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by Keyword: PiD

Wagner, AM, Kostina, NY, Xiao, Q, Klein, ML, Percec, V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2024). Glycan-Driven Formation of Raft-Like Domains with Hierarchical Periodic Nanoarrays on Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Biomacromolecules 25, 366-378

The accurate spatial segregation into distinct phases within cell membranes coordinates vital biochemical processes and functionalities in living organisms. One of nature's strategies to localize reactivity is the formation of dynamic raft domains. Most raft models rely on liquid-ordered L-0 phases in a liquid-disordered L-d phase lacking correlation and remaining static, often necessitating external agents for phase separation. Here, we introduce a synthetic system of bicomponent glycodendrimersomes coassembled from Janus dendrimers and Janus glycodendrimers (JGDs), where lactose-lactose interactions exclusively drive lateral organization. This mechanism results in modulated phases across two length scales, yielding raft-like microdomains featuring nanoarrays at the nanoscale. By varying the density of lactose and molecular architecture of JGDs, the nanoarray type and size, shape, and spacing of the domains were controlled. Our findings offer insight into the potential primordial origins of rudimentary raft domains and highlight the crucial role of glycans within the glycocalyx.

JTD Keywords: Article, Artificial cells, Atomic force microscopy, Bicomponents, Bilayer, Bilayer membrane, Biochemical functionality, Biochemical process, Biological-membranes, Cell component, Cell membrane, Cellular parameters, Chemical interaction, Chemical structure, Chemistry, Cytology, Defined janus glycodendrimers, Dehydration, Dendrimer, Dendrimers, Dilution, Dimer, External agents, Fourier transform, Giant vesicles, Glycan, Glycans, Glycocalyx, Glycodendrimers, Janus dendrimer, Janus glycodendrimer, Lactose, Lateral organization, Lectin, Lipid rafts, Living organisms, Membrane damage, Membrane microdomain, Membrane microdomains, Membrane structure, Metabolism, Modulated phases, Molecule, Monomer, Nanoarrays, Oligosaccharide, Organization, Periodicity, Phase separation, Phase-separation, Phospholipids, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides, Raft like domain, Relative humidity, Spatial segregation, Structure analysis, Sugars, Synthetic systems, Tetramer, Unclassified drug, Unilamellar vesicles, Water


Rae, CD, Baur, JA, Borges, K, Dienel, G, Díaz-García, CM, Douglass, SR, Drew, K, Duarte, JMN, Duran, J, Kann, O, Kristian, T, Lee-Liu, D, Lindquist, BE, Mcnay, EC, Robinson, MB, Rothman, DL, Rowlands, BD, Ryan, TA, Scafidi, J, Scafidi, S, Shuttleworth, CW, Swanson, RA, Uruk, G, Vardjan, N, Zorec, R, Mckenna, MC, (2024). Brain energy metabolism: A roadmap for future research Journal Of Neurochemistry ,

Although we have learned much about how the brain fuels its functions over the last decades, there remains much still to discover in an organ that is so complex. This article lays out major gaps in our knowledge of interrelationships between brain metabolism and brain function, including biochemical, cellular, and subcellular aspects of functional metabolism and its imaging in adult brain, as well as during development, aging, and disease. The focus is on unknowns in metabolism of major brain substrates and associated transporters, the roles of insulin and of lipid droplets, the emerging role of metabolism in microglia, mysteries about the major brain cofactor and signaling molecule NAD+, as well as unsolved problems underlying brain metabolism in pathologies such as traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, and metabolic downregulation during hibernation. It describes our current level of understanding of these facets of brain energy metabolism as well as a roadmap for future research. This article details current knowledge and major unknowns in brain energy metabolism and lays out a roadmap for future research.image

JTD Keywords: Acetate, Acetyl-coa, Aerobic glycolysis, Atp-citrate lyase, Extracellular glutamate concentration, Fatty-acid transport, Glucose-metabolism, Glut4, In-vivo, Insulin, Lipid droplet accumulation, Nicotinamide adenine-dinucleotide, Noradrenaline, Obese zucker rats, Rat cerebral-cortex


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

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

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


Fulgheri, F, Manca, ML, Fernàndez-Busquets, X, Manconi, M, (2023). Analysis of complementarities between nanomedicine and phytodrugs for the treatment of malarial infection Nanomedicine 18, 1681-1696

The use of nanocarriers in medicine, so-called nanomedicine, is one of the most innovative strategies for targeting drugs at the action site and increasing their activity index and effectiveness. Phytomedicine is the oldest traditional method used to treat human diseases and solve health problems. The recent literature on the treatment of malaria infections using nanodelivery systems and phytodrugs or supplements has been analyzed. For the first time, in the present review, a careful look at the considerable potential of nanomedicine in promoting phytotherapeutic efficacy was done, and its key role in addressing a translation through a significant reduction of the current burden of malaria in many parts of the world has been underlined.

JTD Keywords: antiplasmodial activity, bioavailability, chloroquine, combination therapy, discovery, drug-delivery, drug-delivery systems, nanocapsules, nanomedicine, natural molecules, pharmacokinetics, phytomedicine, plasmodium-falciparum, Artemisinin-based combination therapy, Drug-delivery systems, Nanomedicine, Natural molecules, Phytomedicine, Solid lipid nanoparticles


Woythe, L, Porciani, D, Harzing, T, van Veen, S, Burke, DH, Albertazzi, L, (2023). Valency and affinity control of aptamer-conjugated nanoparticles for selective cancer cell targeting Journal Of Controlled Release 355, 228-237

Nanoparticles (NPs) are commonly functionalized using targeting ligands to drive their selective uptake in cells of interest. Typical target cell types are cancer cells, which often overexpress distinct surface receptors that can be exploited for NP therapeutics. However, these targeted receptors are also moderately expressed in healthy cells, leading to unwanted off-tumor toxicities. Multivalent interactions between NP ligands and cell receptors have been investigated to increase the targeting selectivity towards cancer cells due to their non-linear response to receptor density. However, to exploit the multivalent effect, multiple variables have to be considered such as NP valency, ligand affinity, and cell receptor density. Here, we synthesize a panel of aptamer-functionalized silica-supported lipid bilayers (SSLB) to study the effect of valency, aptamer affinity, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) density on targeting specificity and selectivity. We show that there is an evident interplay among those parameters that can be tuned to increase SSLB selectivity towards high-density EGFR cells and reduce accumulation at non-tumor tissues. Specifically, the combination of high-affinity aptamers and low valency SSLBs leads to increased high-EGFR cell selectivity. These insights provide a better understanding of the multivalent interactions of NPs with cells and bring the nanomedicine field a step closer to the rational design of cancer nanotherapeutics.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: aptamer avidity and affinity, delivery, microscopy, multivalency, multivalent, nanoparticle targeting, silica -supported lipid bilayers, Aptamer avidity and affinity, Multivalency, Nanoparticle targeting, Silica-supported lipid bilayers, Supported lipid-bilayers, Tumor targeting


García-Alén, L, Kumru, H, Castillo-Escario, Y, Benito-Penalva, J, Medina-Casanovas, J, Gerasimenko, YP, Edgerton, VR, García-Alías, G, Vidal, J, (2023). Transcutaneous Cervical Spinal Cord Stimulation Combined with Robotic Exoskeleton Rehabilitation for the Upper Limbs in Subjects with Cervical SCI: Clinical Trial Biomedicines 11, 589

(1) Background: Restoring arm and hand function is a priority for individuals with cervical spinal cord injury (cSCI) for independence and quality of life. Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) promotes the upper extremity (UE) motor function when applied at the cervical region. The aim of the study was to determine the effects of cervical tSCS, combined with an exoskeleton, on motor strength and functionality of UE in subjects with cSCI. (2) Methods: twenty-two subjects participated in the randomized mix of parallel-group and crossover clinical trial, consisting of an intervention group (n = 15; tSCS exoskeleton) and a control group (n = 14; exoskeleton). The assessment was carried out at baseline, after the last session, and two weeks after the last session. We assessed graded redefined assessment of strength, sensibility, and prehension (GRASSP), box and block test (BBT), spinal cord independence measure III (SCIM-III), maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), ASIA impairment scale (AIS), and WhoQol-Bref; (3) Results: GRASSP, BBT, SCIM III, cylindrical grip force and AIS motor score showed significant improvement in both groups (p ≤ 0.05), however, it was significantly higher in the intervention group than the control group for GRASSP strength, and GRASSP prehension ability (p ≤ 0.05); (4) Conclusion: our findings show potential advantages of the combination of cervical tSCS with an exoskeleton to optimize the outcome for UE.

JTD Keywords: arm function, cervical spinal cord injury, electrical-stimulation, functional walking, functionality, grip force, hand function, individuals, injury, motor function, reliability, robotics, spasticity, transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation, upper extremity, Epidural stimulation, Transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation, Upper extremity


Guallar-Garrido, S, Campo-Perez, V, Perez-Trujillo, M, Cabrera, C, Senserrich, J, Sanchez-Chardi, A, Rabanal, RM, Gomez-Mora, E, Noguera-Ortega, E, Luquin, M, Julian, E, (2022). Mycobacterial surface characters remodeled by growth conditions drive different tumor-infiltrating cells and systemic IFN-gamma/IL-17 release in bladder cancer treatment Oncoimmunology 11, 2051845

The mechanism of action of intravesical Mycobacterium bovis BCG immunotherapy treatment for bladder cancer is not completely known, leading to misinterpretation of BCG-unresponsive patients, who have scarce further therapeutic options. BCG is grown under diverse culture conditions worldwide, which can impact the antitumor effect of BCG strains and could be a key parameter of treatment success. Here, BCG and the nonpathogenic Mycobacterium brumae were grown in four culture media currently used by research laboratories and BCG manufacturers: Sauton-A60, -G15 and -G60 and Middlebrook 7H10, and used as therapies in the orthotopic murine BC model. Our data reveal that each mycobacterium requires specific culture conditions to induce an effective antitumor response. since higher survival rates of tumor-bearing mice were achieved using M. brumae-A60 and BCG-G15 than the rest of the treatments. M. brumae-A60 was the most efficacious among all tested treatments in terms of mouse survival, cytotoxic activity of splenocytes against tumor cells, higher systemic production of IL-17 and IFN-gamma, and bladder infiltration of selected immune cells such as ILCs and CD4(TEM). BCG-G15 triggered an antitumor activity based on a massive infiltration of immune cells, mainly CD3(+) (CD4(+) and CD8(+)) T cells, together with high systemic IFN-gamma release. Finally, a reduced variety of lipids was strikingly observed in the outermost layer of M. brumae-A60 and BCG-G15 compared to the rest of the cultures, suggesting an influence on the antitumor immune response triggered. These findings contribute to understand how mycobacteria create an adequate niche to help the host subvert immunosuppressive tumor actions.

JTD Keywords: bcg, innate immune response, innate-lymphoid cells, lipid, non-muscle invasive, Bcg, Calmette-guerin bcg, Glycerol, Identification, Immune-response, Innate immune response, Innate-lymphoid cells, Lipid, Lipids, Mycolic acids, Neutral-red, Non-muscle invasive, Phenolic glycolipids, Tuberculosis, Tumor microenvironment, Virulence


Ferrer, I, Andrés-Benito, P, Carmona, M, del Rio, JA, (2022). Common and Specific Marks of Different Tau Strains Following Intra-Hippocampal Injection of AD, PiD, and GGT Inoculum in hTau Transgenic Mice International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 15940

Heterozygous hTau mice were used for the study of tau seeding. These mice express the six human tau isoforms, with a high predominance of 3Rtau over 4Rtau. The following groups were assessed: (i) non-inoculated mice aged 9 months (n = 4); (ii) Alzheimer's Disease (AD)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (iii) Globular Glial Tauopathy (GGT)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (iv) Pick's disease (PiD)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (v) control-inoculated mice (n = 4); and (vi) inoculated with vehicle alone (n = 2). AD-inoculated mice showed AT8-immunoreactive neuronal pre-tangles, granular aggregates, and dots in the CA1 region of the hippocampus, dentate gyrus (DG), and hilus, and threads and dots in the ipsilateral corpus callosum. GGT-inoculated mice showed unique or multiple AT8-immunoreactive globular deposits in neurons, occasionally extended to the proximal dendrites. PiD-inoculated mice showed a few loose pre-tangles in the CA1 region, DG, and cerebral cortex near the injection site. Coiled bodies were formed in the corpus callosum in AD-inoculated mice, but GGT-inoculated mice lacked globular glial inclusions. Tau deposits in inoculated mice co-localized active kinases p38-P and SAPK/JNK-P, thus suggesting active phosphorylation of the host tau. Tau deposits were absent in hTau mice inoculated with control homogenates and vehicle alone. Deposits in AD-inoculated hTau mice contained 3Rtau and 4Rtau; those in GGT-inoculated mice were mainly stained with anti-4Rtau antibodies, but a small number of deposits contained 3Rtau. Deposits in PiD-inoculated mice were stained with anti-3Rtau antibodies, but rare neuronal, thread-like, and dot-like deposits showed 4Rtau immunoreactivity. These findings show that tau strains produce different patterns of active neuronal seeding, which also depend on the host tau. Unexpected 3Rtau and 4Rtau deposits after inoculation of homogenates from 4R and 3R tauopathies, respectively, suggests the regulation of exon 10 splicing of the host tau during the process of seeding, thus modulating the plasticity of the cytoskeleton.

JTD Keywords: alzheimer's disease (ad), alzheimers-disease, brain, corticobasal degeneration, globular glial tauopathy (ggt), htau, isoforms, pathological tau, pick's disease (pid), picks-disease, propagation, protein, seeding, tau splicing, tauopathy, Alzheimer’s disease (ad), Globular glial tauopathy (ggt), Htau, Paired helical filaments, Pick’s disease (pid), Seeding, Tau, Tau splicing


Joseph, A, Wagner, AM, Garay-Sarmiento, M, Aleksanyan, M, Haraszti, T, Söder, D, Georgiev, VN, Dimova, R, Percec, V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2022). Zwitterionic Dendrimersomes: A Closer Xenobiotic Mimic of Cell Membranes Advanced Materials 34, e2206288

Building functional mimics of cell membranes is an important task toward the development of synthetic cells. So far, lipid and amphiphilic block copolymers are the most widely used amphiphiles with the bilayers by the former lacking stability while membranes by the latter are typically characterized by very slow dynamics. Herein, we introduce a new type of Janus dendrimer containing a zwitterionic phosphocholine hydrophilic headgroup (JDPC ) and a 3,5-substituted dihydrobenzoate-based hydrophobic dendron. JDPC self-assembles in water into zwitterionic dendrimersomes (z-DSs) that faithfully recapitulate the cell membrane in thickness, flexibility, and fluidity, while being resilient to harsh conditions and displaying faster pore closing dynamics in the event of membrane rupture. This enables the fabrication of hybrid DSs with components of natural membranes, including pore-forming peptides, structure-directing lipids, and glycans to create raft-like domains or onion vesicles. Moreover, z-DSs can be used to create active synthetic cells with life-like features that mimic vesicle fusion and motility as well as environmental sensing. Despite their fully synthetic nature, z-DSs are minimal cell mimics that can integrate and interact with living matter with the programmability to imitate life-like features and beyond. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: biological-membranes, bottom-up synthetic biology, chain, hybrid vesicles, hydroethidine, organization, polymersome, proteins, stability, synthetic cells, thickness, vesicle fusion, vesicle motility, vesicles, zwitterionic dendrimersomes, Biosensor, Biosensors, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Hybrid vesicles, Lipid-bilayers, Synthetic cells, Vesicle fusion, Vesicle motility, Zwitterionic dendrimersomes


Zambarda, C, Gonzalez, CP, Schoenit, A, Veits, N, Schimmer, C, Jung, RM, Ollech, D, Christian, J, Roca-Cusachs, P, Trepat, X, Cavalcanti-Adam, EA, (2022). Epithelial cell cluster size affects force distribution in response to EGF-induced collective contractility European Journal Of Cell Biology 101, 151274

Several factors present in the extracellular environment regulate epithelial cell adhesion and dynamics. Among them, growth factors such as EGF, upon binding to their receptors at the cell surface, get internalized and directly activate the acto-myosin machinery. In this study we present the effects of EGF on the contractility of epithelial cancer cell colonies in confined geometry of different sizes. We show that the extent to which EGF triggers contractility scales with the cluster size and thus the number of cells. Moreover, the collective contractility results in a radial distribution of traction forces, which are dependent on integrin β1 peripheral adhesions and transmitted to neighboring cells through adherens junctions. Taken together, EGF-induced contractility acts on the mechanical crosstalk and linkage between the cell-cell and cell-matrix compartments, regulating collective responses.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: actin, activation, actomyosin, adherens junctions, adhesion, e-cadherin, egf, maturation, mechanical regulation, micropatterning, migration, traction forces, transduction, transmission, Actomyosin, Adherens junctions, Collective contractility, Egf, Epidermal-growth-factor, Micropatterning, Traction forces


Widhe, M, Diez-Escudero, A, Liu, YL, Ringstrom, N, Ginebra, MP, Persson, C, Hedhammar, M, Mestres, G, (2022). Functionalized silk promotes cell migration into calcium phosphate cements by providing macropores and cell adhesion motifs Ceramics International 48, 31449-31460

Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) are attractive synthetic bone grafts as they possess osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties. Their biomimetic synthesis grants them an intrinsic nano-and microporosity that resembles natural bone and is paramount for biological processes such as protein adhesion, which can later enhance cell adhesion. However, a main limitation of CPCs is the lack of macroporosity, which is crucial to allow cell colonization throughout the scaffold. Moreover, CPCs lack specific motifs to guide cell interactions through their membrane proteins. In this study, we explore a strategy targeting simultaneously both macroporosity and cell binding motifs within CPCs by the use of recombinant silk. A silk protein functionalized with the cell binding motif RGD serves as foaming template of CPCs to achieve biomimetic hydroxyapatite (HA) scaffolds with multiscale porosity. The synergies of RGD-motifs in the silk macroporous template and the biomimetic features of HA are explored for their potential to enhance mesenchymal stem cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and differentiation. Macroporous Silk-HA scaffolds improve initial cell adhesion compared to a macroporous HA in the absence of silk, and importantly, the presence of silk greatly enhances cell migration into the scaffold. Additionally, cell proliferation and osteogenic differentiation are achieved in the scaffolds.

JTD Keywords: Bioceramics, Bone, Bone regeneration, Composites, Degradation, Fabrication, Hydroxyapatite, Hydroxyapatite scaffolds, Injectability, Porosity, Recombinant spider silk, Rgd motifs, Silk, Stem-cells


Admella, J, Torrents, E, (2022). A Straightforward Method for the Isolation and Cultivation of Galleria mellonella Hemocytes International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 13483

Galleria mellonella is an alternative animal model of infection. The use of this species presents a wide range of advantages, as its maintenance and rearing are both easy and inexpensive. Moreover, its use is considered to be more ethically acceptable than other models, it is conveniently sized for manipulation, and its immune system has multiple similarities with mammalian immune systems. Hemocytes are immune cells that help encapsulate and eliminate pathogens and foreign particles. All of these reasons make this insect a promising animal model. However, cultivating G. mellonella hemocytes in vitro is not straightforward and it has many difficult challenges. Here, we present a methodologically optimized protocol to establish and maintain a G. mellonella hemocyte primary culture. These improvements open the door to easily and quickly study the toxicity of nanoparticles and the interactions of particles and materials in an in vitro environment.

JTD Keywords: cell culture, galleria mellonella, infection, nanoparticle, Bacteria, Cell culture, Galleria mellonella, Hemolin, Infection, Insect hemocytes, Larvae, Lepidoptera, Nanoparticle, Phagocytosis, Prophenoloxidase, Suspension, Systems


Campo-Perez, V, Guallar-Garrido, S, Luquin, M, Sanchez-Chardi, A, Julian, E, (2022). The High Plasticity of Nonpathogenic Mycobacterium brumae Induces Rapid Changes in Its Lipid Profile during Pellicle Maturation: The Potential of This Bacterium as a Versatile Cell Factory for Lipid Compounds of Therapeutic Interest International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 13609

The immunomodulatory potential of mycobacteria to be used for therapeutic purposes varies by species and culture conditions and is closely related to mycobacterial lipid composition. Although the lipids present in the mycobacterial cell wall are relevant, lipids are mainly stored in intracellular lipid inclusions (ILIs), which have emerged as a crucial structure in understanding mycobacteria-host interaction. Little is known about ILI ultrastructure, production, and composition in nonpathogenic species. In this study, we compared the lipid profiles of the nonpathogenic immunomodulatory agent Mycobacterium brumae during pellicle maturation under different culture conditions with qualitative and quantitative approaches by using high-resolution imaging and biochemical and composition analyses to understand ILI dynamics. The results showed wax esters, mainly in early stages of development, and acylglycerols in mature ILI composition, revealing changes in dynamics, amount, and morphometry, depending on pellicle maturation and the culture media used. Low-glycerol cultures induced ILIs with lower molecular weights which were smaller in size in comparison with the ILIs produced in glycerol-enriched media. The data also indicate the simple metabolic plasticity of lipid synthesis in M. brumae, as well as its high versatility in generating different lipid profiles. These findings provide an interesting way to enhance the production of key lipid structures via the simple modulation of cell culture conditions.

JTD Keywords: cell wall, electron microscopy, intrabacterial, lipid inclusions, mycobacterium, Bodies, Cell wall, Electron microscopy, Growth, In-vitro, Intrabacterial, Lipid inclusions, Mycobacterium, Prokaryotes, Triacylglycerol, Tuberculosis, Ultrastructural imaging, Virulence, Wax esters


López-Soldado, I, Guinovart, JJ, Duran, J, (2022). Hepatic overexpression of protein targeting to glycogen attenuates obesity and improves hyperglycemia in db/db mice Frontiers In Endocrinology 13, 969924

Increased liver glycogen content has been shown to reduce food intake, attenuate obesity, and improve glucose tolerance in a mouse model of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity. Here we studied the contribution of liver glycogen to the regulation of obesity and glucose metabolism in a model of type 2 diabetes and obesity, namely the db/db mouse. To this end, we crossed db/db mice with animals overexpressing protein targeting to glycogen (PTG) in the liver to generate db/db mice with increased liver glycogen content (db/db-PTG). Hepatic PTG overexpression reduced food intake and fat weight and attenuated obesity and hyperglycemia in db/db mice. Db/db-PTG mice showed similar energy expenditure and physical activity to db/db mice. PTG overexpression reduced liver phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) protein levels and repressed hepatic glucose production in db/db mice. Moreover, increased liver glycogen elevated hepatic ATP content in these animals. However, lipid metabolism was not modified by PTG overexpression. In conclusion, increased liver glycogen content ameliorates the diabetic and obesity phenotype in db/db mice.Copyright © 2022 López-Soldado, Guinovart and Duran.

JTD Keywords: atp, db, dyslipidemia, food intake, glucose, homeostasis, liver, metabolism, mouse, receptor, Atp, Db/db, Food intake, Food-intake, Glucose, Glycogen, Liver


Perra, M, Manca, ML, Tuberoso, CIG, Caddeo, C, Marongiu, F, Peris, JE, Orru, G, Ibba, A, Fernandez-Busquets, X, Fattouch, S, Bacchetta, G, Manconi, M, (2022). A green and cost-effective approach for the efficient conversion of grape byproducts into innovative delivery systems tailored to ensure intestinal protection and gut microbiota fortification Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 80, 103103

According to circular economy, wine-making by-products represent a fascinating biomass, which can be used for the sustainable exploitation of polyphenols and the development of new nanotechnological health-promoting products. In this study, polyphenols contained in the grape pomace were extracted by maceration with ethanol in an easy and low dissipative way. The obtained extract, rich in malvidin-3-glucoside, quercetin, pro-cyanidin B2 and gallic acid, was incorporated into phospholipid vesicles tailored for intestinal delivery. To improve their performances, vesicles were enriched with gelatine or a maltodextrin (Nutriose (R)), or their com-bination (gelatine-liposomes, nutriosomes and gelatine-nutriosomes). The small (-147 nm) and negatively charged (--50mV) vesicles were stable at different pH values mimicking saliva (6.75), gastric (1.20) and intestinal (7.00) environments. Vesicles effectively protected intestinal cells (Caco-2) from the oxidative stress and promoted the biofilm formation by probiotic bacteria. A preliminary evaluation of the vesicle feasibility at industrial levels was also performed, analysing the economic and energetic costs needed for their production.

JTD Keywords: Adhesion, Antioxidant activity, Caco-2 cells, Dextrin, Grape pomace extract, Lactobacillus-reuteri, Manufacturing costs, Oxidative stress, Ph, Phospholipid vesicles, Polyphenols, Probiotic bacteria, Protein


Wagner, AM, Eto, H, Joseph, A, Kohyama, S, Haraszti, T, Zamora, RA, Vorobii, M, Giannotti, MI, Schwille, P, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2022). Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Harbor Cell Division Machinery of Bacteria Advanced Materials 34, 2202364

The integration of active cell machinery with synthetic building blocks is the bridge toward developing synthetic cells with biological functions and beyond. Self-replication is one of the most important tasks of living systems, and various complex machineries exist to execute it. In Escherichia coli, a contractile division ring is positioned to mid-cell by concentration oscillations of self-organizing proteins (MinCDE), where it severs membrane and cell wall. So far, the reconstitution of any cell division machinery has exclusively been tied to liposomes. Here, the reconstitution of a rudimentary bacterial divisome in fully synthetic bicomponent dendrimersomes is shown. By tuning the membrane composition, the interaction of biological machinery with synthetic membranes can be tailored to reproduce its dynamic behavior. This constitutes an important breakthrough in the assembly of synthetic cells with biological elements, as tuning of membrane-divisome interactions is the key to engineering emergent biological behavior from the bottom-up.

JTD Keywords: bacterial cell division, bottom-up synthetic biology, dendrimersomes, dynamic min patterns, ftsz assembly, Bacterial cell division, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Dendrimersomes, Dynamic min patterns, Dynamics, Ftsz assembly, Ftsz filaments, Mind, Organization, Pole oscillation, Polymersome membranes, Proteins, Rapid pole, Synthetic cells, Vesicles


Bar, L, Perissinotto, F, Redondo-Morata, L, Giannotti, MI, Goole, J, Losada-Pérez, P, (2022). Interactions of hydrophilic quantum dots with defect-free and defect containing supported lipid membranes Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 210, 112239

Quantum dots (QDs) are semiconductor nanoparticles with unique optical and electronic properties, whose interest as potential nano-theranostic platforms for imaging and sensing is increasing. The design and use of QDs requires the understanding of cell-nanoparticle interactions at a microscopic and nanoscale level. Model systems such as supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are useful, less complex platforms mimicking physico-chemical properties of cell membranes. In this work, we investigated the effect of topographical homogeneity of SLBs bearing different surface charge in the adsorption of hydrophilic QDs. Using quartz-crystal microbalance, a label-free surface sensitive technique, we show significant differences in the interactions of QDs onto homogeneous and inhomogeneous SLBs formed following different strategies. Within short time scales, QDs adsorb onto topographically homogeneous, defect-free SLBs is driven by electrostatic interactions, leading to no layer disruption. After prolonged QD exposure, the nanomechanical stability of the SLB decreases suggesting nanoparticle insertion. In the case of inhomogeneous, defect containing layers, QDs target preferentially membrane defects, driven by a subtle interplay of electrostatic and entropic effects, inducing local vesicle rupture and QD insertion at membrane edges. © 2021

JTD Keywords: adsorption, atomic force microscopy, bilayer formation, gold nanoparticles, hydrophilic quantum dots, lipid membrane defects, model, nanomechanics, quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, size, supported lipid bilayers, surfaces, Atomic force microscopy, Atomic-force-microscopy, Cytology, Defect-free, Electronic properties, Electrostatics, Hydrophilic quantum dot, Hydrophilic quantum dots, Hydrophilicity, Hydrophilics, Lipid bilayers, Lipid membrane defect, Lipid membrane defects, Lipid membranes, Lipids, Nanocrystals, Nanomechanics, Optical and electronic properties, Quartz, Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, Quartz crystal microbalances, Quartz-crystal microbalance, Semiconductor nanoparticles, Semiconductor quantum dots, Supported lipid bilayers


Guallar-Garrido, S, Almiñana-Rapún, F, Campo-Pérez, V, Torrents, E, Luquin, M, Julián, E, (2022). BCG Substrains Change Their Outermost Surface as a Function of Growth Media Vaccines 10, 40

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) efficacy as an immunotherapy tool can be influenced by the genetic background or immune status of the treated population and by the BCG substrain used. BCG comprises several substrains with genetic differences that elicit diverse phenotypic characteristics. Moreover, modifications of phenotypic characteristics can be influenced by culture conditions. However, several culture media formulations are used worldwide to produce BCG. To elucidate the influence of growth conditions on BCG characteristics, five different substrains were grown on two culture media, and the lipidic profile and physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Our results show that each BCG substrain displays a variety of lipidic profiles on the outermost surface depending on the growth conditions. These modifications lead to a breadth of hydrophobicity patterns and a different ability to reduce neutral red dye within the same BCG substrain, suggesting the influence of BCG growth conditions on the interaction between BCG cells and host cells.

JTD Keywords: cell wall, efficacy, glycerol, hydrophobicity, lipid, neutral red, pdim, pgl, protein, strains, viability, virulence, Acylglycerol, Albumin, Article, Asparagine, Bacterial cell wall, Bacterial gene, Bacterium culture, Bcg vaccine, Catalase, Cell wall, Chloroform, Controlled study, Escherichia coli, Gene expression, Genomic dna, Glycerol, Glycerol monomycolate, Hexadecane, Housekeeping gene, Hydrophobicity, Immune response, Immunogenicity, Immunotherapy, Lipid, Lipid fingerprinting, Magnesium sulfate, Mercaptoethanol, Methanol, Methylglyoxal, Molybdatophosphoric acid, Mycobacterium bovis bcg, Neutral red, Nonhuman, Pdim, Petroleum ether, Pgl, Phenotype, Physical chemistry, Real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Rna 16s, Rna extraction, Rv0577, Staining, Thin layer chromatography, Unclassified drug


RIZZELO, L, DE MATTEIS, V, (2022). Identification of SARS-CoV-2 by Gold Nanoparticles Biocell 46, 2369-2380

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks highlighted the need for effective, reliable, fast, easy-to-do and cheap diagnostics procedures. We pragmatically experienced that an early positive-case detection, inevitably coupled with a mass vaccination campaign, is a milestone to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) can indeed play a crucial role in this context, as their physicochemical, optics and electronics properties are being extensively used in photothermal therapy (PTT), radiation therapy (RT), drug delivery and diagnostic. AuNPs can be synthesized by several approaches to obtain different sizes and shapes that can be easily functionalized with many kinds of molecules such as antibodies, proteins, probes, and lipids. In addition, AuNPs showed high biocompatibility making them useful tool in medicine field. We thus reviewed here the most relevant evidence on AuNPs as effective way to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. We trust future diagnostic efforts must take this 'old-fashioned' nanotechnology tool into consideration for the development and commercialization of reliable and feasible detection kits.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation, Antibodies, Assay, Covid-19, Diagnosis, Enhanced raman-scattering, Gold nanoparticles, Immunoassay, Pandemic disease, Physicochemical properties, Rapid detection, Sars-cov-2, Sensors, Surface-plasmon resonance, Therapy


Ferrer-Lluis, I, Castillo-Escario, Y, Glos, M, Fietze, I, Penzel, T, Jane, R, (2021). Sleep Apnea & Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Overlap Syndrome Dynamics in Patients from an Epidemiological Study Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference 2021, 5574-5577

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which repetitive upper airway obstructive events occur during sleep. These events can induce hypoxia, which is a risk factor for multiple cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disorder which induces a persistent inflammation of the lungs. This condition produces hypoventilation, affecting the blood oxygenation, and leads to an increased risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. In this study, we evaluated how COPD affects the severity and characteristics of OSA in a multivariate demographic database including polysomnographic signals. Results showed SpO2 subtle variations, such as more non-recovered desaturations and increased time below a 90% SpO2 level, which, in the long term, could worsen the risk to suffer cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.Clinical Relevance - COPD increases the OSA risk due to hypoventilation and altered SpO2 behavior. © 2021 IEEE.

JTD Keywords: Chronic obstructive lung disease, Complication, Epidemiologic studies, Epidemiology, Human, Humans, Oxygen saturation, Pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive, Sleep apnea, obstructive, Sleep disordered breathing, Syndrome


Romero, D, Jane, R, (2021). Relationship between Sleep Stages and HRV response in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference 2021, 5535-5538

Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) usually present an increased sympathetic activity caused by the intermittent hypoxia effect on autonomic control. This study evaluated the relationship between sleep stages and the apnea duration, frequency, and type, as well as their impact on HRV markers in different groups of disease severity. The hypnogram and R-R interval signals were extracted in 81 OSA patients from night polysomnographic (PSG) recordings. The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) defined patient classification as mild-moderate (AHI< 30, n 44) or severe (AHI>30, n 37). The normalized power in VLH, LF, and HF bands of RR series were estimated by a time-frequency approach and averaged in 1-min epochs of normal and apnea segments. The autonomic response and the impact of sleep stages were assessed in both segments to compare patient groups. Deeper sleep stages (particularly S2) concentrated the shorter and mild apnea episodes (from 10 to 40 s) compared to light (SWS) and REM sleep. Longer episodes (>50 s) although less frequent, were of similar incidence in all stages. This pattern was more pronounced for the group of severe patients. Moreover, during apnea segments, LF nu was higher (p 0.044) for the severe group, since V LF nu and HF nu presented the greatest changes when compared to normal segments. The non-REM sleep seems to better differentiate OSA patients groups, particularly through VLF nu and HF nu (p<0.001). A significant difference in both sympathetic and vagal modulation between REM and non-REM sleep was only found within the severe group. These results confirm the importance of considering sleep stages for HRV analysis to further assess OSA disease severity, beyond the traditional and clinically limited AHI values.Clinical relevance - Accounting for sleep stages during HRV analysis could better assess disease severity in OSA patients. © 2021 IEEE.

JTD Keywords: blood-pressure, genomic consequences, intermittent hypoxia, rapid-eye-movement, sympathetic activity, Heart rate, Heart-rate-variability, Human, Humans, Polysomnography, Rem sleep, Sleep apnea, obstructive, Sleep disordered breathing, Sleep stage, Sleep stages, Sleep, rem


Ferrer, I, Andrés-Benito, P, Ausín, K, Pamplona, R, del Rio, JA, Fernández-Irigoyen, J, Santamaría, E, (2021). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation: A determining condition in the continuum of brain aging and Alzheimer's disease Brain Pathology 31, e12996

Tau hyperphosphorylation is the first step of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) formation. In the present study, samples of the entorhinal cortex (EC) and frontal cortex area 8 (FC) of cases with NFT pathology classified as stages I–II, III–IV, and V–VI without comorbidities, and of middle-aged (MA) individuals with no NFT pathology, were analyzed by conventional label-free and SWATH-MS (sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) to assess the (phospho)proteomes. The total number of identified dysregulated phosphoproteins was 214 in the EC, 65 of which were dysregulated at the first stages (I–II) of NFT pathology; 167 phosphoproteins were dysregulated in the FC, 81 of them at stages I–II of NFT pathology. A large percentage of dysregulated phosphoproteins were identified in the two regions and at different stages of NFT progression. The main group of dysregulated phosphoproteins was made up of components of the membranes, cytoskeleton, synapses, proteins linked to membrane transport and ion channels, and kinases. The present results show abnormal phosphorylation of proteins at the first stages of NFT pathology in the elderly (in individuals clinically considered representative of normal aging) and sporadic Alzheimer's disease (sAD). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation in the FC precedes the formation of NFTs and SPs. The most active period of dysregulated phosphorylation is at stages III–IV when a subpopulation of individuals might be clinically categorized as suffering from mild cognitive impairment which is a preceding determinant stage in the progression to dementia. Altered phosphorylation of selected proteins, carried out by activation of several kinases, may alter membrane and cytoskeletal functions, among them synaptic transmission and membrane/cytoskeleton signaling. Besides their implications in sAD, the present observations suggest a molecular substrate for “benign” cognitive deterioration in “normal” brain aging.

JTD Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, alzheimer's disease, amyloid-beta, association guidelines, brain aging, cytoskeleton, frontal-cortex, kinases, lipid rafts, membranes, national institute, neuropathologic assessment, pathological process, protein phosphorylation, synapse pathology, synapses, tau, tau pathology, (phospho)proteomics, Age-related tauopathy, Alzheimer's disease, Brain aging, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Protein phosphorylation, Synapses, Tau


Avalos-Padilla, Y, Georgiev, VN, Dimova, R, (2021). ESCRT-III induces phase separation in model membranes prior to budding and causes invagination of the liquid-ordered phase Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes 1863, 183689

Membrane fission triggered by the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) is an important process observed in several pathogenic and non-pathogenic cellular events. From a synthetic-biology viewpoint, ESCRT proteins represent an interesting machinery for the construction of cell mimetic sub-compartments produced by fission. Since their discovery, the studies on ESCRT-III-mediated action, have mainly focused on protein dynamics, ignoring the role of lipid organization and membrane phase state. Recently, it has been suggested that membrane buds formed by the action of ESCRT-III are generated from transient microdomains in endosomal membranes. However, the interplay between membrane domain formation and ESCRT remodeling pathways has not been investigated. Here, giant unilamellar vesicles made of ternary lipid mixtures, either homogeneous in phase or exhibiting liquid-ordered/liquid-disordered phase coexistence, were employed as a model membrane system. These vesicles were incubated with purified recombinant ESCRT-III proteins from the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. In homogeneous membranes, we observe that EhVps32 can trigger domain formation while EhVps20 preferentially co-localizes in the liquid disordered phase. The addition of EhVps24 appears to induce the formation of intraluminal vesicles produced from the liquid-ordered phase. In phase separated membranes, the intraluminal vesicles are also generated from the liquid-ordered phase and presumably emerge from the phase boundary region. Our findings reinforce the hypothesis that ESCRT-mediated remodeling depends on the membrane phase state. Furthermore, the obtained results point to a potential synthetic biology approach for establishing eukaryotic mimics of artificial cells with microcompartments of specific membrane composition, which can also differ from that of the mother vesicle.

JTD Keywords: cell-membranes, coexistence, complex, escrt-iii, fission, guvs, lipid domains, lipid rafts, membrane fission, microcompartments, microscopy, phase separation, plasma-membrane, protein microarrays, structural basis, ternary mixtures, Escrt-iii, Giant unilamellar vesicles, Guvs, Lipid domains, Membrane fission, Microcompartments, Phase separation, Ternary mixtures


Jurado, M, Castano, O, Zorzano, A, (2021). Stochastic modulation evidences a transitory EGF-Ras-ERK MAPK activity induced by PRMT5 Computers In Biology And Medicine 133, 104339

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway involves a three-step cascade of kinases that transduce signals and promote processes such as cell growth, development, and apoptosis. An aberrant response of this pathway is related to the proliferation of cell diseases and tumors. By using simulation modeling, we document that the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) modulates the MAPK pathway and thus avoids an aberrant behavior. PRMT5 methylates the Raf kinase, reducing its catalytic activity and thereby, reducing the activation of ERK in time and amplitude. Two minimal computational models of the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-Ras-ERK MAPK pathway influenced by PRMT5 were proposed: a first model in which PRMT5 is activated by EGF and a second one in which PRMT5 is stimulated by the cascade response. The reported results show that PRMT5 reduces the time duration and the expression of the activated ERK in both cases, but only in the first model PRMT5 limits the EGF range that generates an ERK activation. Based on our data, we propose the protein PRMT5 as a regulatory factor to develop strategies to fight against an excessive activity of the MAPK pathway, which could be of use in chronic diseases and cancer.

JTD Keywords: cancer, cell response modulation, computational model, egf-ras-erk signaling route, mapk pathway, methylation, Arginine methyltransferase 5, Cancer, Cell response modulation, Colorectal-cancer, Computational model, Egf-ras-erk signaling route, Epidermal-growth-factor, Factor receptor, Histone h3, Kinase cascade, Mapk pathway, Methylation, Negative-feedback, Pc12 cells, Prmt5, Protein, Signal-transduction


Ojosnegros, S, Seriola, A, Godeau, AL, Veiga, A, (2021). Embryo implantation in the laboratory: an update on current techniques Human Reproduction Update 27, 501-530

BACKGROUND: The embryo implantation process is crucial for the correct establishment and progress of pregnancy. During implantation, the blastocyst trophectoderm cells attach to the epithelium of the endometrium, triggering intense cell-to-cell crosstalk that leads to trophoblast outgrowth, invasion of the endometrial tissue, and formation of the placenta. However, this process, which is vital for embryo and foetal development in utero, is still elusive to experimentation because of its inaccessibility. Experimental implantation is cumbersome and impractical in adult animal models and is inconceivable in humans. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: A number of custom experimental solutions have been proposed to recreate different stages of the implantation process in vitro, by combining a human embryo (or a human embryo surrogate) and endometrial cells (or a surrogate for the endometrial tissue). In vitro models allow rapid high-throughput interrogation of embryos and cells, and efficient screening of molecules, such as cytokines, drugs, or transcription factors, that control embryo implantation and the receptivity of the endometrium. However, the broad selection of available in vitro systems makes it complicated to decide which system best fits the needs of a specific experiment or scientific question. To orient the reader, this review will explore the experimental options proposed in the literature, and classify them into amenable categories based on the embryo/cell pairs employed. The goal is to give an overview of the tools available to study the complex process of human embryo implantation, and explain the differences between them, including the advantages and disadvantages of each system. SEARCH METHODS: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature to come up with different categories that mimic the different stages of embryo implantation in vitro, ranging from initial blastocyst apposition to later stages of trophoblast invasion or gastrulation. We will also review recent breakthrough advances on stem cells and organoids, assembling embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues. OUTCOMES: We highlight the most relevant systems and describe the most significant experiments. We focus on in vitro systems that have contributed to the study of human reproduction by discovering molecules that control implantation, including hormones, signalling molecules, transcription factors and cytokines. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: The momentum of this field is growing thanks to the use of stem cells to build embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues, and the use of bioengineering to extend the life of embryos in culture. We propose to merge bioengineering methods derived from the fields of stem cells and reproduction to develop new systems covering a wider window of the implantation process.

JTD Keywords: in vitro models, blastocyst, blastocyst-like structures, early-pregnancy, endometrial cells, epidermal-growth-factor, gene-expression, implantation, in vitro models, in-vitro model, indian hedgehog, organoids, receptivity, self-organization, spheroids, trophoblast, trophoblast invasion, uterine receptivity, Blastocyst, Blastocyst-like structures, Early-pregnancy, Endometrial cells, Endometrial stromal cells, Epidermal-growth-factor, Gene-expression, Implantation, In vitro models, In-vitro model, Indian hedgehog, Organoids, Receptivity, Self-organization, Spheroids, Trophoblast, Trophoblast invasion, Uterine receptivity


Badiola-Mateos, M, Di Giuseppe, D, Paoli, R, Lopez-Martinez, MJ, Mencattini, A, Samitier, J, Martinelli, E, (2021). A novel multi-frequency trans-endothelial electrical resistance (MTEER) sensor array to monitor blood-brain barrier integrity Sensors And Actuators B-Chemical 334, 129599

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a dynamic cellular barrier that regulates brain nutrient supply, waste efflux, and paracellular diffusion through specialized junctional complexes. Finding a system to mimic and monitor BBB integrity (i.e., to be able to assess the effect of certain compounds on opening or closing the barrier) is of vital importance in several pathologies. This work aims to overcome some limitations of current barrier integrity measuring techniques thanks to a multi-layer microfluidic platform with integrated electrodes and Multi-frequency Trans-Endothelial Electrical Resistance (MTEER) in synergy with machine learning algorithms. MTEER measurements are performed across the barrier in a range of frequencies up to 10 MHz highlighting the presence of information on different frequency ranges. Results show that the proposed platform can detect barrier formation, opening, and regeneration afterwards, correlating with the results obtained from immunostaining of junctional complexes. This model presents novel techniques for a future biological barrier in-vitro studies that could potentially help on elucidating barrier opening or sealing on treatments with different drugs.

JTD Keywords: blood-brain barrier, cellular barrier integrity monitoring, impedance sensors, machine learning, microelectrodes, mteer, rapid prototyping, Blood-brain barrier, Cellular barrier integrity monitoring, Electrical impedance spectroscopy, Impedance sensors, Machine learning, Microelectrodes, Mteer, Rapid prototyping


Manca, ML, Ferraro, M, Pace, E, Di Vincenzo, S, Valenti, D, Fernàndez-Busquets, X, Peptu, CA, Manconi, M, (2021). Loading of beclomethasone in liposomes and hyalurosomes improved with mucin as effective approach to counteract the oxidative stress generated by cigarette smoke extract Nanomaterials 11, 850

In this work beclomethasone dipropionate was loaded into liposomes and hyalurosomes modified with mucin to improve the ability of the payload to counteract the oxidative stress and involved damages caused by cigarette smoke in the airway. The vesicles were prepared by dispersing all components in the appropriate vehicle and sonicating them, thus avoiding the use of organic solvents. Unilamellar and bilamellar vesicles small in size (~117 nm), homogeneously dispersed (polydispersity index lower than 0.22) and negatively charged (~−11 mV), were obtained. Moreover, these vesicle dispersions were stable for five months at room temperature (~25 C). In vitro studies performed using the Next Generation Impactor confirmed the suitability of the formulations to be nebulized as they were capable of reaching the last stages of the impactor that mimic the deeper airways, thus improving the deposition of beclomethasone in the target site. Further, biocompatibility studies performed by using 16HBE bronchial epithelial cells confirmed the high biocompatibility and safety of all the vesicles. Among the tested formulations, only mucin-hyalurosomes were capable of effectively counteracting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by cigarette smoke extract, suggesting that this formulation may represent a promising tool to reduce the damaging effects of cigarette smoke in the lung tissues, thus reducing the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke-associated diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and cancer. ◦

JTD Keywords: 16hbe cells, beclomethasone, cigarette smoke extract, mucin, oxidative stress, phospholipid vesicles, pulmonary delivery, 16hbe cells, Beclomethasone, Cigarette smoke extract, Mucin, Oxidative stress, Phospholipid vesicles, Pulmonary delivery


Paoli, R, Di Giuseppe, D, Badiola-Mateos, M, Martinelli, E, Lopez-Martinez, MJ, Samitier, J, (2021). Rapid manufacturing of multilayered microfluidic devices for organ on a chip applications Sensors 21, 1382

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Microfabrication and Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) soft-lithography techniques became popular for microfluidic prototyping at the lab, but even after protocol optimization, fabrication is yet a long, laborious process and partly user-dependent. Furthermore, the time and money required for the master fabrication process, necessary at any design upgrade, is still elevated. Digital Manufacturing (DM) and Rapid-Prototyping (RP) for microfluidics applications arise as a solution to this and other limitations of photo and soft-lithography fabrication techniques. Particularly for this paper, we will focus on the use of subtractive DM techniques for Organ-on-a-Chip (OoC) applications. Main available thermoplastics for microfluidics are suggested as material choices for device fabrication. The aim of this review is to explore DM and RP technologies for fabrication of an OoC with an embedded membrane after the evaluation of the main limitations of PDMS soft-lithography strategy. Different material options are also reviewed, as well as various bonding strategies. Finally, a new functional OoC device is showed, defining protocols for its fabrication in Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP) using two different RP technologies. Different cells are seeded in both sides of the membrane as a proof of concept to test the optical and fluidic properties of the device.

JTD Keywords: digital manufacturing, microfluidics, organ on a chip, rapid prototyping, Digital manufacturing, Microfluidics, Organ on a chip, Rapid prototyping


Watt, AC, Cejas, P, DeCristo, MJ, Metzger, O, Lam, EYN, Qiu, XT, BrinJones, H, Kesten, N, Coulson, R, Font-Tello, A, Lim, K, Vadhi, R, Daniels, VW, Montero, J, Taing, L, Meyer, CA, Gilan, O, Bell, CC, Korthauer, KD, Giambartolomei, C, Pasaniuc, B, Seo, JH, Freedman, ML, Ma, CT, Ellis, MJ, Krop, I, Winer, E, Letai, A, Brown, M, Dawson, MA, Long, HW, Zhao, JJ, Goel, S, (2021). CDK4/6 inhibition reprograms the breast cancer enhancer landscape by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity Nature Cancer 2, 34-+

Goel and colleagues show that CDK4/6 inhibition induces global chromatin changes mediated by AP-1 factors, which mediate key biological and clinical effects in breast cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) were designed to induce cancer cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have suggested that these agents also exert other effects, influencing cancer cell immunogenicity, apoptotic responses and differentiation. Using cell-based and mouse models of breast cancer together with clinical specimens, we show that CDK4/6 inhibitors induce remodeling of cancer cell chromatin characterized by widespread enhancer activation, and that this explains many of these effects. The newly activated enhancers include classical super-enhancers that drive luminal differentiation and apoptotic evasion, as well as a set of enhancers overlying endogenous retroviral elements that are enriched for proximity to interferon-driven genes. Mechanistically, CDK4/6 inhibition increases the level of several activator protein-1 transcription factor proteins, which are in turn implicated in the activity of many of the new enhancers. Our findings offer insights into CDK4/6 pathway biology and should inform the future development of CDK4/6 inhibitors.

JTD Keywords: Abemaciclib, Androgen receptor, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Apoptosis, Article, Breast cancer, C-jun, Cancer cell, Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1, Caspase 3, Cell cycle arrest, Cells, Chromatin, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Controlled study, Cyclin dependent kinase 4, Cyclin dependent kinase 6, Dna damage, Epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Estrogen receptor, Female, Flow cytometry, Fulvestrant, Hla drb1 antigen, Human, Human cell, Immunoblotting, Immunogenicity, Immunoprecipitation, Interferon, Luciferase assay, Mcf-7 cell line, Mda-mb-231 cell line, Microarray analysis, Morphogenesis, Mouse, Nonhuman, Palbociclib, Protein, Protein expression, Rb, Resistance, Rna polymerase ii, Rna sequence, Selective-inhibition, Senescence, Short tandem repeat, Signal transduction, Tamoxifen, Transcription elongation, Transcription factor, Transcription factor ap 1, Transcriptome, Tumor biopsy, Tumor differentiation, Tumor spheroid, Tumor xenograft, Vinculin, Whole exome sequencing


Allaw, M., Manca, M. L., Caddeo, C., Recio, M. C., Pérez-Brocal, V., Moya, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Manconi, M., (2020). Advanced strategy to exploit wine-making waste by manufacturing antioxidant and prebiotic fibre-enriched vesicles for intestinal health Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 193, 111146

Grape extract-loaded fibre-enriched vesicles, nutriosomes, were prepared by combining antioxidant extracts obtained from grape pomaces and a prebiotic, soluble fibre (Nutriose®FM06). The nutriosomes were small in size (from ∼140 to 260 nm), homogeneous (polydispersity index < 0.2) and highly negative (∼ −79 mV). The vesicles were highly stable during 12 months of storage at 25 °C. When diluted with warmed (37 °C) acidic medium (pH 1.2) of high ionic strength, the vesicles only displayed an increase of the mean diameter and a low release of the extract, which were dependent on Nutriose concentration. The formulations were highly biocompatible and able to protect intestinal cells (Caco-2) from oxidative stress damage. In vivo results underlined that the composition of mouse microbiota was not affected by the vesicular formulations. Overall results support the potential application of grape nutriosomes as an alternative strategy for the protection of the intestinal tract.

JTD Keywords: Antioxidant activity, Grape pomace, Gut microbiota, In vivo studies, Intestinal cells, Nutriosomes, Phospholipid vesicles, Prebiotic activity


Queck, A., Fink, A. F., Sirait-Fischer, E., Rüschenbaum, S., Thomas, D., Snodgrass, R. G., Geisslinger, G., Baba, H. A., Trebicka, J., Zeuzem, S., Weigert, A., Lange, C. M., Brüne, B., (2020). Alox12/15 deficiency exacerbates, while lipoxin A4 ameliorates hepatic inflammation in murine alcoholic hepatitis Frontiers in Immunology 11, 1447

Alcoholism is one of the leading and increasingly prevalent reasons of liver associated morbidity and mortality worldwide. Alcoholic hepatitis (AH) constitutes a severe disease with currently no satisfying treatment options. Lipoxin A4 (LXA4), a 15-lipoxygenase (ALOX15)-dependent lipid mediator involved in resolution of inflammation, showed promising pre-clinical results in the therapy of several inflammatory diseases. Since inflammation is a main driver of disease progression in alcoholic hepatitis, we investigated the impact of endogenous ALOX15-dependent lipid mediators and exogenously applied LXA4 on AH development. A mouse model for alcoholic steatohepatitis (NIAAA model) was tested in Alox12/15+/+ and Alox12/15−/− mice, with or without supplementation of LXA4. Absence of Alox12/15 aggravated parameters of liver disease, increased hepatic immune cell infiltration in AH, and elevated systemic neutrophils as a marker for systemic inflammation. Interestingly, i.p. injections of LXA4 significantly lowered transaminase levels only in Alox12/15−/− mice and reduced hepatic immune cell infiltration as well as systemic inflammatory cytokine expression in both genotypes, even though steatosis progressed. Thus, while LXA4 injection attenuated selected parameters of disease progression in Alox12/15−/− mice, its beneficial impact on immunity was also apparent in Alox12/15+/+ mice. In conclusion, pro-resolving lipid mediators may be beneficial to reduce inflammation in alcoholic hepatitis.

JTD Keywords: Alcoholic hepatitis, Arachidonate 12/15-lipoxygenase (Alox12/15), Lipoxin A4, Resolution of inflammation, Specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs)


Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Losada-Pérez, Patricia, Giannotti, Marina Inés, (2020). Lipid bilayers: Phase behavior and nanomechanics Current Topics in Membranes (ed. Levitan, Irena, Trache, Andreea), Academic Press (Berlin, Germany) 86, 1-55

Lipid membranes are involved in many physiological processes like recognition, signaling, fusion or remodeling of the cell membrane or some of its internal compartments. Within the cell, they are the ultimate barrier, while maintaining the fluidity or flexibility required for a myriad of processes, including membrane protein assembly. The physical properties of in vitro model membranes as model cell membranes have been extensively studied with a variety of techniques, from classical thermodynamics to advanced modern microscopies. Here we review the nanomechanics of solid-supported lipid membranes with a focus in their phase behavior. Relevant information obtained by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) as complementary techniques in the nano/mesoscale interface is presented. Membrane morphological and mechanical characterization will be discussed in the framework of its phase behavior, phase transitions and coexistence, in simple and complex models, and upon the presence of cholesterol.

JTD Keywords: Lipid phase behavior, Phase transition, Phase coexistence, Nanomechanics, Thermodynamics, Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D)


Praktiknjo, M., Djayadi, N., Mohr, R., Schierwagen, R., Bischoff, J., Dold, L., Pohlmann, A., Schwarze-Zander, C., Wasmuth, J. C., Boesecke, C., Rockstroh, J. K., Trebicka, J., (2019). Fibroblast growth factor 21 is independently associated with severe hepatic steatosis in non-obese HIV-infected patients Liver International 39, (8), 1514-1520

Background: Severe hepatic steatosis shows a high prevalence and contributes to morbidity and mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients. Known risk factors include obesity, dyslipidaemia and features of metabolic syndrome. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21) is involved with hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism. This study aimed to evaluate FGF-21 as a biomarker for severe hepatic steatosis in non-obese HIV-infected patients. Methods: This is a prospective, cross-sectional, monocentric study including HIV-infected out-patients. Hepatic steatosis was measured via controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) using FibroScan 502 touch (ECHOSENS, France). Severe hepatic steatosis was defined at CAP ≥ 253 dB/m. Peripheral blood samples were collected and plasma was analysed for FGF-21. Demographic and clinical characteristics were collected from patient's health records. Results: In total, 73 non-obese HIV-monoinfected patients were included in this study. Prevalence of severe hepatic steatosis was 41%. Patients with severe hepatic steatosis showed significantly higher levels of FGF-21. Univariate analysis revealed FGF-21, BMI, hyperlipidaemia, ALT levels and arterial hypertension as significant, while multivariate analysis showed only FGF-21, arterial hypertension and ALT levels as significant independent risk factors for severe hepatic steatosis. Conclusion: This study presents FGF-21 as an independent and stronger predictor of severe hepatic steatosis than blood lipids in HIV-infected patients. Moreover, arterial hypertension and ALT levels predict severe steatosis even in non-obese HIV-monoinfected patients. Furthermore, this study supports existing metabolic risk factors and expands them to non-obese HIV-infected patients.

JTD Keywords: BMI, CAP, Dyslipidaemia, FGF-21, Fibroscan, HIV, Hyperlipidaemia, Liver, NAFLD, NASH, Steatosis


Manca, M. L., Lattuada, D., Valenti, D., Marelli, O., Corradini, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Zaru, M., Maccioni, A. M., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2019). Potential therapeutic effect of curcumin loaded hyalurosomes against inflammatory and oxidative processes involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis: The use of fibroblast-like synovial cells cultured in synovial fluid European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics 136, 84-92

In the present work curcumin loaded hyalurosomes were proposed as innovative systems for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Vesicles were prepared using a one-step and environmentally friendly method. Aiming at finding the most suitable formulation in terms of size, surface charge and stability on storage, an extensive pre-formulation study was performed using different type and amount of phospholipids. Curcumin loaded vesicles prepared with 180 mg/ml of Phospholipon 90G (P90G) and immobilized with sodium hyaluronate (2 mg/ml) were selected because of their small size (189 nm), homogeneous dispersion (PI 0.24), negative charge (−35 mV), suitable ability to incorporate high amount of curcumin (E% 88%) and great stability on storage. The in vitro study using fibroblast-like synovial cells cultured in synovial fluid, demonstrated the ability of these vesicles to downregulate the production of anti-apoptotic proteins IAP1 and IAP2 and stimulate the production of IL-10, while the production of IL-6 and IL-15 and reactive oxygen species was reduced, confirming their suitability in counteracting pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

JTD Keywords: Curcumin, IL-6 and IL-15, In vitro inflammation, Oxidative stress, Phospholipid vesicles, Synoviocytes


Ferrer, I., García, M. A., Carmona, M., Andrés-Benito, P., Torrejón-Escribano, B., Garcia-Esparcia, P., Del Rio, J. A., (2019). Involvement of oligodendrocytes in tau seeding and spreading in tauopathies Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 11, 112

Introduction: Human tau seeding and spreading occur following intracerebral inoculation into different gray matter regions of brain homogenates obtained from tauopathies in transgenic mice expressing wild or mutant tau, and in wild-type (WT) mice. However, little is known about tau propagation following inoculation in the white matter. Objectives: The present study is geared to learning about the patterns of tau seeding and cells involved following unilateral inoculation in the corpus callosum of homogenates from sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD), primary age-related tauopathy (PART: neuronal 4Rtau and 3Rtau), pure aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG: astroglial 4Rtau with thorn-shaped astrocytes TSAs), globular glial tauopathy (GGT: 4Rtau with neuronal tau and specific tau inclusions in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, GAIs and GOIs, respectively), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP: 4Rtau with neuronal inclusions, tufted astrocytes and coiled bodies), Pick's disease (PiD: 3Rtau with characteristic Pick bodies in neurons and tau containing fibrillar astrocytes), and frontotemporal lobar degeneration linked to P301L mutation (FTLD-P301L: 4Rtau familial tauopathy). Methods: Adult WT mice were inoculated unilaterally in the lateral corpus callosum with sarkosyl-insoluble fractions or with sarkosyl-soluble fractions from the mentioned tauopathies; mice were killed from 4 to 7 months after inoculation. Brains were fixed in paraformaldehyde, embedded in paraffin and processed for immunohistochemistry. Results: Tau seeding occurred in the ipsilateral corpus callosum and was also detected in the contralateral corpus callosum. Phospho-tau deposits were found in oligodendrocytes similar to coiled bodies and in threads. Moreover, tau deposits co-localized with active (phosphorylated) tau kinases p38 and ERK 1/2, suggesting active tau phosphorylation of murine tau. TSAs, GAIs, GOIs, tufted astrocytes, and tau-containing fibrillar astrocytes were not seen in any case. Tau deposits were often associated with slight myelin disruption and the presence of small PLP1-immunoreactive globules and dots in the ipsilateral corpus callosum 6 months after inoculation of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions from every tauopathy. Conclusions: Seeding and spreading of human tau in the corpus callosum of WT mice occurs in oligodendrocytes, thereby supporting the idea of a role of oligodendrogliopathy in tau seeding and spreading in the white matter in tauopathies. Slight differences in the predominance of threads or oligodendroglial deposits suggest disease differences in the capacity of tau seeding and spreading among tauopathies.

JTD Keywords: AD, ARTAG, GGT, PiD, Seeding and spreading, Tau, Tauopathies


Tozzi, C., Walani, N., Arroyo, M., (2019). Out-of-equilibrium mechanochemistry and self-organization of fluid membranes interacting with curved proteins New Journal of Physics 21, (9), 093004

The function of biological membranes is controlled by the interaction of the fluid lipid bilayer with various proteins, some of which induce or react to curvature. These proteins can preferentially bind or diffuse towards curved regions of the membrane, induce or stabilize membrane curvature and sequester membrane area into protein-rich curved domains. The resulting tight interplay between mechanics and chemistry is thought to control organelle morphogenesis and dynamics, including traffic, membrane mechanotransduction, or membrane area regulation and tension buffering. Despite all these processes are fundamentally dynamical, previous work has largely focused on equilibrium and a self-consistent theoretical treatment of the dynamics of curvature sensing and generation has been lacking. Here, we develop a general theoretical and computational framework based on a nonlinear Onsager's formalism of irreversible thermodynamics for the dynamics of curved proteins and membranes. We develop variants of the model, one of which accounts for membrane curving by asymmetric crowding of bulky off-membrane protein domains. As illustrated by a selection of test cases, the resulting governing equations and numerical simulations provide a foundation to understand the dynamics of curvature sensing, curvature generation, and more generally membrane curvature mechano-chemistry.

JTD Keywords: Curvature generation, Curvature sensing, Lipid bilayers, Membrane proteins


Gumí-Audenis, B., Giannotti, M. I., (2019). Structural and mechanical characterization of supported model membranes by AFM Biomimetic Lipid Membranes: Fundamentals, Applications, and Commercialization (ed. Kök, Fatma N., Arslan Yildiz, Ahu, Inci, Fatih), Springer International Publishing (Cham, Germany) , 1-27

Several cellular processes, including adhesion, signaling and transcription, endocytosis, and membrane resealing, among others, involve conformational changes such as bending, vesiculation, and tubulation. These mechanisms generally involve membrane separation from the cytoskeleton as well as strong bending, for which the membrane chemical composition and physicochemical properties, often highly localized and dynamic, are key players. The mechanical role of the lipid membrane in force triggered (or sensing) mechanisms in cells is important, and understanding the lipid bilayers’ physical and mechanical properties is essential to comprehend their contribution to the overall membrane. Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based experimental approaches have been to date very valuable to deepen into these aspects. As a stand-alone, high-resolution imaging technique and force transducer with the possibility to operate in aqueous environment, it defies most other surface instrumentation in ease of use, sensitivity and versatility. In this chapter, we introduce the different AFM-based methods to assess topological and nanomechanical information on model membranes, specifically to supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), including several examples ranging from pure phospholipid homogeneous bilayers to multicomponent and phase-separated SLBs, increasing the bilayer complexity, in the direction of mimicking biological membranes.

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Force spectroscopy, Model membranes, Nanomechanics, Supported lipid bilayers


Sehgal, Poonam, Kong, Xinyu, Wu, Jun, Sunyer, Raimon, Trepat, Xavier, Leckband, Deborah, (2018). Epidermal growth factor receptor and integrins control force-dependent vinculin recruitment to E-cadherin junctions Journal of Cell Science 131, (6), jcs206656

This study reports novel findings that link E-cadherin (also known as CDH1)-mediated force-transduction signaling to vinculin targeting to intercellular junctions via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and integrins. These results build on previous findings that demonstrated that mechanically perturbed E-cadherin receptors activate phosphoinositide 3-kinase and downstream integrins in an EGFR-dependent manner. Results of this study show that this EGFR-mediated kinase cascade controls the force-dependent recruitment of vinculin to stressed E-cadherin complexes – a key early signature of cadherin-based mechanotransduction. Vinculin targeting requires its phosphorylation at tyrosine 822 by Abl family kinases (hereafter Abl), but the origin of force-dependent Abl activation had not been identified. We now present evidence that integrin activation, which is downstream of EGFR signaling, controls Abl activation, thus linking E-cadherin to Abl through a mechanosensitive signaling network. These findings place EGFR and integrins at the center of a positive-feedback loop, through which force-activated E-cadherin signals regulate vinculin recruitment to cadherin complexes in response to increased intercellular tension.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

JTD Keywords: Cadherin, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Force transduction, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Vinculin, Integrin


Martí Coma-Cros, Elisabet, Biosca, Arnau, Lantero, Elena, Manca, Maria, Caddeo, Carla, Gutiérrez, Lucía, Ramírez, Miriam, Borgheti-Cardoso, Livia, Manconi, Maria, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, (2018). Antimalarial activity of orally administered curcumin incorporated in Eudragit®-containing liposomes International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19, (5), 1361

Curcumin is an antimalarial compound easy to obtain and inexpensive, having shown little toxicity across a diverse population. However, the clinical use of this interesting polyphenol has been hampered by its poor oral absorption, extremely low aqueous solubility and rapid metabolism. In this study, we have used the anionic copolymer Eudragit® S100 to assemble liposomes incorporating curcumin and containing either hyaluronan (Eudragit-hyaluronan liposomes) or the water-soluble dextrin Nutriose® FM06 (Eudragit-nutriosomes). Upon oral administration of the rehydrated freeze-dried nanosystems administered at 25/75 mg curcumin·kg−1·day−1, only Eudragit-nutriosomes improved the in vivo antimalarial activity of curcumin in a dose-dependent manner, by enhancing the survival of all Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice up to 11/11 days, as compared to 6/7 days upon administration of an equal dose of the free compound. On the other hand, animals treated with curcumin incorporated in Eudragit-hyaluronan liposomes did not live longer than the controls, a result consistent with the lower stability of this formulation after reconstitution. Polymer-lipid nanovesicles hold promise for their development into systems for the oral delivery of curcumin-based antimalarial therapies.

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Curcumin, Nanomedicine, Oral administration, Lipid nanovesicles, Eudragit, Nutriose, Hyaluronan, Plasmodium yoelii


Dols-Perez, Aurora, Fumagalli, Laura, Gomila, Gabriel, (2018). Interdigitation in spin-coated lipid layers in air Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 172, 400-406

In this study, we show that dry saturated phospholipid layers prepared by the spin-coating technique could present thinner regions associated to interdigitated phases under some conditions. The morphological characteristics of lipid layers of saturated phosphocholines, such as dilauroylphosphatidylcholine (DLPC), dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC), dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and distearoylphosphatidylcholine (DSPC), have been measured by Atomic Force Microscopy and revealed that the presence of interdigitated regions is not induced by the same parameters that induce them in hydrated samples. To achieve these results the effect of the lipid hidrocabonated chain length, the presence of alcohol in the coating solution, the spinning velocity and the presence of cholesterol were tested. We showed that DPPC and DSPC bilayers, on the one side, can show structures with similar height than interdigitated regions observed in hydrated samples, while, on the other side, DLPC and DMPC tend to show no evidence of interdigitation. Results indicate that the presence of interdigitated areas is due to the presence of lateral tensions and, hence, that they can be eliminated by releasing these tensions by, for instance, the addition of cholesterol. These results demonstrate that interdigitation in lipid layers is a rather general phenomena and can be observed in lipid bilayers in dry conditions.

JTD Keywords: Spin-coating, Lipid layers, Atomic Force Microscopy, Interdigitation


Crespo-Villanueva, Adrián, Gumí-Audenis, Berta, Sanz, Fausto, Artzner, Franck, Mériadec, Cristelle, Rousseau, Florence, Lopez, Christelle, Giannotti, M. I., Guyomarc'h, Fanny, (2018). Casein interaction with lipid membranes: Are the phase state or charge density of the phospholipids affecting protein adsorption? Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes 1860, (12), 2588-2598

Casein micelles are ~200 nm electronegative particles that constitute 80 wt% of the milk proteins. During synthesis in the lactating mammary cells, caseins are thought to interact in the form of ~20 nm assemblies, directly with the biological membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum and/or the Golgi apparatus. However, conditions that drive this interaction are not yet known. Atomic force microscopy imaging and force spectroscopy were used to directly observe the adsorption of casein particles on supported phospholipid bilayers with controlled compositions to vary their phase state and surface charge density, as verified by X-ray diffraction and zetametry. At pH 6.7, the casein particles adsorbed onto bilayer phases with zwitterionic and liquid-disordered phospholipid molecules, but not on phases with anionic or ordered phospholipids. Furthermore, the presence of adsorbed caseins altered the stability of the yet exposed bilayer. Considering their respective compositions and symmetry/asymmetry, these results cast light on the possible interactions of casein assemblies with the organelles’ membranes of the lactating mammary cells.

JTD Keywords: Casein proteins, Phospholipid membrane, Supported lipid bilayer, Atomic force microscopy


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

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

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


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

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

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


Gumí-Audenis, Berta, Costa, Luca, Carlá, Francesco, Comin, Fabio, Sanz, Fausto, Giannotti, M. I., (2016). Structure and nanomechanics of model membranes by atomic force microscopy and spectroscopy: Insights into the role of cholesterol and sphingolipids Membranes , 6, (4), 58

Biological membranes mediate several biological processes that are directly associated with their physical properties but sometimes difficult to evaluate. Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are model systems widely used to characterize the structure of biological membranes. Cholesterol (Chol) plays an essential role in the modulation of membrane physical properties. It directly influences the order and mechanical stability of the lipid bilayers, and it is known to laterally segregate in rafts in the outer leaflet of the membrane together with sphingolipids (SLs). Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a powerful tool as it is capable to sense and apply forces with high accuracy, with distance and force resolution at the nanoscale, and in a controlled environment. AFM-based force spectroscopy (AFM-FS) has become a crucial technique to study the nanomechanical stability of SLBs by controlling the liquid media and the temperature variations. In this contribution, we review recent AFM and AFM-FS studies on the effect of Chol on the morphology and mechanical properties of model SLBs, including complex bilayers containing SLs. We also introduce a promising combination of AFM and X-ray (XR) techniques that allows for in situ characterization of dynamic processes, providing structural, morphological, and nanomechanical information

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Force spectroscopy, Lipid membranes, Supported lipid bilayers, Nanomechanics, Cholesterol, Sphingolipids, Membrane structure, XR-AFM combination


Vila, M., García, A., Girotti, A., Alonso, M., Rodríguez-Cabello, J. C., González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Buján, J., Garcíaa-Honduvilla, N., Vallet-Regí, M., (2016). 3D silicon doped hydroxyapatite scaffolds decorated with Elastin-like Recombinamers for bone regenerative medicine Acta Biomaterialia 45, 349-356

The current study reports on the manufacturing by rapid prototyping technique of three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds based on silicon substituted hydroxyapatite with Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs) functionalized surfaces. Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), with Ca10(PO4)5.7(SiO4)0.3(OH)1.7h0.3 nominal formula, was surface functionalized with two different types of polymers designed by genetic engineering: ELR-RGD that contain cell attachment specific sequences and ELR-SNA15/RGD with both hydroxyapatite and cells domains that interact with the inorganic phase and with the cells, respectively. These hybrid materials were subjected to in vitro assays in order to clarify if the ELRs coating improved the well-known biocompatible and bone regeneration properties of calcium phosphates materials. The in vitro tests showed that there was a total and homogeneous colonization of the 3D scaffolds by Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs). In addition, the BMSCs were viable and able to proliferate and differentiate into osteoblasts. Statement of Significance Bone tissue engineering is an area of increasing interest because its main applications are directly related to the rising life expectancy of the population, which promotes higher rates of several bone pathologies, so innovative strategies are needed for bone tissue regeneration therapies. Here we use the rapid prototyping technology to allow moulding ceramic 3D scaffolds and we use different bio-polymers for the functionalization of their surfaces in order to enhance the biological response. Combining the ceramic material (silicon doped hydroxyapatite, Si-HA) and the Elastin like Recombinamers (ELRs) polymers with the presence of the integrin-mediate adhesion domain alone or in combination with SNA15 peptide that possess high affinity for hydroxyapatite, provided an improved Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs) differentiation into osteoblastic linkage.

JTD Keywords: Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs), Bone repair, Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs), Rapid prototyped 3D scaffolds, Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), Tissue engineering


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Rapid diagnostic tests for malaria: Past, present and future Future Microbiology , 11, (11), 1379-1382

Manca, M. L., Castangia, I., Zaru, M., Nácher, A., Valenti, D., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2015). Development of curcumin loaded sodium hyaluronate immobilized vesicles (hyalurosomes) and their potential on skin inflammation and wound restoring Biomaterials 71, 100-109

In the present work new highly biocompatible nanovesicles were developed using polyanion sodium hyaluronate to form polymer immobilized vesicles, so called hyalurosomes. Curcumin, at high concentration was loaded into hyalurosomes and physico-chemical properties and in vitro/in vivo performances of the formulations were compared to those of liposomes having the same lipid and drug content. Vesicles were prepared by direct addition of dispersion containing the polysaccharide sodium hyaluronate and the polyphenol curcumin to a commercial mixture of soy phospholipids, thus avoiding the use of organic solvents. An extensive study was carried out on the physico-chemical features and properties of curcumin-loaded hyalurosomes and liposomes. Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering showed that vesicles were spherical, uni- or oligolamellar and small in size (112-220 nm). The in vitro percutaneous curcumin delivery studies on intact skin showed an improved ability of hyalurosomes to favour a fast drug deposition in the whole skin. Hyalurosomes as well as liposomes were biocompatible, protected in vitro human keratinocytes from oxidative stress damages and promoted tissue remodelling through cellular proliferation and migration. Moreover, in vivo tests underlined a good effectiveness of curcumin-loaded hyalurosomes to counteract 12-O-tetradecanoilphorbol (TPA)-produced inflammation and injuries, diminishing oedema formation, myeloperoxydase activity and providing an extensive skin reepithelization. Thanks to the one-step and environmentally-friendly preparation method, component biocompatibility and safety, good in vitro and in vivo performances, the hyalurosomes appear as promising nanocarriers for cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.

JTD Keywords: Cell oxidative stress, Hyaluronic acid/Hyaluronan, Phospholipid vesicles, Polyphenols, Skin inflammation, Wound healing


Castangia, I., Nácher, A., Caddeo, C., Merino, V., Díez-Sales, O., Catalán-Latorre, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2015). Therapeutic efficacy of quercetin enzyme-responsive nanovesicles for the treatment of experimental colitis in rats Acta Biomaterialia 13, 216-227

Biocompatible quercetin nanovesicles were developed by coating polyethylene glycol-containing vesicles with chitosan and nutriose, aimed at targeting the colon. Uncoated and coated vesicles were prepared using hydrogenated soy phosphatidylcholine and quercetin, a potent natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant drug. Physicochemical characterization was carried out by light scattering, cryogenic microscopy and X-ray scattering, the results showing that vesicles were predominantly multilamellar and around 130 nm in size. The in vitro release of quercetin was investigated under different pH conditions simulating the environment of the gastrointestinal tract, and confirmed that the chitosan/nutriose coating improved the gastric resistance of vesicles, making them a potential carrier system for colon delivery. The preferential localization of fluorescent vesicles in the intestine was demonstrated using the In Vivo FX PRO Imaging System. Above all, a marked amelioration of symptoms of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid-induced colitis was observed in animals treated with quercetin-loaded coated vesicles, favoring the restoration of physiological conditions. Therefore, quercetin-loaded chitosan/nutriose-coated vesicles can represent a valuable therapeutic tool for the treatment of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, and presumably a preventive system, due to the synergic action of antioxidant quercetin and beneficial prebiotic effects of the chitosan/nutriose complex.

JTD Keywords: Chitosan/nutriose complex, Colon targeting, Phospholipid vesicles, Quercetin, Rat colitis


Gumí-Audenis, B., Carlà, F., Vitorino, M. V., Panzarella, A., Porcar, L., Boilot, M., Guerber, S., Bernard, P., Rodrigues, M. S., Sanz, F., Giannotti, M. I., Costa, L., (2015). Custom AFM for X-ray beamlines: in situ biological investigations under physiological conditions Journal of Synchrotron Radiation , 22, 1364-1371

A fast atomic force microscope (AFM) has been developed that can be installed as a sample holder for grazing-incidence X-ray experiments at solid/gas or solid/liquid interfaces. It allows a wide range of possible investigations, including soft and biological samples under physiological conditions (hydrated specimens). The structural information obtained using the X-rays is combined with the data gathered with the AFM (morphology and mechanical properties), providing a unique characterization of the specimen and its dynamics in situ during an experiment. In this work, lipid monolayers and bilayers in air or liquid environment have been investigated by means of AFM, both with imaging and force spectroscopy, and X-ray reflectivity. In addition, this combination allows the radiation damage induced by the beam on the sample to be studied, as has been observed on DOPC and DPPC supported lipid bilayers under physiological conditions.

JTD Keywords: In situ atomic force microscopy, Grazing-incidence scattering and reflectivity, Radiation damage, Model lipid membranes


Palleja, T., Balsa, R., Tresanchez, M., Moreno, J., Teixido, M., Font, D., Marco, S., Pomareda, V., Palacin, J., (2014). Corridor gas-leak localization using a mobile Robot with a photo ionization detector sensor Sensor Letters , 12, (6-7), 974-977

The use of an autonomous mobile robot to locate gas-leaks and air quality monitoring in indoor environments are promising tasks that will avoid risky human operations. However, these are challenging tasks due to the chaotic gas profile propagation originated by uncontrolled air flows. This paper proposes the localization of an acetone gas-leak in a 44 m-length indoor corridor with a mobile robot equipped with a PID sensor. This paper assesses the influence of the mobile robot velocity and the relative height of the PID sensor in the profile of the measurements. The results show weak influence of the robot velocity and strong influence of the relative height of the PID sensor. An estimate of the gas-leak location is also performed by computing the center of mass of the highest gas concentrations.

JTD Keywords: Gas source detection, LIDAR sensor, Mobile robot, PID sensor, SLAM, Acetone, Air quality, Gases, Indoor air pollution, Mobile robots, Robots, Air quality monitoring, Autonomous Mobile Robot, Gas sources, Indoor environment, Leak localization, LIDAR sensors, Profile propagation, SLAM, Ionization of gases


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery , 5, (10), 1049-1052

Dalmases, M., Torres, M., Márquez-Kisinousky, L., Almendros, I., Planas, A. M., Embid, C., Martínez-Garcia, M. A., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2014). Brain tissue hypoxia and oxidative stress induced by obstructive apneas is different in young and aged rats Sleep , 37, (7), 1249-1256

Study Objectives: To test the hypotheses that brain oxygen partial pressure (PtO2) in response to obstructive apneas changes with age and that it might lead to different levels of cerebral tissue oxidative stress. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Sixty-four male Wistar rats: 32 young (3 mo old) and 32 aged (18 mo). Interventions: Protocol 1: Twenty-four animals were subjected to obstructive apneas (50 apneas/h, lasting 15 sec each) or to sham procedure for 50 min. Protocol 2: Forty rats were subjected to obstructive apneas or sham procedure for 4 h. Measurements and Results: Protocol 1: Real-time PtO2 measurements were performed using a fast-response oxygen microelectrode. During successive apneas cerebral cortex PtO2 presented a different pattern in the two age groups; there was a fast increase in young rats, whereas it remained without significant changes between the beginning and the end of the protocol in the aged group. Protocol 2: Brain oxidative stress assessed by lipid peroxidation increased after apneas in young rats (1.34 ± 0.17 nmol/mg of protein) compared to old ones (0.63 ± 0.03 nmol/mg), where a higher expression of antioxidant enzymes was observed. Conclusions: The results suggest that brain oxidative stress in aged rats is lower than in young rats in response to recurrent apneas, mimicking obstructive sleep apnea. This could be due to the different PtO2 response observed between age groups and the increased antioxidant expression in aged rats.

JTD Keywords: Aging, Animal model, Obstructive apnea, Oxidative stress, Tissue oxygenation, antioxidant, glutathione disulfide, aged, animal experiment, animal model, animal tissue, apnea, arterial oxygen saturation, article, brain cortex, brain oxygen tension, brain tissue, controlled study, groups by age, hypoxia, lipid peroxidation, male, nonhuman, oxidative stress, pressure, priority journal, rat


Dols-Perez, A., Fumagalli, L., Gomila, G., (2014). Structural and nanomechanical effects of cholesterol in binary and ternary spin-coated single lipid bilayers in dry conditions Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 116, 295-302

We investigate the effects of Cholesterol (Chol) in the structural and nanomechanical properties of binary and ternary spin-coated single lipid bilayers made of Dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and Sphingomyelin (SM) in dry conditions. We show that for the DOPC/Chol bilayers, Chol induces an initial increase of the bilayer thickness, followed by decrease for concentrations above 30% Chol. The mechanical properties, instead, appear practically insensitive to the Chol content. For the SM/Chol bilayers we have observed both the thinning of the bilayer and the decrease of the force necessary to break it for Chol content above 40. mol%. In both binary mixtures phase separation is not observed. For ternary single bilayers of DOPC/SM/Chol, Chol induces phase segregation and the formation of domains resembling lipid rafts. The domains show a thickness and mechanical response clearly distinct from the surrounding phase and dependent on the relative Chol content. Based on the results obtained for the binary mixtures, DOPC- and SM-enriched domains can be identified. We highlight that many of the effects of Chol reported here for the dry multicomponent single lipid bilayers resemble closely those observed in hydrated bilayers, thus offering an additional insight into their properties.

JTD Keywords: AFM, Air-stable lipid layer, Force spectroscopy, Lipid raft, Spin-coating


Serra, T., Ortiz-Hernandez, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2014). Relevance of PEG in PLA-based blends for tissue engineering 3D-printed scaffolds Materials Science and Engineering: C 38, (1), 55-62

Achieving high quality 3D-printed structures requires establishing the right printing conditions. Finding processing conditions that satisfy both the fabrication process and the final required scaffold properties is crucial. This work stresses the importance of studying the outcome of the plasticizing effect of PEG on PLA-based blends used for the fabrication of 3D-direct-printed scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. For this, PLA/PEG blends with 5, 10 and 20% (w/w) of PEG and PLA/PEG/bioactive CaP glass composites were processed in the form of 3D rapid prototyping scaffolds. Surface analysis and differential scanning calorimetry revealed a rearrangement of polymer chains and a topography, wettability and elastic modulus increase of the studied surfaces as PEG was incorporated. Moreover, addition of 10 and 20% PEG led to non-uniform 3D structures with lower mechanical properties. In vitro degradation studies showed that the inclusion of PEG significantly accelerated the degradation rate of the material. Results indicated that the presence of PEG not only improves PLA processing but also leads to relevant surface, geometrical and structural changes including modulation of the degradation rate of PLA-based 3D printed scaffolds.

JTD Keywords: 3D-printing, Polylactic acid, Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Surface characterization


Bennetts, Victor, Schaffernicht, Erik, Pomareda, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim, Marco, Santiago, Trincavelli, Marco, (2014). Combining non selective gas sensors on a mobile robot for identification and mapping of multiple chemical compounds Sensors 14, (9), 17331-17352

In this paper, we address the task of gas distribution modeling in scenarios where multiple heterogeneous compounds are present. Gas distribution modeling is particularly useful in emission monitoring applications where spatial representations of the gaseous patches can be used to identify emission hot spots. In realistic environments, the presence of multiple chemicals is expected and therefore, gas discrimination has to be incorporated in the modeling process. The approach presented in this work addresses the task of gas distribution modeling by combining different non selective gas sensors. Gas discrimination is addressed with an open sampling system, composed by an array of metal oxide sensors and a probabilistic algorithm tailored to uncontrolled environments. For each of the identified compounds, the mapping algorithm generates a calibrated gas distribution model using the classification uncertainty and the concentration readings acquired with a photo ionization detector. The meta parameters of the proposed modeling algorithm are automatically learned from the data. The approach was validated with a gas sensitive robot patrolling outdoor and indoor scenarios, where two different chemicals were released simultaneously. The experimental results show that the generated multi compound maps can be used to accurately predict the location of emitting gas sources.

JTD Keywords: Environmental monitoring, Gas discrimination, Gas distribution mapping, Service robots, Open sampling systems, PID, Metal oxide sensors


Redondo-Morata, L., Giannotti, M. I., Sanz, F., (2014). Structural impact of cations on lipid bilayer models: Nanomechanical properties by AFM-force spectroscopy Molecular Membrane Biology , 31, (1), 17-28

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) has become an invaluable tool for studying the micro-and nanoworlds. As a stand-alone, high-resolution imaging technique and force transducer, it defies most other surface instrumentation in ease of use, sensitivity and versatility. The main strength of AFM relies on the possibility to operate in an aqueous environment on a wide variety of biological samples, from single molecules-DNA or proteins-to macromolecular assemblies like biological membranes. Understanding the effect of mechanical stress on membranes is of primary importance in biophysics, since cells are known to perform their function under a complex combination of forces. In the later years, AFM-based Force-Spectroscopy (AFM-FS) has provided a new vista on membrane mechanics in a confined area within the nanometer realm, where most of the specific molecular interactions take place. Lipid membranes are electrostatically charged entities that physiologically coexist with electrolyte solutions. Thus, specific interactions with ions are a matter of considerable interest. The distribution of ions in the solution and their interaction with the membranes are factors that substantially modify the structure and dynamics of the cell membranes. Furthermore, signaling processes are modified by the membrane capability of retaining ions. Supported Lipid Bilayers (SLBs) are a versatile tool to investigate phospholipid membranes mimicking biological surfaces. In the present contribution, we review selected experiments on the mechanical stability of SLBs as models of lipid membranes by means of AFM-FS, with special focus on the effect of cations and ionic strength in the overall nanomechanical stability.

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Cations, Force spectroscopy, Lipid bilayer, Mechanical stability


Serra, T., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2013). High-resolution PLA-based composite scaffolds via 3-D printing technology Acta Biomaterialia 9, (3), 5521-5530

Fabrication of new biodegradable scaffolds that guide and stimulate tissue regeneration is still a major issue in tissue engineering approaches. Scaffolds that possess adequate biodegradability, pore size, interconnectivity, bioactivity and mechanical properties in accordance with the injured tissue are required. This work aimed to develop and characterize three-dimensional (3-D) scaffolds that fulfill the aforementioned requirements. For this, a nozzle-based rapid prototyping system was used to combine polylactic acid and a bioactive CaP glass to fabricate 3-D biodegradable scaffolds with two patterns (orthogonal and displaced double layer). Scanning electron microscopy and micro-computer tomography showed that 3-D scaffolds had completely interconnected porosity, uniform distribution of the glass particles, and a controlled and repetitive architecture. Surface properties were also assessed, showing that the incorporation of glass particles increased both the roughness and the hydrophilicity of the scaffolds. Mechanical tests indicated that compression strength is dependent on the scaffold geometry and the presence of glass. Preliminary cell response was studied with primary mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and revealed that CaP glass improved cell adhesion. Overall, the results showed the suitability of the technique/materials combination to develop 3-D porous scaffolds and their initial biocompatibility, both being valuable characteristics for tissue engineering applications.

JTD Keywords: Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Polylactic acid, Biodegradable, Composite


Hoyo, J., Guaus, E., Oncins, G., Torrent-Burgués, J., Sanz, F., (2013). Incorporation of Ubiquinone in supported lipid bilayers on ITO Journal of Physical Chemistry B , 117, (25), 7498-7506

Ubiquinone (UQ) is one of the main electron and proton shuttle molecules in biological systems, and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) is one of the most used model lipids. Supported planar bilayers (SPBs) are extensively accepted as biological model membranes. In this study, SPBs have been deposited on ITO, which is a semiconductor with good electrical and optical features. Specifically, topographic atomic force microscopy (AFM) images and force curves have been performed on SPBs with several DPPC:UQ ratios to study the location and the interaction of UQ in the SPB. Additionally, cyclic voltammetry has been used to understand the electrochemical behavior of DPPC:UQ SPBs. Obtained results show that, in our case, UQ is placed in two main different positions in SPBs. First, between the DPPC hydrophobic chains, fact that originates a decrease in the breakthrough force of the bilayer, and the second between the two leaflets that form the SPBs. This second position occurs when increasing the UQ content, fact that eventually forms UQ aggregates at high concentrations. The formation of aggregates produces an expansion of the SPB average height and a bimodal distribution of the breakthrough force. The voltammetric response of UQ depends on its position on the bilayer.

JTD Keywords: Bimodal distribution, Biological models, Dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine, Electrochemical behaviors, Hydrophobic chains, Supported lipid bilayers, Supported planar bilayers, Voltammetric response


Giraldo, B. F., Chaparro, J. A., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2013). Characterization of the respiratory pattern variability of patients with different pressure support levels Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Osaka, Japan) , 3849-3852

One of the most challenging problems in intensive care is still the process of discontinuing mechanical ventilation, called weaning process. Both an unnecessary delay in the discontinuation process and a weaning trial that is undertaken too early are undesirable. In this study, we analyzed respiratory pattern variability using the respiratory volume signal of patients submitted to two different levels of pressure support ventilation (PSV), prior to withdrawal of the mechanical ventilation. In order to characterize the respiratory pattern, we analyzed the following time series: inspiratory time, expiratory time, breath duration, tidal volume, fractional inspiratory time, mean inspiratory flow and rapid shallow breathing. Several autoregressive modeling techniques were considered: autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA), and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX). The following classification methods were used: logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and support vector machines (SVM). 20 patients on weaning trials from mechanical ventilation were analyzed. The patients, submitted to two different levels of PSV, were classified as low PSV and high PSV. The variability of the respiratory patterns of these patients were analyzed. The most relevant parameters were extracted using the classifiers methods. The best results were obtained with the interquartile range and the final prediction errors of AR, ARMA and ARX models. An accuracy of 95% (93% sensitivity and 90% specificity) was obtained when the interquartile range of the expiratory time and the breath duration time series were used a LDA model. All classifiers showed a good compromise between sensitivity and specificity.

JTD Keywords: autoregressive moving average processes, feature extraction, medical signal processing, patient care, pneumodynamics, signal classification, support vector machines, time series, ARX, autoregressive modeling techniques, autoregressive models with exogenous input, autoregressive moving average model, breath duration time series, classification method, classifier method, discontinuing mechanical ventilation, expiratory time, feature extraction, final prediction errors, fractional inspiratory time, intensive care, interquartile range, linear discriminant analysis, logistic regression analysis, mean inspiratory flow, patient respiratory volume signal, pressure support level, pressure support ventilation, rapid shallow breathing, respiratory pattern variability characterization, support vector machines, tidal volume, weaning trial, Analytical models, Autoregressive processes, Biological system modeling, Estimation, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Ventilation


Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Oncins, Gerard, Sanz, Fausto, (2012). Force spectroscopy reveals the effect of different ions in the nanomechanical behavior of phospholipid model membranes: The case of potassium cation Biophysical Journal , 102, (1), 66-74

How do metal cations affect the stability and structure of phospholipid bilayers? What role does ion binding play in the insertion of proteins and the overall mechanical stability of biological membranes? Investigators have used different theoretical and microscopic approaches to study the mechanical properties of lipid bilayers. Although they are crucial for such studies, molecular-dynamics simulations cannot yet span the complexity of biological membranes. In addition, there are still some experimental difficulties when it comes to testing the ion binding to lipid bilayers in an accurate way. Hence, there is a need to establish a new approach from the perspective of the nanometric scale, where most of the specific molecular phenomena take place. Atomic force microscopy has become an essential tool for examining the structure and behavior of lipid bilayers. In this work, we used force spectroscopy to quantitatively characterize nanomechanical resistance as a function of the electrolyte composition by means of a reliable molecular fingerprint that reveals itself as a repetitive jump in the approaching force curve. By systematically probing a set of bilayers of different composition immersed in electrolytes composed of a variety of monovalent and divalent metal cations, we were able to obtain a wealth of information showing that each ion makes an independent and important contribution to the gross mechanical resistance and its plastic properties. This work addresses the need to assess the effects of different ions on the structure of phospholipid membranes, and opens new avenues for characterizing the (nano)mechanical stability of membranes.

JTD Keywords: Molecular-dynamics simulation, Liquid expanded monolayers, Lipid-bilayers, Hofmeister series, Monovalent salt, Phosphatidylcholine, Microscopy, Binding, Surfaces, NaCl


Hoyo, J., Guaus, E., Torrent-Burgués, J., Sanz, F., (2012). Electrochemical behaviour of mixed LB films of ubiquinone - DPPC Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry , 669, 6-13

The structure and the electrochemical behaviour of Langmuir and Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films of the biological ubiquinone-10 (UQ) and a mixture of dipalmytoilphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and UQ at the molar ratios DPPC:UQ 5:1 and 10:1 have been investigated. The surface pressure-area isotherms of the Langmuir films and the AFM images of the LB films show the formation of a monolayer in the DPPC:UQ mixture till a certain surface pressure is attained, and then at higher surface pressures the UQ is progressively expelled. The cyclic voltammograms of DPPC:UQ LB films formed on indium tin oxide, ITO, at different surface pressures show one reduction and one oxidation peak at low surface pressures, but two or even more reduction and oxidations peaks at medium and high surface pressures. The electrochemical behaviour is correlated with the film structure.

JTD Keywords: Cyclic voltammetry, Electron transfer, Langmuir-Blodgett, Lipid monolayer, Modified ITO electrode, Ubiquinone


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


Chaparro, J.A., Giraldo, B.F., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2012). Performance of respiratory pattern parameters in classifiers for predict weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 4349-4352

Weaning trials process of patients in intensive care units is a complex clinical procedure. 153 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were studied: 94 patients with successful trials (group S), 38 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (group F), and 21 patients with successful test but that had to be reintubated before 48 hours (group R). The respiratory pattern of each patient was characterized through the following time series: inspiratory time (TI), expiratory time (TE), breathing cycle duration (TTot), tidal volume (VT), inspiratory fraction (TI/TTot), half inspired flow (VT/TI), and rapid shallow index (f/VT), where f is respiratory rate. Using techniques as autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA) and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX), the most relevant parameters of the respiratory pattern were obtained. We proposed the evaluation of these parameters using classifiers as logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA), support vector machines (SVM) and classification and regression tree (CART) to discriminate between patients from groups S, F and R. An accuracy of 93% (98% sensitivity and 82% specificity) has been obtained using CART classification.

JTD Keywords: Accuracy, Indexes, Logistics, Regression tree analysis, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Autoregressive moving average processes, Medical signal processing, Pattern classification, Pneumodynamics, Regression analysis, Sensitivity, Signal classification, Support vector machines, Time series, SVM, T-tube testing, Autoregressive models-with-exogenous input, Autoregressive moving average models, Breathing cycle duration, Classification-and-regression tree, Expiratory time, Extubation process, Half inspired flow, Inspiratory fraction, Inspiratory time, Intensive care units, Linear discriminant analysis, Logistic regression, Rapid shallow index, Respiratory pattern parameter performance, Sensitivity, Spontaneous breathing, Support vector machines, Tidal volume, Time 48 hr, Time series, Weaning process classifiers


Redondo, L., Giannotti, M. I., Sanz, F., (2012). Stability of lipid bilayers as model membranes: Atomic force microscopy and spectroscopy approach Atomic force microscopy in liquid (ed. Baró, A. M., Reifenberger, R. G.), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.KGaA (Weinheim, Germany) Part I: General Atomic Force Microscopy, 259-284

van Zanten, T. S., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2012). Super-resolution near-field optical microscopy Comprehensive Biophysics (ed. Egelman, E. H.), Elsevier (Desdren, Germany) Volume 2: Biophysical Techniques for Characterization of Cells, 144-164

Near-field optical microscopy is a technique not limited by the laws of diffraction that enables simultaneous high-resolution fluorescence and topographic measurements at the nanometer scale. This chapter highlights the intrinsic advantages of near-field optics in the study of cellular structures. The first part of the chapter lays the foundations of the near-field concept and technical implementation of near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), whereas the second part of the chapter focuses on applications of NSOM to the study of model membranes and cellular structures on the plasma membrane. The last part of the chapter discusses further directions of near-field optics, including optical antennas and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy approaches in the near-field regime.

JTD Keywords: Biological membranes, Cell membrane nanoscale compartmentalization, Cellular nanodomains, Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in reduced volumes, Immunoreceptor imaging, Lipid rafts, Near-field scanning optical microscopy, Optical nano-antennas, Shear force imaging, Single molecule detection, Super-resolution microscopy


Manzo, C., van Zanten, T. S., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2011). Nanoscale fluorescence correlation spectroscopy on intact living cell membranes with NSOM probes Biophysical Journal , 100, (2), L8-L10

Characterization of molecular dynamics on living cell membranes at the nanoscale is fundamental to unravel the mechanisms of membrane organization and compartmentalization. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) based on the nanometric illumination of near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) probes on intact living cells. NSOM-FCS applied to fluorescent lipid analogs allowed us to reveal details of the diffusion hidden by larger illumination areas. Moreover, the technique offers the unique, advantages of evanescent axial illumination and straightforward implementation of multiple color excitation. As such, NSOM-FCS represents a powerful tool to study a variety of dynamic processes occurring at the nanometer scale on cell membranes.

JTD Keywords: Mode wave-guides, Lipid rafts, Difussion, Organization, Aperture


Garcia-Manyes, S., Redondo-Morata, L., Oncins, G., Sanz, F., (2010). Nanomechanics of lipid bilayers: Heads or tails? Journal of the American Chemical Society American Chemical Society 132, (37), 12874-12886

Understanding the effect of mechanical stress on membranes is of primary importance in biophysics. Here we use force spectroscopy AFM to quantitatively characterize the nanomechanical stability of supported lipid bilayers as a function of their chemical composition. The onset of plastic deformation reveals itself as a repetitive jump in the approaching force curve, which represents a molecular fingerprint for the bilayer mechanical stability. By systematically probing a set of chemically distinct supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), we first show that both the headgroup and tail have a decisive effect on their mechanical properties. While the mechanical stability of the probed SLBs linearly increases by 3.3 nN upon the introduction of each additional -CH2- in the chain, it exhibits a significant dependence on the phospholipid headgroup, ranging from 3 nN for DPPA to 66 nN for DPPG. Furthermore, we also quantify the reduction of the membrane mechanical stability as a function of the number of unsaturations and molecular branching in the chemical structure of the apolar tails. Finally, we demonstrate that, upon introduction of cholesterol and ergosterol, contrary to previous belief the mechanical stability of membranes not only increases linearly in the liquid phase (DLPC) but also for phospholipids present in the gel phase (DPPC). Our results are discussed in the framework of the continuum nucleation model. This work highlights the compelling effect of subtle variations in the chemical structure of phospholipid molecules on the membrane response when exposed to mechanical forces, a mechanism of common occurrence in nature.

JTD Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Molecular-dynamics simulation, Aqueous-electrolyte solutions, Supported planar membranes, Phospholipid-bilayers, Biological-membranes, Physical-properties, Fluid membranes, Model membranes, Chain-length


Garcia-Manyes, S., Sanz, F., (2010). Nanomechanics of lipid bilayers by force spectroscopy with AFM: A perspective Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes , 1798, (4), 741-749

Lipid bilayers determine the architecture of cell membranes and regulate a myriad of distinct processes that are highly dependent on the lateral organization of the phospholipid molecules that compose the membrane. Indeed, the mechanochemical properties of the membrane are strongly correlated with the function of several membrane proteins, which demand a very specific, highly localized physicochemical environment to perform their function. Several mesoscopic techniques have been used in the past to investigate the mechanical properties of lipid membranes. However, they were restricted to the study of the ensemble properties of giant bilayers. Force spectroscopy with AFM has emerged as a powerful technique able to provide valuable insights into the nanomechanical properties of supported lipid membranes at the nanometer/nanonewton scale in a wide variety of systems. In particular, these measurements have allowed direct measurement of the molecular interactions arising between neighboring phospholipid molecules and between the lipid molecules and the surrounding solvent environment. The goal of this review is to illustrate how these novel experiments have provided a new vista on membrane mechanics in a confined area within the nanometer realm, where most of the specific molecular interactions take place. Here we report in detail the main discoveries achieved by force spectroscopy with AFM on supported lipid bilayers, and we also discuss on the exciting future perspectives offered by this growing research field.

JTD Keywords: Force spectroscopy, Atomic force microscopy, Lipid bilayer, Nanomechanics


van Zanten, T. S., Cambi, A., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2010). A nanometer scale optical view on the compartmentalization of cell membranes Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes , 1798, (4), 777-787

For many years, it was believed that the laws of diffraction set a fundamental limit to the spatial resolution of conventional light microscopy. Major developments, especially in the past few years, have demonstrated that the diffraction barrier can be overcome both in the near- and far-field regime. Together with dynamic measurements, a wealth of new information is now emerging regarding the compartmentalization of cell membranes. In this review we focus on optical methods designed to explore the nanoscale architecture of the cell membrane, with a focal point on near-field optical microscopy (NSOM) as the first developed technique to provide truly optical super-resolution beyond the diffraction limit of light. Several examples illustrate the unique capabilities offered by NSOM and highlight its usefulness on cell membrane studies, complementing the palette of biophysical techniques available nowadays.

JTD Keywords: Membrane nanodomain, Lipid raft, Single molecule detection, Near-field scanning optical microscopy, Super-resolution optical microscopy


Olivares, A. L., Marshal, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2009). Finite element study of scaffold architecture design and culture conditions for tissue engineering Biomaterials 30, (30), 6142-6149

Tissue engineering scaffolds provide temporary mechanical support for tissue regeneration and transfer global mechanical load to mechanical stimuli to cells through its architecture. In this study the interactions between scaffold pore morphology, mechanical stimuli developed at the cell microscopic level, and culture conditions applied at the macroscopic scale are studied on two regular scaffold structures. Gyroid and hexagonal scaffolds of 55% and 70% porosity were modeled in a finite element analysis and were submitted to an inlet fluid flow or compressive strain. A mechanoregulation theory based on scaffold shear strain and fluid shear stress was applied for determining the influence of each structures on the mechanical stimuli on initial conditions. Results indicate that the distribution of shear stress induced by fluid perfusion is very dependent on pore distribution within the scaffold. Gyroid architectures provide a better accessibility of the fluid than hexagonal structures. Based on the mechanoregulation theory, the differentiation process in these structures was more sensitive to inlet fluid flow than axial strain of the scaffold. This study provides a computational approach to determine the mechanical stimuli at the cellular level when cells are cultured in a bioreactor and to relate mechanical stimuli with cell differentiation.

JTD Keywords: Tissue engineering, Scaffold, Rapid prototyping, Computational fluid dynamics, Finite element


Nussio, M. R., Oncins, G., Ridelis, I., Szili, E., Shapter, J. G., Sanz, F., Voelcker, N. H., (2009). Nanomechanical characterization of phospholipid bilayer islands on flat and porous substrates: A force spectroscopy study Journal of Physical Chemistry B , 113, (30), 10339-10347

In this study, we compare for the first time the nanomechanical properties of lipid bilayer islands on flat and porous surfaces. 1,2-Dimyzistoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (DPPC) bilayers were deposited on flat (silicon and mica) and porous silicon (pSi) substrate surfaces and examined using atomic force spectroscopy and force volume imaging. Force spectroscopy measurements revealed the effects of the underlying substrate and of the lipid phase on the nanomechanical properties of bilayers islands. For mica and silicon, significant differences in breakthrough force between the center and the edges of bilayer islands were observed for both phospolipids. These differences were more pronounced for DMPC than for DPPC, presumably due to melting effects at the edges of DMPC bilayers. In contrast, bilayer islands deposited on pSi yielded similar breakthrough forces in the central region and along the perimeter of the islands, and those values in turn were similar to those measured along the perimeter of bilayer islands deposited on the flat substrates. The study also demonstrates that pSi is suitable solid support for the formation of pore-spanning phospholipid bilayers with potential applications in transmembrane protein studies, drug delivery, and biosensing.

JTD Keywords: Black lipid-membranes, Gold surfaces, Supported bilayers, Channel activity, Micro-BLMS, Silicon, Proteins, Vesicles, AFM, Temperature measurement


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


Oncins, G., Torrent-Burgues, J., Sanz, F., (2008). Nanomechanical properties of arachidic acid Langmuir-Blodgett films Journal of Physical Chemistry C 112, (6), 1967-1974

The nanomechanical properties of Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers of arachidic acid extracted at surface pressures of 1, 15, and 35 mN/m and deposited on mica were investigated by atomic force microscopy, force spectroscopy, and lateral force microscopy. It was experimentally demonstrated that the arachidic acid molecular orientation depends on the extraction pressure. According to this, tilting angles of 50, 34, and 22 degrees with respect to the surface perpendicular were detected and identified as conformations that maximize van der Waals interactions between the arachidic acid alkyl chains. The vertical force needed to puncture the monolayers with the AFM tip strongly depends on the molecular tilting angles attained at different monolayer extraction surface pressures, obtaining values that range from 13.07 +/- 3.24 nN for 50 degrees to 22.94 +/- 5.49 nN for 22 degrees tilting angles. The different molecular interactions involved in the monolayer cohesion are discussed and quantitatively related to the experimental monolayer breakthrough forces. The friction measurements performed from low vertical forces up to monolayer disruption reveal the existence of three well-defined regimes: first, a low friction response due to the elastic deformation of the monolayer, which is followed by a sharp increase in the friction force due to the onset of a sudden plastic deformation. The last regime corresponds to the monolayer rupture and the contact between tip and substrate. The friction coefficient of the substrate is seen to depend on the monolayer extraction pressure, a fact that is discussed in terms of the relationship between the sample compactness and its rupture mechanism.

JTD Keywords: AFM, SAM, Reflection-absortion spectroscopy, Lipid-bilayers, Frictional-properies, Molecular-structure, Thermal behavior, Nanometer-scale, Chain-length, LB films