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by Keyword: Matrix

Beedle, AEM, Garcia-Manyes, S, (2022). The role of single-protein elasticity in mechanobiology Nature Reviews Materials

Mechanical force modulates the conformation and function of individual proteins, and this underpins many mechanically driven cellular processes. This Review addresses single-molecule force spectroscopy experiments conducted on proteins with a known role in mechanosensing and mechanotransduction in eukaryotic cells.; In addition to biochemical signals and genetic considerations, mechanical forces are rapidly emerging as a master regulator of human physiology. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate force-induced functionalities across a wide range of scales, encompassing the cell, tissue or organ levels, are not well understood in comparison. With the advent, development and refining of single-molecule nanomechanical techniques that enable the conformational dynamics of individual proteins under the effect of a calibrated force to be probed, we have begun to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the diverse physicochemical principles that regulate the elasticity of single proteins. Here, we review the major advances underpinning our current understanding of how the elasticity of single proteins regulates mechanosensing and mechanotransduction. We discuss the present limitations and future challenges of this prolific and burgeoning field.

JTD Keywords: Cadherin adhesion, Energy landscape, Extracellular-matrix protein, Focal adhesion kinase, Mechanical stability, Molecule force spectroscopy, Muscle protein, N2b element, Stranded-dna, Structural basis


Martínez-Miguel M, Castellote-Borrell M, Köber M, Kyvik AR, Tomsen-Melero J, Vargas-Nadal G, Muñoz J, Pulido D, Cristóbal-Lecina E, Passemard S, Royo M, Mas-Torrent M, Veciana J, Giannotti MI, Guasch J, Ventosa N, Ratera I, (2022). Hierarchical Quatsome-RGD Nanoarchitectonic Surfaces for Enhanced Integrin-Mediated Cell Adhesion Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 14, 48179-48193

The synthesis and study of the tripeptide Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD), the binding site of different extracellular matrix proteins, e.g., fibronectin and vitronectin, has allowed the production of a wide range of cell adhesive surfaces. Although the surface density and spacing of the RGD peptide at the nanoscale have already shown a significant influence on cell adhesion, the impact of its hierarchical nanostructure is still rather unexplored. Accordingly, a versatile colloidal system named quatsomes, based on fluid nanovesicles formed by the self-assembling of cholesterol and surfactant molecules, has been devised as a novel template to achieve hierarchical nanostructures of the RGD peptide. To this end, RGD was anchored on the vesicle's fluid membrane of quatsomes, and the RGD-functionalized nanovesicles were covalently anchored to planar gold surfaces, forming a state of quasi-suspension, through a long poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) chain with a thiol termination. An underlying self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of a shorter PEG was introduced for vesicle stabilization and to avoid unspecific cell adhesion. In comparison with substrates featuring a homogeneous distribution of RGD peptides, the resulting hierarchical nanoarchitectonic dramatically enhanced cell adhesion, despite lower overall RGD molecules on the surface. The new versatile platform was thoroughly characterized using a multitechnique approach, proving its enhanced performance. These findings open new methods for the hierarchical immobilization of biomolecules on surfaces using quatsomes as a robust and novel tissue engineering strategy.

JTD Keywords: activation, arg-gly-asp (rgd), cell adhesion, extracellular-matrix, growth, integrins, ligands, nanopatterns, quatsomes, scaffolds, self-assembled monolayers, surface engineering, tissue engineering, Arg-gly-asp (rgd), Cell adhesion, Integrins, Nano-structured surfaces, Nanovesicles, Quatsomes, Self-assembled monolayers, Surface engineering, Tissue engineering


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: 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


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 14, 29467-29482

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, Bioink, Bioprinting, Breast tissue, Crosstalk, Decellularization, Extracellular-matrix, Growth, Hydrogels, In-vitro, Inhibition, Mechanical-properties, Metastasis, Proliferation


Chulia-Peris, L, Carreres-Rey, C, Gabasa, M, Alcaraz, J, Carretero, J, Pereda, J, (2022). Matrix Metalloproteinases and Their Inhibitors in Pulmonary Fibrosis: EMMPRIN/CD147 Comes into Play International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 6894

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is characterized by aberrant extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, activation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts and parenchymal disorganization, which have an impact on the biomechanical traits of the lung. In this context, the balance between matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) is lost. Interestingly, several MMPs are overexpressed during PF and exhibit a clear profibrotic role (MMP-2, -3, -8, -11, -12 and -28), but a few are antifibrotic (MMP-19), have both profibrotic and antifibrotic capacity (MMP7), or execute an unclear (MMP-1, -9, -10, -13, -14) or unknown function. TIMPs are also overexpressed in PF; hence, the modulation and function of MMPs and TIMP are more complex than expected. EMMPRIN/CD147 (also known as basigin) is a transmembrane glycoprotein from the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) that was first described to induce MMP activity in fibroblasts. It also interacts with other molecules to execute non-related MMP aactions well-described in cancer progression, migration, and invasion. Emerging evidence strongly suggests that CD147 plays a key role in PF not only by MMP induction but also by stimulating fibroblast myofibroblast transition. In this review, we study the structure and function of MMPs, TIMPs and CD147 in PF and their complex crosstalk between them.

JTD Keywords: Basigin, Cd147, Cell-surface, Emmprin, Extracellular-matrix, Gelatinase-b, Gene-expression profiles, Growth-factor-beta, Immunoglobulin superfamily, Induced lung injury, Inducer emmprin, Mmps, Pulmonary fibrosis, Timps, Tissue inhibitor, Transforming growth-factor-beta-1


Rubies, C, Batlle, M, Sanz-de la Garza, M, Dantas, AP, Jorba, I, Fernandez, G, Sanguesa, G, Abuli, M, Brugada, J, Sitges, M, Navajas, D, Mont, L, Guasch, E, (2022). Long-Term Strenuous Exercise Promotes Vascular Injury by Selectively Damaging the Tunica Media Experimental Evidence Jacc Basic Transl Sci 7, 681-693

Moderate exercise has well-founded benefits in cardiovascular health. However, increasing, yet controversial, evidence suggests that extremely trained athletes may not be protected from cardiovascular events as much as moderately trained individuals. In our rodent model, intensive but not moderate training promoted aorta and carotid stiffening and elastic lamina ruptures, tunica media thickening of intramyocardial arteries, and an imbalance between vasoconstrictor and relaxation agents. An up-regulation of angiotensin-converter enzyme, miR-212, miR-132, and miR-146b might account for this deleterious remodeling. Most changes remained after a 4-week detraining. In conclusion, our results suggest that intensive training blunts the benefits of moderate exercise. (C) 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier on behalf of the American College of Cardiology Foundation.

JTD Keywords: Age, Atherosclerosis, Cacs, coronary artery calcium score, Cad, coronary artery disease, Coronary artery disease, Coronary atherosclerosis, Cv, cardiovascular, Disease, Endurance exercise, Extreme sport, Metalloproteinases, Micrornas, Mmp9, matrix metalloproteinase 9, No, nitric oxide, Phe, phenylephrine, Physical-activity, Prevalence, Rats, Relevance, Risk, Vascular stiffening, Vsmc, vascular smooth muscle cell


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

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

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


Bohner, Marc, Maazouz, Yassine, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Habibovic, Pamela, Schoenecker, Jonathan G., Seeherman, Howard, van den Beucken, Jeroen, Witte, Frank, (2022). Sustained local ionic homeostatic imbalance caused by calcification modulates inflammation to trigger heterotopic ossification Acta Biomaterialia 145, 1-24

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a condition triggered by an injury leading to the formation of mature lamellar bone in extraskeletal soft tissues. Despite being a frequent complication of orthopedic and trauma surgery, brain and spinal injury, the etiology of HO is poorly understood. The aim of this study is to evaluate the hypothesis that a sustained local ionic homeostatic imbalance (SLIHI) created by mineral formation during tissue calcification modulates inflammation to trigger HO. This evaluation also considers the role SLIHI could play for the design of cell-free, drug-free osteoinductive bone graft substitutes. The evaluation contains five main sections. The first section defines relevant concepts in the context of HO and provides a summary of proposed causes of HO. The second section starts with a detailed analysis of the occurrence and involvement of calcification in HO. It is followed by an explanation of the causes of calcification and its consequences. This allows to speculate on the potential chemical modulators of inflammation and triggers of HO. The end of this second section is devoted to in vitro mineralization tests used to predict the ectopic potential of materials. The third section reviews the biological cascade of events occurring during pathological and material-induced HO, and attempts to propose a quantitative timeline of HO formation. The fourth section looks at potential ways to control HO formation, either acting on SLIHI or on inflammation. Chemical, physical, and drug-based approaches are considered. Finally, the evaluation finishes with a critical assessment of the definition of osteoinduction.

JTD Keywords: beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone, bone graft, bone morphogenetic protein, demineralized bone-matrix, experimental myositis-ossificans, extracellular calcium, heterotopic ossification, in-vitro, inflammation, multinucleated giant-cells, osteoinduction, spinal-cord-injury, total hip-arthroplasty, traumatic brain-injury, Apatite, Calcium-sensing receptor


Casanellas, I, Lagunas, A, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, Rodriguez-Pereira, C, Magalhaes, J, Andrades, JA, Becerra, J, Samitier, J, (2022). Nanoscale ligand density modulates gap junction intercellular communication of cell condensates during chondrogenesis Nanomedicine 17, 775-791

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

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


Mir, M, Palma-Florez, S, Lagunas, A, Lopez-Martinez, MJ, Samitier, J, (2022). Biosensors Integration in Blood-Brain Barrier-on-a-Chip: Emerging Platform for Monitoring Neurodegenerative Diseases Acs Sensors 7, 1237-1247

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

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


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

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

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


Almici E, Chiappini V, López-Márquez A, Badosa C, Blázquez B, Caballero D, Montero J, Natera-de Benito D, Nascimento A, Roldán M, Lagunas A, Jiménez-Mallebrera C, Samitier J, (2022). Personalized in vitro Extracellular Matrix Models of Collagen VI-Related Muscular Dystrophies Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 851825

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

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


Schieber, Romain, Mas-Moruno, Carlos, Lasserre, Federico, Roa, Joan Josep, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Mücklich, Frank, Pegueroles, Marta, (2022). Effectiveness of Direct Laser Interference Patterning and Peptide Immobilization on Endothelial Cell Migration for Cardio-Vascular Applications: An In Vitro Study Nanomaterials 12, 1217

Endothelial coverage of an exposed cardiovascular stent surface leads to the occurrence of restenosis and late-stent thrombosis several months after implantation. To overcome this difficulty, modification of stent surfaces with topographical or biochemical features may be performed to increase endothelial cells’ (ECs) adhesion and/or migration. This work combines both strategies on cobalt-chromium (CoCr) alloy and studies the potential synergistic effect of linear patterned surfaces that are obtained by direct laser interference patterning (DLIP), coupled with the use of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) and Tyr-Ile-Gly-Ser-Arg (YIGSR) peptides. An extensive characterization of the modified surfaces was performed by using AFM, XPS, surface charge, electrochemical analysis and fluorescent methods. The biological response was studied in terms of EC adhesion, migration and proliferation assays. CoCr surfaces were successfully patterned with a periodicity of 10 µm and two different depths, D (≈79 and 762 nm). RGD and YIGSR were immobilized on the surfaces by CPTES silanization. Early EC adhesion was increased on the peptide-functionalized surfaces, especially for YIGSR compared to RGD. High-depth patterns generated 80% of ECs’ alignment within the topographical lines and enhanced EC migration. It is noteworthy that the combined use of the two strategies synergistically accelerated the ECs’ migration and proliferation, proving the potential of this strategy to enhance stent endothelialization.

JTD Keywords: adhesion, bare-metal, biofunctionalization, biomaterials, cell adhesive peptides, cobalt-chromium alloy, endothelial cell migration, functionalization, matrix, proliferation, selectivity, shear-stress, surfaces, Direct laser interference patterning (dlip), Drug-eluting stents


Narciso M, Ulldemolins A, Júnior C, Otero J, Navajas D, Farré R, Gavara N, Almendros I, (2022). Novel Decellularization Method for Tissue Slices Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 832178

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

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


Aydin, Onur, Passaro, Austin P., Raman, Ritu, Spellicy, Samantha E., Weinberg, Robert P., Kamm, Roger D., Sample, Matthew, Truskey, George A., Zartman, Jeremiah, Dar, Roy D., Palacios, Sebastian, Wang, Jason, Tordoff, Jesse, Montserrat, Nuria, Bashir, Rashid, Saif, MTaher A., Weiss, Ron, (2022). Principles for the design of multicellular engineered living systems Apl Bioengineering 6, 10903

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

JTD Keywords: cell-fate specification, endothelial-cells, escherichia-coli, extracellular-matrix, gene-expression noise, nuclear hormone-receptors, pluripotent stem-cells, primitive endoderm, transcription factors, Artificial tissues, Assembly cells, Biological parts, Biological systems, Bioremediation, Blood-brain-barrier, Cell engineering, Cell/matrix communication, Design principles, Environmental technology, Functional modules, Fundamental design, Genetic circuits, Genetic engineering, Living machines, Living systems, Medical applications, Molecular biology, Synthetic biology


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

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

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


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


Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Montserrat, N, (2021). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids toward clinical implementations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 20, 100346

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

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


Júnior C, Narciso M, Marhuenda E, Almendros I, Farré R, Navajas D, Otero J, Gavara N, (2021). Baseline stiffness modulates the non-linear response to stretch of the extracellular matrix in pulmonary fibrosis International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 22, 12928

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Narciso M, Otero J, Navajas D, Farré R, Almendros I, Gavara N, (2021). Image-based method to quantify decellularization of tissue sections International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 22, 8399

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

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


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

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

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


Andreu, I, Falcones, B, Hurst, S, Chahare, N, Quiroga, X, Le Roux, AL, Kechagia, Z, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Betz, T, Almendros, I, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). The force loading rate drives cell mechanosensing through both reinforcement and cytoskeletal softening Nature Communications 12, 4229

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

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


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, 2350

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


Oliver-Cervelló L, Martin-Gómez H, Reyes L, Noureddine F, Ada Cavalcanti-Adam E, Ginebra MP, Mas-Moruno C, (2021). An Engineered Biomimetic Peptide Regulates Cell Behavior by Synergistic Integrin and Growth Factor Signaling Advanced Healthcare Materials 10, 2001757

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

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


Rubi-Sans, G, Cano-Torres, I, Perez-Amodio, S, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2021). Development and Angiogenic Potential of Cell-Derived Microtissues Using Microcarrier-Template Biomedicines 9, 232

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Perea-Gil, I., Uriarte, J. J., Prat-Vidal, C., Gálvez-Montón, C., Roura, S., Llucià-Valldeperas, A., Soler-Botija, C., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Bayes-Genis, A., (2015). In vitro comparative study of two decellularization protocols in search of an optimal myocardial scaffold for recellularization American Journal of Translational Research , 7, (3), 558-573

Introduction. Selection of a biomaterial-based scaffold that mimics native myocardial extracellular matrix (ECM) architecture can facilitate functional cell attachment and differentiation. Although decellularized myocardial ECM accomplishes these premises, decellularization processes may variably distort or degrade ECM structure. Materials and methods. Two decellularization protocols (DP) were tested on porcine heart samples (epicardium, mid myocardium and endocardium). One protocol, DP1, was detergent-based (SDS and Triton X-100), followed by DNase I treatment. The other protocol, DP2, was focused in trypsin and acid with Triton X-100 treatments. Decellularized myocardial scaffolds were reseeded by embedding them in RAD16-I peptidic hydrogel with adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells (ATDPCs). Results. Both protocols yielded acellular myocardial scaffolds (~82% and ~94% DNA reduction for DP1 and DP2, respectively). Ultramicroscopic assessment of scaffolds was similar for both protocols and showed filamentous ECM with preserved fiber disposition and structure. DP1 resulted in more biodegradable scaffolds (P = 0.04). Atomic force microscopy revealed no substantial ECM stiffness changes post-decellularization compared to native tissue. The Young’s modulus did not differ between heart layers (P = 0.69) or decellularization protocols (P = 0.15). After one week, recellularized DP1 scaffolds contained higher cell density (236 ± 106 and 98 ± 56 cells/mm2 for recellularized DP1 and DP2 scaffolds, respectively; P = 0.04). ATDPCs in both DP1 and DP2 scaffolds expressed the endothelial marker isolectin B4, but only in the DP1 scaffold ATDPCs expressed the cardiac markers GATA4, connexin43 and cardiac troponin T. Conclusions. In our hands, DP1 produced myocardial scaffolds with higher cell repopulation and promotes ATDPCs expression of endothelial and cardiomyogenic markers.

JTD Keywords: Acellular myocardial scaffold, Adipose tissue-derived progenitor cells, Decellularization protocols, Extracellular matrix, Myocardial infarction, Recellularization


Andreu, I., Luque, T., Sancho, A., Pelacho, B., Iglesias-García, O., Melo, E., Farré, R., Prósper, F., Elizalde, M. R., Navajas, D., (2014). Heterogeneous micromechanical properties of the extracellular matrix in healthy and infarcted hearts Acta Biomaterialia 10, (7), 3235-3242

Infarcted hearts are macroscopically stiffer than healthy organs. Nevertheless, although cell behavior is mediated by the physical features of the cell niche, the intrinsic micromechanical properties of healthy and infarcted heart extracellular matrix (ECM) remain poorly characterized. Using atomic force microscopy, we studied ECM micromechanics of different histological regions of the left ventricle wall of healthy and infarcted mice. Hearts excised from healthy (n = 8) and infarcted mice (n = 8) were decellularized with sodium dodecyl sulfate and cut into 12 μm thick slices. Healthy ventricular ECM revealed marked mechanical heterogeneity across histological regions of the ventricular wall with the effective Young's modulus ranging from 30.2 ± 2.8 to 74.5 ± 8.7 kPa in collagen- and elastin-rich regions of the myocardium, respectively. Infarcted ECM showed a predominant collagen composition and was 3-fold stiffer than collagen-rich regions of the healthy myocardium. ECM of both healthy and infarcted hearts exhibited a solid-like viscoelastic behavior that conforms to two power-law rheology. Knowledge of intrinsic micromechanical properties of the ECM at the length scale at which cells sense their environment will provide further insight into the cell-scaffold interplay in healthy and infarcted hearts.

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Extracellular matrix, Heart scaffold, Nanoindentation, Viscoelasticity


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

JTD Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


Nonaka, P. N., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Melo, E., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2014). Mechanical properties of mouse lungs along organ decellularization by sodium dodecyl sulfate Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology , 200, 1-5

Lung decellularization is based on the use of physical, chemical, or enzymatic methods to break down the integrity of the cells followed by a treatment to extract the cellular material from the lung scaffold. The aim of this study was to characterize the mechanical changes throughout the different steps of lung decellularization process. Four lungs from mice (C57BL/6) were decellularized by using a conventional protocol based on sodium dodecyl sulfate. Lungs resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were measured along decellularization steps and were computed by linear regression fitting of tracheal pressure, flow, and volume during mechanical ventilation. Transients differences found were more distinct in an intermediate step after the lungs were rinsed with deionized water and treated with 1% SDS, whereupon the percentage of variation reached approximately 80% for resistance values and 30% for elastance values. In conclusion, although a variation in extracellular matrix stiffness was observed during the decellularization process, this variation can be considered negligible overall because the resistance and elastance returned to basal values at the final decellularization step.

JTD Keywords: Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, article, artificial ventilation, compliance (physical), controlled study, enzyme chemistry, extracellular matrix, female, flow, lung, lung decellularization, lung pressure, lung resistance, mouse, nonhuman, positive end expiratory pressure, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering, trachea pressure


Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, (2014). Bone biology and Regeneration Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 315-342

Each bone of the skeleton constantly undergoes modeling during life to help it to adapt to changing biomechanical forces as well as remodeling to remove old bone and replace it with new, mechanically stronger bone to help preserve bone strength. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts, followed by the formation of bone matrix through the osteoblasts that subsequently become mineralized. All these assets make bone a suitable model for regeneration. Bone tissue can be grossly divided into inorganic mineral material (mostly HA), and organic material from cells and the extracellular matrix. This chapter outlines some of the bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Bone can be considered as a biphasic composite material, with two phases: one the mineral and the other collagen. This combination confers better mechanical properties on the tissue than each component itself.

JTD Keywords: Bone biology, Bone cells, Bone diseases, Bone extracellular matrix, Bone mechanics, Bone remodeling, Bone tissue regeneration, Skeleton


Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., Espanol, M., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., (2012). Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 64, (12), 1090-1110

Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

JTD Keywords: Antibiotic, Bioceramic, Biomaterial, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Ceramic matrix, Growth factor, Hydroxyapatite, Ions, Protein


Gustavsson, J., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J., Engel, E., (2012). Osteoblast-like cellular response to dynamic changes in the ionic extracellular environment produced by calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 23, (10), 2509-2520

Solution-mediated reactions due to ionic substitutions are increasingly explored as a strategy to improve the biological performance of calcium phosphate-based materials. Yet, cellular response to well-defined dynamic changes of the ionic extracellular environment has so far not been carefully studied in a biomaterials context. In this work, we present kinetic data on how osteoblast-like SAOS-2 cellular activity and calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) influenced extracellular pH as well as extracellular concentrations of calcium and phosphate in standard in vitro conditions. Since cells were grown on membranes permeable to ions and proteins, they could share the same aqueous environment with CDHA, but still be physically separated from the material. In such culture conditions, it was observed that gradual material-induced adsorption of calcium and phosphate from the medium had only minor influence on cellular proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity, but that competition for calcium and phosphate between cells and the biomaterial delayed and reduced significantly the cellular capacity to deposit calcium in the extracellular matrix. The presented work thus gives insights into how and to what extent solution-mediated reactions can influence cellular response, and this will be necessary to take into account when interpreting CDHA performance both in vitro and in vivo.

JTD Keywords: Alkaline-phosphatase activity, Saos-2 cells, In-vitro, bone mineralization, Biological basis, Differentiation, Culture, Matrix, Proliferation, Topography


Hristova, K., Pecheva, E., Pramatarova, L., Altankov, G., (2011). Improved interaction of osteoblast-like cells with apatite-nanodiamond coatings depends on fibronectin Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine , 22, (8), 1891-1900

New apatite (AP)/nanodiamond (ND) coating has been developed to improve physical and biological properties of stainless steel (SS) versus single AP coating. Homogeneously electrodeposited AP-ND layer demonstrates increased mechanical strength, interlayer cohesion and ductility. In the absence of serum, osteoblast-like MG63 cells attach well but poorly spread on both AP and AP-ND substrata. Pre-adsorption with serum or fibronectin (FN) improves the cellular interaction-an effect that is better pronounced on the AP-ND coating. In single protein adsorption study fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled FN (FITC-FN) shows enhanced deposition on the AP-ND layer consistent with the significantly improved cell adhesion, spreading and focal adhesions formation (in comparison to SS and AP), particularly at low FN adsorption concentrations (1 mu g/ml). Higher FN concentrations (20 mu g/ml) abolish this difference suggesting that the promoted cellular interaction of serum (where FN is low) is caused by the greater affinity for FN. Moreover, it is found that MG63 cells tend to rearrange both adsorbed and secreted FN on the AP-ND layer suggesting facilitated FN matrix formation.

JTD Keywords: Extracellular-matrix, Protein adsorption, Integrins, Adhesion, Biomaterials, Surfaces, Polymerization, Composite, Implants, Titanium


Pegueroles, M., Aparicio, C., Bosio, M., Engel, E., Gil, F. J., Planell, J. A., Altankov, G., (2010). Spatial organization of osteoblast fibronectin matrix on titanium surfaces: Effects of roughness, chemical heterogeneity and surface energy Acta Biomaterialia 6, (1), 291-301

We investigated the early events of bone matrix formation, and specifically the role of fibronectin (FN) in the initial osteoblast interaction and the subsequent organization of a provisional FN matrix on different rough titanium (Ti) surfaces. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-label led FN was preadsorbed on these surfaces and studied for its three-dimensional (3-D) organization by confocal microscopy, while its amount was quantified after NaOH extraction. An irregular pattern of adsorption with a higher amount of protein on topographic peaks than on valleys was observed and attributed to the physicochemical heterogeneity of the rough Ti surfaces. MG63 osteoblast-like cells were further cultured on FN-preadsorbed Ti surfaces and an improved initial cellular interaction was observed with increasing roughness. 3-D reconstruction of the immunofluorescence images after 4 days of incubation revealed that osteoblasts deposit FN fibrils in a specific facet-like pattern that is organized within the secreted total matrix overlying the top of the samples. The thickness of this FN layer increased when the roughness of the underlying topography was increased, but not by more than half of the total maximum peak-to-valley distance, as demonstrated with images showing simultaneous reconstruction of fluorescence and topography after 7 days of cell culture.

JTD Keywords: Fibronectin, Extracellular matrix organization, Titanium, Surface topography, Surface energy


Gugutkov, D., Altankov, G., Hernandez, J. C. R., Pradas, M. M., Sanchez, M. S., (2010). Fibronectin activity on substrates with controlled -OH density Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 92A, (1), 322-331

Adhesion of human fibroblast to a family of fibronectin (FN) coated model substrates consisting of copolymers of ethyl acrylate and hydroxyl ethylacrylate in different ratios to obtain a controlled surface density of -OH groups was investigated. Cell adhesion and spreading surprisingly decreased as the fraction of -OH groups on the Surface increased. AFM studies of FN conformation revealed formation of a protein network on the more hydrophobic surfaces. The density of this network diminished as the fraction of -OH groups in the sample increased, up to a maximal -OH concentration at which, instead of the network, only IN aggregates were observed. The kinetics of network development was followed at different adsorption times. Immunofluorescence for vinculin revealed the formation of well-developed focal adhesion complexes on the more hydrophobic surface (similar to the control glass), which became less defined as the fraction of -OH groups increased. Thus, the efficiency of cell adhesion is enhanced by the formation of FN networks on the substrate, directly revealing the importance of the adsorbed protein conformation for cell adhesion. However, cell-dependent reorganization of substrate-associated FN, which usually takes place on more hydrophilic substrates (as do at the control glass slides), was not observed in this system, suggesting the increased strength of protein-to-substrate interaction. Instead, the late FN matrix formation-after 3 days of culture-was again better pronounced on the more hydrophobic substrates and decreased as the fraction of -OH groups increase, which is in a good agreement with the results for overall cell morphology and focal adhesion formation.

JTD Keywords: Cell adhesion, Fibronectin, Fibroblast, Extracellular matrix, AFM


Pomareda, V., Calvo, D., Pardo, A., Marco, S., (2010). Hard modeling multivariate curve resolution using LASSO: Application to ion mobility spectra Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems , 104, (2), 318-332

Multivariate Curve Resolution (MCR) aims to blindly recover the concentration profile and the source spectra without any prior supervised calibration step. It is well known that imposing additional constraints like positiveness, closure and others may improve the quality of the solution. When a physico-chemical model of the process is known, this can be also introduced constraining even more the solution. In this paper, we apply MCR to Ion Mobility Spectra. Since instrumental models suggest that peaks are of Gaussian shape with a width depending on the instrument resolution, we introduce that each source is characterized by a linear superposition of Gaussian peaks of fixed spread. We also prove that this model is able to fit wider peaks departing from pure Gaussian shape. Instead of introducing a non-linear Gaussian peak fitting, we use a very dense model and rely on a least square solver with L1-norm regularization to obtain a sparse solution. This is accomplished via Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO). Results provide nicely resolved concentration profiles and spectra improving the results of the basic MCR solution.

JTD Keywords: Blind source separation, Ion mobility spectrometry, Multivariate curve resolution, Sparse solution, Non negative matrix factorization


Jang, J. H., Castano, O., Kim, H. W., (2009). Electrospun materials as potential platforms for bone tissue engineering Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 61, (12), 1065-1083

Nanofibrous materials produced by electrospinning processes have attracted considerable interest in tissue regeneration, including bone reconstruction. A range of novel materials and processing tools have been developed to mimic the native bone extracellular matrix for potential applications as tissue engineering scaffolds and ultimately to restore degenerated functions of the bone. Degradable polymers, bioactive inorganics and their nanocomposites/hybrids nanofibers with suitable mechanical properties and bone bioactivity for osteoblasts and progenitor/stem cells have been produced. The surface functionalization with apatite minerals and proteins/peptides as well as drug encapsulation within the nanofibers is a promising strategy for achieving therapeutic functions with nanofibrous materials. Recent attempts to endow a 3D scaffolding technique to the electrospinning regime have shown some promise for engineering 3D tissue constructs. With the improvement in knowledge and techniques of bone-targeted nanofibrous matrices, bone tissue engineering is expected to be realized in the near future.

JTD Keywords: Electrospun nanofiber, Bone tissue engineering, Biomimetic matrix, Bone bioactivity, 3D scaffolding


Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Rodriguez Hernandez, Jose Carlos, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2009). Biological activity of the substrate-induced fibronectin network: insight into the third dimension through electrospun fibers Langmuir 25, (18), 10893-10900

Fibronectin (FN) fibrillogenesis is a cell-mediated process involving integrin activation that results in conformational changes of FN molecules and the organization of actin cytoskeleton. A similar process can be induced by some chemistries in the absence of cells, e.g., poly(ethyl acrylate) (PEA), which enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a biologically active network. Atomic force microscopy images of single FN molecules, at the early stages of adsorption on plane PEA, allow one to rationalize the process. Further, the role of the spatial organization of the FN network on the cellular response is investigated through its adsorption on electrospun fibers. Randomly oriented and aligned PEA fibers were prepared to mimic the three-dimensional organization of the extracellular matrix. The formation of the FN network on the PEA fibers but not on the supporting coverglass was confirmed. Fibroblasts aligned with oriented fibers, displayed extended morphology, developed linearly organized focal adhesion complexes, and matured actin filaments. Conversely, on random PEA fibers, cells acquired polygonal morphology with altered actin cytoskeleton but well-developed focal adhesions. Late FN matrix formation was also influenced: spatially organized FN matrix fibrils along the oriented PEA fibers and an altered arrangement on random ones.

JTD Keywords: AFM, Cell-adhesion, Dependent conformations, Hydrophobic surfaces, Extracellular-matrix, Bound fibronectin, Polymer surfaces, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Adsorption


Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). The temperature dependence of cell mechanics measured by atomic force microscopy Physical Biology 6, (2), 25009

The cytoskeleton is a complex polymer network that regulates the structural stability of living cells. Although the cytoskeleton plays a key role in many important cell functions, the mechanisms that regulate its mechanical behaviour are poorly understood. Potential mechanisms include the entropic elasticity of cytoskeletal filaments, glassy-like inelastic rearrangements of cross-linking proteins and the activity of contractile molecular motors that sets the tensional stress (prestress) borne by the cytoskeleton filaments. The contribution of these mechanisms can be assessed by studying how cell mechanics depends on temperature. The aim of this work was to elucidate the effect of temperature on cell mechanics using atomic force microscopy. We measured the complex shear modulus (G*) of human alveolar epithelial cells over a wide frequency range (0.1-25.6 Hz) at different temperatures (13-37 degrees C). In addition, we probed cell prestress by mapping the contractile forces that cells exert on the substrate by means of traction microscopy. To assess the role of actomyosin contraction in the temperature-induced changes in G* and cell prestress, we inhibited the Rho kinase pathway of the myosin light chain phosphorylation with Y-27632. Our results show that with increasing temperature, cells become stiffer and more solid-like. Cell prestress also increases with temperature. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction attenuated the temperature dependence of G* and prestress. We conclude that the dependence of cell mechanics with temperature is dominated by the contractile activity of molecular motors.

JTD Keywords: Membrane Stress Failure, Frog Skeletal-Muscle, Extracellular-Matrix, Glass-Transition, Energy Landscape, Actin-Filaments, Living Cell, Single, Traction, Cytoskeleton


Rico, P., Rodriguez Hernandez, J. C., Moratal, D., Altankov, G., Monleon Pradas, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., (2009). Substrate-induced assembly of fibronectin into networks. Influence of surface chemistry and effect on osteoblast adhesion Tissue Engineering Part A , 15, (00), 1-11

The influence of surface chemistry -substrates with controlled surface density of -OH groups- on fibronectin conformation and distribution is directly observed by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). FN fibrillogenesis, which is known to be a process triggered by interaction with integrins, is shown in our case to be induced by the substrate (in absence of cells), which is able to enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a protein network on the material surface. This phenomenon depends both on surface chemistry and protein concentration. The level of the FN fibrillogenesis was quantified by calculating the fractal dimension of the adsorbed protein from image analysis of the AFM results. The total amount of adsorbed FN is obtained by making use of a methodology which employs western-blotting combined with image analysis of the corresponding protein bands, with the lowest sensitivity threshold equal to 15 ng of adsorbed protein. Furthermore, FN adsorption is correlated to human osteoblast adhesion through morphology and actin cytoskeleton formation. Actin polymerization is in need of the formation of the protein network on the substrate's surface. Cell morphology is more rounded (as quantified by calculating the circularity of the cells by image analysis) the lower the degree of FN fibrillogenesis on the substrate.

JTD Keywords: Cell-adhesion, Conformational-changes, Electron-microscopy, Protein adsorption, Fractal dimension, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Monolayers, Matrix, Fibrillogenesis


Marco, S., Pomareda, V., Pardo, A., Kessler, M., Goebel, J., Mueller, G., (2009). Blind source separation for ion mobility spectra Olfaction and Electronic Nose: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose 13th International Symposium on Olfaction and the Electronic Nose (ed. Pardo, M., Sberveglieri, G.), Amer Inst Physics (Brescia, Italy) 1137, 551-553

Miniaturization is a powerful trend for smart chemical instrumentation in a diversity of applications.. It is know that miniaturization in IMS leads to a degradation of the system characteristics. For the present work, we are interested in signal processing solutions to mitigate limitations introduced by limited drift tube length that basically involve a loss of chemical selectivity. While blind source separation techniques (BSS) are popular in other domains, their application for smart chemical instrumentation is limited. However, in some conditions, basically linearity, BSS may fully recover the concentration time evolution and the pure spectra with few underlying hypothesis. This is extremely helpful in conditions where non-expected chemical interferents may appear, or unwanted perturbations may pollute the spectra. SIMPLISMA has been advocated by Harrington et al. in several papers. However, more modem methods of BSS for bilinear decomposition with the restriction of positiveness have appeared in the last decade. In order to explore and compare the performances of those methods a series of experiments were performed.

JTD Keywords: Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), Blind Source Separation (BSS), Multivariate Analysis, SIMPLISMA, MCR, Non-Negative Matrix Factorization (NMF)


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

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

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


Gavara, N., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sunyer, R., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Mapping cell-matrix stresses during stretch reveals inelastic reorganization of the cytoskeleton Biophysical Journal , 95, (1), 464-471

The mechanical properties of the living cell are intimately related to cell signaling biology through cytoskeletal tension. The tension borne by the cytoskeleton (CSK) is in part generated internally by the actomyosin machinery and externally by stretch. Here we studied how cytoskeletal tension is modified during stretch and the tensional changes undergone by the sites of cell-matrix interaction. To this end we developed a novel technique to map cell-matrix stresses during application of stretch. We found that cell-matrix stresses increased with imposition of stretch but dropped below baseline levels on stretch release. Inhibition of the actomyosin machinery resulted in a larger relative increase in CSK tension with stretch and in a smaller drop in tension after stretch release. Cell-matrix stress maps showed that the loci of cell adhesion initially bearing greater stress also exhibited larger drops in traction forces after stretch removal. Our results suggest that stretch partially disrupts the actin-myosin apparatus and the cytoskeletal structures that support the largest CSK tension. These findings indicate that cells use the mechanical energy injected by stretch to rapidly reorganize their structure and redistribute tension.

JTD Keywords: Cell Line, Computer Simulation, Cytoskeleton/ physiology, Elasticity, Epithelial Cells/ physiology, Extracellular Matrix/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Stress, Mechanical


Gustavsson, J., Altankov, G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2008). Surface modifications of silicon nitride for cellular biosensor applications Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1839-1850

Thin films of silicon nitride (Si3N4) can be used in several kinds of micro-sized biosensors as a material to monitor fine environmental changes related to the process of bone formation in vitro. We found however that Si3N4 does not provide optimal conditions for osseointegration as osteoblast-like MG-63 cells tend to detach from the surface when cultured over confluence. Therefore Si3N4 was modified with self-assembled monolayers bearing functional end groups of primary amine (NH2) and carboxyl (COOH) respectively. Both these modifications enhanced the interaction with confluent cell layers and thus improve osseointegration over Si3N4. Furthermore it was observed that the NH2 functionality increased the adsorption of fibronectin (FN), promoted cell proliferation, but delayed the differentiation. We also studied the fate of pre-adsorbed and secreted FN from cells to learn more about the impact of above functionalities for the development of provisional extracellular matrix on materials interface. Taken together our data supports that Si3N4 has low tissue integration but good cellular biocompatibility and thus is appropriate in cellular biosensor applications such as the ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET). COOH and NH2 chemistries generally improve the interfacial tissue interaction with the sensor and they are therefore suitable substrates for monitoring cellular growth or matrix deposition using electrical impedance spectroscopy.

JTD Keywords: Adsorption, Amines/chemistry, Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Biosensing Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Electric Impedance, Extracellular Matrix/metabolism, Fibronectins/chemistry, Humans, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology, Silicon Compounds/ chemistry, Surface Properties