plasma treatment reduces the bursting and suture pull out forces, the thermosensitive hydrogel improves the mechanical resistance of the meshes. Moreover, the mechanical performance of the meshes coated with the PNIPAAm hydrogel is not influenced by ethylene oxide gas sterilization. Micrographs of the broken meshes evidence the role of the hydrogel as reinforcing coating for the PP filaments. Overall, results confirm that the modification of PP medical textiles with a biocompatible thermosensitive hydrogel do not affect, and even improve, the mechanical requirements necessary for the implantation of these prostheses in vivo.

JTD Keywords: biomaterials, bursting test, etox sterilization, hernia repair, hydrogels, infection, poly(n-isopropylacrylamide), pull outtest, surgical mesh, Abdominal-wall, Biomedical implant, Bursting test, Etox sterilization, Poly(n-isopropylacrylamide), Pull out test, Surgical mesh

Oliver-Cervelló, L, Martin-Gómez, H, Gonzalez-Garcia, C, Salmeron-Sanchez, M, Ginebra, MP, Mas-Moruno, C, (2023). Protease-degradable hydrogels with multifunctional biomimetic peptides for bone tissue engineering Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1192436

Mimicking bone extracellular matrix (ECM) is paramount to develop novel biomaterials for bone tissue engineering. In this regard, the combination of integrin-binding ligands together with osteogenic peptides represents a powerful approach to recapitulate the healing microenvironment of bone. In the present work, we designed polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based hydrogels functionalized with cell instructive multifunctional biomimetic peptides (either with cyclic RGD-DWIVA or cyclic RGD-cyclic DWIVA) and cross-linked with matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-degradable sequences to enable dynamic enzymatic biodegradation and cell spreading and differentiation. The analysis of the intrinsic properties of the hydrogel revealed relevant mechanical properties, porosity, swelling and degradability to engineer hydrogels for bone tissue engineering. Moreover, the engineered hydrogels were able to promote human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) spreading and significantly improve their osteogenic differentiation. Thus, these novel hydrogels could be a promising candidate for applications in bone tissue engineering, such as acellular systems to be implanted and regenerate bone or in stem cells therapy.Copyright © 2023 Oliver-Cervelló, Martin-Gómez, Gonzalez-Garcia, Salmeron-Sanchez, Ginebra and Mas-Moruno.

JTD Keywords: biomaterials, cross-linking, dwiva, functionalization, hydrogel, integrin, kinetics, marrow stromal cells, matrices, multifunctionality, myogenic differentiation, osteogenic differentiation, regeneration, stem-cells, Biomimetic peptides, Dwiva, Functionalization, Hydrogel, Multifunctionality, Osteogenic differentiation, Poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels

Garcia-Torres, J, Colombi, S, Mahamed, I, Sylla, D, Arnau, M, Sans, J, Ginebra, MP, Aleman, C, (2023). Nanocomposite Hydrogels with Temperature Response for Capacitive Energy Storage Acs Applied Energy Materials 6, 4487-4495

Borras, N, Sanchez-Sanz, A, Sans, J, Estrany, F, Perez-Madrigal, MM, Aleman, C, (2023). Flexible electroactive membranes for the electrochemical detection of dopamine European Polymer Journal 187, 111915

In addition of a key catecholamine neurotransmitter, dopamine is is the metabolite predominantly produced by specific types of tumors (e.g. paragangliomas and neuroblastomas), which cannot be diagnosed using conven-tional sensitive tests. Within this context, development of flexible electrochemical sensors to monitor dopamine levels in physiological fluids for the early diagnosis and control of diseases related to abnormal levels of such compound, is necessary. In this work, a flexible self-supported membrane, which acts directly as electrode, has been developed to detect dopamine. The membrane consists of three nanoperforated polylactic acid (PLA) layers, which provide flexibility and mechanical integrity, separated by two layers of an electroactive copolymer, which are obtained by electrochemical copolymerization of 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene and aniline. The sensitivity and detection limit provided by the electroactive copolymer, which is accessible to dopamine molecules through the nanoperforations of the PLA outer layers, is 1.846 mu A/( M) and 1.7 mu M, respectively, in a urea-rich environments that mimics urine. These values allow us to propose the self-standing flexible electrodes devel-oped in this study for the detection of dopamine in patients affected by paragangliomas and neuroblastomas tumors, which typically present dopamine concentrations between 2 and 7 mu M.

JTD Keywords: 4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Conducting polymer, Electrochemical sensor, Electrodes, Hydrogels, Poly(3, Polyaniline, Polylactic acid, Selective detection, Sensors, Supercapacitors

Castrejón-Comas, V, Alemán, C, Pérez-Madrigal, MM, (2023). Multifunctional conductive hyaluronic acid hydrogels for wound care and skin regeneration Biomaterials Science 11, 2266-2276

Conductive and interactive hydrogels based on hyaluronic acid are engineered as wound dressings that enhance skin tissue regeneration either through electrical stimulation or by displaying multifunctional performance and, ultimately, interactivity.

JTD Keywords: antibacterial, fields, Injectable hydrogels

Pereira, I, Lopez-Martinez, MJ, Villasante, A, Introna, C, Tornero, D, Canals, JM, Samitier, J, (2023). Hyaluronic acid-based bioink improves the differentiation and network formation of neural progenitor cells Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1110547

Introduction: Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is a promising technique for the development of neuronal in vitro models because it controls the deposition of materials and cells. Finding a biomaterial that supports neural differentiation in vitro while ensuring compatibility with the technique of 3D bioprinting of a self-standing construct is a challenge.Methods: In this study, gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA), methacrylated alginate (AlgMA), and hyaluronic acid (HA) were examined by exploiting their biocompatibility and tunable mechanical properties to resemble the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to create a suitable material for printing neural progenitor cells (NPCs), supporting their long-term differentiation. NPCs were printed and differentiated for up to 15 days, and cell viability and neuronal differentiation markers were assessed throughout the culture.Results and Discussion: This composite biomaterial presented the desired physical properties to mimic the ECM of the brain with high water intake, low stiffness, and slow degradation while allowing the printing of defined structures. The viability rates were maintained at approximately 80% at all time points. However, the levels of beta-III tubulin marker increased over time, demonstrating the compatibility of this biomaterial with neuronal cell culture and differentiation. Furthermore, these cells showed increased maturation with corresponding functional properties, which was also demonstrated by the formation of a neuronal network that was observed by recording spontaneous activity via Ca2+ imaging.

JTD Keywords: biomaterials, bioprinting, differentiation, in vitro models, neural progenitor cells, 2d, Biomaterials, Bioprinting, C17.2, Differentiation, Extracellular-matrix, Hydrogels, In vitro models, In-vitro, Neural progenitor cells, Neuronal models, Proliferation, Scaffolds, Stem-cells, Substrate stiffness

Lanzalaco, S, Mingot, J, Torras, J, Alemán, C, Armelin, E, (2023). Recent Advances in Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Hydrogels and Derivatives as Promising Materials for Biomedical and Engineering Emerging Applications Advanced Engineering Materials 25,

Jurado A, Ulldemolins A, Lluís H, Gasull X, Gavara N, Sunyer R, Otero J, Gozal D, Almendros I, Farré R, (2023). Fast cycling of intermittent hypoxia in a physiomimetic 3D environment: A novel tool for the study of the parenchymal effects of sleep apnea Frontiers In Pharmacology 13, 1081345

Background: Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) experience recurrent hypoxemic events with a frequency sometimes exceeding 60 events/h. These episodic events induce downstream transient hypoxia in the parenchymal tissue of all organs, thereby eliciting the pathological consequences of OSA. Whereas experimental models currently apply intermittent hypoxia to cells conventionally cultured in 2D plates, there is no well-characterized setting that will subject cells to well-controlled intermittent hypoxia in a 3D environment and enable the study of the effects of OSA on the cells of interest while preserving the underlying tissue environment.Aim: To design and characterize an experimental approach that exposes cells to high-frequency intermittent hypoxia mimicking OSA in 3D (hydrogels or tissue slices).Methods: Hydrogels made from lung extracellular matrix (L-ECM) or brain tissue slices (300-800-mu m thickness) were placed on a well whose bottom consisted of a permeable silicone membrane. The chamber beneath the membrane was subjected to a square wave of hypoxic/normoxic air. The oxygen concentration at different depths within the hydrogel/tissue slice was measured with an oxygen microsensor.Results: 3D-seeded cells could be subjected to well-controlled and realistic intermittent hypoxia patterns mimicking 60 apneas/h when cultured in L-ECM hydrogels & AP;500 mu m-thick or ex-vivo in brain slices 300-500 mu m-thick.Conclusion: This novel approach will facilitate the investigation of the effects of intermittent hypoxia simulating OSA in 3D-residing cells within the parenchyma of different tissues/organs.

JTD Keywords: 3d culture, cell culture, diffusion, disease model, hydrogels, hypoxia, model, oxygen diffusion, tissue slice, transport, 3d culture, Cell culture, Disease model, Hydrogels, Hypoxia, Obstructive sleep apnea, Oxygen, Oxygen diffusion, Tissue slice

Sole-Marti, X, Labay, C, Raymond, Y, Franch, J, Benitez, R, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2023). Ceramic-hydrogel composite as carrier for cold-plasma reactive-species: Safety and osteogenic capacity in vivo Plasma Processes And Polymers 20, 2200155

Plasma-treated hydrogels have been put forward as a potential selective osteosarcoma therapy through the release of reactive species to the diseased site. To allow their translation to the clinics, it is crucial to show that the oxidative stress delivered by such hydrogels does not adversely affect healthy tissues. This is evaluated here by investigating the in vivo performance of a robocasted calcium phosphate cement infiltrated by a plasma-treated hydrogel. The plasma-treated composite implanted in a critical size bone defect of healthy rabbits revealed its safety, allowing equivalent bone ingrowth compared to the control scaffolds and to that of direct plasma treatment of the bone defect. This opens the door for using composite biomaterials containing plasma-generated reactive species in bone therapies.

JTD Keywords: Atmospheric plasma, Bone, Bone graft, Ceramic-hydrogel composite, Cold atmospheric plasma, Local therapy, Osteosarcoma, Plasma-treated polymer solutions, Substitutes, Survival

Munoz-Galan, H, Molina, BG, Bertran, O, Perez-Madrigal, MM, Aleman, C, (2022). Combining rapid and sustained insulin release from conducting hydrogels for glycemic control br European Polymer Journal 181, 111670

Innovative insulin delivery systems contemplate combining multi-pharmacokinetic profiles for glycemic control. Two device configurations have been designed for the controlled release of insulin using the same chemical compounds. The first insulin delivery system, which displays a rapid release response that, in addition, is enhanced on a short time scale by electrical stimulation, consists on an insulin layer sandwiched between a conducting poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) film and a poly-gamma-glutamic acid (gamma-PGA) hydrogel. The second system is constituted by gamma-PGA hydrogel loaded with insulin and PEDOT nanoparticles by in situ gelation. In this case, the insulin release, which only starts after the degradation of the hydrogel over time (i.e. on a long time scale), is slow and sustained. The combination of an on-demand and fast release profile with a sustained and slow profile, which act on different time scales, would result in a very efficient regulation of diabetes therapy in comparison to current systems, allowing to control both fast and sustained glycemic events. Considering that the two systems developed in this work are based on the same chemical components, future work will be focused on the combination of the two kinetic profiles by re-engineering a unique insulin release device using gamma-PGA, PEDOT and insulin.

JTD Keywords: Conducting polymer, Constant, Diabetes, Diabetes-mellitus, Drug-delivery, Electrodes, Electrostimulation, Glucose-responsive hydrogels, Hydrogel, Molecular dynamics, Molecular-dynamics, Nanogels, Nanoparticles, Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Risk

Ulldemolins, A, Jurado, A, Herranz-Diez, C, Gavara, N, Otero, J, Farré, R, Almendros, I, (2022). Lung Extracellular Matrix Hydrogels-Derived Vesicles Contribute to Epithelial Lung Repair Polymers 14, 4907

The use of physiomimetic decellularized extracellular matrix-derived hydrogels is attracting interest since they can modulate the therapeutic capacity of numerous cell types, including mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). Remarkably, extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from MSCs display similar functions as their parental cells, mitigating tissue damage in lung diseases. However, recent data have shown that ECM-derived hydrogels could release other resident vesicles similar to EVs. Here, we aim to better understand the contribution of EVs and ECM-vesicles released from MSCs and/or lung-derived hydrogel (L-HG) in lung repair by using an in vitro lung injury model. L-HG derived-vesicles and MSCs EVs cultured either in L-HG or conventional plates were isolated and characterized. The therapeutic capacity of vesicles obtained from each experimental condition was tested by using an alveolar epithelial wound-healing assay. The number of ECM-vesicles released from acellular L-HG was 10-fold greater than EVs from conventional MSCs cell culture revealing that L-HG is an important source of bioactive vesicles. MSCs-derived EVs and L-HG vesicles have similar therapeutic capacity in lung repair. However, when wound closure rate was normalized by total proteins, the MSCs-derived EVs shows higher therapeutic potential to those released by L-HG. The EVs released from L-HG must be considered when HG is used as substrate for cell culture and EVs isolation.

JTD Keywords: cell, extracellular vesicles, hydrogel, lung epithelial cells, lung repair, mesenchymal stem cells, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular vesicles, Hydrogel, Lung epithelial cells, Lung repair, Mesenchymal stem cells, Respiratory-distress-syndrome

Andrade, F, Roca-Melendres, MM, Llaguno, M, Hide, D, Raurell, I, Martell, M, Vijayakumar, S, Oliva, M, Jr, SS, Duran-Lara, EF, Rafael, D, Abasolo, I, (2022). Smart and eco-friendly N-isopropylacrylamide and cellulose hydrogels as a safe dual-drug local cancer therapy approach Carbohydrate Polymers 295, 119859

Local cancer treatment by in situ injections of thermo-responsive hydrogels (HG) offers several advantages over conventional systemic anti-cancer treatments. In this work, a biodegradable and multicompartmental HG composed of N-isopropylacrylamide, cellulose, citric acid, and ceric ammonium nitrate was developed for the controlled release of hydrophilic (doxorubicin) and hydrophobic (niclosamide) drugs. The formulation presented ideal properties regarding thermo-responsiveness, rheological behavior, drug release profile, biocompatibility, and biological activity in colon and ovarian cancer cells. Cellulose was found to retard drugs release rate, being only 4 % of doxorubicin and 30 % of niclosamide released after 1 week. This low release was sufficient to cause cell death in both cell lines. Moreover, HG demonstrated a proper injectability, in situ prevalence, and safety profile in vivo. Overall, the HG properties, together with its natural and eco-friendly composition, create a safe and efficient platform for the local treatment of non-resectable tumors or tumors requiring pre-surgical adjuvant therapy.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable, cellulose, controlled-release formulation, drug delivery systems, hydrogel, thermo-responsiveness, Ammonium-nitrate, Biodegradable, Cancer treatment, Cellulose, Controlled-release formulation, Delivery, Drug delivery systems, Hydrogel, Reduce, Thermo-responsiveness

Altay G, Abad-Lázaro A, Gualda EJ, Folch J, Insa C, Tosi S, Hernando-Momblona X, Batlle E, Loza-Álvarez P, Fernández-Majada V, Martinez E, (2022). Modeling Biochemical Gradients In Vitro to Control Cell Compartmentalization in a Microengineered 3D Model of the Intestinal Epithelium Advanced Healthcare Materials 11, 2201172

Gradients of signaling pathways within the intestinal stem cell (ISC) niche are instrumental for cellular compartmentalization and tissue function, yet how are they sensed by the epithelium is still not fully understood. Here a new in vitro model of the small intestine based on primary epithelial cells (i), apically accessible (ii), with native tissue mechanical properties and controlled mesh size (iii), 3D villus-like architecture (iv), and precisely controlled biomolecular gradients of the ISC niche (v) is presented. Biochemical gradients are formed through hydrogel-based scaffolds by free diffusion from a source to a sink chamber. To confirm the establishment of spatiotemporally controlled gradients, light-sheet fluorescence microscopy and in-silico modeling are employed. The ISC niche biochemical gradients coming from the stroma and applied along the villus axis lead to the in vivo-like compartmentalization of the proliferative and differentiated cells, while changing the composition and concentration of the biochemical factors affects the cellular organization along the villus axis. This novel 3D in vitro intestinal model derived from organoids recapitulates both the villus-like architecture and the gradients of ISC biochemical factors, thus opening the possibility to study in vitro the nature of such gradients and the resulting cellular response.© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: 3d architectures, biomolecular gradients, colon, crypt, engineering organoids, hydrogels, identification, in silico modeling, intestinal stem cell niches, light sheet fluorescence microscopy, niche, permeability, photolithography, regeneration, villus, wnt, 3d architectures, Biomolecular gradients, Engineering organoids, In silico modeling, Intestinal stem cell niches, Light sheet fluorescence microscopy, Photolithography, Stem-cell

Mughal, S, Lopez-Munoz, GA, Fernandez-Costa, JM, Cortes-Resendiz, A, De Chiara, F, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2022). Organs-on-Chips: Trends and Challenges in Advanced Systems Integration Advanced Materials Interfaces 9,

Organ-on-chip platforms combined with high-throughput sensing technology allow bridging gaps in information presented by 2D cultures modeled on static microphysiological systems. While these platforms do not aim to replicate whole organ systems with all physiological nuances, they try to mimic relevant structural, physiological, and functional features of organoids and tissues to best model disease and/or healthy states. The advent of this platform has not only challenged animal testing but has also presented the opportunity to acquire real-time, high-throughput data about the pathophysiology of disease progression by employing biosensors. Biosensors allow monitoring of the release of relevant biomarkers and metabolites as a result of physicochemical stress. It, therefore, helps conduct quick lead validation to achieve personalized medicine objectives. The organ-on-chip industry is currently embarking on an exponential growth trajectory. Multiple pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are adopting this technology to enable quick patient-specific data acquisition at substantially low costs.

JTD Keywords: A-chip, Biosensor, Biosensors, Cancer, Cells, Culture, Disease models, Epithelial electrical-resistance, Hydrogel, Microfabrication, Microphysiological systems, Models, Niches, Organ-on-a-chips, Platform

García-Torres J, Colombi S, Macor LP, Alemán C, (2022). Multitasking smart hydrogels based on the combination of alginate and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) properties: A review International Journal Of Biological Macromolecules 219, 312-332

Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a very stable and biocompatible conducting polymer, and alginate (Alg), a natural water-soluble polysaccharide mainly found in the cell wall of various species of brown algae, exhibit very different but at the same complementary properties. In the last few years, the remarkable capacity of Alg to form hydrogels and the electro-responsive properties of PEDOT have been combined to form not only layered composites (PEDOT-Alg) but also interpenetrated multi-responsive PEDOT/Alg hydrogels. These materials have been found to display outstanding properties, such as electrical conductivity, piezoelectricity, biocompatibility, self-healing and re-usability properties, pH and thermoelectric responsiveness, among others. Consequently, a wide number of applications are being proposed for PEDOT-Alg composites and, especially, PEDOT/Alg hydrogels, which should be considered as a new kind of hybrid material because of the very different chemical nature of the two polymeric components. This review summarizes the applications of PEDOT-Alg and PEDOT/Alg in tissue interfaces and regeneration, drug delivery, sensors, microfluidics, energy storage and evaporators for desalination. Special attention has been given to the discussion of multi-tasking applications, while the new challenges to be tackled based on aspects not yet considered in either of the two polymers have also been highlighted.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: aerogels, composite, conducting polymer, conducting polymers, electrodes, pedotpss, ph, platform, release, scaffold, semi-interpenetrated hydrogels, Alginic acid, Conducting polymer, Drug-delivery, Semi-interpenetrated hydrogels

Marhuenda, E, Villarino, A, Narciso, M, Elowsson, L, Almendros, I, Westergren-Thorsson, G, Farre, R, Gavara, N, Otero, J, (2022). Development of a physiomimetic model of acute respiratory distress syndrome by using ECM hydrogels and organ-on-a-chip devices Frontiers In Pharmacology 13, 945134

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is one of the more common fatal complications in COVID-19, characterized by a highly aberrant inflammatory response. Pre-clinical models to study the effect of cell therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments have not comprehensively reproduced the disease due to its high complexity. This work presents a novel physiomimetic in vitro model for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome using lung extracellular matrix-derived hydrogels and organ-on-a-chip devices. Monolayres of primary alveolar epithelial cells were cultured on top of decellullarized lung hydrogels containing primary lung mesenchymal stromal cells. Then, cyclic stretch was applied to mimic breathing, and an inflammatory response was induced by using a bacteriotoxin hit. Having simulated the inflamed breathing lung environment, we assessed the effect of an anti-inflammatory drug (i.e., dexamethasone) by studying the secretion of the most relevant inflammatory cytokines. To better identify key players in our model, the impact of the individual factors (cyclic stretch, decellularized lung hydrogel scaffold, and the presence of mesenchymal stromal cells) was studied separately. Results showed that developed model presented a more reduced inflammatory response than traditional models, which is in line with what is expected from the response commonly observed in patients. Further, from the individual analysis of the different stimuli, it was observed that the use of extracellular matrix hydrogels obtained from decellularized lungs had the most significant impact on the change of the inflammatory response. The developed model then opens the door for further in vitro studies with a better-adjusted response to the inflammatory hit and more robust results in the test of different drugs or cell therapy.

JTD Keywords: alveolar epithelial cells, ards, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, inflammation, lung-on-a-chip, Acute lung injury, Alveolar epithelial cells, Ards, Dexamethasone, Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular-matrix, Hydrogels, Inflammation, Lung-on-a-chip, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Oxygen, Stem-cells

Bonany, M, del-Mazo-Barbara, L, Espanol, M, Ginebra, MP, (2022). Microsphere incorporation as a strategy to tune the biological performance of bioinks Journal Of Tissue Engineering 13, 20417314221119896

Although alginate is widely used as a matrix in the formulation of cell-laden inks, this polymer often requires laborious processing strategies due to its lack of cell adhesion moieties. The main objective of the present work was to explore the incorporation of microspheres into alginate-based bioinks as a simple and tuneable way to solve the cell adhesion problems, while adding extra biological functionality and improving their mechanical properties. To this end, three types of microspheres with different mineral contents (i.e. gelatine with 0% of hydroxyapatite, gelatine with 25 wt% of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles and 100 wt% of calcium -deficient hydroxyapatite) were synthesised and incorporated into the formulation of cell-laden inks. The results showed that the addition of microspheres generally improved the rheological properties of the ink, favoured cell proliferation and positively affected osteogenic cell differentiation. Furthermore, this differentiation was found to be influenced by the type of microsphere and the ability of the cells to migrate towards them, which was highly dependent on the stiffness of the bioink. In this regard, Ca2+ supplementation in the cell culture medium had a pronounced effect on the relaxation of the stiffness of these cell-loaded inks, influencing the overall cell performance. In conclusion, we have developed a powerful and tuneable strategy for the fabrication of alginate-based bioinks with enhanced biological characteristics by incorporating microspheres into the initial ink formulation.; [GRAPHICS]; .

JTD Keywords: 3d bioprinting, alginate, bioink, gelatine, hydroxyapatite, 3d bioprinting, Alginate, Behavior, Bioink, Cell-culture, Gelatin, Gelatine, Hydrogels, Hydroxyapatite, Laden, Microspheres, Mineralization, Scaffolds

Perez-Madrigala, MM, Gilb, AM, Casanovas, J, Jimenez, AI, Macor, LP, Aleman, C, (2022). Self-assembly pathways in a triphenylalanine peptide capped with aromatic groups Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 216, 112522

Peptide derivatives and, most specifically, their self-assembled supramolecular structures are being considered in the design of novel biofunctional materials. Although the self-assembly of triphenylalanine homopeptides has been found to be more versatile than that of homopeptides containing an even number of residues (i.e. diphe-nylalanine and tetraphenylalanine), only uncapped triphenylalanine (FFF) and a highly aromatic analog blocked at both the N-and C-termini with fluorenyl-containing groups (Fmoc-FFF-OFm), have been deeply studied before. In this work, we have examined the self-assembly of a triphenylalanine derivative bearing 9-fluorenylme-thyloxycarbonyl and benzyl ester end-capping groups at the N-and C-termini, respectively (Fmoc-FFF-OBzl). The antiparallel arrangement clearly dominates in beta-sheets formed by Fmoc-FFF-OBzl, whereas the parallel and antiparallel dispositions are almost isoenergetic in Fmoc-FFF-OFm beta-sheets and the parallel one is slightly favored for FFF. The effects of both the peptide concentration and the mediu m on the self-assembly process have been examined considering Fmoc-FFF-OBzl solutions in a wide variety of solvent:co-solvent mixtures. In addi-tion, Fmoc-FFF-OBzl supramolecular structures have been compared to those obtained for FFF and Fmoc-FFF-OFm under identical experimental conditions. The strength of pi-pi stacking interactions involving the end-capping groups plays a crucial role in the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures, which de-termines the resulting morphology. Finally, the influence of a non-invasive external stimulus, ultrasounds, on the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures has been examined. Overall, FFF-based peptides provide a wide range of supramolecular structures that can be of interest in the biotechnological field.

JTD Keywords: aromatic interactions, beta-sheet, hierarchical structures, phenylalanine homopeptides, supramolecular structures, Amino-acids, Aromatic interactions, Beta-sheet, Fmoc, Hierarchical struc tures, Hydrogels, Phenylalanine homopeptides, Solvent, Spectroscopy, Supramolecular structures, Triphenylalanine

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

Kim, YH, Dawson, JI, Oreffo, ROC, Tabata, Y, Kumar, D, Aparicio, C, Mutreja, I, (2022). Gelatin Methacryloyl Hydrogels for Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration Bioengineering (Basel) 9, 332

Musculoskeletal disorders are a significant burden on the global economy and public health. Hydrogels have significant potential for enhancing the repair of damaged and injured musculoskeletal tissues as cell or drug delivery systems. Hydrogels have unique physicochemical properties which make them promising platforms for controlling cell functions. Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogel in particular has been extensively investigated as a promising biomaterial due to its tuneable and beneficial properties and has been widely used in different biomedical applications. In this review, a detailed overview of GelMA synthesis, hydrogel design and applications in regenerative medicine is provided. After summarising recent progress in hydrogels more broadly, we highlight recent advances of GelMA hydrogels in the emerging fields of musculoskeletal drug delivery, involving therapeutic drugs (e.g., growth factors, antimicrobial molecules, immunomodulatory drugs and cells), delivery approaches (e.g., single-, dual-release system), and material design (e.g., addition of organic or inorganic materials, 3D printing). The review concludes with future perspectives and associated challenges for developing local drug delivery for musculoskeletal applications.

JTD Keywords: drug delivery, gelatin, gelma, hydrogel, Drug delivery, Gelatin, Gelma, Hydrogel, Musculoskeletal tissue

Sans, J, Arnau, M, Roa, JJ, Turon, P, Alernan, C, (2022). Tailorable Nanoporous Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds for Electrothermal Catalysis Acs Applied Nano Materials 5, 8526-8536

Polarized hydroxyapatite (HAp) scaffolds with customized architecture at the nanoscale have been presented as a green alternative to conventional catalysts used for carbon and dinitrogen fixation. HAp printable inks with controlled nanoporosity and rheological properties have been successfully achieved by incorporating Pluronic hydrogel. Nanoporous scaffolds with good mechanical properties, as demonstrated by means of the nanoindentation technique, have been obtained by a sintering treatment and the posterior thermally induced polarization process. Their catalytic activity has been evaluated by considering three different key reactions (all in the presence of liquid water): (1) the synthesis of amino acids from gas mixtures of N-2, CO2, and CH4; (2) the production of ethanol from gas mixtures of CO2 and CH4; and (3) the synthesis of ammonia from N-2 gas. Comparison of the yields obtained by using nanoporous and nonporous (conventional) polarized HAp catalysts shows that both the nanoporosity and water absorption capacity of the former represent a drawback when the catalytic reaction requires auxiliary coating layers, as for example for the production of amino acids. This is because the surface nanopores achieved by incorporating Pluronic hydrogel are completely hindered by such auxiliary coating layers. On the contrary, the catalytic activity improves drastically for reactions in which the HAp-based scaffolds with enhanced nanoporosity are used as catalysts. More specifically, the carbon fixation from CO2 and CH4 to yield ethanol improves by more than 3000% when compared with nonporous HAp catalyst. Similarly, the synthesis of ammonia by dinitrogen fixation increases by more than 2000%. Therefore, HAp catalysts based on nanoporous scaffolds exhibit an extraordinary potential for scalability and industrial utilization for many chemical reactions, enabling a feasible green chemistry alternative to catalysts based on heavy metals.

JTD Keywords: Amino acids, Amino-acids, Ammonium production, Bone, Carbon fixation, Composites, Constitutive phases, Decarbonization, Dinitrogen, Ditrogen fixation, Elastic-modulus, Electrophotosynthesis, Ethanol production, Hardness, Indentation, Nanoindentation, Pluronic hydrogel, Polarized hydroxyapatite

Blanco-Fernandez, B, Rey-Vinolas, S, Bagci, G, Rubi-Sans, G, Otero, J, Navajas, D, Perez-Amodio, S, Engel, E, (2022). Bioprinting Decellularized Breast Tissue for the Development of Three-Dimensional Breast Cancer Models Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces ,

The tumor extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a vital role in tumor progression and drug resistance. Previous studies have shown that breast tissue-derived matrices could be an important biomaterial to recreate the complexity of the tumor ECM. We have developed a method for decellularizing and delipidating a porcine breast tissue (TDM) compatible with hydrogel formation. The addition of gelatin methacrylamide and alginate allows this TDM to be bioprinted by itself with good printability, shape fidelity, and cytocompatibility. Furthermore, this bioink has been tuned to more closely recreate the breast tumor by incorporating collagen type I (Col1). Breast cancer cells (BCCs) proliferate in both TDM bioinks forming cell clusters and spheroids. The addition of Col1 improves the printability of the bioink as well as increases BCC proliferation and reduces doxorubicin sensitivity due to a downregulation of HSP90. TDM bioinks also allow a precise three-dimensional printing of scaffolds containing BCCs and stromal cells and could be used to fabricate artificial tumors. Taken together, we have proven that these novel bioinks are good candidates for biofabricating breast cancer models.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro cancer model, bioprinting, breast tissue, 3d in vitro cancer model, Bioink, Bioprinting, Breast tissue, Crosstalk, Decellularization, Extracellular-matrix, Growth, Hydrogels, In-vitro, Inhibition, Mechanical-properties, Metastasis, Proliferation

Marhuenda, E, Villarino, A, Narciso, ML, Camprubí-Rimblas, M, Farré, R, Gavara, N, Artigas, A, Almendros, I, Otero, J, (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.

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

Otero, J, Falcones, B, Sanz, H, Marhuenda, E, Mendizabal, I, Cabrera, I, Almendros, I, Navajas, D, Farre, R, (2022). EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX HYDROGELS FOR 3D BIOPRINTING LUNG RESIDENT MESENCHYMAL STROMAL CELLS (Abstract 1412) Tissue Engineering Part a 28, S396-S396

INTRODUCTION: One of the main hypotheses in mesenchymalstromal cells ( MSCs) research is that the microenvironment deter-mines the way that cells behave. Our aim is to investigate how bio-printing and 3D culturing lung resident MSCs in porcine lung-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrogels produce changes incell behavior. METHODS: Rat primary lung resident MSCs werebioprinted and 3D cultured in porcine lung ECM hydrogels pre-senting a stiffness of 0.7kPa. After seven days of 3D culture, cellswere harvested from the scaffolds. Cell adhesion and actin/paxillinstaining tests were conducted with the harvested and control cells byseeding them onto specific well-plates for optical imaging and al-lowed to attach them to the plate for 2h. The expression of surfacechemokine receptor CXCR4 was quantified by qRT-PCR. RE-SULTS: Compared with cells cultured in standard tissue cultureplates, cells harvested from the lung ECM hydrogel scaffolds formedfocal adhesions 2-fold longer. Moreover, 10-fold more cells wereadhered to the substrate after 2h. Finally, the expression of CXCR4chemokine receptor showed a more than 20-fold increase in thepreconditioned cells. DISCUSSION: The data indicate that culturinglung MSCs in the ECM has major impact in their adhesion capacityand in the expression of one the main receptors involved in severalrelevant processes in vivo. Thus, lung ECM-derived hydrogels havethe potential to be used as a scaffold to develop novel in vitro modelsto better understand mechanisms in MSCs.

JTD Keywords: Bioprinting, Hydrogel, Mesenchymal stromal cells

Blanco-Fernandez, B, Ibanez-Fonseca, A, Orbanic, D, Perez-Amodio, S, Rodriguez-Cabello, JC, Engel, E, (2022). RECREATING THE BREAST CANCER MICROENVIROMENT USING ELASTIN-LIKE RECOMBINAMER HYDROGELS (Abstract 1118) Tissue Engineering Part a 28, S313-S314

Jain, A, Calo, A, Barcelo, D, Kumar, M, (2022). Supramolecular systems chemistry through advanced analytical techniques Analytical And Bioanalytical Chemistry 414, 5105-5119

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.

JTD 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

Tejo-Otero, A, Fenollosa-Artes, F, Achaerandio, I, Rey-Vinolas, S, Buj-Corral, I, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2022). Soft-Tissue-Mimicking Using Hydrogels for the Development of Phantoms Gels 8, 40

With the currently available materials and technologies it is difficult to mimic the mechanical properties of soft living tissues. Additionally, another significant problem is the lack of information about the mechanical properties of these tissues. Alternatively, the use of phantoms offers a promising solution to simulate biological bodies. For this reason, to advance in the state-of-the-art a wide range of organs (e.g., liver, heart, kidney as well as brain) and hydrogels (e.g., agarose, polyvinyl alcohol –PVA–, Phytagel –PHY– and methacrylate gelatine –GelMA–) were tested regarding their mechanical properties. For that, viscoelastic behavior, hardness, as well as a non-linear elastic mechanical response were measured. It was seen that there was a significant difference among the results for the different mentioned soft tissues. Some of them appear to be more elastic than viscous as well as being softer or harder. With all this information in mind, a correlation between the mechanical properties of the organs and the different materials was performed. The next conclusions were drawn: (1) to mimic the liver, the best material is 1% wt agarose; (2) to mimic the heart, the best material is 2% wt agarose; (3) to mimic the kidney, the best material is 4% wt GelMA; and (4) to mimic the brain, the best materials are 4% wt GelMA and 1% wt agarose. Neither PVA nor PHY was selected to mimic any of the studied tissues. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: brain, composite hydrogel, dynamic mechanical analysis, elastography, hardness, hydrogels, in-vitro, liver, materials, mechanical-properties, mimicking, soft tissues, tissue scaffolding, viscoelasticity, warner-braztler shear test, warner–braztler shear test, Dynamic mechanical analysis, Hardness, Hydrogels, Materials, Mimicking, Soft tissues, Tissue scaffolding, Viscoelastic characterization, Viscoelasticity, Warner–braztler shear test

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

Duro-Castano, A, Rodríguez-Arco, L, Ruiz-Pérez, L, De Pace, C, Marchello, G, Noble-Jesus, C, Battaglia, G, (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.

JTD 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

Konka, J, Buxadera-Palomero, J, Espanol, M, Ginebra, MP, (2021). 3D printing of hierarchical porous biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds: Adding concavities to the convex filaments Acta Biomaterialia 134, 744-759

Porosity plays a key role on the osteogenic performance of bone scaffolds. Direct Ink Writing (DIW) allows the design of customized synthetic bone grafts with patient-specific architecture and controlled macroporosity. Being an extrusion-based technique, the scaffolds obtained are formed by arrays of cylindrical filaments, and therefore have convex surfaces. This may represent a serious limitation, as the role of surface curvature and more specifically the stimulating role of concave surfaces in osteoinduction and bone growth has been recently highlighted. Hence the need to design strategies that allow the introduction of concave pores in DIW scaffolds. In the current study, we propose to add gelatin microspheres as a sacrificial material in a self-setting calcium phosphate ink. Neither the phase transformation responsible for the hardening of the scaffold nor the formation of characteristic network of needle-like hydroxyapatite crystals was affected by the addition of gelatin microspheres. The partial dissolution of the gelatin resulted in the creation of spherical pores throughout the filaments and exposed on the surface, increasing filament porosity from 0.2 % to 67.9 %. Moreover, the presence of retained gelatin proved to have a significant effect on the mechanical properties, reducing the strength but simultaneously giving the scaffolds an elastic behavior, despite the high content of ceramic as a continuous phase. Notwithstanding the inherent difficulty of in vitro cultures with this highly reactive material an enhancement of MG-63 cell proliferation, as well as better spreading of hMSCs was recorded on the developed scaffolds. Statement of significance: Recent studies have stressed the role that concave surfaces play in tissue regeneration and, more specifically, in osteoinduction and osteogenesis. Direct ink writing enables the production of patient-specific bone grafts with controlled architecture. However, besides many advantages, it has the serious limitation that the surfaces obtained are convex. In this article, for the first time we develop a strategy to introduce concave pores in the printed filaments of biomimetic hydroxyapatite by incorporation and partial dissolution of gelatin microspheres. The retention of part of the gelatin results in a more elastic behavior compared to the brittleness of hydroxyapatite scaffolds, while the needle-shaped nanostructure of biomimetic hydroxyapatite is maintained and gelatin-coated concave pores on the surface of the filaments enhance cell spreading. © 2021 The Authors

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, bioceramics, biomimetic, bone, bone regeneration, concavity, concavity, bone regeneration, gelatin, hydrogel, hydroxyapatite, microspheres, osteoinduction, porosity, porous filament, substitutes, tissue-growth, 3d printing, Biomimetic, Calcium-phosphate scaffolds, Concavity, bone regeneration, Gelatin, Hydroxyapatite, Porous filament

Pérez-Rafael, S, Ivanova, K, Stefanov, I, Puiggalí, J, del Valle, LJ, Todorova, K, Dimitrov, P, Hinojosa-Caballero, D, Tzanov, T, (2021). Nanoparticle-driven self-assembling injectable hydrogels provide a multi-factorial approach for chronic wound treatment Acta Biomaterialia 134, 131-143

Chronic wounds represent a major health burden and drain on medical system. Efficient wound repair is only possible if the dressing materials target simultaneously multiple factors involved in wound chronicity, such as deleterious proteolytic and oxidative enzymes and high bacterial load. Here we develop multifunctional hydrogels for chronic wound management through self-assembling of thiolated hyaluronic acid (HA-SH) and bioactive silver-lignin nanoparticles (Ag@Lig NPs). Dynamic and reversible interactions between the polymer and Ag@Lig NPs yield hybrid nanocomposite hydrogels with shear-thinning and self-healing properties, coupled to zero-order kinetics release of antimicrobial silver in response to infection-related hyalurodinase. The hydrogels inhibit the major enzymes myeloperoxidase and matrix metalloproteinases responsible for wound chronicity in a patient's wound exudate. Furthermore, the lignin-capped AgNPs provide the hydrogel with antioxidant properties and strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The nanocomposite hydrogels are not toxic to human keratinocytes after 7 days of direct contact. Complete tissue remodeling and restoration of skin integrity is demonstrated in vivo in a diabetic mouse model. Hematological analysis reveals lack of wound inflammation due to bacterial infection or toxicity, confirming the potential of HA-SH/Ag@Lig NPs hydrogels for chronic wound management. Statement of significance: Multifunctional hydrogels are promising materials to promote healing of complex wounds. Herein, we report simple and versatile route to prepare biocompatible and multifunctional self-assembled hydrogels for efficient chronic wound treatment utilizing polymer-nanoparticle interactions. Hybrid silver-lignin nanoparticles (Ag@Lig NPs) played both: i) structural role, acting as crosslinking nodes in the hydrogel and endowing it with shear-thinning (ability to flow under applied shear stress) and self-healing properties, and ii) functional role, imparting strong antibacterial and antioxidant activity. Remarkably, the in situ self-assembling of thiolated hyaluronic acid and Ag@Lig NPs yields nanocomposite hydrogels able to simultaneously inhibits the major factors involved in wound chronicity, namely the overexpressed deleterious proteolytic and oxidative enzymes, and high bacterial load.

JTD Keywords: catechol, chronic wounds, dressing materials, inhibition, mechanism, nano-enabled hydrogels, polyphenols, promogran, self-assembling, silver-lignin nanoparticles, systems, tannins, Chronic wounds, Degradation, Dressing materials, Nano-enabled hydrogels, Self-assembling, Silver-lignin nanoparticles, Thiolated hyaluronic acid

Puiggalí-Jou, A, Babeli, I, Roa, JJ, Zoppe, JO, Garcia-Amorós, J, Ginebra, MP, Alemán, C, García-Torres, J, (2021). Remote Spatiotemporal Control of a Magnetic and Electroconductive Hydrogel Network via Magnetic Fields for Soft Electronic Applications Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 42486-42501

Multifunctional hydrogels are a class of materials offering new opportunities for interfacing living organisms with machines due to their mechanical compliance, biocompatibility, and capacity to be triggered by external stimuli. Here, we report a dual magnetic- and electric-stimuli-responsive hydrogel with the capacity to be disassembled and reassembled up to three times through reversible cross-links. This allows its use as an electronic device (e.g., temperature sensor) in the cross-linked state and spatiotemporal control through narrow channels in the disassembled state via the application of magnetic fields, followed by reassembly. The hydrogel consists of an interpenetrated polymer network of alginate (Alg) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), which imparts mechanical and electrical properties, respectively. In addition, the incorporation of magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) endows the hydrogel with magnetic properties. After structural, (electro)chemical, and physical characterization, we successfully performed dynamic and continuous transport of the hydrogel through disassembly, transporting the polymer-Fe3O4 NP aggregates toward a target using magnetic fields and its final reassembly to recover the multifunctional hydrogel in the cross-linked state. We also successfully tested the PEDOT/Alg/Fe3O4 NP hydrogel for temperature sensing and magnetic hyperthermia after various disassembly/re-cross-linking cycles. The present methodology can pave the way to a new generation of soft electronic devices with the capacity to be remotely transported.

JTD Keywords: conductive hydrogel, constructs, magnetic field, magnetite nanoparticle, nanoindentation, soft electronics, spatiotemporal control, Conductive hydrogel, Conductive hydrogels, Magnetic field, Magnetite nanoparticle, Soft electronics, Spatiotemporal control

Rial-Hermida, MI, Rey-Rico, A, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Carballo-Pedrares, N, Byrne, EM, Mano, JF, (2021). Recent Progress on Polysaccharide-Based Hydrogels for Controlled Delivery of Therapeutic Biomolecules Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 7, 4102-4127

A plethora of applications using polysaccharides have been developed in recent years due to their availability as well as their frequent nontoxicity and biodegradability. These polymers are usually obtained from renewable sources or are byproducts of industrial processes, thus, their use is collaborative in waste management and shows promise for an enhanced sustainable circular economy. Regarding the development of novel delivery systems for biotherapeutics, the potential of polysaccharides is attractive for the previously mentioned properties and also for the possibility of chemical modification of their structures, their ability to form matrixes of diverse architectures and mechanical properties, as well as for their ability to maintain bioactivity following incorporation of the biomolecules into the matrix. Biotherapeutics, such as proteins, growth factors, gene vectors, enzymes, hormones, DNA/RNA, and antibodies are currently in use as major therapeutics in a wide range of pathologies. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in the development of polysaccharide-based hydrogels of diverse nature, alone or in combination with other polymers or drug delivery systems, which have been implemented in the delivery of biotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. © 2021 American Chemical Society.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable dextran hydrogels, biotherapeutics, bone morphogenetic protein-2, carrageenan-based hydrogels, chitosan-based hydrogels, controlled delivery, controlled-release, cross-linked hydrogels, growth-factor delivery, hydrogels, in-vitro characterization, polysaccharides, self-healing hydrogel, stimuli-responsiveness, tissue engineering, Antibodies, Bioactivity, Biodegradability, Biomedical fields, Biomolecules, Biotherapeutics, Chemical modification, Circular economy, Controlled delivery, Controlled drug delivery, Delivery systems, Drug delivery system, Functional polymers, Hyaluronic-acid hydrogels, Hydrogels, Industrial processs, Polysaccharides, Recent progress, Renewable sources, Stimuli-responsiveness, Targeted drug delivery, Tissue engineering, Waste management

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.

JTD 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

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, 35035

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.

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

Abramov, A, Maiti, B, Keridou, I, Puiggalí, J, Reiser, O, Díaz, DD, (2021). A pH-Triggered Polymer Degradation or Drug Delivery System by Light-Mediated Cis/Trans Isomerization of o-Hydroxy Cinnamates Macromolecular Rapid Communications 42, 2100213

A new methodology for the pH-triggered degradation of polymers or for the release of drugs under visible light irradiation based on the cyclization of ortho-hydroxy-cinnamates (oHC) to coumarins is described. The key oHC structural motif can be readily incorporated into the rational design of novel photocleavable polymers via click chemistry. This main-chain moiety undergoes a fast photocleavage when irradiated with 455 nm light provided that a suitable base is added. A series of polyethylene glycol-alt-ortho-hydroxy cinnamate (polyethylene glycol (PEG)(n)-alt-oHC)-based polymers are synthesized and the time-dependent visible-light initiated cleavage of the photoactive monomer and polymer is investigated in solution by a variety of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. The photo-degradation behavior of the water-soluble poly(PEG(2000)-alt-oHC) is investigated within a broad pH range (pH = 2.1-11.8), demonstrating fast degradation at pH 11.8, while the stability of the polymer is greatly enhanced at pH 2.1. Moreover, the neat polymer shows long-term stability under daylight conditions, thus allowing its storage without special precautions. In addition, two water-soluble PEG-based drug-carrier molecules (mPEG(2000)-oHC-benzhydrol/phenol) are synthesized and used for drug delivery studies, monitoring the process by UV-vis spectroscopy in an ON/OFF intermittent manner.

JTD Keywords: coumarins, drug delivery, e/z-double bond isomerization, o-hydroxy cinnamates, polymer degradation, Aliphatic compounds, Antioxidant activity, Antitumor, Chromatographic techniques, Chromatography, Cis/trans isomerization, Controlled drug delivery, Coumarin derivatives, Coumarins, Drug delivery, Drug delivery system, E/z-double bond isomerization, Films, Hydrogels, Image enhancement, Light, Long term stability, O-hydroxy cinnamates, Particles, Photoactive monomers, Photodegradation, Polyethylene glycols, Polyethylenes, Polymer degradation, Responsive polymers, Salts, Structural motifs, Synthesis (chemical), Targeted drug delivery, Visible light photocatalysis, Visible-light irradiation

Perez-Amodio, S, Rubio, N, Vila, OF, Navarro-Requena, C, Castaño, O, Sanchez-Ferrero, A, Marti-Munoz, J, Alsina-Giber, M, Blanco, J, Engel, E, (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.

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

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.

JTD 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

Babeli, I, Ruano, G, Puiggalí-Jou, A, Ginebra, MP, Alemán, C, Garcia-Torres, J, (2021). Self-Healable and Eco-Friendly Hydrogels for Flexible Supercapacitors Advanced Sustainable Systems 5, 2000273

© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH One limitation of wearable electronics, and at the same time a challenge, is the lack of energy storage devices with multiple functionalities produced using clean and environmental-friendly strategies. Here, a multifunctional conductive hydrogel containing poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and alginate is fabricated, to be used as electrodes in supercapacitors, by applying water-mediated self-assembly and polymerization processes at room temperature. The interpenetration of both polymers allows the combination of flexibility and self-healing properties within the same hydrogel together with the intrinsic biocompatibility and sustainability of such materials. Initially, PEDOT:polystyrene sulfonate and alginate aqueous solutions are mixed in two different proportions (1:1 and 1:3) and ionically crosslinked with CaCl2. Subsequently, re-interpenetration of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) by anodic polymerization in CaCl2 aqueous solution is achieved. Re-interpenetrated 1:3 PEDOT/alginate hydrogels show excellent capacitance values (35 mF cm−2) and good capacitance retention. In addition, the electrochemical properties are not significantly changed after many cutting/self-healing cycles as observed by cyclic voltammetry. Therefore, this sustainably produced hydrogel shows promising properties for use in wearable energy storage devices.

JTD Keywords: flexibility, pedot:pss-alginate hydrogels, self-healing, sustainability, Electrochemical supercapacitors, Flexibility, Pedot:pss-alginate hydrogels, Self-healing, Sustainability

Ruano, G, Iribarren, JI, Pérez-Madrigal, MM, Torras, J, Alemán, C, (2021). Electrical and capacitive response of hydrogel solid-like electrolytes for supercapacitors Polymers 13, 1337

Flexible hydrogels are attracting significant interest as solid-like electrolytes for energy storage devices, especially for supercapacitors, because of their lightweight and anti-deformation features. Here, we present a comparative study of four ionic conductive hydrogels derived from biopolymers and doped with 0.1 M NaCl. More specifically, such hydrogels are constituted by κcarrageenan (κC), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), poly-γ-glutamic acid (PGGA) or a phenylalaninecontaining polyesteramide (PEA). After examining the morphology and the swelling ratio of the four hydrogels, which varies between 483% and 2356%, their electrical and capacitive behaviors were examined using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Measurements were conducted on devices where a hydrogel film was sandwiched between two identical poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) electrodes. The bulk conductivity of the prepared doped hydrogels is 76, 48, 36 and 34 mS/cm for PEA, PGGA, κC and CMC, respectively. Overall, the polyesteramide hydrogel exhibits the most adequate properties (i.e., low electrical resistance and high capacitance) to be used as semi-solid electrolyte for supercapacitors, which has been attributed to its distinctive structure based on the homogeneous and abundant distribution of both micro-and nanopores. Indeed, the morphology of the polyestermide hydrogel reduces the hydrogel resistance, enhances the transport of ions, and results in a better interfacial contact between the electrodes and solid electrolyte. The correlation between the supercapacitor performance and the hydrogel porous morphology is presented as an important design feature for the next generation of light and flexible energy storage devices for wearable electronics.

JTD Keywords: biopolymers, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, flexible hydrogels, supercapacitor, Biopolymers, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Flexible hydrogels, Supercapacitor

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

Blanco-Fernandez, B, Gaspar, VM, Engel, E, Mano, JF, (2021). Proteinaceous Hydrogels for Bioengineering Advanced 3D Tumor Models Advanced Science 8, 2003129

© 2020 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH The establishment of tumor microenvironment using biomimetic in vitro models that recapitulate key tumor hallmarks including the tumor supporting extracellular matrix (ECM) is in high demand for accelerating the discovery and preclinical validation of more effective anticancer therapeutics. To date, ECM-mimetic hydrogels have been widely explored for 3D in vitro disease modeling owing to their bioactive properties that can be further adapted to the biochemical and biophysical properties of native tumors. Gathering on this momentum, herein the current landscape of intrinsically bioactive protein and peptide hydrogels that have been employed for 3D tumor modeling are discussed. Initially, the importance of recreating such microenvironment and the main considerations for generating ECM-mimetic 3D hydrogel in vitro tumor models are showcased. A comprehensive discussion focusing protein, peptide, or hybrid ECM-mimetic platforms employed for modeling cancer cells/stroma cross-talk and for the preclinical evaluation of candidate anticancer therapies is also provided. Further development of tumor-tunable, proteinaceous or peptide 3D microtesting platforms with microenvironment-specific biophysical and biomolecular cues will contribute to better mimic the in vivo scenario, and improve the predictability of preclinical screening of generalized or personalized therapeutics.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, cancers, hydrogels, peptides, 3d in vitro models, Cancers, Hydrogels, Peptides, Proteins

Ruano, G., Díaz, A., Tononi, J., Torras, J., Puiggalí, J., Alemán, C., (2020). Biohydrogel from unsaturated polyesteramide: Synthesis, properties and utilization as electrolytic medium for electrochemical supercapacitors Polymer Testing 82, 106300

The utilization of hydrogels derived from biopolymers as solid electrolyte (SE) of electrochemical supercapacitors (ESCs) is a topic of increasing interest because of their promising applications in biomedicine (e.g. for energy storage in autonomous implantable devices). In this work an unsaturated polyesteramide that contains phenylalanine, butenediol and fumarate as building blocks has been photo-crosslinked to obtain a hydrogel (UPEA-h). The structure of UPEA-h, which is characterized by a network of open interconnected pores surrounded by regions with compact morphology, favors ion transport, while the biodegradability and biocompatibility conferred by the α-amino acid unit and the ester group are appropriated for its usage in the biomedical field. Voltammetric and galvanostatic assays have been conducted to evaluate the behavior of UPEA-h when used as SE in ESCs with poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) electrodes. Hence, PEDOT/UPEA-h devices displayed supercapacitor response of up 179 F/g and capacitance retention higher than 90%. Moreover, the long-term stability, leakage-current, and self-discharging response of PEDOT/UPEA-h ESCs reflect the great potential of UPEA-h as ion-conductive electrolyte. Indeed, the performance of PEDOT/UPEA-h is higher than found in analogous devices constructed using other biohydrogels as SE (e.g. κ-carrageenan, poly-γ-glutamic acid and cellulose hydrogels).

JTD Keywords: Energy storage, Hydrogel electronics, Ion conductivity, Photo-crosslinking, Wearable electronics

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

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

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

Labay, C., Roldán, M., Tampieri, F., Stancampiano, A., Bocanegra, P. E., Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., (2020). Enhanced generation of reactive species by cold plasma in gelatin solutions for selective cancer cell death ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 12, (42), 47256-47269

Atmospheric pressure plasma jets generate reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) in liquids and biological media, which find application in the new area of plasma medicine. These plasma-treated liquids were demonstrated recently to possess selective properties on killing cancer cells and attracted attention toward new plasma-based cancer therapies. These allow for local delivery by injection in the tumor but can be quickly washed away by body fluids. By confining these RONS in a suitable biocompatible delivery system, great perspectives can be opened in the design of novel biomaterials aimed for cancer therapies. Gelatin solutions are evaluated here to store RONS generated by atmospheric pressure plasma jets, and their release properties are evaluated. The concentration of RONS was studied in 2% gelatin as a function of different plasma parameters (treatment time, nozzle distance, and gas flow) with two different plasma jets. Much higher production of reactive species (H2O2 and NO2-) was revealed in the polymer solution than in water after plasma treatment. The amount of RONS generated in gelatin is greatly improved with respect to water, with concentrations of H2O2 and NO2- between 2 and 12 times higher for the longest plasma treatments. Plasma-treated gelatin exhibited the release of these RONS to a liquid media, which induced an effective killing of bone cancer cells. Indeed, in vitro studies on the sarcoma osteogenic (SaOS-2) cell line exposed to plasma-treated gelatin led to time-dependent increasing cytotoxicity with the longer plasma treatment time of gelatin. While the SaOS-2 cell viability decreased to 12%-23% after 72 h for cells exposed to 3 min of treated gelatin, the viability of healthy cells (hMSC) was preserved (?90%), establishing the selectivity of the plasma-treated gelatin on cancer cells. This sets the basis for designing improved hydrogels with high capacity to deliver RONS locally to tumors.

JTD Keywords: Cold atmospheric plasma, Hydrogel, Osteosarcoma, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species

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.

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

Hamouda, I., Labay, C., Ginebra, M. P., Nicol, E., Canal, C., (2020). Investigating the atmospheric pressure plasma jet modification of a photo-crosslinkable hydrogel Polymer 192, 122308

Atmospheric pressure plasma jets (APPJ) have great potential in wound healing, bacterial disinfection and in cancer therapy. Recent studies pointed out that hydrogels can be used as screens during APPJ treatment, or even be used as reservoirs for reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by APPJ in liquids. Thus, novel applications are emerging for hydrogels which deserve fundamental exploration of the possible modifications undergone by the polymers in solution due to the reactivity with plasmas. Here we investigate the possible modifications occurred by APPJ treatment of an amphiphilic poly(ethylene oxide)-based triblock copolymer (tPEO) photo-crosslinkable hydrogel. While APPJ treatments lead to a certain degradation of the self-assembly of the polymeric chains at low concentrations (<2 g/L), at the higher concentrations required to form a hydrogel (>2 g/L), the polymeric chains are unaffected by APPJ and the hydrogel forming ability is kept. APPJ treatments induced a pre-crosslinking of the network with an increase of the mechanical properties of the hydrogel. Overall, the small modifications induced allow thinking of polymer solutions with hydrogel forming ability a new platform for several applications related to plasma medicine, and thus, with potential in different therapies.

JTD Keywords: Atmospheric pressure plasma jet, Hydrogel, Photo-crosslinking, Polymer solution, Self-assembly

Bertran, O., Saldías, C., Díaz, D. D., Alemán, C., (2020). Molecular dynamics simulations on self-healing behavior of ionene polymer-based nanostructured hydrogels Polymer 211, 123072

The microscopic mechanism accounting for the self-healing attribute of aromatic ionene-forming hydrogels derived from 1,4-diazabicyclo [2.2.2]octane (DABCO) and N,N’-(x-phenylene)dibenzamide (x = ortho-/meta-/para-) is unknown. Interestingly, the self-healing property of such DABCO-containing hydrogels is largely dependent on the polymer topology, the ortho ionene being the only self-healable without adding oppositely charged species. In this work, Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been conducted to evaluate the influence of the topology on ionene···ionene and ionene··water interactions, as well as their effect on the self-healing behavior. For this purpose, destabilized and structurally damaged models were produced for ionene hydrogels with ortho, meta and para topologies and used as starting geometries for simulations. These models were allowed to evolve without any restriction during MD production runs and, subsequently, the temporal evolution of ionene···ionene and water···ionene interactions was examined. Analysis of the results indicated that the ortho-isomer rapidly forms unique interactions that are not detected for other two isomers. Thus, in addition to the interactions also identified for the meta-and para-ionenes, the ortho-isomer exhibits the formation of strong intermolecular three-centered (N–)H⋯O (=C)⋯H (–N) hydrogen bonds, intramolecular planar sandwich π-π stacking interactions and Cl−···N+ electrostatic interactions. Furthermore, the amount of intermolecular π-π stacking interactions and the strength of water···polymer interaction are also influenced by the topology, favoring the stabilization of the ortho-ionene reconstituted hydrogels. Overall, the arrangement of the functional groups in the ortho topology favors the formation of more types of ionene···ionene interactions, as well as stronger interactions, than in the meta and para topologies.

JTD Keywords: DABCO, Econstituted hydrogels, Molecular dynamics, Polyelectrolyte hydrogels, Self-healing mechanism

Fuentes, E., Bohá, Fuentes-Caparrós, A. M., Schweins, R., Draper, E. R., Adams, D. J., Pujals, S., Albertazzi, L., (2020). PAINT-ing fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc)-diphenylalanine hydrogels Chemistry - A European Journal 26, (44), 9869-9873

Self-assembly of fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl-protected diphenylalanine (FmocFF) in water is widely known to produce hydrogels. Typically, confocal microscopy is used to visualize such hydrogels under wet conditions, that is, without freezing or drying. However, key aspects of hydrogels like fiber diameter, network morphology and mesh size are sub-diffraction limited features and cannot be visualized effectively using this approach. In this work, we show that it is possible to image FmocFF hydrogels by Points Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography (PAINT) in native conditions and without direct gel labelling. We demonstrate that the fiber network can be visualized with improved resolution (≈50 nm) both in 2D and 3D. Quantitative information is extracted such as mesh size and fiber diameter. This method can complement the existing characterization tools for hydrogels and provide useful information supporting the design of new materials.

JTD Keywords: FmocFF, Hydrogels, Mesh size, PAINT, Super-resolution

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.

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

Maiti, B., Abramov, A., Franco, L., Puiggalí, J., Enshaei, H., Alemán, C., Díaz, D. D., (2020). Thermoresponsive shape-memory hydrogel actuators made by phototriggered click chemistry Advanced Functional Materials 30, (24), 2001683

This article describes the design and synthesis of a new series of hydrogel membranes composed of trialkyne derivatives of glycerol ethoxylate and bisphenol A diazide (BA-diazide) or diazide-terminated PEG600 monomer via a Cu(I)-catalyzed photoclick reaction. The water-swollen hydrogel membranes display thermoresponsive actuation and their lower critical solution temperature (LCST) values are determined by differential scanning calorimetry. Glycerol ethoxylate moiety serves as the thermoresponsive component and hydrophilic part, while the azide-based component acts as the hydrophobic comonomer and most likely provides a critical hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance contributing also to the significant mechanical strength of the membranes. These hydrogels exhibit a reversible shape-memory effect in response to temperature through a defined phase transition. The swelling and deswelling behavior of the membranes are systematically examined. Due to the click nature of the reaction, easy availability of azide and alkyne functional-monomers, and the polymer architecture, the glass transition temperature (Tg) is easily controlled through monomer design and crosslink density by varying the feed ratio of different monomers. The mechanical properties of the membranes are studied by universal tensile testing measurements. Moreover, the hydrogels show the ability to absorb a dye and release it in a controlled manner by applying heat below and above the LCST.

JTD Keywords: Hydrogels, Membranes, Photoclick, Polymers, Shape-memory, Thermoresponsive

Lanzalaco, S., Turon, P., Weis, C., Mata, C., Planas, E., Alemán, C., Armelin, E., (2020). Toward the new generation of surgical meshes with 4D response: Soft, dynamic, and adaptable Advanced Functional Materials 30, (36), 2004145

Herein, a facile approach toward transforming a 2D polypropylene flexible mesh material into a 4D dynamic system is presented. The versatile platform, composed by a substrate of knitted fibers of isotactic polypropylene (iPP) mesh and a coating of thermosensitive poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide‐co‐N,N’‐methylene bis(acrylamide) (PNIPAAm‐co‐MBA) hydrogel, covalently bonded to the mesh surface, after cold‐plasma surface treatment and radical polymerization, is intended to undergo variations in its geometry via its reversible folding/unfolding behavior. The study is the first to trace the 3D movement of a flat surgical mesh, intended to repair hernia defects, under temperature and humidity control. An infrared thermographic camera and an optical microscope are used to evaluate the macroscopic and microscopic structure stimulus response. The presence of the PP substrate and the distribution of the gel surrounding the PP threads, affect both the PNIPAAM gel expansion/contraction as well as the time of folding/unfolding response. Furthermore, PP‐g‐PNIPAAm meshes show an increase in the bursting strength of ≈16% with respect to the uncoated mesh, offering a strongest and adaptable system for its future implantation in human body. The findings reported offer unprecedented application possibilities in the biomedical field.

JTD Keywords: Dynamic devices, Polypropylene meshes, Surgical implants, Thermosensitive hydrogels

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.

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

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.

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

Navarro-Requena, Claudia, Weaver, Jessica D., Clark, Amy Y., Clift, Douglas A., Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Castaño, Óscar, Zhou, Dennis W., García, Andrés J., Engel, Elisabeth, (2018). PEG hydrogel containing calcium-releasing particles and mesenchymal stromal cells promote vessel maturation Acta Biomaterialia 67, 53-65

The use of human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC) for treating diseased tissues with poor vascularization has received significant attention, but low cell survival has hampered its translation to the clinic. Bioglasses and glass-ceramics have also been suggested as therapeutic agents for stimulating angiogenesis in soft tissues, but these effects need further evaluation in vivo. In this study, calcium-releasing particles and hMSC were combined within a hydrogel to examine their vasculogenic potential in vitro and in vivo. The particles provided sustained calcium release and showed proangiogenic stimulation in a chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. The number of hMSC encapsulated in a degradable RGD-functionalized PEG hydrogel containing particles remained constant over time and IGF-1 release was increased. When implanted in the epidydimal fat pad of immunocompromised mice, this composite material improved cell survival and stimulated vessel formation and maturation. Thus, the combination of hMSC and calcium-releasing glass-ceramics represents a new strategy to achieve vessel stabilization, a key factor in the revascularization of ischemic tissues. Statement of Significance: Increasing blood vessel formation in diseased tissues with poor vascularization is a current clinical challenge. Cell therapy using human mesenchymal stem cells has received considerable interest, but low cell survival has hampered its translation to the clinic. Bioglasses and glass-ceramics have been explored as therapeutic agents for stimulating angiogenesis in soft tissues, but these effects need further evaluation in vivo. By incorporating both human mesenchymal stem cells and glass-ceramic particles in an implantable hydrogel, this study provides insights into the vasculogenic potential in soft tissues of the combined strategies. Enhancement of vessel formation and maturation supports further investigation of this strategy.

JTD Keywords: Calcium, Glass-ceramic particles, Vascularization, hMSC, Hydrogel

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.

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

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.

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

Abadías, Clara, Serés, Carme, Torrent-Burgués, J., (2015). AFM in peak force mode applied to worn siloxane-hydrogel contact lenses Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 128, 61-66

The objective of this work is to apply Atomic Force Microscopy in Peak Force mode to obtain topographic characteristics (mean roughness, root-mean-square roughness, skewness and kurtosis) and mechanical characteristics (adhesion, elastic modulus) of Siloxane-Hydrogel Soft Contact Lenses (CLs) of two different materials, Lotrafilcon B of Air Optix (AO) and Asmofilcon A of PremiO (P), after use (worn CLs). Thus, the results obtained with both materials will be compared, as well as the changes produced by the wear at a nanoscopic level. The results show significant changes in the topographic and mechanical characteristics of the CLs, at a nanoscopic level, due to wear. The AO CL show values of the topographic parameters lower than those of the P CL after wear, which correlates with a better comfort qualification given to the former by the wearers. A significant correlation has also been obtained between the adhesion values found after the use of the CLs with tear quality tests, both break-up-time and Schirmer.

JTD Keywords: Adhesion, Atomic force microscopy-peak force mode, Surface topography, Worn siloxane-hydrogel contact lenses, Young modulus

Seo, K. D., Kwak, B. K., Sánchez, S., Kim, D. S., (2015). Microfluidic-assisted fabrication of flexible and location traceable organo-motor IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience , 14, (3), 298-304

In this paper, we fabricate a flexible and location traceable micromotor, called organo-motor, assisted by microfluidic devices and with high throughput. The organo-motors are composed of organic hydrogel material, poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), which can provide the flexibility of their structure. For spatial and temporal traceability of the organo-motors under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION; Fe3O4) were incorporated into the PEGDA microhydrogels. Furthermore, a thin layer of platinum (Pt) was deposited onto one side of the SPION-PEGDA microhydrogels providing geometrical asymmetry and catalytic propulsion in aqueous fluids containing hydrogen peroxide solution, H2O2. Furthermore, the motion of the organo-motor was controlled by a small external magnet enabled by the presence of SPION in the motor architecture.

JTD Keywords: Flexible, Hydrogel, Magnetic resonance imaging, Microfluidics, Micromotor, Microparticle, Organo-motor, Poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate, Self-propulsion, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

Yue, J. J., Morgenstern, R., Morgenstern, C., Lauryssen, C., (2011). Shape memory hydrogels - A novel material for treating age-related degenerative conditions of the Spine European Musculoskeletal Review , 6, (3), 184-188

Hydrogels are water-insoluble hydrophilic polymers used in a wide range of medical products such as, drug delivery, tissue replacement, heart surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery. These polymers exhibit low toxicity, reduced tissue adherence, and are highly biocompatible. A class of hydrogels, hydrolysed polyacrylonitriles, possess unique shape memory properties, which, when combined with biodurability, mechanical strength and viscoelasticity make them ideal for treating certain degenerative conditions of the spine. Animal and other in vitro studies have shown that the hydrogel is biocompatible and well tolerated by host tissues. This article focuses on two specific indications in spine surgery that demonstrate the potential of hydrogel-based technology to provide significant treatment advantages.

JTD Keywords: Biocompatibility, Degenerative disc disease, Hydrolysed polyacrylonitrile, Minimally invasive surgery, Shape memory hydrogel, Spinal stenosis