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by Keyword: Stimulation

Molina, BG, Arnau, M, Sánchez, M, Alemán, C, (2024). Controlled dopamine release from cellulose-based conducting hydrogel European Polymer Journal 202, 112635

Very recently, the controlled release of dopamine (DA), a neurotransmitter whose deficiency is associated with Parkinson's disease, has been postulated as a good alternative to the oral administration of levodopa (L-Dopa), a dopamine precursor, to combat the effects of said disease. However, this is still a very little explored field and there are very few carriers that are capable of releasing DA, a small and water-soluble molecule, in an efficient and controlled manner. In this work, we report a carrier based on a conductive hydrogel capable of loading DA and releasing it progressively and efficiently (100 % release) in a period of five days by applying small electrical stimuli (-0.4 V) daily for a short time (1 min). The hydrogel (CMC/PEDOT), which is electrically active, has been prepared from sodium carboxymethylcellulose and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) microparticles, using citric acid as a cross-linking agent. Furthermore, the results have shown that when relatively hydrophobic small molecules, such as chloramphenicol, are loaded, the electrostimulated release is significantly less efficient, demonstrating the usefulness of CMC/PEDOT as a carrier for neurotransmitters.

JTD Keywords: Amines, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Carboxymethylcellulose, Conducting hydrogels, Conducting hydrogels,conducting polymers,carboxymethylcellulose,neurotransmitters release,electrostimulatio, Conducting polymers, Controlled release, Crosslinking, Dopamine, Drug-delivery system,parkinsons-disease,poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene),transpor, Electrostimulation, Hydrogels, Joining, Levodopa, Loading, Molecules, Neurophysiology, Neurotransmitter release, Neurotransmitters release, Oral administration, Parkinson's disease, Release, Sodium, Water-soluble molecule


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


Mestre, R, Fuentes, J, Lefaix, L, Wang, JJ, Guix, M, Murillo, G, Bashir, R, Sanchez, S, (2023). Improved Performance of Biohybrid Muscle-Based Bio-Bots Doped with Piezoelectric Boron Nitride Nanotubes Advanced Materials Technologies 8,

Biohybrid robots, or bio-bots, integrate living and synthetic materials following a synergistic strategy to acquire some of the unique properties of biological organisms, like adaptability or bio-sensing, which are difficult to obtain exclusively using artificial materials. Skeletal muscle is one of the preferred candidates to power bio-bots, enabling a wide variety of movements from walking to swimming. Conductive nanocomposites, like gold nanoparticles or graphene, can provide benefits to muscle cells by improving the scaffolds' mechanical and conductive properties. Here, boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs), with piezoelectric properties, are integrated in muscle-based bio-bots and an improvement in their force output and motion speed is demonstrated. A full characterization of the BNNTs is provided, and their piezoelectric behavior with piezometer and dynamometer measurements is confirmed. It is hypothesized that the improved performance is a result of an electric field generated by the nanocomposites due to stresses produced by the cells during differentiation. This hypothesis is backed with finite element simulations supporting that this stress can generate a non-zero electric field within the matrix. With this work, it is shown that the integration of nanocomposite into muscle-based bio-bots can improve their performance, paving the way toward stronger and faster bio-hybrid robots.

JTD Keywords: Bio-bots, Biohybrid robots, Biomaterials, Boron nitride nanotubes, Cells, Cytotoxicity, Differentiation, Myoblasts, Skeletal muscle tissue, Skeletal-muscle, Stimulation


Martínez-Torres, S, Bergadà-Martínez, A, Ortega, JE, Galera-López, L, Hervera, A, de los Reyes-Ramírez, L, Ortega-Alvaro, A, Remmers, F, Muñoz-Moreno, E, Soria, G, del Río, JA, Lutz, B, Ruíz-Ortega, JA, Meana, JJ, Maldonado, R, Ozaita, A, (2023). Peripheral CB1 receptor blockade acts as a memory enhancer through a noradrenergic mechanism Neuropsychopharmacology 48, 341-350

Peripheral inputs continuously shape brain function and can influence memory acquisition, but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully understood. Cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1R) is a well-recognized player in memory performance, and its systemic modulation significantly influences memory function. By assessing low arousal/non-emotional recognition memory in mice, we found a relevant role of peripheral CB1R in memory persistence. Indeed, the peripherally-restricted CB1R specific antagonist AM6545 showed significant mnemonic effects that were occluded in adrenalectomized mice, and after peripheral adrenergic blockade. AM6545 also transiently impaired contextual fear memory extinction. Vagus nerve chemogenetic inhibition reduced AM6545-induced mnemonic effect. Genetic CB1R deletion in dopamine β-hydroxylase-expressing cells enhanced recognition memory persistence. These observations support a role of peripheral CB1R modulating adrenergic tone relevant for cognition. Furthermore, AM6545 acutely improved brain connectivity and enhanced extracellular hippocampal norepinephrine. In agreement, intra-hippocampal β-adrenergic blockade prevented AM6545 mnemonic effects. Altogether, we disclose a novel CB1R-dependent peripheral mechanism with implications relevant for lengthening the duration of non-emotional memory.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

JTD Keywords: antagonist, consolidation, contextual fear memory, electrical-stimulation, hippocampal function, improves memory, locus-coeruleus, reconsolidation, stress, Vagus nerve-stimulation


Webster-Wood, VA, Guix, M, Xu, NW, Behkam, B, Sato, H, Sarkar, D, Sanchez, S, Shimizu, M, Parker, KK, (2023). Biohybrid robots: recent progress, challenges, and perspectives Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 18, 15001

The past ten years have seen the rapid expansion of the field of biohybrid robotics. By combining engineered, synthetic components with living biological materials, new robotics solutions have been developed that harness the adaptability of living muscles, the sensitivity of living sensory cells, and even the computational abilities of living neurons. Biohybrid robotics has taken the popular and scientific media by storm with advances in the field, moving biohybrid robotics out of science fiction and into real science and engineering. So how did we get here, and where should the field of biohybrid robotics go next? In this perspective, we first provide the historical context of crucial subareas of biohybrid robotics by reviewing the past 10+ years of advances in microorganism-bots and sperm-bots, cyborgs, and tissue-based robots. We then present critical challenges facing the field and provide our perspectives on the vital future steps toward creating autonomous living machines.

JTD Keywords: biohybrid, cyborg, Biohybrid, Cell, Cyborg, Delivery, Fabrication, Flight, Insect, Living machines, Muscle activities, Muscular thin-films, Nanoparticles, Stimulation, Tissue


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

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

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


Mesquida-Veny, F, Martínez-Torres, S, Del Río, JA, Hervera, A, (2022). Genetic control of neuronal activity enhances axonal growth only on permissive substrates Molecular Medicine 28, 97

Abstract Background Neural tissue has limited regenerative ability. To cope with that, in recent years a diverse set of novel tools has been used to tailor neurostimulation therapies and promote functional regeneration after axonal injuries. Method In this report, we explore cell-specific methods to modulate neuronal activity, including opto- and chemogenetics to assess the effect of specific neuronal stimulation in the promotion of axonal regeneration after injury. Results Opto- and chemogenetic stimulations of neuronal activity elicited increased in vitro neurite outgrowth in both sensory and cortical neurons, as well as in vivo regeneration in the sciatic nerve, but not after spinal cord injury. Mechanistically, inhibitory substrates such as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans block the activity induced increase in axonal growth. Conclusions We found that genetic modulations of neuronal activity on both dorsal root ganglia and corticospinal motor neurons increase their axonal growth capacity but only on permissive environments.

JTD Keywords: activation, chemogenetics, electrical-stimulation, expression, functional recovery, increases, injury, motor cortex, neuronal activity, optogenetics, permissive substrate, promotes recovery, regeneration, Optogenetics, Regeneration, Spinal-cord


Molina, BG, Vasani, RB, Jarvis, KL, Armelin, E, Voelcker, NH, Aleman, C, (2022). Dual pH- and electro-responsive antibiotic-loaded polymeric platforms for effective bacterial detection and elimination Reactive & Functional Polymers 181, 105434

We describe a multi-tasking flexible system that is able to release a wide spectrum antibiotic (levofloxacin, LVX) under electrostimulation and act as a pH sensor for detecting bacterial infections. Combining anodic polymer-ization with plasma polymerization processes we engineered dual pH-and electro-responsive polymeric systems. Particularly, the manufactured devices consisted on a layer of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHEDOT) loaded with the LVX antibiotic and coated with a plasma polymer layer of poly(acrylic acid) (PAA). The PHEDOT acted as conductive and electro-responsive agent, while the PAA provided pH responsiveness, changing from a compact globular conformation in acid environments to an expanded open coil conformation in alkaline environments. The assembly between the PHEDOT layer and the PAA coating affected the electro-chemical response of the former, becoming dependent on the pH detected by the latter. The conformational change experienced by the PAA layer as a function of the pH and the redox properties of PHEDOT were leveraged for the electrochemical detection of bacteria growth and for regulating the release of the LVX antibiotic, respectively. The effectiveness of the system as a stimulus-responsive antibiotic carrier and pH sensor was also investigated on strains of Escherichia coli and Streptococcus salivarius.

JTD Keywords: Conducting polymer, Delivery, Drug delivery, Electrostimulation, Levofloxacin, Ph sensor, Plasma, Poly(acrylic acid), Selective detection


Matera, C, Calvé, P, Casadó-Anguera, V, Sortino, R, Gomila, AMJ, Moreno, E, Gener, T, Delgado-Sallent, C, Nebot, P, Costazza, D, Conde-Berriozabal, S, Masana, M, Hernando, J, Casadó, V, Puig, MV, Gorostiza, P, (2022). Reversible Photocontrol of Dopaminergic Transmission in Wild-Type Animals International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 10114

Understanding the dopaminergic system is a priority in neurobiology and neuropharmacology. Dopamine receptors are involved in the modulation of fundamental physiological functions, and dysregulation of dopaminergic transmission is associated with major neurological disorders. However, the available tools to dissect the endogenous dopaminergic circuits have limited specificity, reversibility, resolution, or require genetic manipulation. Here, we introduce azodopa, a novel photoswitchable ligand that enables reversible spatiotemporal control of dopaminergic transmission. We demonstrate that azodopa activates D1-like receptors in vitro in a light-dependent manner. Moreover, it enables reversibly photocontrolling zebrafish motility on a timescale of seconds and allows separating the retinal component of dopaminergic neurotransmission. Azodopa increases the overall neural activity in the cortex of anesthetized mice and displays illumination-dependent activity in individual cells. Azodopa is the first photoswitchable dopamine agonist with demonstrated efficacy in wild-type animals and opens the way to remotely controlling dopaminergic neurotransmission for fundamental and therapeutic purposes.

JTD Keywords: azobenzene, behavior, brainwave, d-1, dopamine, gpcr, in vivo electrophysiology, inhibitors, optogenetics, optopharmacology, photochromism, photopharmacology, photoswitch, stimulation, zebrafish, Azobenzene, Receptors, Zebrafish


Lozano-Garcia, M, Estrada-Petrocelli, L, Blanco-Almazan, D, Tas, B, Cho, PSP, Moxham, J, Rafferty, GF, Torres, A, Jane, R, Jolley, CJ, (2022). Noninvasive Assessment of Neuromechanical and Neuroventilatory Coupling in COPD Ieee Journal Of Biomedical And Health Informatics 26, 3385-3396

This study explored the use of parasternal second intercostal space and lower intercostal space surface electromyogram (sEMG) and surface mechanomyogram (sMMG) recordings (sEMGpara and sMMGpara, and sEMGlic and sMMGlic, respectively) to assess neural respiratory drive (NRD), neuromechanical (NMC) and neuroventilatory (NVC) coupling, and mechanical efficiency (MEff) noninvasively in healthy subjects and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. sEMGpara, sMMGpara, sEMGlic, sMMGlic, mouth pressure (Pmo), and volume (Vi) were measured at rest, and during an inspiratory loading protocol, in 16 COPD patients (8 moderate and 8 severe) and 9 healthy subjects. Myographic signals were analyzed using fixed sample entropy and normalized to their largest values (fSEsEMGpara%max, fSEsMMGpara%max, fSEsEMGlic%max, and fSEsMMGlic%max). fSEsMMGpara%max, fSEsEMGpara%max, and fSEsEMGlic%max were significantly higher in COPD than in healthy participants at rest. Parasternal intercostal muscle NMC was significantly higher in healthy than in COPD participants at rest, but not during threshold loading. Pmo-derived NMC and MEff ratios were lower in severe patients than in mild patients or healthy subjects during threshold loading, but differences were not consistently significant. During resting breathing and threshold loading, Vi-derived NVC and MEff ratios were significantly lower in severe patients than in mild patients or healthy subjects. sMMG is a potential noninvasive alternative to sEMG for assessing NRD in COPD. The ratios of Pmo and Vi to sMMG and sEMG measurements provide wholly noninvasive NMC, NVC, and MEff indices that are sensitive to impaired respiratory mechanics in COPD and are therefore of potential value to assess disease severity in clinical practice. Author

JTD Keywords: biomedical measurement, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, couplings, diaphragm, disease severity, efficiency, electromyography, exacerbations, healthy volunteers, inspiratory muscles, loading, mechanomyography, obstructive pulmonary-disease, pressure measurement, protocols, respiratory mechanics, respiratory muscles, responsiveness, spirometry, stimulation, volume measurement, At rests, Biomedical measurement, Biomedical measurements, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Couplings, Disease severity, Efficiency ratio, Electromyography, Healthy subjects, Healthy volunteers, Loading, Mechanical efficiency, Mechanomyogram, Muscle, Muscles, Neural respiratory drive, Noninvasive medical procedures, Pressure measurement, Protocols, Pulmonary diseases, Surface electromyogram, Volume measurement


Garrido-Charles, A, Huet, A, Matera, C, Thirumalai, A, Hernando, J, Llebaria, A, Moser, T, Gorostiza, P, (2022). Fast Photoswitchable Molecular Prosthetics Control Neuronal Activity in the Cochlea Journal Of The American Chemical Society 144, 9229-9239

Artificial control of neuronal activity enables the study of neural circuits and restoration of neural functions. Direct, rapid, and sustained photocontrol of intact neurons could overcome the limitations of established electrical stimulation such as poor selectivity. We have developed fast photoswitchable ligands of glutamate receptors (GluRs) to enable neuronal control in the auditory system. The new photoswitchable ligands induced photocurrents in untransfected neurons upon covalently tethering to endogenous GluRs and activating them reversibly with visible light pulses of a few milliseconds. As a proof of concept of these molecular prostheses, we applied them to the ultrafast synapses of auditory neurons of the cochlea that encode sound and provide auditory input to the brain. This drug-based method afforded the optical stimulation of auditory neurons of adult gerbils at hundreds of hertz without genetic manipulation that would be required for their optogenetic control. This indicates that the new photoswitchable ligands are also applicable to the spatiotemporal control of fast spiking interneurons in the brain.

JTD Keywords: Acid, Azobenzene, Glutamate-receptor, Ion channels, Mechanisms, Nerve, Optical switches, Release, Stimulation


Pavlova, EL, Semenov, RV, Pavlova-Deb, MP, Guekht, AB, (2022). Transcranial direct current stimulation of the premotor cortex aimed to improve hand motor function in chronic stroke patients Brain Research 1780, 147790

Objective: To investigate the effects of single-session premotor and primary motor tDCS in chronic stroke patients with relation to possible inter-hemispheric interactions. Methods: Anodal tDCS of either M1 or premotor cortex of the side contralateral to the paretic hand, cathodal tDCS of the premotor cortex of the side ipsilateral to the paretic hand and sham stimulation were performed in 12 chronic stroke patients with mild hand paresis in a balanced cross-over design. The Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function test, evaluating the time required for performance of everyday motor tasks, was employed. Results: The repeated-measure ANOVA with Greenhouse-Geisser correction showed significant influence of the stimulation type (factor SESSION; F(2.6, 28.4) = 47.3, p < 0.001), the test performance time relative to stimulation (during or after tDCS; factor TIME, F(1.0, 11.0) = 234.5, p < 0.001) with higher effect after the stimulation and the interaction SESSION*TIME (F(1.7, 1.2) = 30.5, p < 0.001). All active conditions were effective for the modulation of JTT performance, though the highest effect was observed after anodal tDCS of M1, followed by effects after anodal stimulation of the premotor cortex contralateral to the paretic hand. Based on the correlation patterns, the inhibitory input to M1 from premotor cortex of another hemisphere and an excitatory input from the ipsilesional premotor cortex were suggested. Conclusion: The premotor cortex is a promising candidate area for transcranial non-invasive stimulation of chronic stroke patients. © 2022 The Author(s)

JTD Keywords: areas, contralateral primary motor, dorsal premotor, excitability, jtt, lateral premotor, object manipulation, premotor cortex, recovery, stroke, tdcs, time-course, transcranial direct current stimulation, Jtt, Noninvasive brain-stimulation, Premotor cortex, Stroke, Tdcs, Transcranial direct current stimulation


dos Santos, FP, Verschure, PFMJ, (2022). Excitatory-Inhibitory Homeostasis and Diaschisis: Tying the Local and Global Scales in the Post-stroke Cortex Frontiers In Systems Neuroscience 15, 806544

Maintaining a balance between excitatory and inhibitory activity is an essential feature of neural networks of the neocortex. In the face of perturbations in the levels of excitation to cortical neurons, synapses adjust to maintain excitatory-inhibitory (EI) balance. In this review, we summarize research on this EI homeostasis in the neocortex, using stroke as our case study, and in particular the loss of excitation to distant cortical regions after focal lesions. Widespread changes following a localized lesion, a phenomenon known as diaschisis, are not only related to excitability, but also observed with respect to functional connectivity. Here, we highlight the main findings regarding the evolution of excitability and functional cortical networks during the process of post-stroke recovery, and how both are related to functional recovery. We show that cortical reorganization at a global scale can be explained from the perspective of EI homeostasis. Indeed, recovery of functional networks is paralleled by increases in excitability across the cortex. These adaptive changes likely result from plasticity mechanisms such as synaptic scaling and are linked to EI homeostasis, providing a possible target for future therapeutic strategies in the process of rehabilitation. In addition, we address the difficulty of simultaneously studying these multiscale processes by presenting recent advances in large-scale modeling of the human cortex in the contexts of stroke and EI homeostasis, suggesting computational modeling as a powerful tool to tie the meso- and macro-scale processes of recovery in stroke patients. Copyright © 2022 Páscoa dos Santos and Verschure.

JTD Keywords: balanced excitation, canonical microcircuit, cerebral-cortex, cortical excitability, cortical reorganization, diaschisis, excitability, excitatory-inhibitory balance, functional networks, homeostatic plasticity, ischemic-stroke, neuronal avalanches, photothrombotic lesions, state functional connectivity, whole-brain models, Algorithm, Biological marker, Brain, Brain cell, Brain cortex, Brain function, Brain radiography, Cerebrovascular accident, Cortical reorganization, Diaschisis, Down regulation, Excitability, Excitatory-inhibitory balance, Fluorine magnetic resonance imaging, Functional networks, Homeostasis, Homeostatic plasticity, Human, Motor dysfunction, Neuromodulation, Plasticity, Pyramidal nerve cell, Review, Simulation, Stroke, Stroke patient, Theta-burst stimulation, Visual cortex


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

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

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


Guix, M, Mestre, R, Patiño, T, De Corato, M, Fuentes, J, Zarpellon, G, Sánchez, S, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6, eabe7577

Bioinspired hybrid soft robots that combine living and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms (i.e., swimmers, crawlers, and walkers). The integration of biological components offers unique characteristics that artificial materials cannot precisely replicate, such as adaptability and response to external stimuli. Here, we present a skeletal muscle–based swimming biobot with a three-dimensional (3D)–printed serpentine spring skeleton that provides mechanical integrity and self-stimulation during the cell maturation process. The restoring force inherent to the spring system allows a dynamic skeleton compliance upon spontaneous muscle contraction, leading to a cyclic mechanical stimulation process that improves the muscle force output without external stimuli. Optimization of the 3D-printed skeletons is carried out by studying the geometrical stiffnesses of different designs via finite element analysis. Upon electrical actuation of the muscle tissue, two types of motion mechanisms are experimentally observed: directional swimming when the biobot is at the liquid-air interface and coasting motion when it is near the bottom surface. The integrated compliant skeleton provides both the mechanical self-stimulation and the required asymmetry for directional motion, displaying its maximum velocity at 5 hertz (800 micrometers per second, 3 body lengths per second). This skeletal muscle–based biohybrid swimmer attains speeds comparable with those of cardiac-based biohybrid robots and outperforms other muscle-based swimmers. The integration of serpentine-like structures in hybrid robotic systems allows self-stimulation processes that could lead to higher force outputs in current and future biomimetic robotic platforms. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;

JTD Keywords: actuators, design, fabrication, mechanics, mems, myotubes, platform, tissue, 3d printers, Agricultural robots, Biological components, Biomimetic processes, Electrical actuation, Geometrical stiffness, Intelligent robots, Liquefied gases, Liquid-air interface, Mechanical integrity, Mechanical stimulation, Muscle, Muscle contractions, Phase interfaces, Robotics, Serpentine, Springs (components), Threedimensional (3-d)


Hernández-Albors, Alejandro, Castaño, Albert G., Fernández-Garibay, Xiomara, Ortega, María Alejandra, Balaguer, Jordina, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2019). Microphysiological sensing platform for an in-situ detection of tissue-secreted cytokines Biosensors and Bioelectronics: X 2, 100025

Understanding the protein-secretion dynamics from single, specific tissues is critical toward the advancement of disease detection and treatments. However, such secretion dynamics remain difficult to measure in vivo due to the uncontrolled contributions from other tissue populations. Here, we describe an integrated platform designed for the reliable, near real-time measurements of cytokines secreted from an in vitro single-tissue model. In our setup, we grow 3D biomimetic tissues to discretize cytokine source, and we separate them from a magnetic microbead-based biosensing system using a Transwell insert. This design integrates physiochemically controlled biological activity, high-sensitivity protein detection (LOD < 20 pg mL−1), and rapid protein diffusion to enable non-invasive, near real-time measurements. To showcase the specificity and sensitivity of the system, we use our setup to probe the inflammatory process related to the protein Interleukine 6 (IL-6) and to the Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF-α). We show that our setup can monitor the time-dependence profile of IL-6 and TNF-α secretion that results from the electrical and chemical stimulation of 3D skeletal muscle tissues. We demonstrate a novel and affordable methodology for discretizing the secretion kinetics of specific tissues for advancing metabolic-disorder studies and drug-screening applications.

JTD Keywords: Microphysiological tissues, Tissue engineering, Electrochemical, biosensors, Magnetic particles, Skeletal muscle, Electric stimulation


Valls-Margarit, M., Iglesias-García, O., Di Guglielmo, C., Sarlabous, L., Tadevosyan, K., Paoli, R., Comelles, J., Blanco-Almazán, D., Jiménez-Delgado, S., Castillo-Fernández, O., Samitier, J., Jané, R., Martínez, Elena, Raya, Á., (2019). Engineered macroscale cardiac constructs elicit human myocardial tissue-like functionality Stem Cell Reports 13, (1), 207-220

In vitro surrogate models of human cardiac tissue hold great promise in disease modeling, cardiotoxicity testing, and future applications in regenerative medicine. However, the generation of engineered human cardiac constructs with tissue-like functionality is currently thwarted by difficulties in achieving efficient maturation at the cellular and/or tissular level. Here, we report on the design and implementation of a platform for the production of engineered cardiac macrotissues from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which we term “CardioSlice.” PSC-derived cardiomyocytes, together with human fibroblasts, are seeded into large 3D porous scaffolds and cultured using a parallelized perfusion bioreactor with custom-made culture chambers. Continuous electrical stimulation for 2 weeks promotes cardiomyocyte alignment and synchronization, and the emergence of cardiac tissue-like properties. These include electrocardiogram-like signals that can be readily measured on the surface of CardioSlice constructs, and a response to proarrhythmic drugs that is predictive of their effect in human patients.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac tissue engineering, CardioSlice, ECG-like signals, Electrical stimulation, Heart physiology, Human induced pluripotent stem cells, Perfusion bioreactor, Tissue-like properties


Ballester, Rubio Belén, Nirme, Jens, Camacho, Irene, Duarte, Esther, Rodríguez, Susana, Cuxart, Ampar, Duff, Armin, Verschure, F. M. J. Paul, (2017). Domiciliary VR-based therapy for functional recovery and cortical reorganization: Randomized controlled trial in participants at the chronic stage post stroke JMIR Serious Games , 5, (3), e15

Background: Most stroke survivors continue to experience motor impairments even after hospital discharge. Virtual reality-based techniques have shown potential for rehabilitative training of these motor impairments. Here we assess the impact of at-home VR-based motor training on functional motor recovery, corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the effects of home-based VR-based motor rehabilitation on (1) cortical reorganization, (2) corticospinal tract, and (3) functional recovery after stroke in comparison to home-based occupational therapy. Methods: We conducted a parallel-group, controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of domiciliary VR-based therapy with occupational therapy in inducing motor recovery of the upper extremities. A total of 35 participants with chronic stroke underwent 3 weeks of home-based treatment. A group of subjects was trained using a VR-based system for motor rehabilitation, while the control group followed a conventional therapy. Motor function was evaluated at baseline, after the intervention, and at 12-weeks follow-up. In a subgroup of subjects, we used Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS) procedures to measure the effect of the interventions on corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Results: Results from the system?s recordings and clinical evaluation showed significantly greater functional recovery for the experimental group when compared with the control group (1.53, SD 2.4 in Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory). However, functional improvements did not reach clinical significance. After the therapy, physiological measures obtained from a subgroup of subjects revealed an increased corticospinal excitability for distal muscles driven by the pathological hemisphere, that is, abductor pollicis brevis. We also observed a displacement of the centroid of the cortical map for each tested muscle in the damaged hemisphere, which strongly correlated with improvements in clinical scales. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, in chronic stages, remote delivery of customized VR-based motor training promotes functional gains that are accompanied by neuroplastic changes. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number NCT02699398 (Archived by ClinicalTrials.gov at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02699398?term=NCT02699398&rank=1)

JTD Keywords: Stroke, Movement disorder, Recovery of function, neuroplasticity, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Physical therapy, Hemiparesis, Computer applications software


Lambrecht, Stefan, Urra, Oiane, Grosu, Svetlana, Pérez, Soraya, (2014). Emerging rehabilitation in cerebral palsy Biosystems & Biorobotics Emerging Therapies in Neurorehabilitation (ed. Pons, José L., Torricelli, Diego), Springer Berlin Heidelberg (London, UK) 4, 23-49

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most frequent disability affecting children. Although the effects of CP are diverse this chapter focuses on the impaired motor control of children suffering from spastic diplegia, particularly in the lower limb. The chapter collects the most relevant techniques that are used or might be useful to overcome the current limitations existing in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of CP. Special emphasis is placed on the role that emerging technologies can play in this field. Knowing in advance the type and site of brain injury could assist the clinician in selecting the appropriate therapy. In this context, neuroimaging techniques are being recommended as an evaluation tool in children with CP; we describe a variety of imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), etc. But creating new knowledge in itself is not enough; there must be a transfer from progress through research to advances in the clinical field. The classic therapeutic approach of CP thus hampers the optimal rehabilitation of the targeted component. Traditional therapies may be optimized if complemented with treatments. We try to collect a wide range of emerging technologies and provide some criteria to select the adequate technology based on the characteristics of the neurological injury. For example, exoskeleton based over-ground gait training is suggested to be more effective than treadmill-based gait training. So, we suggest a new point of view combining different technologies in order to provide the foundations of a rational design of the individual rehabilitation strategy.

JTD Keywords: Cerebral palsy, Robotics, Neurostimulation, Neuroimaging, Myoelectric signals