by Keyword: Morphology

Valenti, Sofia, del Valle, Luis Javier, Romanini, Michela, Mitjana, Meritxell, Puiggalí, Jordi, Tamarit, Josep Lluís, Macovez, Roberto, (2022). Drug-Biopolymer Dispersions: Morphology- and Temperature- Dependent (Anti)Plasticizer Effect of the Drug and Component-Specific Johari–Goldstein Relaxations International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 2456

Amorphous molecule-macromolecule mixtures are ubiquitous in polymer technology and are one of the most studied routes for the development of amorphous drug formulations. For these applications it is crucial to understand how the preparation method affects the properties of the mixtures. Here, we employ differential scanning calorimetry and broadband dielectric spectroscopy to investigate dispersions of a small-molecule drug (the Nordazepam anxiolytic) in biodegradable polylactide, both in the form of solvent-cast films and electrospun microfibres. We show that the dispersion of the same small-molecule compound can have opposite (plasticizing or antiplasticizing) effects on the segmental mobility of a biopolymer depending on preparation method, temperature, and polymer enantiomerism. We compare two different chiral forms of the polymer, namely, the enantiomeric pure, semicrystalline L-polymer (PLLA), and a random, fully amorphous copolymer containing both L and D monomers (PDLLA), both of which have lower glass transition temperature (Tg) than the drug. While the drug has a weak antiplasticizing effect on the films, consistent with its higher Tg, we find that it actually acts as a plasticizer for the PLLA microfibres, reducing their Tg by as much as 14 K at 30%-weight drug loading, namely, to a value that is lower than the Tg of fully amorphous films. The structural relaxation time of the samples similarly depends on chemical composition and morphology. Most mixtures displayed a single structural relaxation, as expected for homogeneous samples. In the PLLA microfibres, the presence of crystalline domains increases the structural relaxation time of the amorphous fraction, while the presence of the drug lowers the structural relaxation time of the (partially stretched) chains in the microfibres, increasing chain mobility well above that of the fully amorphous polymer matrix. Even fully amorphous homogeneous mixtures exhibit two distinct Johari–Goldstein relaxation processes, one for each chemical component. Our findings have important implications for the interpretation of the Johari–Goldstein process as well as for the physical stability and mechanical properties of microfibres with small-molecule additives.

JTD Keywords: amorphous pharmaceuticals, beta-relaxation, constant loss, crystallization, dielectric spectroscopy, dynamics, formulation morphology, glass transition, molecular mobility, nanofibers, polylactide, polymer enantiomerism, secondary relaxations, valium metabolite, viscous-liquids, Amorphous pharmaceuticals, Glass-transition, Secondary relaxations

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

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

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

Sans, Jordi, Sanz, Vanesa, Turon, Pau, Alemán, Carlos, (2021). Enhanced CO2 Conversion into Ethanol by Permanently Polarized Hydroxyapatite through C-C Coupling Chemcatchem 13, 5025-5033

Nyga, Agata, Muñoz, Jose J., Dercksen, Suze, Fornabaio, Giulia, Uroz, Marina, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, Matthews, Helen K., Conte, Vito, (2021). Oncogenic RAS instructs morphological transformation of human epithelia via differential tissue mechanics Science Advances 7, eabg6467

Zeinali R, Del Valle LJ, Torras J, Puiggalí J, (2021). Recent progress on biodegradable tissue engineering scaffolds prepared by thermally-induced phase separation (Tips) International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 22, 3504

Porous biodegradable scaffolds provide a physical substrate for cells allowing them to attach, proliferate and guide the formation of new tissues. A variety of techniques have been developed to fabricate tissue engineering (TE) scaffolds, among them the most relevant is the thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS). This technique has been widely used in recent years to fabricate three-dimensional (3D) TE scaffolds. Low production cost, simple experimental procedure and easy processability together with the capability to produce highly porous scaffolds with controllable architecture justify the popularity of TIPS. This paper provides a general overview of the TIPS methodology applied for the preparation of 3D porous TE scaffolds. The recent advances in the fabrication of porous scaffolds through this technique, in terms of technology and material selection, have been reviewed. In addition, how properties can be effectively modified to serve as ideal substrates for specific target cells has been specifically addressed. Additionally, examples are offered with re-spect to changes of TIPS procedure parameters, the combination of TIPS with other techniques and innovations in polymer or filler selection.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable polymer, composites, morphology, pore structure, porosity, processing parameters, thermally induced phase separation, Biodegradable polymer, Composites, Morphology, Pore structure, Porosity, Processing parameters, Thermally induced phase separation, Tissue engineering scaffold

Sans J, Sanz V, Puiggalí J, Turon P, Alemán C, (2021). Controlled Anisotropic Growth of Hydroxyapatite by Additive-Free Hydrothermal Synthesis Crystal Growth & Design 21, 748-756

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The synthesis of hydroxyapatite (HAp) with different shapes and sizes has attracted increasing attention because the applicability of this ceramic material depends on structure-properties relationships (i.e., the dimensions and morphology of HAp crystals determine properties such as the bioactivity and mechanical strength). Although different synthetic routes based on the addition of surfactants, organic modifiers, or dispersants have been proposed to control the growth of HAp crystals, many efforts are being devoted to simplify the whole process using simple parameters such as pH. However, the control of the morphology is still poor and shows low reproducibility. In this work, a new additive-free synthetic route, which is based on the hydrothermal method and the utilization of nonaqueous solvents, is proposed. The influence of the synthesis parameters such as pH, concentration of starting solutions, and the solvent on relevant features such as phase purity, crystallinity, crystallite size, and morphology has been examined using spectroscopic techniques, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. As a consequence, this work presents an easy and robust method based only on the use of organic solvent and the control of the pH that produces pure and crystalline HAp with a controlled shape and size. This method has been used to elucidate some of the key aspects of the crystal growth mechanism and to synthesize HAp crystals with different and well-defined shapes (e.g., belts, rods, flakes needle-like, or polymorph) and sizes, in a reproducible way.

JTD Keywords: biomaterial, bone, crystals, ethanol, size, solubility, Morphology

Keridou, I., Cailloux, J., Martínez, J. C., Santana, O., Maspoch, M. L., Puiggalí, J., Franco, L., (2020). Biphasic polylactide/polyamide 6,10 blends: Influence of composition on polyamide structure and polyester crystallization Polymer 202, 122676

Blends with different ratios of polylactide and polyamide 6,10 (PA610) have been prepared by melt-mixing using a Brabender mixer equipment. Previously, a rheologically modified polylactide (PLAREx) was obtained through reactive extrusion using a multifunctional epoxide agent. It was expected that unreacted epoxy groups of PLAREx were able to improve the compatibility between the two polymers. SEM observations revealed a logical dependence of the morphology of immiscible phases with composition, and more interestingly a co-continuity at relatively low PA content (around 50%) was detected. This result contrasts with previous observations performed with non-modified PLA. Confined PA domains increased with the PA content and hardly crystallized at the typical crystallization temperature of the pure PA (195 °C). Synchrotron X-ray diffraction studies indicated that a PA crystallization at a lower temperature close to 120 °C was enhanced and led to a pseudohexagonal γ phase that differs from the characteristic layered structure of PA610. SAXS data revealed also that well differentiated lamellar entities could be assigned at both immiscible polymer phases. Clear differences were observed in the spherulitic morphologies attained under isothermal melt crystallization experiments. Results indicated that the texture of PLAREx spherulites was modified by the presence of PA. Compatibilization of PA molecules on the crystal lamellar boundaries of PLAREx led to an enhancement of the lamellar twisting frequency. Optical microscopy results also indicated that the crystal growth rate of PLAREx increased by the incorporation of PA, but in contrast this had an adverse effect on the nucleation process.

JTD Keywords: Crystal growth rate, Epoxy modified polylactide, Nucleation, Polyamide 6,10, Polyamide crystalline structure, Polyamide/polylactide blend morphology, Thermal properties

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garcia-Calero, Elena, Botella-Lopez, Arancha, Bahamonde, Olga, Perez-Balaguer, Ariadna, Martinez, Salvador, (2016). FoxP2 protein levels regulate cell morphology changes and migration patterns in the vertebrate developing telencephalon Brain Structure and Function , 221, (6), 2905-2917

In the mammalian telencephalon, part of the progenitor cells transition from multipolar to bipolar morphology as they invade the mantle zone. This associates with changing patterns of radial migration. However, the molecules implicated in these morphology transitions are not well known. In the present work, we analyzed the function of FoxP2 protein in this process during telencephalic development in vertebrates. We analyzed the expression of FoxP2 protein and its relation with cell morphology and migratory patterns in mouse and chicken developing striatum. We observed FoxP2 protein expressed in a gradient from the subventricular zone to the mantle layer in mice embryos. In the FoxP2 low domain cells showed multipolar migration. In the striatal mantle layer where FoxP2 protein expression is higher, cells showed locomoting migration and bipolar morphology. In contrast, FoxP2 showed a high and homogenous expression pattern in chicken striatum, thus bipolar morphology predominated. Elevation of FoxP2 in the striatal subventricular zone by in utero electroporation promoted bipolar morphology and impaired multipolar radial migration. In mouse cerebral cortex we obtained similar results. FoxP2 promotes transition from multipolar to bipolar morphology by means of gradiental expression in mouse striatum and cortex. Together these results indicate a role of FoxP2 differential expression in cell morphology control of the vertebrate telencephalon.

JTD Keywords: Radial migration, Bipolar morphology, Striatum, Cortex

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serra, T., Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Fabrication and characterization of biodegradable composite scaffolds for tissue engineering Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping 5th International Conference on Advanced Research and Rapid Prototyping (ed. Margarida, T., Ferreira, D.), Taylor & Francis (Leiria, Portugal) VR@P, 67-72

In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) were combined with soluble CaP glass particles and processed by rapid prototyping to obtain fully biodegradable structures for Tissue Engineering applications. The obtained 3D biodegradable structures were characterized in terms of their architecture and mechanical properties. The scaffold morphology, internal micro-architecture and mechanical properties were evaluated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and mechanical testing, respectively. Well defined structures with pore size of 350-400μm (in the axial view), struts width of approximately 70-80μm, and a porosity ranging between 60-65% were obtained. The combination RP and PLA/PEG/CaP glass turned into promising fully degradable, mechanically stable, bioactive and biocompatible composite scaffolds for TE.

JTD Keywords: Axial view, Biodegradable composites, Composite scaffolds, Glass particles, Mechanically stable, Micro architectures, Micro computed tomography (micro-CT), Poly lactic acid, Scaffold morphology, Tissue engineering applications, Well-defined structures, Bioactive glass, Mechanical properties, Mechanical testing, Polyethylene glycols, Polymer blends, Rapid prototyping, Scaffolds (biology), Scanning electron microscopy, Computerized tomography

Martinez, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Effects of artificial micro- and nano-structured surfaces on cell behaviour Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger , 191, (1), 126-135

Substrate topography, independently of substrate chemistry, has been reported to have significant effects on cell behaviour. Based on the use of fabrication techniques developed by the silicon microtechnology industry, numerous studies can now be found in the literature analyzing cell behaviour as to various micro- and nanofeatures such as lines, wells, holes and more. Most of these works have been found to relate the micro- and nano-sized topographical features with cell. orientation, migration, morphology and proliferation. In recent papers, even the influence of substrate nanotopography on cell gene expression and differentiation has been pointed out. However, despite the large number of papers published on this topic, significant general trends in cell behaviour are difficult to establish due to differences in cell type, substrate material, feature aspect-ratio, feature geometry and parameters measured. This paper intends to compile and review the relevant existing information on the behaviour of cells on micro- and nano-structured artificial substrates and analyze possible general behavioural trends.

JTD Keywords: Microstructure, Topography, Cell behaviour, Cell morphology, Cell orientation

Caballero-Briones, F., Palacios-Padros, A., Pena, J. L., Sanz, F., (2008). Phase tailored, potentiodynamically grown P-Cu2-xTe/Cu layers Electrochemistry Communications , 10, (11), 1684-1687

In this work we successfully prepared p-type semiconducting Cu2-xTe layers on Cu substrates by applying a potential multistep signal. Spontaneously deposited tellurium layers were reduced in a single cathodic sweep. The X-ray diffraction characterization showed the presence of single-phased, crystalline Cu2-xTe in the weissite form. A further anodization step allows crystallization of several phases such as CU1.75Te, Cu0.664Te0.336 and CU7Te4. This type of sample was found to be photoactive. The prepared films are p-type and have carrier concentrations in the order of 10(21) CM-3, suitable for CdTe-CU2-xTe contacts.

JTD Keywords: Copper telluride, Electrochemical signal, XRD, Morphology, EIS, Photocurrent, Telluride thin-films, Solar cells, Deposition, Cu

Martinez, E., Engel, E., Lopez-Iglesias, C., Mills, C. A., Planell, J. A., Samitier, J., (2008). Focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy characterization of cell behavior on polymer micro-/nanopatterned substrates: A study of cell-substrate interactions Micron , 39, (2), 111-116

Topographic micro and nanostructures can play an interesting role in cell behaviour when cells are cultured on these kinds of patterned substrates. It is especially relevant to investigate the influence of the nanometric dimensions topographic features on cell morphology, proliferation, migration and differentiation. To this end, some of the most recent fabrication technologies, developed for the microelectronics industry, can be used to produce well-defined micro and nanopatterns on biocompatible polymer substrates. In this work, osteoblast-like cells are grown on poly(methyl methacrylate) substrates patterned by nanoimprint lithography techniques. Examination of the cell-substrate interface can reveal important details about the cell morphology and the distribution of the focal contacts on the substrate surface. For this purpose, a combination of focused ion beam milling and scanning electron microscopy techniques has been used to image the cell-substrate interface. This technique, if applied to samples prepared by freeze-drying methods, allows high-resolution imaging of cross-sections through the cell and the substrate, where the interactions between the nanopatterned substrate, the cell and the extracellular matrix, which are normally hidden by the bulk of the cell, can be studied.

JTD Keywords: Electron microscopy, Interface, Nanotopography, Osteoblast, Adhesion molecule, Cell morphology