Publicacions

Year 2018


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Lange, C. M., Bechstein, W. O., Berg, T., Engelmann, C., Bruns, T., Canbay, A., Moreau, R., Trebicka, J., (2018). Acute-on-chronic liver failure Visceral Medicine 34, (4), 296-300

Systemic inflammation is a hallmark of (acutely) decompensated liver cirrhosis and in particular of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Frequently, it is challenging to discriminate infection from sterile inflammation in these patients. Which patient – in the absence of proven infection – do you treat with antibiotics in these scenarios, and are there any preferred antibiotic regimens?


Moulin-Frier, C., Fischer, T., Petit, M., Pointeau, G., Puigbo, J., Pattacini, U., Low, S. C., Camilleri, D., Nguyen, P., Hoffmann, M., Chang, H. J., Zambelli, M., Mealier, A., Damianou, A., Metta, G., Prescott, T. J., Demiris, Y., Dominey, P. F., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). DAC-h3: A proactive robot cognitive architecture to acquire and express knowledge about the world and the self IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems in press

This paper introduces a cognitive architecture for a humanoid robot to engage in a proactive, mixed-initiative exploration and manipulation of its environment, where the initiative can originate from both the human and the robot. The framework, based on a biologically-grounded theory of the brain and mind, integrates a reactive interaction engine, a number of state-of-the art perceptual and motor learning algorithms, as well as planning abilities and an autobiographical memory. The architecture as a whole drives the robot behavior to solve the symbol grounding problem, acquire language capabilities, execute goal-oriented behavior, and express a verbal narrative of its own experience in the world. We validate our approach in human-robot interaction experiments with the iCub humanoid robot, showing that the proposed cognitive architecture can be applied in real time within a realistic scenario and that it can be used with naive users.

Keywords: Autobiographical Memory., Biology, Cognition, Cognitive Robotics, Computer architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Grounding, Human-Robot Interaction, Humanoid robots, Robot sensing systems, Symbol Grounding


Trebicka, J., Reiberger, T., Laleman, W., (2018). Gut-liver axis links portal hypertension to acute-on-chronic liver failure Visceral Medicine 34, (4), 270-275

Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is considered a distinct syndrome in patients with liver disease, with systemic inflammation playing a central role. Portal hypertension (PHT) is also aggravated by inflammation and may subsequently impact the course of ACLF. PHT is more than just an increase in portal pressure in the portal venous system; it aggravates the course of liver disease and, thus, also facilitates the development of acute decompensation and ACLF. A critical mechanistic link between PHT and ACLF might be the gut-liver axis, which is discussed in this review.


Blancas-Muñoz, M., Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Zucca, R., Mura, Anna, Verschure, P., (2018). Hints vs distractions in intelligent tutoring systems: Looking for the proper type of help ARXIV Computer Science, (Human-Computer Interaction), 1-4

The kind of help a student receives during a task has been shown to play a significant role in their learning process. We designed an interaction scenario with a robotic tutor, in real-life settings based on an inquiry-based learning task. We aim to explore how learners' performance is affected by the various strategies of a robotic tutor. We explored two kinds of(presumable) help: hints (which were specific to the level or general to the task) or distractions (information not relevant to the task: either a joke or a curious fact). Our results suggest providing hints to the learner and distracting them with curious facts as more effective than distracting them with humour.

Keywords: Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction


Fischer, Tobias, Puigbò, Jordi-Ysard, Camilleri, Daniel, Nguyen, Phuong D. H., Moulin-Frier, Clément, Lallée, Stéphane, Metta, Giorgio, Prescott, Tony J., Demiris, Yiannis, Verschure, P., (2018). iCub-HRI: A software framework for complex human-robot interaction scenarios on the iCub humanoid robot Frontiers in Robotics and AI 5, (22), Article 22

Generating complex, human-like behaviour in a humanoid robot like the iCub requires the integration of a wide range of open source components and a scalable cognitive architecture. Hence, we present the iCub-HRI library which provides convenience wrappers for components related to perception (object recognition, agent tracking, speech recognition, touch detection), object manipulation (basic and complex motor actions) and social interaction (speech synthesis, joint attention) exposed as a C++ library with bindings for Java (allowing to use iCub-HRI within Matlab) and Python. In addition to previously integrated components, the library allows for simple extension to new components and rapid prototyping by adapting to changes in interfaces between components. We also provide a set of modules which make use of the library, such as a high-level knowledge acquisition module and an action recognition module. The proposed architecture has been successfully employed for a complex human-robot interaction scenario involving the acquisition of language capabilities, execution of goal-oriented behaviour and expression of a verbal narrative of the robot's experience in the world. Accompanying this paper is a tutorial which allows a subset of this interaction to be reproduced. The architecture is aimed at researchers familiarising themselves with the iCub ecosystem, as well as expert users, and we expect the library to be widely used in the iCub community.

Keywords: Robotics, iCub Humanoid, YARP, Software architecture, C++, Python, Java, Human-robot interaction


Romeo, Agostino, Moya, Ana, Leung, Tammy S., Gabriel, Gemma, Villa, Rosa, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Inkjet printed flexible non-enzymatic glucose sensor for tear fluid analysis Applied Materials Today 10, 133-141

Here, we present a flexible and low-cost inkjet printed electrochemical sensor for enzyme-free glucose analysis. Versatility, short fabrication time and low cost make inkjet printing a valuable alternative to traditional sensor manufacturing techniques. We fabricated electro-chemical glucose sensors by inkjet printing electrodes on a flexible polyethylene terephthalate substrate. CuO microparticles were used to modify our electrodes, leading to a sensitive, stable and cost-effective platform for non-enzymatic detection of glucose. Selectivity, reproducibility, and life-time provided by the CuO functionalization demonstrated that these sensors are reliable tools for personalized diagnostics and self-assessment of an individual's health. The detection of glucose at concentrations matching that of tear fluid allows us to envisage applications in ocular diagnostics, where painless and non-invasive monitoring of diabetes can be achieved by analyzing glucose contained in tears.

Keywords: Inkjet printing, Non-enzymatic sensor, Glucose, Copper oxide, Tear analysis


Garreta, Elena, Montserrat, Nuria, Belmonte, Juan Carlos Izpisua, (2018). Kidney organoids for disease modeling Oncotarget 9, (16), 12552-12553

Thottacherry, Joseph Jose, Kosmalska, Anita Joanna, Elosegui-Artola, Alberto, Pradhan, Susav, Sharma, Sumit, Singh, Parvinder P., Guadamillas, Marta C., Chaudhary, Natasha, Vishwakarma, Ram, Trepat, Xavier, del Pozo, Miguel A., Parton, Robert G., Pullarkat, Pramod, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Mayor, Satyajit, (2018). Mechanochemical feedback and control of endocytosis and membrane tension bioRxiv In press

Plasma membrane tension is an important factor that regulates many key cellular processes. Membrane trafficking is tightly coupled to membrane tension and can modulate the latter by addition or removal of the membrane. However, the cellular pathway(s) involved in these processes are poorly understood. Although a number of endocytic processes function simultaneously at the cell surface, we find that a dynamin and clathrin-independent pathway, the CLIC/GEEC (CG) pathway, is rapidly and specifically upregulated upon reduction of tension. On the other hand, inhibition of the CG pathway results in lower membrane tension, while up regulation significantly enhances membrane tension. We find that vinculin, a well-studied mechanotransducer, mediates the tension-dependent regulation of the CG pathway. Vinculin negatively regulates a key CG pathway regulator, GBF1, at the plasma membrane in a tension dependent manner. Thus, the CG pathway operates in a negative feedback loop with membrane tension which leads to a homeostatic regulation of membrane tension.


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, (128), Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive


Sebastian, P., Giannotti, M. I., Gómez, E., Feliu, J. M., (2018). Surface sensitive nickel electrodeposition in deep eutectic solvent ACS Applied Energy Materials 1, (3), 1016-1028

The first steps of nickel electrodeposition in a deep eutectic solvent (DES) are analyzed in detail. Several substrates from glassy carbon to Pt(111) were investigated pointing out the surface sensitivity of the nucleation and growth mechanism. For that, cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, in combination with scanning electron microscopy (SEM), were employed. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to more deeply analyze the Ni deposition on Pt substrates. In a 0.1 M NiCl2 + DES solution (at 70 °C), the nickel deposition on glassy carbon takes place within the potential limits of the electrode in the blank solution. Although, the electrochemical window of Pt|DES is considerably shorter than on glassy carbon|DES, it was still sufficient for the nickel deposition. On the Pt electrode, the negative potential limit was enlarged while the nickel deposit grew, likely because of the lower catalytic activity of the nickel toward the reduction of the DES. At lower overpotentials, different hydrogenated Ni structures were favored, most likely because of the DES co-reduction on the Pt substrate. Nanometric metallic nickel grains of rounded shape were obtained on any substrate, as evidenced by the FE-SEM. Passivation phenomena, related to the formation of Ni oxide and Ni hydroxylated species, were observed at high applied overpotentials. At low deposited charge, on Pt(111) the AFM measurements showed the formation of rounded nanometric particles of Ni, which rearranged and formed small triangular arrays at sufficiently low applied overpotential. This particle pattern was induced by the (111) orientation and related to surface sensitivity of the nickel deposition in DES. The present work provides deep insights into the Ni electrodeposition mechanism in the selected deep eutectic solvent.

Keywords: AFM, Deep eutectic solvent, Glassy carbon, Nanostructures, Nickel electrodeposition, Platinum electrode, Pt(111), SEM, Surface sensitive


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

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

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


Fumagalli, L., Esfandiar, A., Fabregas, R., Hu, S., Ares, P., Janardanan, A., Yang, Q., Radha, B., Taniguchi, T., Watanabe, K., Gomila, G., Novoselov, K. S., Geim, A. K., (2018). Anomalously low dielectric constant of confined water Science 360, (6395), 1339-1342

Theoretical studies predict that the inhibition of rotational motion of water near a solid surface will decrease its local dielectric constant. Fumagalli et al. fabricated thin channels in insulating hexagonal boron nitride on top of conducting graphene layers (see the Perspective by Kalinin). The channels, which varied in height from 1 to 300 nanometers, were filled with water and capped with a boron nitride layer. Modeling of the capacitance measurements made with an atomic force microscope tip revealed a surface-layer dielectric constant of 2, compared with the bulk value of 80 for water.Science, this issue p. 1339; see also p. 1302The dielectric constant ε of interfacial water has been predicted to be smaller than that of bulk water (ε ≈ 80) because the rotational freedom of water dipoles is expected to decrease near surfaces, yet experimental evidence is lacking. We report local capacitance measurements for water confined between two atomically flat walls separated by various distances down to 1 nanometer. Our experiments reveal the presence of an interfacial layer with vanishingly small polarization such that its out-of-plane ε is only ~2. The electrically dead layer is found to be two to three molecules thick. These results provide much-needed feedback for theories describing water-mediated surface interactions and the behavior of interfacial water, and show a way to investigate the dielectric properties of other fluids and solids under extreme confinement.


Shellard, Adam, Szabó, A., Trepat, Xavier, Mayor, Roberto, (2018). Supracellular contraction at the rear of neural crest cell groups drives collective chemotaxis Science 362, (6412), 339-343

Collective cell chemotaxis, the directed migration of cell groups along gradients of soluble chemical cues, underlies various developmental and pathological processes. We use neural crest cells, a migratory embryonic stem cell population whose behavior has been likened to malignant invasion, to study collective chemotaxis in vivo. Studying Xenopus and zebrafish, we have shown that the neural crest exhibits a tensile actomyosin ring at the edge of the migratory cell group that contracts in a supracellular fashion. This contractility is polarized during collective cell chemotaxis: It is inhibited at the front but persists at the rear of the cell cluster. The differential contractility drives directed collective cell migration ex vivo and in vivo through the intercalation of rear cells. Thus, in neural crest cells, collective chemotaxis works by rear-wheel drive.


Pérez-González, Carlos, Alert, Ricard, Blanch-Mercader, Carles, Gómez-González, Manuel, Kolodziej, Tomasz, Bazellieres, Elsa, Casademunt, Jaume, Trepat, Xavier, (2018). Active wetting of epithelial tissues Nature Physics (in press)

Development, regeneration and cancer involve drastic transitions in tissue morphology. In analogy with the behaviour of inert fluids, some of these transitions have been interpreted as wetting transitions. The validity and scope of this analogy are unclear, however, because the active cellular forces that drive tissue wetting have been neither measured nor theoretically accounted for. Here we show that the transition between two-dimensional epithelial monolayers and three-dimensional spheroidal aggregates can be understood as an active wetting transition whose physics differs fundamentally from that of passive wetting phenomena. By combining an active polar fluid model with measurements of physical forces as a function of tissue size, contractility, cell–cell and cell–substrate adhesion, and substrate stiffness, we show that the wetting transition results from the competition between traction forces and contractile intercellular stresses. This competition defines a new intrinsic length scale that gives rise to a critical size for the wetting transition in tissues, a striking feature that has no counterpart in classical wetting. Finally, we show that active shape fluctuations are dynamically amplified during tissue dewetting. Overall, we conclude that tissue spreading constitutes a prominent example of active wetting—a novel physical scenario that may explain morphological transitions during tissue morphogenesis and tumour progression.


Trepat, Xavier, Sahai, Erik, (2018). Mesoscale physical principles of collective cell organization Nature Physics 14, (7), 671-682

We review recent evidence showing that cell and tissue dynamics are governed by mesoscale physical principles. These principles can be understood in terms of simple state diagrams in which control variables include force, density, shape, adhesion and self-propulsion. An appropriate combination of these physical quantities gives rise to emergent phenomena such as cell jamming, topological defects and underdamped waves. Mesoscale physical properties of cell assemblies are found to precede and instruct biological functions such as cell division, extrusion, invasion and gradient sensing. These properties are related to properties of biomolecules, but cannot be predicted from biochemical principles. Thus, biological function is governed by emergent mesoscale states that can be predicted by a simple set of physical properties.


Patiño, Tania, Arqué, Xavier, Mestre, Rafael, Palacios, Lucas, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Fundamental aspects of enzyme-powered micro- and nanoswimmers Accounts of Chemical Research Article ASAP

ConspectusSelf-propulsion at the nanoscale constitutes a challenge due to the need for overcoming viscous forces and Brownian motion. Inspired by nature, artificial micro- and nanomachines powered by catalytic reactions have been developed. Due to the toxicity of the most commonly used fuels, enzyme catalysis has emerged as a versatile and biocompatible alternative to generate self-propulsion. Different swimmer sizes, ranging from the nanoscale to the microscale, and geometries, including tubular and spherical shapes, have been explored. However, there is still a lack of understanding of the mechanisms underlying enzyme-mediated propulsion. Size, shape, enzyme quantity and distribution, as well as the intrinsic enzymatic properties, may play crucial roles in motion dynamics.In this Account, we present the efforts carried out by our group and others by the community on the use of enzymes to power micro- and nanoswimmers. We examine the different structures, materials, and enzymes reported so far to fabricate biocatalytic micro- and nanoswimmers with special emphasis on their effect in motion dynamics. We discuss the development of tubular micro- and nanojets, focusing on the different fabrication methods and the effect of length and enzyme localization on their motion behavior. In the case of spherical swimmers, we highlight the role of asymmetry in enzyme coverage and how it can affect their motion dynamics. Different approaches have been described to generate asymmetric distribution of enzymes, namely, Janus particles, polymeric vesicles, and non-Janus particles with patch-like enzyme distribution that we recently reported. We also examine the correlation between enzyme kinetics and active motion. Enzyme activity, and consequently speed, can be modulated by modifying substrate concentration or adding specific inhibitors. Finally, we review the theory of active Brownian motion and how the size of the particles can influence the analysis of the results. Fundamentally, nanoscaled swimmers are more affected by Brownian fluctuations than microsized swimmers, and therefore, their motion is presented as an enhanced diffusion with respect to the passive case. Microswimmers, however, can overcome these fluctuations and show propulsive or ballistic trajectories. We provide some considerations on how to analyze the motion of these swimmers from an experimental point of view. Despite the rapid progress in enzyme-based micro- and nanoswimmers, deeper understanding of the mechanisms of motion is needed, and further efforts should be aimed to study their lifetime, long-term stability, and ability to navigate in complex media.


Hervera, A., De Virgiliis, F., Palmisano, I., Zhou, L., Tantardini, E., Kong, G., Hutson, T., Danzi, M. C., Perry, R. B. T., Santos, C. X. C., Kapustin, A. N., Fleck, R. A., Del Río, J. A., Carroll, T., Lemmon, V., Bixby, J. L., Shah, A. M., Fainzilber, M., Di Giovanni, S., (2018). Reactive oxygen species regulate axonal regeneration through the release of exosomal NADPH oxidase 2 complexes into injured axons Nature Cell Biology 20, (3), 307-319

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to tissue damage and remodelling mediated by the inflammatory response after injury. Here we show that ROS, which promote axonal dieback and degeneration after injury, are also required for axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal injury. We find that ROS production in the injured sciatic nerve and dorsal root ganglia requires CX3CR1-dependent recruitment of inflammatory cells. Next, exosomes containing functional NADPH oxidase 2 complexes are released from macrophages and incorporated into injured axons via endocytosis. Once in axonal endosomes, active NOX2 is retrogradely transported to the cell body through an importin-β1–dynein-dependent mechanism. Endosomal NOX2 oxidizes PTEN, which leads to its inactivation, thus stimulating PI3K–phosporylated (p-)Akt signalling and regenerative outgrowth. Challenging the view that ROS are exclusively involved in nerve degeneration, we propose a previously unrecognized role of ROS in mammalian axonal regeneration through a NOX2–PI3K–p-Akt signalling pathway.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Endocytosis, Exocytosis, Monocytes and macrophages, Stress signalling


Uroz, Marina, Wistorf, Sabrina, Serra-Picamal, Xavier, Conte, Vito, Sales-Pardo, Marta, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Guimerà, Roger, Trepat, Xavier, (2018). Regulation of cell cycle progression by cell–cell and cell–matrix forces Nature Cell Biology 20, (6), 646-654

It has long been proposed that the cell cycle is regulated by physical forces at the cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) interfaces. However, the evolution of these forces during the cycle has never been measured in a tissue, and whether this evolution affects cell cycle progression is unknown. Here, we quantified cell–cell tension and cell–ECM traction throughout the complete cycle of a large cell population in a growing epithelium. These measurements unveil temporal mechanical patterns that span the entire cell cycle and regulate its duration, the G1–S transition and mitotic rounding. Cells subjected to higher intercellular tension exhibit a higher probability to transition from G1 to S, as well as shorter G1 and S–G2–M phases. Moreover, we show that tension and mechanical energy are better predictors of the duration of G1 than measured geometric properties. Tension increases during the cell cycle but decreases 3 hours before mitosis. Using optogenetic control of contractility, we show that this tension drop favours mitotic rounding. Our results establish that cell cycle progression is regulated cooperatively by forces between the dividing cell and its neighbours.


Schierwagen, Robert, Alvarez-Silva, Camila, Madsen, Mette Simone Aae, Kolbe, Carl Christian, Meyer, Carsten, Thomas, Daniel, Uschner, Frank Erhard, Magdaleno, Fernando, Jansen, Christian, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Praktiknjo, Michael, Hischebeth, Gunnar T., Molitor, Ernst, Latz, Eicke, Lelouvier, Benjamin, Trebicka, Jonel, Arumugam, Manimozhiyan, (2018). Circulating microbiome in blood of different circulatory compartments Gut In press,

Luetkens, Julian A., Klein, Sabine, Traeber, Frank, Schmeel, Frederic C., Sprinkart, Alois M., Kuetting, Daniel L. R., Block, Wolfgang, Hittatiya, Kanishka, Uschner, Frank E., Schierwagen, Robert, Gieseke, Juergen, Schild, Hans H., Trebicka, Jonel, Kukuk, Guido M., (2018). Quantitative liver MRI including extracellular volume fraction for non-invasive quantification of liver fibrosis: a prospective proof-of-concept study Gut 67, (3), 593-594

Quantitative liver MRI including extracellular volume fraction for non-invasive quantification of liver fibrosis: a prospective proof-of-concept study.


Marta, Torres, Noelia, Campillo, Paula, N. Nonaka, Josep, M. Montserrat, David, Gozal, Miguel Angel, Martínez-García, Francisco, Campos-Rodriguez, Daniel, Navajas, Ramon, Farré, Isaac, Almendros, (2018). Aging reduces intermittent hypoxia-induced lung carcinoma growth in a mouse model of sleep apnea American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 198, (9), 1234-1236

Farré, R., Navajas, D., Montserrat, J. M., (2018). Is telemedicine a key tool for improving continuous positive airway pressure adherence in patients with sleep apnea? American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 197, (1), 12-14

Jair, A. Villanueva, Valentina, Isetta, Josep, M. Montserrat, Daniel, Navajas, Ramon, Farré, (2018). A portable continuous positive airway pressure device that can perform optimally under strenuous conditions American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 198, (7), 956-958

Hernandez-Benitez, R., Llanos Martinez-Martinez, M., Lajara, J., Magistretti, P., Montserrat, N., Izpisua Belmonte, Juan Carlos, (2018). At the heart of genome editing and cardiovascular diseases Circulation Research 123, (2), 221-223

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the leading cause of death worldwide, but the knowledge and technologies for counteracting this disease may already be in our hands. Scientific advances over the past few years, such as the isolation and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells, and the development of gene-editing tools, have enabled us to model CVD, but more importantly, may represent tools for CVD early diagnosis, patient stratification, and treatment.


Pose, Elisa, Trebicka, Jonel, Mookerjee, Rajeshwar P., Angeli, Paolo, Ginès, Pere, (2018). Statins: Old drugs as new therapy for liver diseases? Journal of Hepatology In press,

In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, statins have pleiotropic effects, particularly anti-inflammatory, antiangiogenic, and antifibrotic, that may be beneficial in some chronic inflammatory conditions. Statins have only recently been investigated as a potential treatment option in chronic liver diseases because of concerns related to their safety in patients with impaired liver function. A number of experimental studies in animal models of liver diseases have shown that statins decrease hepatic inflammation, fibrogenesis and portal pressure. In addition, retrospective cohort studies in large populations of patients with cirrhosis and pre-cirrhotic conditions have shown that treatment with statins, with the purpose of decreasing high cholesterol levels, was associated with a reduced risk of disease progression, hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma development, and death. These beneficial effects persisted after adjustment for disease severity and other potential confounders. Finally, a few randomised controlled trials have shown that treatment with simvastatin decreases portal pressure (two studies) and mortality (one study). Statin treatment was generally well tolerated but a few patients developed severe side effects, particularly rhabdomyolysis. Despite these promising beneficial effects, further randomised controlled trials in large series of patients with hard clinical endpoints should be performed before statins can be recommended for use in clinical practice.


Liu, Yiliu, Pujals, Sílvia, Stals, Patrick J. M., Paulöhrl, Thomas, Presolski, Stanislav I., Meijer, E. W., Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Palmans, Anja R. A., (2018). Catalytically active single-chain polymeric nanoparticles: Exploring their functions in complex biological media Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (9), 3423-3433

Dynamic single-chain polymeric nanoparticles (SCPNs) are intriguing, bioinspired architectures that result from the collapse or folding of an individual polymer chain into a nanometer-sized particle. Here we present a detailed biophysical study on the behavior of dynamic SCPNs in living cells and an evaluation of their catalytic functionality in such a complex medium. We first developed a number of delivery strategies that allowed the selective localization of SCPNs in different cellular compartments. Live/dead tests showed that the SCPNs were not toxic to cells while spectral imaging revealed that SCPNs provide a structural shielding and reduced the influence from the outer biological media. The ability of SCPNs to act as catalysts in biological media was first assessed by investigating their potential for reactive oxygen species generation. With porphyrins covalently attached to the SCPNs, singlet oxygen was generated upon irradiation with light, inducing spatially controlled cell death. In addition, Cu(I)- and Pd(II)-based SCPNs were prepared and these catalysts were screened in vitro and studied in cellular environments for the carbamate cleavage reaction of rhodamine-based substrates. This is a model reaction for the uncaging of bioactive compounds such as cytotoxic drugs for catalysis-based cancer therapy. We observed that the rate of the deprotection depends on both the organometallic catalysts and the nature of the protective group. The rate reduces from in vitro to the biological environment, indicating a strong influence of biomolecules on catalyst performance. The Cu(I)-based SCPNs in combination with the dimethylpropargyloxycarbonyl protective group showed the best performances both in vitro and in biological environment, making this group promising in biomedical applications.


Patiño, Tania, Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Arqué, Xavier, Miguel-López, Albert, Jannasch, Anita, Stumpp, Tom, Schäffer, Erik, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Influence of enzyme quantity and distribution on the self-propulsion of non-Janus urease-powered micromotors Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (25), 7896-7903

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomachines offers unique features such as biocompatibility, versatility, and fuel bioavailability. Yet, the key parameters underlying the motion behavior of enzyme-powered motors are not completely understood. Here, we investigate the role of enzyme distribution and quantity on the generation of active motion. Two different micromotor architectures based on either polystyrene (PS) or polystyrene coated with a rough silicon dioxide shell (PS@SiO2) were explored. A directional propulsion with higher speed was observed for PS@SiO2 motors when compared to their PS counterparts. We made use of stochastically optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) to precisely detect single urease molecules conjugated to the micromotors surface with a high spatial resolution. An asymmetric distribution of enzymes around the micromotor surface was observed for both PS and PS@SiO2 architectures, indicating that the enzyme distribution was not the only parameter affecting the motion behavior. We quantified the number of enzymes present on the micromotor surface and observed a 10-fold increase in the number of urease molecules for PS@SiO2 motors compared to PS-based micromotors. To further investigate the number of enzymes required to generate a self-propulsion, PS@SiO2 particles were functionalized with varying amounts of urease molecules and the resulting speed and propulsive force were measured by optical tracking and optical tweezers, respectively. Surprisingly, both speed and force depended in a nonlinear fashion on the enzyme coverage. To break symmetry for active propulsion, we found that a certain threshold number of enzymes molecules per micromotor was necessary, indicating that activity may be due to a critical phenomenon. Taken together, these results provide new insights into the design features of micro/nanomotors to ensure an efficient development.


Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Villa, Katherine, Wang, Joseph, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Micro- and nanomotors as active environmental microcleaners and sensors Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (30), 9317-9331

The quest to provide clean water to the entire population has led to a tremendous boost in the development of environmental nanotechnology. Towards this end, micro/nanomotors are emerging as attractive tools to improve the removal of various pollutants. The micro/nanomotors are either designed with functional materials in their structure, or are modified to target pollutants. The active motion of these motors improves the mixing and mass transfer, greatly enhancing the rate of various remediation processes. Their motion can also be used as an indicator of the presence of a pollutant for sensing purposes. In this Perspective, we discuss different chemical aspects of micromotors mediated environmental clean-up and sensing strategies along with their scalability, reuse and cost associated challenges.


Matera, Carlo, Gomila-Juaneda, Alexandre, Camarero, Núria, Libergoli, Michela, Soler, Concepció, Gorostiza, Pau, (2018). A photoswitchable antimetabolite for targeted photoactivated chemotherapy Journal of the American Chemical Society Just Accepted Manuscript

The efficacy and tolerability of systemically administered anticancer agents are limited by their off-target effects. Precise spatiotemporal control over their cytotoxic activity would allow improving chemotherapy treatments, and light-regulated drugs are well suited to this purpose. We have developed phototrexate, the first photoswitchable inhibitor of the human dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), as a photochromic analog of methotrexate, a widely prescribed chemotherapeutic drug to treat cancer and psoriasis. Quantification of the light-regulated DHFR enzymatic activity, cell proliferation, and in vivo effects in zebrafish show that phototrexate behaves as a potent antifolate in its photoactivated cis configuration, and that it is nearly inactive in its dark-relaxed trans form. Thus, phototrexate constitutes a proof-of-concept to design light-regulated cytotoxic small molecules, and a step forward to develop targeted anticancer photochemotherapies with localized efficacy and reduced adverse effects.

Keywords: Photopharmacology, Photodynamic therapy, Antiproliferative, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Nanomedicine


Del Río, J. A., Ferrer, Isidre, Gavín, R., (2018). Role of cellular prion protein in interneuronal amyloid transmission Progress in Neurobiology 165-167, 87-102

Several studies have indicated that certain misfolded amyloids composed of tau, β-amyloid or α-synuclein can be transferred from cell to cell, suggesting the contribution of mechanisms reminiscent of those by which infective prions spread through the brain. This process of a ‘prion-like’ spreading between cells is also relevant as a novel putative therapeutic target that could block the spreading of proteinaceous aggregates throughout the brain which may underlie the progressive nature of neurodegenerative diseases. The relevance of β-amyloid oligomers and cellular prion protein (PrPC) binding has been a focus of interest in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the molecular level, β-amyloid/PrPC interaction takes place in two differently charged clusters of PrPC. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in α-synuclein binding and brain spreading also appears to be relevant in α-synucleopathies. This review summarizes current knowledge about PrPC as a putative receptor for amyloid proteins and the physiological consequences of these interactions..

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Amyloid, Proteinaceous species, ‘prion-like’ spreading, Spreading, Neurodegeneration


Praktiknjo, M., Book, M., Luetkens, J., Pohlmann, A., Meyer, C., Thomas, D., Jansen, C., Feist, A., Chang, J., Grimm, J., Lehmann, J., Strassburg, C. P., Abraldes, J. G., Kukuk, G., Trebicka, J., (2018). Fat-free muscle mass in magnetic resonance imaging predicts acute-on-chronic liver failure and survival in decompensated cirrhosis Hepatology 67, (3), 1014-1026

Muscle mass seems to be a prognostic marker in patients with liver cirrhosis. However, reported methods to quantify muscle mass are heterogeneous, consented cutoff values are missing, and most studies have used computed tomography. This study evaluated fat-free muscle area (FFMA) as a marker of sarcopenia using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with decompensated cirrhosis with transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS). The total erector spinae muscle area and the intramuscular fat tissue area were measured and subtracted to calculate the FFMA in 116 patients with cirrhosis by TIPS and MRI. The training cohort of 71 patients compared computed tomography–measured transversal psoas muscle thickness with FFMA. In 15 patients MRI was performed before and after TIPS, and in 12 patients follistatin serum measurements were carried out. The results on FFMA were confirmed in a validation cohort of 45 patients. FFMA correlated with follistatin and transversal psoas muscle thickness and showed slightly better association with survival than transversal psoas muscle thickness Gender-specific cutoff values for FFMA were determined for sarcopenia. Decompensation (ascites, overt hepatic encephalopathy) persisted after TIPS in the sarcopenia group but resolved in the nonsarcopenia group. Sarcopenic patients showed no clinical improvement after TIPS as well as higher mortality, mainly due to development of acute-on-chronic liver failure. FFMA was an independent predictor of survival in these patients. Conclusion: This study offers an easy-to-apply MRI-based measurement of fat-free muscle mass as a marker of sarcopenia in decompensated patients; while TIPS might improve sarcopenia and thereby survival, persistence of sarcopenia after TIPS is associated with a reduced response to TIPS and a higher risk of acute-on-chronic liver failure development and mortality.


Jansen, Christian, Möller, Philipp, Meyer, Carsten, Kolbe, Carl Christian, Bogs, Christopher, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Schierwagen, Robert, Praktiknjo, Michael, Abdullah, Zeinab, Lehmann, Jennifer, Thomas, Daniel, Strassburg, Christian P., Latz, Eicke, Mueller, Sebastian, Rössle, Martin, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Increase in liver stiffness after transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is associated with inflammation and predicts mortality Hepatology 67, (4), 1472-1484

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) efficiently treats complications of portal hypertension. Liver and spleen stiffness might predict clinically significant portal hypertension. This prospective study investigated liver stiffness in patients receiving TIPS regardless of indication. Of 83 included patients, 16 underwent transient elastography immediately before and 30 minutes after TIPS (acute group), while 67 received shear wave elastography of liver and spleen 1 day before and 7 days after TIPS (chronic group) and were followed further. In blood samples obtained before TIPS from cubital, portal, and hepatic veins, levels of several interleukins (IL1b, IL6, IL8, IL10, IL18) and interferon-gamma were analyzed. In 27 patients (5 acute, 22 chronic), it resulted in an increase in liver stiffness of >10%. In 56 patients, liver stiffness decreased or remained unchanged (<10%). Importantly, spleen stiffness measured by shear wave elastography decreased in all patients (chronic group). None of the clinical or laboratory parameters differed between patients with increase in liver stiffness and those without. Of note, patients with increased liver stiffness showed higher overall and/or hepatic venous levels of proinflammatory cytokines at TIPS and higher incidence of organ failure and worse survival after TIPS. C-reactive protein values and increase of >10% in liver stiffness after TIPS were the only independent predictors of mortality in these patients. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the presence of systemic inflammation predisposes patients to develop increased liver stiffness after TIPS, a predictor of organ failure and death.


Katuri, Jaideep, Caballero, David, Voituriez, R., Samitier, Josep, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Directed flow of micromotors through alignment interactions with micropatterned ratchets ACS Nano 12, (7), 7282-7291

To achieve control over naturally diffusive, out-of-equilibrium systems composed of self-propelled particles, such as cells or self-phoretic colloids, is a long-standing challenge in active matter physics. The inherently random motion of these active particles can be rectified in the presence of local and periodic asymmetric cues given that a non-trivial interaction exists between the self-propelled particle and the cues. Here, we exploit the phoretic and hydrodynamic interactions of synthetic micromotors with local topographical features to break the time-reversal symmetry of particle trajectories and to direct a macroscopic flow of micromotors. We show that the orientational alignment induced on the micromotors by the topographical features, together with their geometrical asymmetry, are crucial in generating directional particle flow. We also show that our system can be used to concentrate micromotors in confined spaces and identify the interactions responsible for this effect. Finally, we develop a minimal model which identifies the main parameters of the system responsible for the observed rectification. Overall, our system allows for robust control over both temporal and spatial distribution of synthetic micromotors.

Keywords: Active colloids, Directional control, Janus particles, Micromotors, Self-propulsion


Vilela, Diana, Cossío, Unai, Parmar, Jemish, Martínez-Villacorta, Angel M., Gómez-Vallejo, Vanessa, Llop, Jordi, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Medical imaging for the tracking of micromotors ACS Nano 12, (2), 1120-1227

Micro/nanomotors are useful tools for several biomedical applications, including targeted drug delivery and minimally invasive microsurgeries. However, major challenges such as in vivo imaging need to be addressed before they can be safely applied on a living body. Here, we show that positron emission tomography (PET), a molecular imaging technique widely used in medical imaging, can also be used to track a large population of tubular Au/PEDOT/Pt micromotors. Chemisorption of an iodine isotope onto the micromotor’s Au surface rendered them detectable by PET, and we could track their movements in a tubular phantom over time frames of up to 15 min. In a second set of experiments, micromotors and the bubbles released during self-propulsion were optically tracked by video imaging and bright-field microscopy. The results from direct optical tracking agreed with those from PET tracking, demonstrating that PET is a suitable technique for the imaging of large populations of active micromotors in opaque environments, thus opening opportunities for the use of this mature imaging technology for the in vivo localization of artificial swimmers.


Castaño, O., Pérez-Amodio, S., Navarro, C., Mateos-Timoneda, M.A., Engel, E., (2018). Instructive microenvironments in skin wound healing: Biomaterials as signal releasing platforms Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 129, 95-117

Skin wound healing aims to repair and restore tissue through a multistage process that involves different cells and signalling molecules that regulate the cellular response and the dynamic remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Nowadays, several therapies that combine biomolecule signals (growth factors and cytokines) and cells are being proposed. However, a lack of reliable evidence of their efficacy, together with associated issues such as high costs, a lack of standardization, no scalable processes, and storage and regulatory issues, are hampering their application. In situ tissue regeneration appears to be a feasible strategy that uses the body's own capacity for regeneration by mobilizing host endogenous stem cells or tissue-specific progenitor cells to the wound site to promote repair and regeneration. The aim is to engineer instructive systems to regulate the spatio-temporal delivery of proper signalling based on the biological mechanisms of the different events that occur in the host microenvironment. This review describes the current state of the different signal cues used in wound healing and skin regeneration, and their combination with biomaterial supports to create instructive microenvironments for wound healing.

Keywords: Instructive biomaterials, Skin regeneration, Wound healing, Signalling release, In situ tissue engineering


García-Díaz, María, Birch, Ditlev, Wan, Feng, Mørck Nielsen, Hanne, (2018). The role of mucus as an invisible cloak to transepithelial drug delivery by nanoparticles Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 124, 107-124

Mucosal administration of drugs and drug delivery systems has gained increasing interest. However, nanoparticles intended to protect and deliver drugs to epithelial surfaces require transport through the surface-lining mucus. Translation from bench to bedside is particularly challenging for mucosal administration since a variety of parameters will influence the specific barrier properties of the mucus including the luminal fluids, the microbiota, the mucus composition and clearance rate, and the condition of the underlying epithelia. Besides, after administration, nanoparticles interact with the mucosal components, forming a biomolecular corona that modulates their behavior and fate after mucosal administration. These interactions are greatly influenced by the nanoparticle properties, and therefore different designs and surface-engineering strategies have been proposed. Overall, it is essential to evaluate these biomolecule-nanoparticle interactions by complementary techniques using complex and relevant mucus barrier matrices.

Keywords: Nanoparticle formulation strategies, Corona formation, Digestive tract, Respiratory tract, Luminal content, Methodologies, Analysis


Hortigüela, Verónica, Larrañaga, Enara, Cutrale, Francesco, Seriola, Anna, García-Díaz, María, Lagunas, Anna, Andilla, Jordi, Loza-Alvarez, Pablo, Samitier, Josep, Ojosnegros, Samuel, Martinez, Elena, (2018). Nanopatterns of surface-bound ephrinB1 produce multivalent ligand-receptor interactions that tune EphB2 receptor clustering Nano Letters 18, (1), 629-637

Here we present a nanostructured surface able to produce multivalent interactions between surface-bound ephrinB1 ligands and membrane EphB2 receptors. We created ephrinB1 nanopatterns of regular size (<30 nm in diameter) by using self-assembled diblock copolymers. Next, we used a statistically enhanced version of the Number and Brightness technique, which can discriminate - with molecular sensitivity - the oligomeric states of diffusive species to quantitatively track the EphB2 receptor oligomerization process in real time. The results indicate that a stimulation using randomly distributed surface-bound ligands was not sufficient to fully induce receptor aggregation. Conversely, when nanopatterned onto our substrates, the ligands effectively induced a strong receptor oligomerization. This presentation of ligands improved the clustering efficiency of conventional ligand delivery systems, as it required a 9-fold lower ligand surface coverage and included faster receptor clustering kinetics compared to traditional crosslinked ligands. In conclusion, nanostructured diblock copolymers constitute a novel strategy to induce multivalent ligand-receptor interactions leading to a stronger, faster, and more efficient receptor activation, thus providing a useful strategy to precisely tune and potentiate receptor responses. The efficiency of these materials at inducing cell responses can benefit applications such as the design of new bioactive materials and drug-delivery systems.


Elosegui-Artola, Alberto, Trepat, Xavier, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2018). Control of mechanotransduction by molecular clutch dynamics Trends in Cell Biology 28, (5), 356-367

The linkage of cells to their microenvironment is mediated by a series of bonds that dynamically engage and disengage, in what has been conceptualized as the molecular clutch model. Whereas this model has long been employed to describe actin cytoskeleton and cell migration dynamics, it has recently been proposed to also explain mechanotransduction (i.e., the process by which cells convert mechanical signals from their environment into biochemical signals). Here we review the current understanding on how cell dynamics and mechanotransduction are driven by molecular clutch dynamics and its master regulator, the force loading rate. Throughout this Review, we place a specific emphasis on the quantitative prediction of cell response enabled by combined experimental and theoretical approaches.


Hortelão, A. C., Patiño, T., Perez-Jiménez, A., Blanco, A., Sánchez, S., (2018). Enzyme-powered nanobots enhance anticancer drug delivery Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1705086

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomotors exploiting biocompatible fuels has opened new ventures for biomedical applications such as the active transport and delivery of specific drugs to the site of interest. Here, urease-powered nanomotors (nanobots) for doxorubicin (Dox) anticancer drug loading, release, and efficient delivery to cells are presented. These mesoporous silica-based core-shell nanobots are able to self-propel in ionic media, as confirmed by optical tracking and dynamic light scattering analysis. A four-fold increase in drug release is achieved by nanobots after 6 h compared to their passive counterparts. Furthermore, the use of Dox-loaded nanobots presents an enhanced anticancer efficiency toward HeLa cells, which arises from a synergistic effect of the enhanced drug release and the ammonia produced at high concentrations of urea substrate. A higher content of Dox inside HeLa cells is detected after 1, 4, 6, and 24 h incubation with active nanobots compared to passive Dox-loaded nanoparticles. The improvement in drug delivery efficiency achieved by enzyme-powered nanobots may hold potential toward their use in future biomedical applications such as the substrate-triggered release of drugs in target locations.

Keywords: Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanobots, Nanomachines, Nanomotors


Wang, Xu, Sridhar, Varun, Guo, Surong, Talebi, Nahid, Miguel-López, Albert, Hahn, Kersten, van Aken, Peter A., Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Fuel-free nanocap-like motors actuated under visible light Advanced Functional Materials 28, (25), 1705862

The motion of nanomotors triggered by light sources will provide new alternative routes to power nanoarchitectures without the need of chemical fuels. However, most light-driven nanomotors are triggered by UV-light, near infrared reflection, or laser sources. It is demonstrated that nanocap shaped Au/TiO2 nanomotors (175 nm in diameter) display increased Brownian motion in the presence of broad spectrum visible light. The motion results from the surface plasmon resonance effect leading to self-electrophoresis between the Au and TiO2 layers, a mechanism called plasmonic photocatalytic effect in the field of photocatalysis. This mechanism is experimentally characterized by electron energy loss spectroscopy, energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy, and optical video tracking. This mechanism is also studied in a more theoretical manner using numerical finite-difference time-domain simulations. The ability to power nanomaterials with visible light may result in entirely new applications for externally powered micro/nanomotors.

Keywords: Enhanced Brownian motion, Fuel-free nanomotors, Nanomachines, Self-electrophoresis, Visible light


Xuan, Mingjun, Mestre, Rafael, Gao, Changyong, Zhou, Chang, He, Qiang, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Noncontinuous super-diffusive dynamics of a light-activated nanobottle motor Angewandte Chemie International Edition 57, (23), 6838-6842

Abstract We report a carbonaceous nanobottle (CNB) motor for near infrared (NIR) light-driven jet propulsion. The bottle structure of the CNB motor is fabricated by soft-template-based polymerization. Upon illumination with NIR light, the photothermal effect of the CNB motor carbon shell causes a rapid increase in the temperature of the water inside the nanobottle and thus the ejection of the heated fluid from the open neck, which propels the CNB motor. The occurrence of an explosion, the on/off motion, and the swing behavior of the CNB motor can be modulated by adjusting the NIR light source. Moreover, we simulated the physical field distribution (temperature, fluid velocity, and pressure) of the CNB motor to demonstrate the mechanism of NIR light-driven jet propulsion. This NIR light-powered CNB motor exhibits fuel-free propulsion and control of the swimming velocity by external light and has great potential for future biomedical applications.


Katuri, Jaideep, Uspal, William E., Simmchen, Juliane, Miguel-López, Albert, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Cross-stream migration of active particles Science Advances 4, (1), eaao1755

For natural microswimmers, the interplay of swimming activity and external flow can promote robust directed motion, for example, propulsion against (upstream rheotaxis) or perpendicular to the direction of flow. These effects are generally attributed to their complex body shapes and flagellar beat patterns. Using catalytic Janus particles as a model experimental system, we report on a strong directional response that occurs for spherical active particles in a channel flow. The particles align their propulsion axes to be nearly perpendicular to both the direction of flow and the normal vector of a nearby bounding surface. We develop a deterministic theoretical model of spherical microswimmers near a planar wall that captures the experimental observations. We show how the directional response emerges from the interplay of shear flow and near-surface swimming activity. Finally, adding the effect of thermal noise, we obtain probability distributions for the swimmer orientation that semiquantitatively agree with the experimental distributions.


Notari, M., Ventura-Rubio, A., Bedford-Guaus, S. J., Jorba, I., Mulero, L., Navajas, D., Martí, M., Raya, A., (2018). The local microenvironment limits the regenerative potential of the mouse neonatal heart Science Advances 4, (5), eaao5553

Neonatal mice have been shown to regenerate their hearts during a transient window of time of approximately 1 week after birth. However, experimental evidence for this phenomenon is not undisputed, because several laboratories have been unable to detect neonatal heart regeneration. We first confirmed that 1-day-old neonatal mice are indeed able to mount a robust regenerative response after heart amputation. We then found that this regenerative ability sharply declines within 48 hours, with hearts of 2-day-old mice responding to amputation with fibrosis, rather than regeneration. By comparing the global transcriptomes of 1- and 2-day-old mouse hearts, we found that most differentially expressed transcripts encode extracellular matrix components and structural constituents of the cytoskeleton. These results suggest that the stiffness of the local microenvironment, rather than cardiac cell-autonomous mechanisms, crucially determines the ability or inability of the heart to regenerate. Testing this hypothesis by pharmacologically decreasing the stiffness of the extracellular matrix in 3-day-old mice, we found that decreased matrix stiffness rescued the ability ofmice to regenerate heart tissue after apical resection. Together, our results identify an unexpectedly restricted time window of regenerative competence in the mouse neonatal heart and open new avenues for promoting cardiac regeneration by local modification of the extracellular matrix stiffness.


Labernadie, Anna, Trepat, Xavier, (2018). Sticking, steering, squeezing and shearing: cell movements driven by heterotypic mechanical forces Current Opinion in Cell Biology 54, 57-65

During development, the immune response and cancer, cells of different types interact mechanically. Here we review how such heterotypic mechanical interactions enable cell movements. We begin by analyzing the heterotypic forces that single cells use to adhere and squeeze through tight barriers, as in the case of leucocyte extravasation and cancer metastasis. We next focus on the different mechanisms by which adjacent tissues influence each other's movements, with particular emphasis on dragging forces during dorsal closure in Drosophila and shearing forces during gastrulation in zebrafish. Finally, we discuss the mechanotransduction feedback loops that enable different cell types to steer each other's migration during development and cancer. We illustrate these migration modes focusing on the combination of attractive and repulsive cues during co-migration of neural crest cells and placodes in Xenopus, and of fibroblasts and cancer cells during invasion. Throughout the review, we discuss the nature of the heterotypic contact, which may involve both homophilic and heterophilic interactions between adhesion receptors.


Gauthier, Nils C., Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2018). Mechanosensing at integrin-mediated cell–matrix adhesions: from molecular to integrated mechanisms Current Opinion in Cell Biology 50, 20-26

Integrin-mediated adhesions between cells and the extracellular matrix are fundamental for cell function, and one of their main roles is to sense and respond to mechanical force. Here we discuss the different mechanisms that can confer mechanosensitivity to adhesions. We first address molecular mechanisms mediated by force-induced changes in molecular properties, such as binding dynamics or protein conformation. Then, we discuss recent evidence on how these mechanisms are integrated with cellular and extracellular parameters such as myosin and actin activity, membrane tension, and ECM properties, endowing cells with an exquisite ability to both detect and respond to physical and mechanical cues from their environment.


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

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

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


Pardo-Pastor, Carlos, Rubio-Moscardo, Fanny, Vogel-González, Marina, Serra, Selma A., Afthinos, Alexandros, Mrkonjic, Sanela, Destaing, Olivier, Abenza, Juan F., Fernández-Fernández, José M., Trepat, Xavier, Albiges-Rizo, Corinne, Konstantopoulos, Konstantinos, Valverde, Miguel A., (2018). Piezo2 channel regulates RhoA and actin cytoskeleton to promote cell mechanobiological responses Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, (8), 1925-1930

The actin cytoskeleton is central to many cellular processes involving changes in cell shape, migration, and adhesiveness. Therefore, there is a great interest in the identification of the signaling pathways leading to the regulation of actin polymerization and assembly into stress fibers (SFs). However, to date it is not well understood how the mechanical interactions between cells and their environment activate the assembly of SFs. Here, we demonstrate that the mechanosensitive Piezo2 channel is required to sense physical cues from the environment to generate a calcium signal that maintains RhoA active and the formation and orientation of SFs and focal adhesions. Besides, this Piezo2-initiated signaling pathway has implications for different hallmarks of cancer invasion and metastasis.

Keywords: Mechanotransduction, Calcium signaling, RhoA, Actin stress fibers, Cancer


Dix, Christina L., Matthews, Helen K., Uroz, Marina, McLaren, Susannah, Wolf, Lucie, Heatley, Nicholas, Win, Zaw, Almada, Pedro, Henriques, Ricardo, Boutros, Michael, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, (2018). The role of mitotic cell-substrate adhesion re-modeling in animal cell division Developmental Cell 45, (1), 132-145

Animal cells undergo a dramatic series of shape changes as they divide, which depend on re-modeling of cell-substrate adhesions. Here, we show that while focal adhesion complexes are disassembled during mitotic rounding, integrins remain in place. These integrin-rich contacts connect mitotic cells to the underlying substrate throughout mitosis, guide polarized cell migration following mitotic exit, and are functionally important, since adherent cells undergo division failure when removed from the substrate. Further, the ability of cells to re-spread along pre-existing adhesive contacts is essential for division in cells compromised in their ability to construct a RhoGEF-dependent (Ect2) actomyosin ring. As a result, following Ect2 depletion, cells fail to divide on small adhesive islands but successfully divide on larger patterns, as the connection between daughter cells narrows and severs as they migrate away from one another. In this way, regulated re-modeling of cell-substrate adhesions during mitotic rounding aids division in animal cells.

Keywords: Division, Mitotic-rounding, Integrin-based adhesion, Cytokinesis


Ardizzone, Antonio, Kurhuzenkau, Siarhei, Illa-Tuset, Sílvia, Faraudo, Jordi, Bondar, Mykhailo, Hagan, David, Van Stryland, Eric W., Painelli, Anna, Sissa, Cristina, Feiner, Natalia, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Veciana, Jaume, Ventosa, Nora, (2018). Nanostructuring lipophilic dyes in water using stable vesicles, quatsomes, as scaffolds and their use as probes for bioimaging Small 14, (16), 1703851

Abstract A new kind of fluorescent organic nanoparticles (FONs) is obtained using quatsomes (QSs), a family of nanovesicles proposed as scaffolds for the nanostructuration of commercial lipophilic carbocyanines (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI), 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indodicarbocyanine perchlorate (DiD), and 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indotricarbocyanine iodide (DiR)) in aqueous media. The obtained FONs, prepared by a CO2-based technology, show excellent colloidal- and photostability, outperforming other nanoformulations of the dyes, and improve the optical properties of the fluorophores in water. Molecular dynamics simulations provide an atomistic picture of the disposition of the dyes within the membrane. The potential of QSs for biological imaging is demonstrated by performing superresolution microscopy of the DiI-loaded vesicles in vitro and in cells. Therefore, fluorescent QSs constitute an appealing nanomaterial for bioimaging applications.


Sadowska, Joanna M., Wei, Fei, Guo, Jia, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Xiao, Yin, (2018). Effect of nano-structural properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on osteoimmunomodulation Biomaterials 181, 318-332

Immune cells are sensitive to the microstructural and textural properties of materials. Tuning the structural features of synthetic bone grafts could be a valuable strategy to regulate the specific response of the immune system, which in turn modulates the activity of bone cells. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the structural characteristics of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) on the innate immune response of macrophages and the subsequent impact on osteogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. Murine RAW 264.7 cells were cultured, under standard and inflammatory conditions, on chemically identical CDHA substrates that varied in microstructure and porosity. The impact on osteogenesis was evaluated by incubating osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2) with RAW-CDHA conditioned extracts. The results showed that macrophages were sensitive to different textural and structural properties of CDHA. Under standard conditions, the impact of inflammatory cytokine production by RAW cells cultured on CDHA played a significant role in the degradation of substrates, suggesting the impact of resorptive behaviour of RAW cells on biomimetic surfaces. Osteoblast differentiation was stimulated by the conditioned media collected from RAW cells cultured on needle-like nanostructured CDHA. The results demonstrated that needle-like nanostructured CDHA was able to generate a favourable osteoimmune environment to regulate osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis. Under inflammatory conditions, the incubation of RAW cells with less porous CDHA resulted in a decreased gene expression and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Osteoimmunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoclastogesis


De Pascalis, Chiara, Pérez-González, Carlos, Seetharaman, Shailaja, Boëda, Batiste, Vianay, Benoit, Burute, Mithila, Leduc, Cécile, Borghi, Nicolas, Trepat, Xavier, Etienne-Manneville, Sandrine, (2018). Intermediate filaments control collective migration by restricting traction forces and sustaining cell–cell contacts The Journal of Cell Biology 217, (9), 3031-3044

Mesenchymal cell migration relies on the coordinated regulation of the actin and microtubule networks that participate in polarized cell protrusion, adhesion, and contraction. During collective migration, most of the traction forces are generated by the acto-myosin network linked to focal adhesions at the front of leader cells, which transmit these pulling forces to the followers. Here, using an in vitro wound healing assay to induce polarization and collective directed migration of primary astrocytes, we show that the intermediate filament (IF) network composed of vimentin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and nestin contributes to directed collective movement by controlling the distribution of forces in the migrating cell monolayer. Together with the cytoskeletal linker plectin, these IFs control the organization and dynamics of the acto-myosin network, promoting the actin-driven treadmilling of adherens junctions, thereby facilitating the polarization of leader cells. Independently of their effect on adherens junctions, IFs influence the dynamics and localization of focal adhesions and limit their mechanical coupling to the acto-myosin network. We thus conclude that IFs promote collective directed migration in astrocytes by restricting the generation of traction forces to the front of leader cells, preventing aberrant tractions in the followers, and by contributing to the maintenance of lateral cell–cell interactions.


Pérez, Judit, Dulay, Samuel, Mir, M., Samitier, Josep, (2018). Molecular architecture for DNA wiring Biosensors and Bioelectronics 121, 54-61

Detection of the hybridisation events is of great importance in many different biotechnology applications such as diagnosis, computing, molecular bioelectronics, and among others. However, one important drawback is the low current of some redox reporters that limits their application. This paper demonstrates the powerful features of molecular wires, in particular the case of S-[4-[2-[4-(2-Phenylethynyl)phenyl]ethynyl]phenyl] thiol molecule and the key role that play the nanometric design of the capture probe linkers to achieve an efficient couple of the DNA complementary ferrocene label with the molecular wire for an effective electron transfer in co-immobilised self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) for DNA hybridisation detection. In this article, the length of the linker capture probe was studied for electron transfer enhancement from the ferrocene-motifs of immobilised molecules towards the electrode surface to obtain higher kinetics in the presence of thiolated molecular wires. The use of the right couple of capture probe linker and molecular wire has found to be beneficial as it helps to amplify eightfold the signal obtained.

Keywords: DNA hybridisation, Bioelectronics, Electron transfer rate constant, Molecular wires, Electrochemistry, Ferrocene, Biosensor


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Metal-oxide-based microjets for the simultaneous removal of organic pollutants and heavy metals ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 10, (24), 20478-20486

Water contamination from industrial and anthropogenic activities is nowadays a major issue in many countries worldwide. To address this problem, efficient water treatment technologies are required. Recent efforts have focused on the development of self-propelled micromotors that provide enhanced micromixing and mass transfer by the transportation of reactive species, resulting in higher decontamination rates. However, a real application of these micromotors is still limited due to the high cost associated to their fabrication process. Here, we present Fe2O3-decorated SiO2/MnO2 microjets for the simultaneous removal of industrial organic pollutants and heavy metals present in wastewater. These microjets were synthesized by low-cost and scalable methods. They exhibit an average speed of 485 ± 32 μm s–1 (∼28 body length per s) at 7% H2O2, which is the highest reported for MnO2-based tubular micromotors. Furthermore, the photocatalytic and adsorbent properties of the microjets enable the efficient degradation of organic pollutants, such as tetracycline and rhodamine B under visible light irradiation, as well as the removal of heavy metal ions, such as Cd2+ and Pb2+.

Keywords: Micromotors, Photocatalytic, Water purification, Fenton, Magnetic control, Iron oxide, Manganese oxide


Piano, Salvatore, Schmidt, Hartmut H., Ariza, Xavier, Amoros, Alex, Romano, Antonietta, Hüsing-Kabar, Anna, Solà , Elsa, Gerbes, Alexander, Bernardi, Mauro, Alessandria, Carlo, Scheiner, Bernhard, Tonon, Marta, Maschmeier, Miriam, Solè, Cristina, Trebicka, Jonel, Gustot, Thierry, Nevens, Frederik, Arroyo, Vicente, Gines, Pere, Angeli, Paolo, (2018). Association between grade of acute on chronic liver failure and response to terlipressin and albumin in patients with hepatorenal syndrome Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 16, (11), 1792-1800

Type 1 hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is the most high-risk type of renal failure in patients with cirrhosis. Terlipressin and albumin are effective treatments for type 1 HRS. However, the effects of acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) grade on response to treatment are not clear. We aimed to identify factors associated with response to treatment with terlipressin and albumin in patients with type 1 HRS (reduction in serum level of creatinine to below 1.5 mg/dL at the end of treatment) and factors associated with death within 90 days of HRS diagnosis (90-day mortality).


Bolognesi, Benedetta, Lehner, Ben, (2018). Reaching the limit eLife 7, e39804

How many copies of a protein can be made before it becomes toxic to the cell?

Keywords: Protein burden, Overexpression, Glycolysis


Julian, A. Luetkens, Sabine, Klein, Frank, Träber, Frederic, C. Schmeel, Alois, M. Sprinkart, Daniel, L. R. Kuetting, Wolfgang, Block, Frank, E. Uschner, Robert, Schierwagen, Kanishka, Hittatiya, Glen, Kristiansen, Juergen, Gieseke, Hans, H. Schild, Jonel, Trebicka, Guido, M. Kukuk, (2018). Quantification of liver fibrosis at T1 and T2 mapping with extracellular volume fraction MRI: Preclinical results Radiology 288, (3), 748-754

In our animal study, quantitative liver MRI including extracellular volume fraction appears to be a valuable and new diagnostic tool for the detection and quantification of diffuse liver fibrosis. Purpose: To evaluate MRI T1 and T2 mapping with calculation of extracellular volume (ECV) for diagnosis and grading of liver fibrosis. Materials and Methods: Different grades of fibrosis were induced in 60 male Sprague-Dawley rats by bile duct ligation (BDL) and carbon-tetrachloride (CCl4) intoxication. Portal pressure was measured invasively, whereas hepatic fibrosis was quantified by hydroxyproline content, Sirius red staining, and α smooth muscle actin staining. T1 values, T2 values, and ECV were assessed by using quantitative MRI mapping techniques. Results: T1 values in animals 4 weeks after BDL were greater than in control animals (718 msec ± 74 vs 578 msec ± 33, respectively; P < .001). T2 values at 4 weeks were also greater in animals that underwent BDL than in control animals (46 msec ± 6 vs 29 msec ± 2, respectively; P < .001). Similar T1 and T2 findings were observed after CCl4 intoxication. ECV was greater in animals 4 weeks after BDL compared with control animals (31.3% ± 1.3 vs 18.2% ± 3.5, respectively; P < .001), with similar results after CCl4 intoxication. High correlations were found between ECV and hepatic hydroxyproline content (BDL: r = 0.68, P < .001; CCl4: r = 0.65, P < .001), Sirius red staining (BDL: r = 0.88, P < .001; CCl4: r = 0.82, P < .001), α smooth muscle actin staining (BDL: r = 0.70, P < .001; CCl4: r = 0.73, P < .001), and portal pressure (BDL: r = 0.54, P = .003; CCl4: r = 0.39, P = .043). Conclusion: Elevation of T1 and T2 values and ECV was associated with severity of liver fibrosis and portal hypertension in an experimental animal model.


Lozano, Helena, Fabregas, Rene, Blanco, Núria, Millán, Rubén, Torrents, Eduard, Fumagalli, Laura, Gomila, Gabriel, (2018). Dielectric constant of flagellin proteins measured by scanning dielectric microscopy Nanoscale 10, 19188-19194

The dielectric constant of flagellin proteins in flagellar bacterial filaments ~10-20 nm in diameter is measured using Scanning Dielectric Microscopy. We obtain for two different bacterial species (Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and Pseudo-monas aeruginosa PAO1) similar relative dielectric constant values εSo = 4.3 ± 0.6 and εPa = 4.5 ± 0.7, respectively, despite their different structure and aminoacid sequence. Present results show the applicability of Scanning Dielectric Microscopy to nanoscale filamentous protein complexes, and to general 3D macromolecular protein geometries, thus opening new avenues to study the relationship between dielectric response and protein structure and function.


Gumi-Audenis, Berta, Costa, Luca, Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Milhiet, Pierre-Emmanuel, Sanz, Fausto, Felici, Roberto, Giannotti, M. I., Carla, Francesco, (2018). In-plane molecular organization of hydrated single lipid bilayers: DPPC:cholesterol Nanoscale 10, 87-92

Understanding the physical properties of the cholesterol-phospholipid systems is essential to get a better knowledge on the function of each membrane constituent. We present a novel, simple and user-friendly setup that allows for straightforward grazing incidence X-rays diffraction characterization of hydrated individual supported lipid bilayers. This configuration minimizes the scattering from the liquid and allows the detection of the extremely weak diffracted signal of the membrane, enabling the differentiation of coexisting domains in DPPC:cholesterol single bilayers.


Gumí-Audenis, Berta, Costa, Luca, Ferrer-Tasies, Lidia, Ratera, Imma, Ventosa, Nora, Sanz, Fausto, Giannotti, M. I., (2018). Pulling lipid tubes from supported bilayers unveils the underlying substrate contribution to the membrane mechanics Nanoscale 10, 14763-14770

Cell processes like endocytosis, membrane resealing, signaling and transcription involve conformational changes which depend on the chemical composition and the physicochemical properties of the lipid membrane. The better understanding of the mechanical role of lipids in cell membrane force-triggered and sensing mechanisms has recently become the focus of attention. Different membrane models and experimental methodologies are commonly explored. While general approaches involve controlled vesicle deformation using micropipettes or optical tweezers, due to the local and dynamic nature of the membrane, high spatial resolution atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been widely used to study the mechanical compression and indentation of supported lipid bilayers (SLBs). However, the substrate contribution remains unkown. Here, we demonstrate how pulling lipid tubes with an AFM out of model SLBs can be used to assess the nanomechanics of SLBs through the evaluation of the tube growing force (Ftube), allowing for very local evaluation with high spatial and force resolution of the lipid membrane tension. We first validate this approach to determine the contribution of different phospholipids, by varying the membrane composition, in both one-component and phase-segregated membranes. Finally, we successfully assess the contribution of the underlying substrate to the membrane mechanics, demonstrating that SLB models may represent an intermediate scenario between a free membrane (blebs) and a cytoskeleton supported membrane.


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

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

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


Krivitsky, Adva, Polyak, Dina, Scomparin, Anna, Eliyahu, Shay, Ofek, Paula, Tiram, Galia, Kalinski, Hagar, Avkin-Nachum, Sharon, Feiner Gracia, N., Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Satchi-Fainaro, Ronit, (2018). Amphiphilic poly(α)glutamate polymeric micelles for systemic administration of siRNA to tumors Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 14, (2), 303-315

RNAi therapeutics carried a great promise to the area of personalized medicine: the ability to target “undruggable” oncogenic pathways. Nevertheless, their efficient tumor targeting via systemic administration had not been resolved yet. Amphiphilic alkylated poly(α)glutamate amine (APA) can serve as a cationic carrier to the negatively-charged oligonucleotides. APA polymers complexed with siRNA to form round-shaped, homogenous and reproducible nano-sized polyplexes bearing ~50 nm size and slightly negative charge. In addition, APA:siRNA polyplexes were shown to be potent gene regulators in vitro. In light of these preferred physico-chemical characteristics, their performance as systemically-administered siRNA nanocarriers was investigated. Intravenously-injected APA:siRNA polyplexes accumulated selectively in tumors and did not accumulate in the lungs, heart, liver or spleen. Nevertheless, the polyplexes failed to induce specific mRNA degradation, hence neither reduction in tumor volume nor prolonged mice survival was seen.


Raymond, Santiago, Maazouz, Yassine, Montufar, Edgar B., Perez, Roman A., González, Borja, Konka, Joanna, Kaiser, Jozef, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Accelerated hardening of nanotextured 3D-plotted self-setting calcium phosphate inks Acta Biomaterialia 75, 451-462

Direct ink writing (DIW) techniques open up new possibilities for the fabrication of patient-specific bone grafts. Self-setting calcium phosphate inks, which harden at low temperature, allow obtaining nanostructured scaffolds with biomimetic properties and enhanced bioactivity. However, the slow hardening kinetics hampers the translation to the clinics. Different hydrothermal treatments for the consolidation of DIW scaffolds fabricated with an α-tricalcium phosphate /pluronic F127 ink were explored, comparing them with a biomimetic treatment. Three different scaffold architectures were analysed. The hardening process, associated to the conversion of α-tricalcium phosphate to hydroxyapatite was drastically accelerated by the hydrothermal treatments, reducing the time for complete reaction from 7 days to 30 minutes, while preserving the scaffold architectural integrity and retaining the nanostructured features. β-tricalcium phosphate was formed as a secondary phase, and a change of morphology from plate-like to needle-like crystals in the hydroxyapatite phase was observed. The binder was largely released during the treatment. The hydrothermal treatment resulted in a 30% reduction of the compressive strength, associated to the residual presence of β-tricalcium phosphate. Biomimetic and hydrothermally treated scaffolds supported the adhesion and proliferation of rat mesenchymal stem cells, indicating a good suitability for bone tissue engineering applications. Statement of Significance: 3D plotting has opened up new perspectives in the bone regeneration field allowing the customisation of synthetic bone grafts able to fit patient-specific bone defects. Moreover, this technique allows the control of the scaffolds’ architecture and porosity. The present work introduces a new method to harden biomimetic hydroxyapatite 3D-plotted scaffolds which avoids high-temperature sintering. It has two main advantages: i) it is fast and simple, reducing the whole fabrication process from the several days required for the biomimetic processing to a few hours; and ii) it retains the nanostructured character of biomimetic hydroxyapatite and allows controlling the porosity from the nano- to the macroscale. Moreover, the good in vitro cytocompatibility results support its suitability for cell-based bone regeneration therapies.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Biomimetic, Bone regeneration, 3D plotting, Direct ink writing, Bone graft


Sadowska, Joanna Maria, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Espanol, Montserrat, Stähli, Christoph, Döbelin, Nicola, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). In vitro response of mesenchymal stem cells to biomimetic hydroxyapatite substrates: A new strategy to assess the effect of ion exchange Acta Biomaterialia 76, 319-332

Biomaterials can interact with cells directly, that is, by direct contact of the cells with the material surface, or indirectly, through soluble species that can be released to or uptaken from the surrounding fluids. However, it is difficult to characterise the relevance of this fluid-mediated interaction separately from the topography and composition of the substrate, because they are coupled variables. These fluid-mediated interactions are amplified in the case of highly reactive calcium phosphates (CaPs) such as biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA), particularly in static in vitro cultures. The present work proposes a strategy to decouple the effect of ion exchange from topographical features by adjusting the volume ratio between the cell culture medium and biomaterial (VCM/VB). Increasing this ratio allowed mitigating the drastic ionic exchanges associated to the compositional changes experienced by the material exposed to the cell culture medium. This strategy was validated using rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) cultured on CDHA and beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) discs using different VCM/VB ratios. Whereas in the case of β-TCP the cell response was not affected by this ratio, a significant effect on cell adhesion and proliferation was found for the more reactive CDHA. The ionic exchange, produced by CDHA at low VCM/VB, altered cell adhesion due to the reduced number of focal adhesions, caused cell shrinkage and further rMCSs apoptosis. This was mitigated when using a high VCM/VB, which attenuated the changes of calcium and phosphate concentrations in the cell culture medium, resulting in rMSCs spreading and a viability over time. Moreover, rMSCs showed an earlier expression of osteogenic genes on CDHA compared to sintered β-TCP when extracellular calcium fluctuations were reduced. Statement of Significance: Fluid mediated interactions play a significant role in the bioactivity of calcium phosphates. Ionic exchange is amplified in the case of biomimetic hydroxyapatite, which makes the in vitro characterisation of cell-material interactions especially challenging. The present work proposes a novel and simple strategy to explore the mechanisms of interaction of biomimetic and sintered calcium phosphates with mesenchymal stem cells. The effects of topography and ion exchange are analysed separately by modifying the volume ratio between cell culture medium and biomaterial. High ionic fluctuations interfered in the maturation of focal adhesions, hampering cell adhesion and leading to increased apoptosis and reduced proliferation rate.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Mesenchymal stem cells, Intracellular calcium, Cell adhesion


Barba, Albert, Maazouz, Yassine, Diez-Escudero, Anna, Rappe, Katrin, Espanol, Montserrat, Montufar, Edgar B., Öhman-Mägi, Caroline, Persson, Cecilia, Fontecha, Pedro, Manzanares, Maria-Cristina, Franch, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Osteogenesis by foamed and 3D-printed nanostructured calcium phosphate scaffolds: Effect of pore architecture Acta Biomaterialia 79, 135-147

There is an urgent need of synthetic bone grafts with enhanced osteogenic capacity. This can be achieved by combining biomaterials with exogenous growth factors, which however can have numerous undesired side effects, but also by tuning the intrinsic biomaterial properties. In a previous study, we showed the synergistic effect of nanostructure and pore architecture of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds in enhancing osteoinduction, i.e. fostering the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to bone forming cells. This was demonstrated by assessing bone formation after implanting the scaffolds intramuscularly. The present study goes one step forward, since it analyzes the effect of the geometrical features of the same CDHA scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or by foaming, on the osteogenic potential and resorption behaviour in a bony environment. After 6 and 12 weeks of intraosseous implantation, both bone formation and material degradation had been drastically affected by the macropore architecture of the scaffolds. Whereas nanostructured CDHA was shown to be highly osteoconductive both in the robocast and foamed scaffolds, a superior osteogenic capacity was observed in the foamed scaffolds, which was associated with their higher intrinsic osteoinductive potential. Moreover, they showed a significantly higher cell-mediated degradation than the robocast constructs, with a simultaneous and progressive replacement of the scaffold by new bone. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that the control of macropore architecture is a crucial parameter in the design of synthetic bone grafts, which allows fostering both material degradation and new bone formation. Statement of Significance: 3D-printing technologies open new perspectives for the design of patient-specific bone grafts, since they allow customizing the external shape together with the internal architecture of implants. In this respect, it is important to design the appropriate pore geometry to maximize the bone healing capacity of these implants. The present study analyses the effect of pore architecture of nanostructured hydroxyapatite scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or foaming, on the osteogenic potential and scaffold resorption in an in vivo model. While nanostructured hydroxyapatite showed excellent osteoconductive properties irrespective of pore geometry, we demonstrated that the spherical, concave macropores of foamed scaffolds significantly promoted both material resorption and bone regeneration compared to the 3D-printed scaffolds with orthogonal-patterned struts and therefore prismatic, convex macropores.

Keywords: Osteogenesis, Pore architecture, 3D-printing, Foaming, Calcium phosphate


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

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

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


Casellas, Nicolas M., Pujals, Sílvia, Bochicchio, Davide, Pavan, Giovanni M., Torres, Tomás, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, García-Iglesias, Miguel, (2018). From isodesmic to highly cooperative: Reverting the supramolecular polymerization mechanism in water by fine monomer design Chemical Communications 54, (33), 4112-4115

Two structurally-similar discotic molecules able to self-assemble in water, forming supramolecular fibers, are reported. While both self-assembled polymers are indistinguishable from a morphological point-of-view, a dramatic change in their polymerization mechanism is observed (i.e., one self-assemble via an isodesmic mechanism, while the other shows one of the highest cooperativity values).


Puigbò, J. Y., Maffei, G., Herreros, I., Ceresa, M., González Ballester, M. A., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). Cholinergic behavior state-dependent mechanisms of neocortical gain control: A neurocomputational study Molecular Neurobiology 55, (1), 249-257

The embodied mammalian brain evolved to adapt to an only partially known and knowable world. The adaptive labeling of the world is critically dependent on the neocortex which in turn is modulated by a range of subcortical systems such as the thalamus, ventral striatum, and the amygdala. A particular case in point is the learning paradigm of classical conditioning where acquired representations of states of the world such as sounds and visual features are associated with predefined discrete behavioral responses such as eye blinks and freezing. Learning progresses in a very specific order, where the animal first identifies the features of the task that are predictive of a motivational state and then forms the association of the current sensory state with a particular action and shapes this action to the specific contingency. This adaptive feature selection has both attentional and memory components, i.e., a behaviorally relevant state must be detected while its representation must be stabilized to allow its interfacing to output systems. Here, we present a computational model of the neocortical systems that underlie this feature detection process and its state-dependent modulation mediated by the amygdala and its downstream target the nucleus basalis of Meynert. In particular, we analyze the role of different populations of inhibitory interneurons in the regulation of cortical activity and their state-dependent gating of sensory signals. In our model, we show that the neuromodulator acetylcholine (ACh), which is in turn under control of the amygdala, plays a distinct role in the dynamics of each population and their associated gating function serving the detection of novel sensory features not captured in the state of the network, facilitating the adjustment of cortical sensory representations and regulating the switching between modes of attention and learning.

Keywords: Acetylcholine, Inhibitory network, Neocortical circuits, Neuromodulation


Urrea, L., Segura, Miriam, Masuda-Suzukake, M., Hervera, A., Pedraz, L., Aznar, J. M. G., Vila, M., Samitier, J., Torrents, E., Ferrer, Isidro, Gavín, R., Hagesawa, M., Del Río, J. A., (2018). Involvement of cellular prion protein in α-synuclein transport in neurons Molecular Neurobiology 55, (3), 1847-1860

The cellular prion protein, encoded by the gene Prnp, has been reported to be a receptor of β-amyloid. Their interaction is mandatory for neurotoxic effects of β-amyloid oligomers. In this study, we aimed to explore whether the cellular prion protein participates in the spreading of α-synuclein. Results demonstrate that Prnp expression is not mandatory for α-synuclein spreading. However, although the pathological spreading of α-synuclein can take place in the absence of Prnp, α-synuclein expanded faster in PrPC-overexpressing mice.

Keywords: Amyloid spreading, Microfluidic devices, Prnp, Synuclein


Matamoros-Angles, A., Gayosso, L. M., Richaud-Patin, Y., Di Domenico, A., Vergara, C., Hervera, A., Sousa, A., Fernández-Borges, N., Consiglio, A., Gavín, R., López de Maturana, R., Ferrer, Isidro, López de Munain, A., Raya, A., Castilla, J., Sánchez-Pernaute, R., Del Río, J. A., (2018). iPS cell cultures from a Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker patient with the Y218N PRNP mutation recapitulate tau pathology Molecular Neurobiology 55, (4), 3033-3048

Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome is a fatal autosomal dominant neurodegenerative prionopathy clinically characterized by ataxia, spastic paraparesis, extrapyramidal signs and dementia. In some GSS familiar cases carrying point mutations in the PRNP gene, patients also showed comorbid tauopathy leading to mixed pathologies. In this study we developed an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell model derived from fibroblasts of a GSS patient harboring the Y218N PRNP mutation, as well as an age-matched healthy control. This particular PRNP mutation is unique with very few described cases. One of the cases presented neurofibrillary degeneration with relevant Tau hyperphosphorylation. Y218N iPS-derived cultures showed relevant astrogliosis, increased phospho-Tau, altered microtubule-associated transport and cell death. However, they failed to generate proteinase K-resistant prion. In this study we set out to test, for the first time, whether iPS cell-derived neurons could be used to investigate the appearance of disease-related phenotypes (i.e, tauopathy) identified in the GSS patient.

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Tau


Beiert, T., Knappe, V., Tiyerili, V., Stöckigt, F., Effelsberg, V., Linhart, M., Steinmetz, M., Klein, S., Schierwagen, R., Trebicka, J., Roell, W., Nickenig, G., Schrickel, J. W., Andrié, R. P., (2018). Chronic lower-dose relaxin administration protects from arrhythmia in experimental myocardial infarction due to anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties International Journal of Cardiology 250, 21-28

Background: The peptide hormone relaxin-2 (RLX) exerts beneficial effects during myocardial ischemia, but functional data on lower-dose RLX in myocardial infarction (MI) is lacking. Therefore, we investigated the impact of 75 μg/kg/d RLX treatment on electrical vulnerability and left ventricular function in a mouse model of MI. Methods and results: Standardized cryoinfarction of the left anterior ventricular wall was performed in mice. A two week treatment period with vehicle or RLX via subcutaneously implanted osmotic minipumps was started immediately after MI. The relaxin receptor RXFP1 was expressed on ventricular/atrial cardiomyocytes, myofibroblasts, macrophages and endothelial but not vascular smooth muscle cells of small coronary vessels. RLX treatment resulted in a significant reduction of ventricular tachycardia inducibility (vehicle: 91%, RLX: 18%, p < 0.0001) and increased epicardial conduction velocity in the left ventricle and borderzone. Furthermore, left ventricular function following MI was improved in RLX treated mice (left ventricular ejection fraction; vehicle: 41.1 ± 1.9%, RLX: 50.5 ± 3.5%, p = 0.04). Interestingly, scar formation was attenuated by RLX with decreased transcript expression of connective tissue growth factor. Transcript levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and interleukin-1β were upregulated in hearts of vehicle treated animals compared to mice without MI. Application of RLX attenuated this inflammatory response. In addition, macrophage infiltration was reduced in the borderzone of RLX treated mice. Conclusion: Treatment with lower-dose RLX in mice prevents post-infarction ventricular tachycardia due to attenuation of scar formation and cardiac inflammation. Therefore, RLX could be evaluated as new therapeutic option in the treatment of MI.

Keywords: Arrhythmia, Myocardial infarction, Relaxin-2, Ventricular tachycardia


Llorens, F., Thüne, K., Martí, E., Kanata, E., Dafou, D., Díaz-Lucena, D., Vivancos, A., Shomroni, O., Zafar, S., Schmitz, M., Michel, U., Fernández-Borges, N., Andréoletti, O., del Río, J. A., Díez, J., Fischer, A., Bonn, S., Sklaviadis, T., Torres, J. M., Ferrer, Isidro, Zerr, I., (2018). Regional and subtype-dependent miRNA signatures in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are accompanied by alterations in miRNA silencing machinery and biogenesis Plos Pathogens PLoS Pathogens , 14, (1), e1006802

Increasing evidence indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) are contributing factors to neurodegeneration. Alterations in miRNA signatures have been reported in several neurodegenerative dementias, but data in prion diseases are restricted to ex vivo and animal models. The present study identified significant miRNA expression pattern alterations in the frontal cortex and cerebellum of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) patients. These changes display a highly regional and disease subtype-dependent regulation that correlates with brain pathology. We demonstrate that selected miRNAs are enriched in sCJD isolated Argonaute(Ago)-binding complexes in disease, indicating their incorporation into RNA-induced silencing complexes, and further suggesting their contribution to disease-associated gene expression changes. Alterations in the miRNA-mRNA regulatory machinery and perturbed levels of miRNA biogenesis key components in sCJD brain samples reported here further implicate miRNAs in sCJD gene expression (de)regulation. We also show that a subset of sCJD-altered miRNAs are commonly changed in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and fatal familial insomnia, suggesting potential common mechanisms underlying these neurodegenerative processes. Additionally, we report no correlation between brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) miRNA-profiles in sCJD, indicating that CSF-miRNA profiles do not faithfully mirror miRNA alterations detected in brain tissue of human prion diseases. Finally, utilizing a sCJD MM1 mouse model, we analyzed the miRNA deregulation patterns observed in sCJD in a temporal manner. While fourteen sCJD-related miRNAs were validated at clinical stages, only two of those were changed at early symptomatic phase, suggesting that the miRNAs altered in sCJD may contribute to later pathogenic processes. Altogether, the present work identifies alterations in the miRNA network, biogenesis and miRNA-mRNA silencing machinery in sCJD, whereby contributions to disease mechanisms deserve further investigation.


Prieto, A., Bernabeu, M., Aznar, S., Ruiz-Cruz, S., Bravo, A., Queiroz, M. H., Juárez, A., (2018). Evolution of bacterial global modulators: Role of a novel H-NS paralogue in the enteroaggregative escherichia coli strain 042 mSystems 3, (3),

Bacterial genomes sometimes contain genes that code for homologues of global regulators, the function of which is unclear. In members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, cells express the global regulator H-NS and its paralogue StpA. In Escherichia coli, out of providing a molecular backup for H-NS, the role of StpA is poorly characterized. The enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 carries, in addition to the hns and stpA genes, a third gene encoding an hns paralogue (hns2). We present in this paper information about its biological function. Transcriptomic analysis has shown that the H-NS2 protein targets a subset of the genes targeted by H-NS. Genes targeted by H-NS2 correspond mainly with horizontally transferred (HGT) genes and are also targeted by the Hha protein, a fine-tuner of H-NS activity. Compared with H-NS, H-NS2 expression levels are lower. In addition, H-NS2 expression exhibits specific features: it is sensitive to the growth temperature and to the nature of the culture medium. This novel H-NS paralogue is widespread within the Enterobacteriaceae. IMPORTANCE Global regulators such as H-NS play key relevant roles enabling bacterial cells to adapt to a changing environment. H-NS modulates both core and horizontally transferred (HGT) genes, but the mechanism by which H-NS can differentially regulate these genes remains to be elucidated. There are several instances of bacterial cells carrying genes that encode homologues of the global regulators. The question is what the roles of these proteins are. We noticed that the enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 carries a new hitherto uncharacterized copy of the hns gene. We decided to investigate why this pathogenic E. coli strain requires an extra H-NS paralogue, termed H-NS2. In our work, we show that H-NS2 displays specific expression and regulatory properties. H-NS2 targets a subset of H-NS-specific genes and may help to differentially modulate core and HGT genes by the H-NS cellular pool.


Solórzano, A., Rodríguez-Pérez, R., Padilla, M., Graunke, T., Fernandez, L., Marco, S., Fonollosa, J., (2018). Multi-unit calibration rejects inherent device variability of chemical sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 265, 142-154

Inherent sensor variability limits mass-production applications for metal oxide (MOX) gas sensor arrays because calibration for replicas of a sensor array needs to be performed individually. Recently, calibration transfer strategies have been proposed to alleviate calibration costs of new replicas, but they still require the acquisition of transfer samples. In this work, we present calibration models that can be extended to uncalibrated replicas of sensor arrays without acquiring new samples, i.e., general or global calibration models. The developed methodology consists in including multiple replicas of a sensor array in the calibration process such that sensor variability is rejected by the general model. Our approach was tested using replicas of a MOX sensor array in the classification task of six gases and synthetic air, presented at different background humidity and concentration levels. Results showed that direct transfer of individual calibration models provides poor classification accuracy. However, we also found that general calibration models kept predictive performance when were applied directly to new copies of the sensor array. Moreover, we explored, through feature selection, whether particular combinations of sensors and operating temperatures can provide predictive performances equivalent to the calibration model with the complete array, favoring thereby the existence of more robust calibration models.

Keywords: Gas sensor array, MOX sensor, Robust calibration, Calibration transfer, Machine olfaction


Contreras, M. D. M., Jurado-Campos, N., Sánchez-Carnerero Callado, C., Arroyo-Manzanares, N., Fernández, L., Casano, S., Marco, S., Arce, L., Ferreiro-Vera, C., (2018). Thermal desorption-ion mobility spectrometry: A rapid sensor for the detection of cannabinoids and discrimination of Cannabis sativa L. chemotypes Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 273, 1413-1424

Existing analytical techniques used for the determination of cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabis) plants mostly rely on chromatography-based methods. As a rapid alternative for the direct analysis of them, thermal desorption (TD)-ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) was used for obtaining spectral fingerprints of single cannabinoids from Cannabis plant extracts and from plant residues on hands after their manipulation. The ionization source was 63Ni, with automatic switchable polarity. Although in both ionization modes there were signals in the TD-IMS spectra of the plant extracts and residues that could be assigned to concrete cannabinoids and chemotypes, most of them could not be clearly distinguished. Alternatively, the global spectral data of the plant extracts and residues were pre-processed and then, using principal component analysis (PCA)-linear discriminant analysis (LDA), grouped in function of their chemotype in a more feasible way. Using this approach, the possibility of false positive responses was also studied analyzing other non-Cannabis plants and tobacco, which were clustered in a different group to those of Cannabis. Therefore, TD-IMS, as analytical tool, and PCA-LDA, as a strategy for data reduction and pattern recognition, can be applied for on-site chemotaxonomic discrimination of Cannabis varieties and detection of illegal marijuana since the IMS equipment is portable and the analysis time is highly short.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa L., Cannabinoids, Chemometrics, ChemotypeIon mobility spectrometry


Bregestovski, Piotr, Maleeva, Galyna, Gorostiza, Pau, (2018). Light-induced regulation of ligand-gated channel activity British Journal of Pharmacology 175, (11), 1892-1902

The control of ligand-gated receptors with light using photochromic compounds has evolved from the first handcrafted examples to accurate, engineered receptors, whose development is supported by rational design, high-resolution protein structures, comparative pharmacology and molecular biology manipulations. Photoswitchable regulators have been designed and characterized for a large number of ligand-gated receptors in the mammalian nervous system, including nicotinic acetylcholine, glutamate and GABA receptors. They provide a well-equipped toolbox to investigate synaptic and neuronal circuits in all-optical experiments. This focused review discusses the design and properties of these photoswitches, their applications and shortcomings and future perspectives in the field.


Ferrer, Isidro, García, M. A., González, I. L., Lucena, D. D., Villalonga, A. R., Tech, M. C., Llorens, F., Garcia-Esparcia, P., Martinez-Maldonado, A., Mendez, M. F., Escribano, B. T., Serra, J. J. B., Sabido, E., de la Torre Gómez, C., del Rio, J. A., (2018). Aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG): Not only tau phosphorylation in astrocytes Brain Pathology Early View Articles

Aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG) is defined by the presence of two types of tau-bearing astrocytes: thorn-shaped astrocytes (TSAs) and granular/fuzzy astrocytes in the brain of old-aged individuals. The present study is focused on TSAs in rare forms of ARTAG with no neuronal tau pathology or restricted to entorhinal and transentorhinal cortices, to avoid bias from associated tauopathies. TSAs show 4Rtau phosphorylation at several specific sites and abnormal tau conformation, but they lack ubiquitin and they are not immunostained with tau-C3 antibodies which recognize truncated tau at Asp421. Astrocytes in ARTAG have atrophic processes, reduced glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and increased superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) immunoreactivity. Gel electrophoresis and western blotting of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions reveal a pattern of phospho-tau in ARTAG characterized by two bands of 68 and 64 kDa, and several middle bands between 35 and 50 kDa which differ from what is seen in AD. Phosphoproteomics of dissected vulnerable regions identifies an increase of phosphorylation marks in a large number of proteins in ARTAG compared with controls. GFAP, aquaporin 4, several serine-threonine kinases, microtubule associated proteins and other neuronal proteins are among the differentially phosphorylated proteins in ARTAG thus suggesting a hyper-phosphorylation background that affects several molecules, including many kinases and proteins from several cell compartments and various cell types. Finally, present results show for the first time that tau seeding is produced in neurons of the hippocampal complex, astrocytes, oligodendroglia and along fibers of the corpus callosum, fimbria and fornix following inoculation into the hippocampus of wild type mice of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions enriched in hyper-phosphorylated tau from selected ARTAG cases. These findings show astrocytes as crucial players of tau seeding in tauopathies.

Keywords: ARTAG, Kinases, Phosphorylation, Seeding, Tau, Thorn-shaped astrocytes


Garcia-Esparcia, P., Koneti, A., Rodríguez-Oroz, M. C., Gago, B., del Rio, J. A., Ferrer, Isidro, (2018). Mitochondrial activity in the frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease with dementia Brain Pathology 28, (1), 43-57

Altered mitochondrial function is characteristic in the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease (PD). Information about mitochondria in other brain regions such as the cerebral cortex is conflicting mainly because most studies have not contemplated the possibility of variable involvement depending on the region, stage of disease progression and clinical symptoms such as the presence or absence of dementia. RT-qPCR of 18 nuclear mRNAs encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and 12 mRNAs encoding energy metabolism-related enzymes; western blotting of mitochondrial proteins; and analysis of enzymatic activities of complexes I, II, II, IV and V of the respiratory chain were assessed in frontal cortex area 8 and the angular gyrus of middle-aged individuals (MA), and those with incidental PD (iPD), long-lasting PD with parkinsonism without dementia (PD) and long-lasting PD with dementia (PDD). Up-regulation of several genes was found in frontal cortex area 8 in PD when compared with MA and in the angular gyrus in iPD when compared with MA. Marked down-regulation of genes encoding mitochondrial subunits and energy metabolism-related enzymes occurs in frontal cortex but only of genes coding for energy metabolism-related enzymes in the angular gyrus in PDD. Significant decrease in the protein expression levels of several mitochondrial subunits encoded by these genes occurs in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus in PDD. Moreover, expression of MT-ND1 which is encoded by mitochondrial DNA is also reduced in PDD. Reduced enzymatic activity of complex III in frontal cortex area 8 and angular gyrus is observed in PD, but dramatic reduction in the activity of complexes I, II, II and IV in both regions characterizes PDD. Dementia in the context of PD is linked to region-specific deregulation of genomic genes encoding subunits of mitochondrial complexes and to marked reduction in the activity of mitochondrial complexes I, II, III and IV.

Keywords: Cerebral cortex, Dementia, Energy metabolism, Incidental PD, Mitochondria, Oxidative phosphorylation, Parkinson disease, PDD, Respiratory chain


Burgués, J., Jiménez-Soto, J. M., Marco, S., (2018). Estimation of the limit of detection in semiconductor gas sensors through linearized calibration models Analytica Chimica Acta 1013, 13-25

The limit of detection (LOD) is a key figure of merit in chemical sensing. However, the estimation of this figure of merit is hindered by the non-linear calibration curve characteristic of semiconductor gas sensor technologies such as, metal oxide (MOX), gasFETs or thermoelectric sensors. Additionally, chemical sensors suffer from cross-sensitivities and temporal stability problems. The application of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) recommendations for univariate LOD estimation in non-linear semiconductor gas sensors is not straightforward due to the strong statistical requirements of the IUPAC methodology (linearity, homoscedasticity, normality). Here, we propose a methodological approach to LOD estimation through linearized calibration models. As an example, the methodology is applied to the detection of low concentrations of carbon monoxide using MOX gas sensors in a scenario where the main source of error is the presence of uncontrolled levels of humidity.

Keywords: Semiconductor gas sensors, Metal-oxide sensors, Limit of detection, Non-linear, Humidity interference, Temperature modulation


Burgués, Javier, Marco, Santiago, (2018). Multivariate estimation of the limit of detection by orthogonal partial least squares in temperature-modulated MOX sensors Analytica Chimica Acta 1019, 49-64

Metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) sensors are usually temperature-modulated and calibrated with multivariate models such as Partial Least Squares (PLS) to increase the inherent low selectivity of this technology. The multivariate sensor response patterns exhibit heteroscedastic and correlated noise, which suggests that maximum likelihood methods should outperform PLS. One contribution of this paper is the comparison between PLS and maximum likelihood principal components regression (MLPCR) in MOX sensors. PLS is often criticized by the lack of interpretability when the model complexity increases beyond the chemical rank of the problem. This happens in MOX sensors due to cross-sensitivities to interferences, such as temperature or humidity and non-linearity. Additionally, the estimation of fundamental figures of merit, such as the limit of detection (LOD), is still not standardized in multivariate models. Orthogonalization methods, such as Orthogonal Projection to Latent Structures (O-PLS), have been successfully applied in other fields to reduce the complexity of PLS models. In this work, we propose a LOD estimation method based on applying the well-accepted univariate LOD formulas to the scores of the first component of an orthogonal PLS model. The resulting LOD is compared to the multivariate LOD range derived from error-propagation. The methodology is applied to data extracted from temperature-modulated MOX sensors (FIS SB-500-12 and Figaro TGS 3870-A04), aiming at the detection of low concentrations of carbon monoxide in the presence of uncontrolled humidity (chemical noise). We found that PLS models were simpler and more accurate than MLPCR models. Average LOD values of 0.79 ppm (FIS) and 1.06 ppm (Figaro) were found using the approach described in this paper. These values were contained within the LOD ranges obtained with the error-propagation approach. The mean LOD increased to 1.13 ppm (FIS) and 1.59 ppm (Figaro) when considering validation samples collected two weeks after calibration, which represents a 43% and 46% degradation, respectively. The orthogonal score-plot was a very convenient tool to visualize MOX sensor data and to validate the LOD estimates.

Keywords: Metal oxide sensors, Partial least squares, Orthogonal projection to latent structures, Maximum likelihood principal component regression, Limit of detection, Temperature modulation


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Lu, X., Persson, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2018). Heparinization of Beta Tricalcium Phosphate: Osteo-immunomodulatory Effects Advanced Healthcare Materials Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

Immune cells play a vital role in regulating bone dynamics. This has boosted the interest in developing biomaterials that can modulate both the immune and skeletal systems. In this study, calcium phosphates discs (i.e., beta-tricalcium phosphate, β-TCP) are functionalized with heparin to investigate the effects on immune and stem cell responses. The results show that the functionalized surfaces downregulate the release of hydrogen peroxide and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1 beta) from human monocytes and neutrophils, compared to nonfunctionalized discs. The macrophages show both elongated and round shapes on the two ceramic substrates, but the morphology of cells on heparinized β-TCP tends toward a higher elongation after 72 h. The heparinized substrates support rat mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) adhesion and proliferation, and anticipate the differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage as compared to β-TCP and control. The coupling between the inflammatory response and osteogenesis is assessed by culturing MSCs with the macrophage supernatants. The downregulation of inflammation in contact with the heparinized substrates induces higher expression of bone-related markers by MSCs.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Heparinization, Inflammation, Osteogenesis


Kuipers, Arthur J., Middelbeek, Jeroen, Vrenken, Kirsten, Pérez-González, Carlos, Poelmans, Geert, Klarenbeek, Jeffrey, Jalink, Kees, Trepat, Xavier, van Leeuwen, Frank N., (2018). TRPM7 controls mesenchymal features of breast cancer cells by tensional regulation of SOX4 Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease 1864, (7), 2409-2419

Mechanically induced signaling pathways are important drivers of tumor progression. However, if and how mechanical signals affect metastasis or therapy response remains poorly understood. We previously found that the channel-kinase TRPM7, a regulator of cellular tension implicated in mechano-sensory processes, is required for breast cancer metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Here, we show that TRPM7 contributes to maintaining a mesenchymal phenotype in breast cancer cells by tensional regulation of the EMT transcription factor SOX4. The functional consequences of SOX4 knockdown closely mirror those produced by TRPM7 knockdown. By traction force measurements, we demonstrate that TRPM7 reduces cytoskeletal tension through inhibition of myosin II activity. Moreover, we show that SOX4 expression and downstream mesenchymal markers are inversely regulated by cytoskeletal tension and matrix rigidity. Overall, our results identify SOX4 as a transcription factor that is uniquely sensitive to cellular tension and indicate that TRPM7 may contribute to breast cancer progression by tensional regulation of SOX4.

Keywords: TRPM7, SOX4, Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction


Jordi, Guillem-Marti, Gerard, Boix-Lemonche, Dencho, Gugutkov, Maria-Pau, Ginebra, George, Altankov, Jose, M. Manero, (2018). Recombinant fibronectin fragment III8-10/polylactic acid hybrid nanofibers enhance the bioactivity of titanium surface Nanomedicine 13, (8), 899-912

Aim: To develop a nanofiber (NF)-based biomimetic coating on titanium (Ti) that mimics the complex spatiotemporal organization of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Materials & methods: Recombinant cell attachment site (CAS) of fibronectin type III8-10 domain was co-electrospun with polylactic acid (PLA) and covalently bound on polished Ti discs. Osteoblast-like SaOS-2 cells were used to evaluate their complex bioactivity. Results: A significant increase of cell spreading was found on CAS/PLA hybrid NFs, followed by control pure PLA NFs and bare Ti discs. Cell proliferation showed similar trend being about twice higher on CAS/PLA NFs. The significantly increased ALP activity at day 21 indicated an enhanced differentiation of SaOS-2 cells. Conclusion: Coating of Ti implants with hybrid CAS/PLA NFs may improve significantly their osseointegration potential.

Keywords: Electrospinning, Fibronectin, Hybrid nanofibers, Osseointegration, PLA, Recombinant protein


Quiliano, Miguel, Pabón, Adriana, Moles, Ernest, Bonilla-Ramirez, Leonardo, Fabing, Isabelle, Fong, Kim Y., Nieto-Aco, Diego A., Wright, David W., Pizarro, Juan C., Vettorazzi, Ariane, López de Cerain, Adela, Deharo, Eric, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Garavito, Giovanny, Aldana, Ignacio, Galiano, Silvia, (2018). Structure-activity relationship of new antimalarial 1-aryl-3-susbtituted propanol derivatives: Synthesis, preliminary toxicity profiling, parasite life cycle stage studies, target exploration, and targeted delivery European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 152, 489-514

Design, synthesis, structure-activity relationship, cytotoxicity studies, in silico drug-likeness, genotoxicity screening, and in vivo studies of new 1-aryl-3-substituted propanol derivatives led to the identification of nine compounds with promising in vitro (55, 56, 61, 64, 66, and 70–73) and in vivo (66 and 72) antimalarial profiles against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei. Compounds 55, 56, 61, 64, 66 and 70–73 exhibited potent antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine-resistant strain FCR-3 (IC50s < 0.28 μM), and compounds 55, 56, 64, 70, 71, and 72 showed potent biological activity in chloroquine-sensitive and multidrug-resistant strains (IC50s < 0.7 μM for 3D7, D6, FCR-3 and C235). All of these compounds share appropriate drug-likeness profiles and adequate selectivity indexes (77 < SI < 184) as well as lack genotoxicity. In vivo efficacy tests in a mouse model showed compounds 66 and 72 to be promising candidates as they exhibited significant parasitemia reductions of 96.4% and 80.4%, respectively. Additional studies such as liver stage and sporogony inhibition, target exploration of heat shock protein 90 of P. falciparum, targeted delivery by immunoliposomes, and enantiomer characterization were performed and strongly reinforce the hypothesis of 1-aryl-3-substituted propanol derivatives as promising antimalarial compounds.

Keywords: Antiplasmodial, Antimalarial, Arylamino alcohol, Multi-stage activity, Hsp90, Enantiomer separation


Niederberger, Craig, Pellicer, Antonio, Cohen, Jacques, Gardner, David K., Palermo, Gianpiero D., O'Neill, Claire L., Chow, Stephen, Rosenwaks, Zev, Cobo, Ana, Swain, Jason E., Schoolcraft, William B., Frydman, René, Bishop, Lauren A., Aharon, Davora, Gordon, Catherine, New, Erika, Decherney, Alan, Tan, Seang Lin, Paulson, Richard J., Goldfarb, James M., Brännström, Mats, Donnez, Jacques, Silber, Sherman, Dolmans, Marie-Madeleine, Simpson, Joe Leigh, Handyside, Alan H., Munné, Santiago, Eguizabal, Cristina, Montserrat, Nuria, Izpisua Belmonte, Juan Carlos, Trounson, Alan, Simon, Carlos, Tulandi, Togas, Giudice, Linda C., Norman, Robert J., Hsueh, Aaron J., Sun, Yingpu, Laufer, Neri, Kochman, Ronit, Eldar-Geva, Talia, Lunenfeld, Bruno, Ezcurra, Diego, D'Hooghe, Thomas, Fauser, Bart C. J. M., Tarlatzis, Basil C., Meldrum, David R., Casper, Robert F., Fatemi, Human M., Devroey, Paul, Galliano, Daniela, Wikland, Matts, Sigman, Mark, Schoor, Richard A., Goldstein, Marc, Lipshultz, Larry I., Schlegel, Peter N., Hussein, Alayman, Oates, Robert D., Brannigan, Robert E., Ross, Heather E., Pennings, Guido, Klock, Susan C., Brown, Simon, Van Steirteghem, André, Rebar, Robert W., LaBarbera, Andrew R., (2018). Forty years of IVF Fertility and Sterility 110, (2), 185-324

This monograph, written by the pioneers of IVF and reproductive medicine, celebrates the history, achievements, and medical advancements made over the last 40 years in this rapidly growing field.


Basas, Jana, Palau, Marta, Ratia, Carlos, Luis Del Pozo, José, Martín-Gómez, María Teresa, Gomis, Xavier, Torrents, Eduard, Almirante, Benito, Gavaldà , Joan, (2018). High-dose daptomycin is effective as an antibiotic-lock therapy in a rabbit model of Staphylococcus epidermidis catheter-related infection Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 62, (2), e01777

Long-term catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) involving coagulase-negative Staphylococci are associated with poor patient outcomes, increased hospitalization and high treatment costs. The use of vancomycin-lock therapy has been an important step forward to treat these biofilms although failures appear in 20% of patients. In this study, we report that a high dose of daptomycin-lock therapy may offer a therapeutic advantage for these CRBSI in just 24 h of treatment.


Lehmann, Jennifer M., Claus, Karina, Jansen, Christian, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Schierwagen, Robert, Meyer, Carsten, Thomas, Daniel, Manekeller, Steffen, Claria, Joan, Strassburg, Christian P., Trautwein, Christian, Wasmuth, Hermann E., Berres, Marie-Luise, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Circulating CXCL10 in cirrhotic portal hypertension might reflect systemic inflammation and predict ACLF and mortality Liver International 38, (5), 875-884

Background & Aims: CXCR% ligands play an important role in hepatic injury, inflammation and fibrosis. While CXCL9 and CXCL11 are associated with survival in patients receiving transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), the role of CXCL10 in severe portal hypertension remains unknown. Methods: A total of 89 cirrhotic patients were analysed. CXCL10 protein levels were measured in portal and hepatic blood at TIPS insertion and 2 weeks later in 24 patients. CXCL10 and IL8 levels were assessed in portal, hepatic, cubital vein and right atrium blood in a further 25 patients at TIPS insertion. Furthermore, real‐time PCR determined hepatic CXCL10‐mRNA in 40 cirrhotic patients. Results: Hepatic CXCL10 showed no association with decompensation. By contrast, circulating CXCL10‐levels were higher in portal than in hepatic vein blood, suggesting an extrahepatic source of CXCL10 in cirrhosis. However, CXCL10 protein in blood samples from portal, hepatic, cubital veins and right atrium correlated excellently with each other and with IL‐8 levels. Higher CXCL10 circulating levels were associated with presence of ascites and higher Child scores. Higher CXCL10 circulating protein levels were associated with acute decompensation, acute‐on‐chronic liver failure (ACLF) and independently with mortality. Moreover, a decrease in CXCL10 protein levels after TIPS insertion was associated with better survival in each cohort and analysed together. Discussion: Circulating CXCL10 possibly reflects systemic inflammation and it is correlated with acute decompensation, ACLF and complications in patients with severe portal hypertension receiving TIPS. CXCL10 predicts survival in these patients and a decrease in CXCL10 after TIPS may be considered a good prognostic factor.


Qi, Yipin, Ye, Zhou, Fok, Alex, Holmes, Brian N., Espanol, Montserrat, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Aparicio, Conrado, (2018). Effects of molecular weight and concentration of poly(acrylic acid) on biomimetic mineralization of collagen ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 4, (8), 2758-2766

Inspired by nature, poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and other polyelectrolytes have been used as noncollagenous proteins (NCPs) surrogates for biomimetic intrafibrillar mineralization of collagen fibrils and, thus, to model the ultrastructure of bone, to study the mechanism of bone mineralization, and more scarcely to fabricate scaffolds for hard tissue engineering. The objective of this study was to systematically investigate the effect of the molecular weight (MW) and the concentration of PAA on the rate and pattern of biomineralization of collagen matrices. Densified type I collagen films were mineralized in supersaturated PAA-stabilized amorphous calcium-phosphate (PAA-ACP) solutions containing increasing MW (2 kDa, 50 kDa, 450 kDa) and concentrations (10, 25, 50 mg/L) of PAA up to 7 days. The stability and physical properties of collagen-free PAA-ACP solutions were also investigated. In our system, lowering PAA MW and increasing PAA concentration resulted in solutions with increasing stability. Overstable PAA-ACP solutions that fully inhibited mineralization of the collagen matrices were achieved using PAA 2kDa-50mg/L. Conversely, unstable solutions were obtained using high PAA MW at low concentrations. Nucleation and growth of a significant amount of extrafibrillar minerals on the collagen fibrils was obtained using these solutions. In a wide range of combined MW and concentration of PAA, we obtained intrafibrillar mineralization of collagen with hydroxyapatite crystals aligned parallel to the collagen fibril as in natural tissues. Intrafibrillar mineralization was correlated with PAA-ACP stability and growth of the PAA-ACP particles in solution. Our results support using PAA to act as a surrogate to NCPs function as selective inhibitors or promoters of biological mineralization and provide parameters to manufacture new biomimetic scaffolds and constructs for bone and dentin tissue engineering.


Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2018). Cell scientist to watch - Pere Roca-Cusachs Journal of Cell Science 131, (16), jcs222596

Pere Roca-Cusachs received his doctorate in cellular biophysics from the University of Barcelona, Spain, in 2007, having worked with Daniel Navajas on mechanical properties of cells using atomic force microscopy. He then joined the laboratory of Michael Sheetz at Columbia University, USA, to study integrin-mediated mechanotransduction. In 2012, Pere established his own research group with a joint position between the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the University of Barcelona. His research focuses on the mechanisms cells employ to detect and respond to mechanical signals. Pere is the recipient of an EMBO young investigator award and has received numerous national awards.


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.

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


Mata, A., Gil, V., Pérez-Clausell, J., Dasilva, M., González-Calixto, M. C., Soriano, E., García-Verdugo, J. M., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., Del Río, J. A., (2018). New functions of Semaphorin 3E and its receptor PlexinD1 during developing and adult hippocampal formation Scientific Reports 8, (1), 1381

The development and maturation of cortical circuits relies on the coordinated actions of long and short range axonal guidance cues. In this regard, the class 3 semaphorins and their receptors have been seen to be involved in the development and maturation of the hippocampal connections. However, although the role of most of their family members have been described, very few data about the participation of Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) and its receptor PlexinD1 during the development and maturation of the entorhino-hippocampal (EH) connection are available. In the present study, we focused on determining their roles both during development and in adulthood. We determined a relevant role for Sema3E/PlexinD1 in the layer-specific development of the EH connection. Indeed, mice lacking Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling showed aberrant layering of entorhinal axons in the hippocampus during embryonic and perinatal stages. In addition, absence of Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling results in further changes in postnatal and adult hippocampal formation, such as numerous misrouted ectopic mossy fibers. More relevantly, we describe how subgranular cells express PlexinD1 and how the absence of Sema3E induces a dysregulation of the proliferation of dentate gyrus progenitors leading to the presence of ectopic cells in the molecular layer. Lastly, Sema3E mutant mice displayed increased network excitability both in the dentate gyrus and the hippocampus proper.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Axon and dendritic guidance


Schwabl, Philipp, Brusilovskaya, Ksenia, Supper, Paul, Bauer, David, Königshofer, Philipp, Riedl, Florian, Hayden, Hubert, Fuchs, Claudia Daniela, Stift, Judith, Oberhuber, Georg, Aschauer, Stefan, Bonderman, Diana, Gnad, Thorsten, Pfeifer, Alexander, Uschner, Frank Erhard, Trebicka, Jonel, Rohr-Udilova, Nataliya, Podesser, Bruno Karl, Peck-Radosavljevic, Markus, Trauner, Michael, Reiberger, Thomas, (2018). The soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator riociguat reduces fibrogenesis and portal pressure in cirrhotic rats Scientific Reports 8, (1), 9372

In cirrhotic patients, portal hypertension (PHT) deteriorates survival, yet treatment options are limited. A major contributor to increased intrahepatic vasoconstriction in PHT is dysfunctional nitric-oxide signaling. Soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is the receptor of nitric-oxide and can be stimulated by riociguat. Riociguat is approved for pulmonary hypertension but has not been studied in liver cirrhosis. In this study we assessed the effects of riociguat on PHT and liver fibrosis in cholestatic (bile duct ligation, BDL) and toxic (carbon-tetrachloride, CCl4) rat models. In cirrhotic livers sGC expression was upregulated. In BDL rats, riociguat reduced liver fibrosis and decreased portal pressure without affecting systemic hemodynamics. In an early BDL disease stage, riociguat decreased bile duct proliferation, improved sinusoidal vascular dysfunction and inhibited angiogenesis. In advanced BDL riociguat exhibited anti-inflammatory effects. In CCl4 rats the beneficial effects of riociguat treatment were less pronounced and confined to an early disease stage. Similarly, in patients with cholestatic cirrhosis and PHT nitrates (that induce sGC activity) decreased portal pressure more effectively than in patients with non-cholestatic etiology. We also found an improvement of transaminases in patients with pulmonary hypertension receiving riociguat. Our findings support the clinical development of sGC stimulators in patients with cirrhotic PHT.


Fernandez, L., Yan, J., Fonollosa, J., Burgués, J., Gutierrez, A., Marco, S., (2018). A practical method to estimate the resolving power of a chemical sensor array: Application to feature selection Frontiers in Chemistry 6, Article 209

A methodology to calculate analytical figures of merit is not well established for detection systems that are based on sensor arrays with low sensor selectivity. In this work, we present a practical approach to estimate the Resolving Power of a sensory system, considering non-linear sensors and heteroscedastic sensor noise. We use the definition introduced by Shannon in the field of communication theory to quantify the number of symbols in a noisy environment, and its version adapted by Gardner and Barlett for chemical sensor systems. Our method combines dimensionality reduction and the use of algorithms to compute the convex hull of the empirical data to estimate the data volume in the sensor response space. We validate our methodology with synthetic data and with actual data captured with temperature-modulated MOX gas sensors. Unlike other methodologies, our method does not require the intrinsic dimensionality of the sensor response to be smaller than the dimensionality of the input space. Moreover, our method circumvents the problem to obtain the sensitivity matrix, which usually is not known. Hence, our method is able to successfully compute the Resolving Power of actual chemical sensor arrays. We provide a relevant figure of merit, and a methodology to calculate it, that was missing in the literature to benchmark broad-response gas sensor arrays.

Keywords: Gas sensor array, MOX sensors, Resolving Power, Sensor resolution, Dimensionality reduction, Machine olfaction


Peyman, Zirak, Clara, Gregori-Pla, Igor, Blanco, Ana, Fortuna, Gianluca, Cotta, Pau, Bramon, Isabel, Serra, Anna, Mola, Jordi, Solà-Soler, Beatriz, F. Giraldo-Giraldo, Turgut, Durduran, Mercedes, Mayos, (2018). Characterization of the microvascular cerebral blood flow response to obstructive apneic events during night sleep Neurophotonics 5, (4), 045003

Obstructive apnea causes periodic changes in cerebral and systemic hemodynamics, which may contribute to the increased risk of cerebrovascular disease of patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome. The improved understanding of the consequences of an apneic event on the brain perfusion may improve our knowledge of these consequences and then allow for the development of preventive strategies. Our aim was to characterize the typical microvascular, cortical cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes in an OSA population during an apneic event. Sixteen patients (age 58  ±  8  years, 75% male) with a high risk of severe OSA were measured with a polysomnography device and with diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) during one night of sleep with 1365 obstructive apneic events detected. All patients were later confirmed to suffer from severe OSA syndrome with a mean of 83  ±  15 apneas and hypopneas per hour. DCS has been shown to be able to characterize the microvascular CBF response to each event with a sufficient contrast-to-noise ratio to reveal its dynamics. It has also revealed that an apnea causes a peak increase of microvascular CBF (30  ±  17  %  ) at the end of the event followed by a drop (−20  ±  12  %  ) similar to what was observed in macrovascular CBF velocity of the middle cerebral artery. This study paves the way for the utilization of DCS for further studies on these populations.

Keywords: Sleep disorder breathing, Cerebral blood flow, Brain perfusion, Diffuse correlation spectroscopy


Perea-Gil, I., Gálvez-Montón, C., Prat-Vidal, C., Jorba, I., Segú-Vergés, C., Roura, S., Soler-Botija, C., Iborra-Egea, O., Revuelta-López, E., Fernández, M. A., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Bayes-Genis, A., (2018). Head-to-head comparison of two engineered cardiac grafts for myocardial repair: From scaffold characterization to pre-clinical testing Scientific Reports 8, (1), 6708

Cardiac tissue engineering, which combines cells and supportive scaffolds, is an emerging treatment for restoring cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI), although, the optimal construct remains a challenge. We developed two engineered cardiac grafts, based on decellularized scaffolds from myocardial and pericardial tissues and repopulated them with adipose tissue mesenchymal stem cells (ATMSCs). The structure, macromechanical and micromechanical scaffold properties were preserved upon the decellularization and recellularization processes, except for recellularized myocardium micromechanics that was ~2-fold stiffer than native tissue and decellularized scaffolds. Proteome characterization of the two acellular matrices showed enrichment of matrisome proteins and major cardiac extracellular matrix components, considerably higher for the recellularized pericardium. Moreover, the pericardial scaffold demonstrated better cell penetrance and retention, as well as a bigger pore size. Both engineered cardiac grafts were further evaluated in pre-clinical MI swine models. Forty days after graft implantation, swine treated with the engineered cardiac grafts showed significant ventricular function recovery. Irrespective of the scaffold origin or cell recolonization, all scaffolds integrated with the underlying myocardium and showed signs of neovascularization and nerve sprouting. Collectively, engineered cardiac grafts -with pericardial or myocardial scaffolds- were effective in restoring cardiac function post-MI, and pericardial scaffolds showed better structural integrity and recolonization capability.


Crespo, Anna, Blanco-Cabra, N., Torrents, Eduard, (2018). Aerobic vitamin B12 biosynthesis is essential for pseudomonas aeruginosa class II ribonucleotide reductase activity during planktonic and biofilm growth Frontiers in Microbiology 9, (986), Article 986

P. aeruginosa is a major pathogenic bacterium in chronic infections and is a model organism for studying biofilms. P. aeruginosa is considered an aerobic bacterium, but in the presence of nitrate, it also grows in anaerobic conditions. Oxygen diffusion through the biofilm generates metabolic and genetic diversity in P. aeruginosa growth, such as in ribonucleotide reductase activity. These essential enzymes are necessary for DNA synthesis and repair. Oxygen availability determines the activity of the three-ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) classes. Class II and III RNRs are active in the absence of oxygen; however, class II RNRs, which are important in P. aeruginosa biofilm growth, require a vitamin B12 cofactor for their enzymatic activity. In this work, we elucidated the conditions in which class II RNRs are active due to vitamin B12 concentration constraints (biosynthesis or environmental availability). We demonstrated that increased vitamin B12 levels during aerobic, stationary and biofilm growth activate class II RNR activity. We also established that the cobN gene is essentially responsible for B12 biosynthesis under planktonic and biofilm growth. Our results unravel the mechanisms of dNTP synthesis by P. aeruginosa during biofilm growth, which appear to depend on the bacterial strain (laboratory-type or clinical isolate).

Keywords: Vitamin B12, Adenosylcobalamin, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, NrdJ, Bacterial growth, Biofilm,Anaerobiosis


Pallarès, Irantzu, de Groot, Natalia S., Iglesias, Valentín, Sant'Anna, Ricardo, Biosca, Arnau, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Ventura, Salvador, (2018). Discovering putative prion-like proteins in plasmodium falciparum: A computational and experimental analysis Frontiers in Microbiology 9, Article 1737

Prions are a singular subset of proteins able to switch between a soluble conformation and a self-perpetuating amyloid state. Traditionally associated with neurodegenerative diseases, increasing evidence indicates that organisms exploit prion-like mechanisms for beneficial purposes. The ability to transit between conformations is encoded in the so-called prion domains, long disordered regions usually enriched in glutamine/asparagines residues. Interestingly, Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most virulent form of malaria, is exceptionally rich in proteins bearing long Q/N-rich sequence stretches, accounting for roughly 30% of the proteome. This biased composition suggests that these protein regions might correspond to prion-like domains (PrLDs) and potentially form amyloid assemblies. To investigate this possibility, we performed a stringent computational survey for Q/N-rich PrLDs on P. falciparum. Our data indicate that ~10% of P. falciparum protein sequences have prionic signatures, and that this subproteome is enriched in regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate for several of the identified PrLDs that, despite their disordered nature, they contain inner short sequences able to spontaneously self-assemble into amyloid-like structures. Although the ability of these sequences to nucleate the conformational conversion of the respective full-length proteins should still be demonstrated, our analysis suggests that, as previously described for other organisms, prion-like proteins might also play a functional role in P. falciparum.

Keywords: Plasmodium, Protein aggregation, Amyloid, Prion, Q-N-rich sequences, Protein Disorder


Hüttener, Mário, Prieto, Alejandro, Espelt, Joan, Bernabeu, Manuel, Juárez, Antonio, (2018). Stringent response and AggR-dependent virulence regulation in the enteroaggregative escherichia coli strain 042 Frontiers in Microbiology 9, (717), Article 717

Virulence expression in the enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 requires the transcriptional activator AggR. We show in this report that, as reported for other virulence factors, the nucleotide second messenger (p)ppGpp is needed for a high expression level of AggR. As expected from these findings, expression of AggR-activated genes such as the AafA pilin subunit is downregulated in the absence of (p)ppGpp. Considering the fact that biofilm formation in strain 042 requires the AafA protein, biofilm development in strain 042 is impaired in derivatives that lack either the AggR protein, the virulence plasmid that encodes AggR (pAA2) or the ability to synthesize (p)ppGpp. These results show a direct correlation between (p)ppGpp, expression of AggR and biofilm development in strain 042.

Keywords: (p)ppGpp, AggR, EAEC, Biofilm, AAF/II


Hoyos-Nogués, Mireia, Buxadera-Palomero, Judit, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Manero, José María, Gil, F. J., Mas-Moruno, Carlos, (2018). All-in-one trifunctional strategy: A cell adhesive, bacteriostatic and bactericidal coating for titanium implants Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 169, 30-40

Strategies to inhibit initial bacterial adhesion are extremely important to prevent infection on biomaterial surfaces. However, the simultaneous attraction of desired eukaryotic cells remains a challenge for successful biomaterial-host tissue integration. Here we describe a method for the development of a trifunctional coating that repels contaminating bacteria, kills those that adhere, and promotes osteoblast adhesion. To this end, titanium surfaces were functionalized by electrodeposition of an antifouling polyethylene glycol (PEG) layer and subsequent binding of a peptidic platform with cell-adhesive and bactericidal properties. The physicochemical characterization of the samples via SEM, contact angle, FTIR and XPS analysis verified the successful binding of the PEG layer and the biomolecules, without altering the morphology and topography of the samples. PEG coatings inhibited protein adsorption and osteoblast-like (SaOS-2) attachment; however, the presence of cell adhesive domains rescued osteoblast adhesion, yielding higher values of cell attachment and spreading compared to controls (p < 0.05). Finally, the antibacterial potential of the coating was measured by live/dead assays and SEM using S. sanguinis as a model of early colonizer in oral biofilms. The presence of PEG layers significantly reduced bacterial attachment on the surfaces (p < 0.05). This antibacterial potential was further increased by the bactericidal peptide, yielding values of bacterial adhesion below 0.2% (p < 0.05). The balance between the risk of infection and the optimal osteointegration of a biomaterial is often described as “the race for the surface”, in which contaminating bacteria and host tissue cells compete to colonize the implant. In the present work, we have developed a multifunctional coating for a titanium surface that promotes the attachment and spreading of osteoblasts, while very efficiently inhibits bacterial colonization, thus holding promise for application in bone replacing applications.

Keywords: Polyethylene glycol, Antibacterial, Osteointegration, Multifunctionality, Peptides, Titanium


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.

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


Borgheti-Cardoso, L.N., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Turning Plasmodium survival strategies against itself Future Medicinal Chemistry 10, (19), 2245-2248

Franco, Rafael, Aguinaga, David, Reyes, Irene, Canela, Enric I., Lillo, Jaume, Tarutani, Airi, Hasegawa, Masato, del Ser-Badia, Anna, del Rio, José A., Kreutz, Michael R., Saura, Carlos A., Navarro, Gemma, (2018). N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor link to the MAP kinase pathway in cortical and hippocampal neurons and microglia Is dependent on calcium sensors and Is blocked by α-Synuclein, Tau, and phospho-Tau in non-transgenic and transgenic APPSw,Ind Mice Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 11, (273), Article 273

N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) respond to glutamate to allow the influx of calcium ions and the signaling to the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. Both MAPK- and Ca2+-mediated events are important for both neurotransmission and neural cell function and fate. Using a heterologous expression system, we demonstrate that NMDAR may interact with the EF-hand calcium-binding proteins calmodulin, calneuron-1, and NCS1 but not with caldendrin. NMDARs were present in primary cultures of both neurons and microglia from cortex and hippocampus. Calmodulin in microglia, and calmodulin and NCS1 in neurons, are necessary for NMDA-induced MAP kinase pathway activation. Remarkably, signaling to the MAP kinase pathway was blunted in primary cultures of cortical and hippocampal neurons and microglia from wild-type animals by proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases: α-synuclein, Tau, and p-Tau. A similar blockade by pathogenic proteins was found using samples from the APPSw,Ind transgenic Alzheimer’s disease model. Interestingly, a very marked increase in NMDAR–NCS1 complexes was identified in neurons and a marked increase of both NMDAR–NCS1 and NMDAR–CaM complexes was identified in microglia from the transgenic mice. The results show that α-synuclein, Tau, and p-Tau disrupt the signaling of NMDAR to the MAPK pathway and that calcium sensors are important for NMDAR function both in neurons and microglia. Finally, it should be noted that the expression of receptor–calcium sensor complexes, specially those involving NCS1, is altered in neural cells from APPSw,Ind mouse embryos/pups.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, Calmodulin, Calneuron-1, Caldendrin, NCS1, Extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Glutamate receptor, Proximity ligation assay


Arsiwalla, Xerxes D., Verschure, Paul, (2018). Measuring the complexity of consciousness Frontiers in Neuroscience 12, (424), Article 424

The grand quest for a scientific understanding of consciousness has given rise to many new theoretical and empirical paradigms for investigating the phenomenology of consciousness as well as clinical disorders associated to it. A major challenge in this field is to formalize computational measures that can reliably quantify global brain states from data. In particular, information-theoretic complexity measures such as integrated information have been proposed as measures of conscious awareness. This suggests a new framework to quantitatively classify states of consciousness. However, it has proven increasingly difficult to apply these complexity measures to realistic brain networks. In part, this is due to high computational costs incurred when implementing these measures on realistically large network dimensions. Nonetheless, complexity measures for quantifying states of consciousness are important for assisting clinical diagnosis and therapy. This article is meant to serve as a lookup table of measures of consciousness, with particular emphasis on clinical applicability. We consider both, principle-based complexity measures as well as empirical measures tested on patients. We address challenges facing these measures with regard to realistic brain networks, and where necessary, suggest possible resolutions. We address challenges facing these measures with regard to realistic brain networks, and where necessary, suggest possible resolutions.

Keywords: Consciousness in the Clinic, Computational neuroscience, Complexity measures, Clinical Neuroscience, Measures of consciousness


Caddeo, Carla, Pucci, Laura, Gabriele, Morena, Carbone, Claudia, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Valenti, Donatella, Pons, Ramon, Vassallo, Antonio, Fadda, Anna Maria, Manconi, Maria, (2018). Stability, biocompatibility and antioxidant activity of PEG-modified liposomes containing resveratrol International Journal of Pharmaceutics 538, (1), 40-47

The present investigation reports the development of PEG-modified liposomes for the delivery of naturally occurring resveratrol. PEG-modified liposomes were prepared by direct sonication of the phospholipid aqueous dispersion, in the presence of two PEG-surfactants. Small, spherical, unilamellar vesicles were produced, as demonstrated by light scattering, cryo-TEM, and SAXS. The aging of the vesicles was assessed by using the Turbiscan® technology, and their physical stability was evaluated in vitro in simulated body fluids, results showing that the key features of the liposomes were preserved. The biocompatibility of the formulations was demonstrated in an ex vivo model of hemolysis in human erythrocytes. Further, the incorporation of resveratrol in PEG-modified liposomes did not affect its intrinsic antioxidant activity, as DPPH radical was almost completely inhibited, and the vesicles were also able to ensure an optimal protection against oxidative stress in an ex vivo human erythrocytes-based model. Therefore, the proposed PEG-modified liposomes, which were prepared by a simple and reliable method, represent an interesting approach to safely deliver resveratrol, ensuring the preservation of the carrier structural integrity in the biological fluids, and the antioxidant efficacy of the polyphenol to be exploited against oxidative stress associated with cancer.

Keywords: Resveratrol, Antioxidant, PEG-surfactants, PEG-modified liposomes, Human erythrocytes


Caddeo, Carla, Manca, Maria Letizia, Peris, José Esteban, Usach, Iris, Diez-Sales, Octavio, Matos, Maria, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Fadda, Anna Maria, Manconi, Maria, (2018). Tocopherol-loaded transfersomes: In vitro antioxidant activity and efficacy in skin regeneration International Journal of Pharmaceutics 551, (1), 34-41

Transfersomes were prepared by using different polysorbates (i.e., Tween 20, 40, 60 and 80) and loaded with tocopherol acetate, a naturally-occurring phenolic compound with antioxidant activity. The vesicles showed unilamellar morphology, small size (∼85 nm), low polydispersity index (≤0.27), and high entrapment efficiency, which increased as a function of the length of the Tween fatty acid chain (from 72% to 90%). The long-term stability of the formulations was evaluated by means of the Turbiscan™ technology, which indicated their good stability, irrespective of the Tween used. The vesicles efficiently delivered tocopherol to the skin, and showed biocompatibility in vitro in keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Regardless of the Tween used, the transfersomes were able to protect skin cells from the oxidative damage induced by hydrogen peroxide. Additionally, transfersomes promoted cell proliferation and migration, which resulted in an acceleration of skin wound closure. These results demonstrated that tocopherol-loaded transfersomes bear potential as topical delivery system with antioxidant activity and wound healing properties.

Keywords: Tocopherol, Transfersomes, Tween, Skin delivery, Antioxidant activity, Skin wound


Oller-Moreno, Sergio, Cominetti, Ornella, Galindo, Antonio Núñez, Irincheeva, Irina, Corthésy, John, Astrup, Arne, Saris, Wim H. M., Hager, Jörg, Kussmann, Martin, Dayon, Loïc, (2018). The differential plasma proteome of obese and overweight individuals undergoing a nutritional weight loss and maintenance intervention PROTEOMICS - Clinical Applications 12, (1), 1600150

Purpose : The nutritional intervention program “DiOGenes” focuses on how obesity can be prevented and treated from a dietary perspective. We generated differential plasma proteome profiles in the DiOGenes cohort to identify proteins associated with weight loss and maintenance and explore their relation to body mass index, fat mass, insulin resistance and sensitivity. Experimental Design : Relative protein quantification was obtained at baseline and after combined weight loss/maintenance phases using isobaric tagging and MS/MS. A Welch t-test determined proteins differentially present after intervention. Protein relationships with clinical variables were explored using univariate linear models, considering collection center, gender and age as confounding factors. Results : 473 subjects were measured at baseline and end of the intervention; 39 proteins were longitudinally differential. Proteins with largest changes were sex hormone-binding globulin, adiponectin, C-reactive protein, calprotectin, serum amyloid A, and proteoglycan 4 (PRG4), whose association with obesity and weight loss is known. We identified new putative biomarkers for weight loss/maintenance. Correlation between PRG4 and proline-rich acidic protein 1 (PRAP1) variation and Matsuda insulin sensitivity increment was showed. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance : MS-based proteomic analysis of a large cohort of non-diabetic overweight and obese individuals concomitantly identified known and novel proteins associated with weight loss and maintenance.

Keywords: Biomarker, Diabetes, Large-scale study, Mass spectrometry, Obesity, Proteomics


Ruiz-Margáin, Astrid, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Ryan, Patrick, Schierwagen, Robert, Chi-Cervera, Luis A., Jansen, Christian, Mendez-Guerrero, Osvely, Flores-García, Nayelli C., Lehmann, Jennifer, Torre, Aldo, Macías-Rodríguez, Ricardo Ulises, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Fibroblast growth factor 21 is an early predictor of acute-on-chronic liver failure in critically ill patients with cirrhosis Liver Transplantation 24, (5), 595-605

Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) develops in acute decompensation (AD) of cirrhosis and shows high mortality. In critically ill patients, early diagnosis of ACLF could be important for therapeutic decisions (eg, renal replacement, artificial liver support, liver transplantation). This study evaluated fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) as a marker of mitochondrial dysfunction in the context of ACLF. The study included 154 individuals (112 critically patients and 42 healthy controls) divided into a training and a validation cohort. In the training cohort of 42 healthy controls and 34 critically ill patients (of whom 24 were patients with cirrhosis), levels of FGF21, interleukin (IL) 6, and IL8 were measured. In the validation cohort of 78 patients with cirrhosis, 17 patients were admitted with or developed ACLF during follow-up and underwent daily clinical and nutritional assessment. Levels of FGF21 were higher in critically ill patients, especially in patients with cirrhosis admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Moreover, FGF21 as well as IL6 and IL8 levels were higher in patients with ACLF, but they did not increase with the severity of ACLF. Interestingly, in the validation cohort, FGF21 was also elevated in the patients who developed ACLF in the next 7 days. In these patients, FGF21 levels were an independent predictor of ACLF presence and development in multivariate analysis together with Child‐Pugh score. FGF21 levels had no impact on the survival of critically ill patients with cirrhosis. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that FGF21 levels are of specific diagnostic value regarding the presence and development of ACLF in patients admitted to ICU for AD of liver cirrhosis. Further studies are warranted to address pathophysiological and possible therapeutic implications.


Jansen, Christian, Cox, Alexander, Schueler, Robert, Schneider, Matthias, Lehmann, Jennifer, Praktiknjo, Michael, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Chang, Johannes, Manekeller, Steffen, Nickenig, Georg, Berlakovich, Gabriela, Strassburg, Christian P., Hammerstingl, Christoph, Staufer, Katharina, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Increased myocardial contractility identifies patients with decompensated cirrhosis requiring liver transplantation Liver Transplantation 24, (1), 15-25

Late allocation of organs for transplant impairs post–liver transplantation (LT) survival. Cardiac dysfunction, especially diastolic and autonomic dysfunction, is frequent and plays an important role in the prognosis of patients with cirrhosis. However, the role of myocardial contractility is unexplored, and its prognostic value is controversially discussed. This study analyses the role of myocardial contractility assessed by speckle tracking echocardiography in LT allocation. In total, 168 patients with cirrhosis (training cohort, 111; validation cohort [VC], 57) awaiting LT in 2 centers were included in this retrospective study. Also, 51 patients from the training and all patients from the VC were transplanted, 36 patients of the training and 38 of the VC were alive at the end of follow-up, and 21 nontransplanted patients died. Contractility of the left ventricle (LV) increased with severity of the Child-Pugh score. Interestingly, higher LV contractility in the training cohort patients, especially in those with Child-Pugh C, was an independent predictor of reduced transplant-free survival. In male patients, the effects on survival of increased left and right ventricular myocardial contractility were more pronounced. Notably, competing risk analysis demonstrated that increased contractility is associated with earlier LT, which could be confirmed in the VC. Importantly, LV myocardial contractility had no impact on survival of patients not receiving LT or on post-LT survival. In conclusion, this study demonstrates for the first time that increased myocardial contractility in decompensated patients identifies patients who require LT earlier, but without increased post-LT mortality.


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.

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


Marrugo-Ramírez, José, Mir, M., Samitier, Josep, (2018). Blood-based cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy: A promising non-invasive alternative to tissue biopsy International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19, (10), 2877

Cancer is one of the greatest threats facing our society, being the second leading cause of death globally. Currents strategies for cancer diagnosis consist of the extraction of a solid tissue from the affected area. This sample enables the study of specific biomarkers and the genetic nature of the tumor. However, the tissue extraction is risky and painful for the patient and in some cases is unavailable in inaccessible tumors. Moreover, a solid biopsy is expensive and time consuming and cannot be applied repeatedly. New alternatives that overcome these drawbacks are rising up nowadays, such as liquid biopsy. A liquid biopsy is the analysis of biomarkers in a non-solid biological tissue, mainly blood, which has remarkable advantages over the traditional method; it has no risk, it is non-invasive and painless, it does not require surgery and reduces cost and diagnosis time. The most studied cancer non-invasive biomarkers are circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), and exosomes. These circulating biomarkers play a key role in the understanding of metastasis and tumorigenesis, which could provide a better insight into the evolution of the tumor dynamics during treatment and disease progression. Improvements in isolation technologies, based on a higher grade of purification of CTCs, exosomes, and ctDNA, will provide a better characterization of biomarkers and give rise to a wide range of clinical applications, such as early detection of diseases, and the prediction of treatment responses due to the discovery of personalized tumor-related biomarkers

Keywords: Liquid biopsy, Cancer, Biomarkers, Non-invasive, Circulant tumor DNA (ctDNA), Circulant tumor cells (CTC)


Menal, M. J., Jorba, I., Torres, M., Montserrat, J. M., Gozal, D., Colell, A., Piñol-Ripoll, G., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., Farré, R., (2018). Alzheimer's disease mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness compared to wild-type mice in both normoxia and following intermittent hypoxia mimicking sleep apnea Frontiers in Neurology 9, Article 1

Background: Evidence from patients and animal models suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and that AD is associated with reduced brain tissue stiffness. Aim: To investigate whether intermittent hypoxia (IH) alters brain cortex tissue stiffness in AD mutant mice exposed to IH mimicking OSA. Methods: Six-eight month old (B6C3-Tg(APPswe,PSEN1dE9)85Dbo/J) AD mutant mice and wild-type (WT) littermates were subjected to IH (21% O2 40 s to 5% O2 20 s; 6 h/day) or normoxia for 8 weeks. After euthanasia, the stiffness (E) of 200-μm brain cortex slices was measured by atomic force microscopy. Results: Two-way ANOVA indicated significant cortical softening and weight increase in AD mice compared to WT littermates, but no significant effects of IH on cortical stiffness and weight were detected. In addition, reduced myelin was apparent in AD (vs. WT), but no significant differences emerged in the cortex extracellular matrix components laminin and glycosaminoglycans when comparing baseline AD and WT mice. Conclusion: AD mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness following both normoxia and IH mimicking sleep apnea, and such differences are commensurate with increased edema and demyelination in AD.

Keywords: Animal model, Atomic force microscopy, Brain mechanics, Cortex stiffness, Neurodegenerative disease


Tomas-Roig, Jordi, Piscitelli, Fabiana, Gil, Vanesa, Quintana, Ester, Ramió-Torrentà , Lluís l, del Río, Jose Antonio, Moore, Timothy Patrick, Agbemenyah, Hope, Salinas, Gabriela, Pommerenke, Claudia, Lorenzen, Stephan, Beißbarth, Tim, Hoyer-Fender, Sigrid, Di Marzo, Vincenzo, Havemann-Reinecke, Ursula, (2018). Effects of repeated long-term psychosocial stress and acute cannabinoid exposure on mouse corticostriatal circuitries: Implications for neuropsychiatric disorders CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 24, (6), 528-538

Introduction: Vulnerability to psychiatric manifestations is achieved by the influence of genetic and environment including stress and cannabis consumption. Here, we used a psychosocial stress model based on resident-intruder confrontations to study the brain corticostriatal-function, since deregulation of corticostriatal circuitries has been reported in many psychiatric disorders. CB1 receptors are widely expressed in the central nervous system and particularly, in both cortex and striatum brain structures. Aims and methods: The investigation presented here is addressed to assess the impact of repeated stress following acute cannabinoid exposure on behavior and corticostriatal brain physiology by assessing mice behavior, the concentration of endocannabinoid and endocannabinoid-like molecules and changes in the transcriptome. Results: Stressed animals urinated frequently; showed exacerbated scratching activity, lower striatal N-arachidonylethanolamine (AEA) levels and higher cortical expression of cholinergic receptor nicotinic alpha 6. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55212.2 diminished locomotor activity while the inverse agonist increased the distance travelled in the center of the open field. Upon CB1 activation, N-oleoylethanolamide and Npalmitoylethanolamide, two AEA congeners that do not interact directly with cannabinoid receptors, were enhanced in the striatum. The co-administration with both cannabinoids induced an up-regulation of striatal FK506 binding protein 5. The inverse agonist in controls reversed the effects of WIN55212.2 on motor activity. When Rimonabant was injected under stress, the cortical levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol were maximum. The agonist and the antagonist influenced the cortical expression of cholinergic receptor nicotinic alpha 6 and serotonin transporter neurotransmitter type 4 in opposite directions, while their co-administration tended to produce a null effect under stress. Conclusions: The endocannabinoid system had a direct effect on serotoninergic neurotransmission and glucocorticoid signaling. Cholinergic receptor nicotinic alpha-6 was shown to be deregulated in response to stress and following synthetic cannabinoid drugs thus could confer vulnerability to cannabis addiction and psychosis. Targeting the receptors of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like mediators might be a valuable option for treating stress-related neuropsychiatric symptoms

Keywords: CB1, Chrna6 and Slc6a4, Fkbp5, Pychosocial stress


Rodríguez, R., Cortés, R., Verónica Guamán, A., Pardo, A., Torralba, Y., Gómez, F., Roca, J., Barberà, J.A., Cascante, M., Marco, S., (2018). Instrumental drift removal in GC-MS data for breath analysis: the short-term and long-term temporal validation of putative biomarkers for COPD Journal of Breath Research 12, (3), 036007

Abstract Breath analysis holds the promise of a non-invasive technique for the diagnosis of diverse respiratory conditions including COPD and lung cancer. Breath contains small metabolites that may be putative biomarkers of these conditions. However, the discovery of reliable biomarkers is a considerable challenge in the presence of both clinical and instrumental confounding factors. Among the latter, instrumental time drifts are highly relevant, as since question the short and long-term validity of predictive models. In this work we present a methodology to counter instrumental drifts using information from interleaved blanks for a case study of GC-MS data from breath samples. The proposed method includes feature filtering, and additive, multiplicative and multivariate drift corrections, the latter being based on Component Correction. Biomarker discovery was based on Genetic Algorithms in a filter configuration using Fisher´s ratio computed in the Partial Least Squares – Discriminant Analysis subspace as a figure of merit. Using our protocol, we have been able to find nine peaks that provide a statistically significant Area under the ROC Curve (AUC) of 0.75 for COPD discrimination. The method developed has been successfully validated using blind samples in short-term temporal validation. However, in the attempt to use this model for patient screening six months later was not successful. This negative result highlights the importance of increasing validation rigour when reporting biomarker discovery results.

Keywords: Instrumental shifts, Chemometrics, Biomarker validation


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.

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


Navarro, C., Pérez-Amodio, S., Castaño, O., Engel, E., (2018). Wound healing-promoting effects stimulated by extracellular calcium and calcium-releasing nanoparticles on dermal fibroblasts Nanotechnology 29, (39), 395102

Extracellular calcium has been proved to influence the healing process of injuries and could be used as a novel therapy for skin wound healing. However, a better understanding of its effect, together with a system to obtain a controlled release is needed. In this study, we examined whether the ionic dissolution of the calcium–phosphate-based ormoglass nanoparticles coded SG5 may produce a similar stimulating effect as extracellular calcium (from CaCl2) on rat dermal fibroblast in vitro. Cells were cultured in the presence of medium containing different calcium concentrations, normally ranging from 0.1 to 3.5 mM Ca2+. A concentration of 3.5 mM of CaCl2 increased metabolic activity, in vitro wound closure, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) activity, collagen synthesis and cytokine expression, and reduced cell contraction capacity. Interestingly, the levels of migration and contraction capacity measured followed a dose-dependent behavior. In addition, media conditioned with SG5 stimulated the same activities as media conditioned with CaCl2, but undesired effects in chronic wound healing such as inflammatory factor expression and MMP activity were reduced compared to the equivalent CaCl2 concentration. In summary, calcium-releasing particles such as SG5 are potential biological-free biostimulators to be applied in dressings for chronic wound healing.

Keywords: Nanomaterials, Cell signaling, Skin wound healing


Farré, N., Otero, J., Falcones, B., Torres, M., Jorba, I., Gozal, D., Almendros, I., Farré, R., Navajas, D., (2018). Intermittent hypoxia mimicking sleep apnea increases passive stiffness of myocardial extracellular matrix. A multiscale study Frontiers in Physiology 9, Article 1143

Background: Tissue hypoxia-reoxygenation characterizes obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a very prevalent respiratory disease associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Experimental studies indicate that intermittent hypoxia (IH) mimicking OSA induces oxidative stress and inflammation in heart tissue at the cell and molecular levels. However, it remains unclear whether IH modifies the passive stiffness of the cardiac tissue extracellular matrix (ECM). Aim: To investigate multiscale changes of stiffness induced by chronic IH in the ECM of left ventricular (LV) myocardium in a murine model of OSA. Methods: Two-month and 18-month old mice (N = 10 each) were subjected to IH (20% O2 40 s–6% O2 20 s) for 6 weeks (6 h/day). Corresponding control groups for each age were kept under normoxia. Fresh LV myocardial strips (~7 mm × 1 mm × 1 mm) were prepared, and their ECM was obtained by decellularization. Myocardium ECM macroscale mechanics were measured by performing uniaxial stress–strain tensile tests. Strip macroscale stiffness was assessed as the stress value (σ) measured at 0.2 strain and Young’s modulus (EM) computed at 0.2 strain by fitting Fung’s constitutive model to the stress–strain relationship. ECM stiffness was characterized at the microscale as the Young’s modulus (Em) measured in decellularized tissue slices (~12 μm tick) by atomic force microscopy. Results: Intermittent hypoxia induced a ~1.5-fold increase in σ (p < 0.001) and a ~2.5-fold increase in EM (p < 0.001) of young mice as compared with normoxic controls. In contrast, no significant differences emerged in Em among IH-exposed and normoxic mice. Moreover, the mechanical effects of IH on myocardial ECM were similar in young and aged mice. Conclusion: The marked IH-induced increases in macroscale stiffness of LV myocardium ECM suggests that the ECM plays a role in the cardiac dysfunction induced by OSA. Furthermore, absence of any significant effects of IH on the microscale ECM stiffness suggests that the significant increases in macroscale stiffening are primarily mediated by 3D structural ECM remodeling.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Heart mechanics, Myocardial stiffness, Obstructive sleep apnea, Tensile test, Ventricular strain


García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Fernández-Garibay, Xiomara, Velasco-Mallorquí, Ferran, Castaño, Albert G., Samitier, Josep, Ramon-Azcon, Javier, (2018). Composite biomaterials as long-lasting scaffolds for 3D bioprinting of highly aligned muscle tissue Macromolecular Bioscience 18, (10), 1800167

Abstract New biocompatible materials have enabled the direct 3D printing of complex functional living tissues, such as skeletal and cardiac muscle. Gelatinmethacryloyl (GelMA) is a photopolymerizable hydrogel composed of natural gelatin functionalized with methacrylic anhydride. However, it is difficult to obtain a single hydrogel that meets all the desirable properties for tissue engineering. In particular, GelMA hydrogels lack versatility in their mechanical properties and lasting 3D structures. In this work, a library of composite biomaterials to obtain versatile, lasting, and mechanically tunable scaffolds are presented. Two polysaccharides, alginate and carboxymethyl cellulose chemically functionalized with methacrylic anhydride, and a synthetic material, such as poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate are combined with GelMA to obtain photopolymerizable hydrogel blends. Physical properties of the obtained composite hydrogels are screened and optimized for the growth and development of skeletal muscle fibers from C2C12 murine cells, and compared with pristine GelMA. All these composites show high resistance to degradation maintaining the 3D structure with high fidelity over several weeks. Altogether, in this study a library of biocompatible novel and totally versatile composite biomaterials are developed and characterized, with tunable mechanical properties that give structure and support myotube formation and alignment.


Rodríguez-Pérez, R., Fernández, L., Marco, S., (2018). Overoptimism in cross-validation when using partial least squares-discriminant analysis for omics data: a systematic study Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 410, (23), 5981-5992

Advances in analytical instrumentation have provided the possibility of examining thousands of genes, peptides, or metabolites in parallel. However, the cost and time-consuming data acquisition process causes a generalized lack of samples. From a data analysis perspective, omics data are characterized by high dimensionality and small sample counts. In many scenarios, the analytical aim is to differentiate between two different conditions or classes combining an analytical method plus a tailored qualitative predictive model using available examples collected in a dataset. For this purpose, partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) is frequently employed in omics research. Recently, there has been growing concern about the uncritical use of this method, since it is prone to overfitting and may aggravate problems of false discoveries. In many applications involving a small number of subjects or samples, predictive model performance estimation is only based on cross-validation (CV) results with a strong preference for reporting results using leave one out (LOO). The combination of PLS-DA for high dimensionality data and small sample conditions, together with a weak validation methodology is a recipe for unreliable estimations of model performance. In this work, we present a systematic study about the impact of the dataset size, the dimensionality, and the CV technique used on PLS-DA overoptimism when performance estimation is done in cross-validation. Firstly, by using synthetic data generated from a same probability distribution and with assigned random binary labels, we have obtained a dataset where the true classification rate (CR) is 50%. As expected, our results confirm that internal validation provides overoptimistic estimations of the classification accuracy (i.e., overfitting). We have characterized the CR estimator in terms of bias and variance depending on the internal CV technique used and sample to dimensionality ratio. In small sample conditions, due to the large bias and variance of the estimator, the occurrence of extremely good CRs is common. We have found that overfitting peaks when the sample size in the training subset approaches the feature vector dimensionality minus one. In these conditions, the models are neither under- or overdetermined with a unique solution. This effect is particularly intense for LOO and peaks higher in small sample conditions. Overoptimism is decreased beyond this point where the abundance of noisy produces a regularization effect leading to less complex models. In terms of overfitting, our study ranks CV methods as follows: Bootstrap produces the most accurate estimator of the CR, followed by bootstrapped Latin partitions, random subsampling, K-Fold, and finally, the very popular LOO provides the worst results. Simulation results are further confirmed in real datasets from mass spectrometry and microarrays.

Keywords: Metabolomics, Mass spectrometry, Microarrays, Chemometrics, Data analysis, Classification, Method validation


Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Non-cirrhotic portal hypertension: A possibly benign but complicated disease Digestive and Liver Disease 50, (8), 845-846

n the last Baveno Consensus Conference held in 2015 a dedicated section described the management of patients with portal vein thrombosis, in presence or absence of cirrhosis [1]. In this specific collective of patients few studies have described their natural history and therefore new studies are urgently needed in order to recommend evidence-based management. So far the recommendation regarding the treatment of complications of portal hypertension are aligned with the recommendation in the presence of cirrhosis.


Escribano, Jorge, Sunyer, Raimon, Sánchez, María Teresa, Trepat, Xavier, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, García-Aznar, José Manuel, (2018). A hybrid computational model for collective cell durotaxis Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology 17, (4), 1037-1052

Collective cell migration is regulated by a complex set of mechanical interactions and cellular mechanisms. Collective migration emerges from mechanisms occurring at single cell level, involving processes like contraction, polymerization and depolymerization, of cell–cell interactions and of cell–substrate adhesion. Here, we present a computational framework which simulates the dynamics of this emergent behavior conditioned by substrates with stiffness gradients. The computational model reproduces the cell’s ability to move toward the stiffer part of the substrate, process known as durotaxis. It combines the continuous formulation of truss elements and a particle-based approach to simulate the dynamics of cell–matrix adhesions and cell–cell interactions. Using this hybrid approach, researchers can quickly create a quantitative model to understand the regulatory role of different mechanical conditions on the dynamics of collective cell migration. Our model shows that durotaxis occurs due to the ability of cells to deform the substrate more in the part of lower stiffness than in the stiffer part. This effect explains why cell collective movement is more effective than single cell movement in stiffness gradient conditions. In addition, we numerically evaluate how gradient stiffness properties, cell monolayer size and force transmission between cells and extracellular matrix are crucial in regulating durotaxis.


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Core-shell microspheres for the ultrafast degradation of estrogen hormone at neutral pH RSC Advances 8, (11), 5840-5847

In the past few years there has been growing concern about human exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. This kind of pollutants can bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms and lead to serious health problems, especially affecting child development. Many efforts have been devoted to achieving the efficient removal of such refractory organics. In this regard, a novel catalyst based on the combination of α-FeOOH and MnO2@MnCO3 catalysts has been developed by up-scalable techniques from cheap precursors and tested in the photo-Fenton-like degradation of an endocrine disruptor. Almost total degradation of 17α-ethynylestradiol hormone was achieved after only 2 min of simulated solar irradiation at neutral pH. The outstanding performance of FeOOH@MnO2@MnCO3 microspheres was mainly attributed to a larger generation of hydroxyl radicals, which are the primary mediators of the total oxidation for this hormone. This work contributes to the development of more cost-effective systems for the rapid and efficient removal of persistent organic pollutants present in sewage plant effluents under direct solar light.


Hüttener, M., Prieto, A., Aznar, S., Dietrich, M., Paytubi, S., Juárez, A., (2018). Tetracycline alters gene expression in Salmonella strains that harbor the Tn10 transposon Environmental Microbiology Reports 10, (2), 202-209

In this report, we show that bacterial plasmids that harbor the Tn10 transposon (i.e., the IncHI1 plasmid R27) modify expression of different Salmonella regulons responding to the presence of tetracycline (Tc) in the medium. By using as a model the Tc-dependent upregulation of the ibpAB operon (which belongs to the heat shock regulon), we have identified Tn10-tetA (coding for a Tc efflux pump) and adjacent tetC sequences as required for ibpAB upregulation. Characterization of transcripts in the tetAC region showed that tetA transcription can continue into tetC sequences, generating a long 3′UTR sequence, which can protect transcripts from RNA processing, thus increasing the expression of TetA protein. In the presence of Tc, the DnaK and IbpA chaperones are overexpressed and translocated to the periplasm and to the membrane fraction respectively. DnaK targeting unfolded proteins is known to induce heat shock by avoiding RpoH proteolysis. We correlate expression levels of Tn10-encoded TetA protein with heat shock induction in Salmonella, likely because TetA activity compromises protein secretion.


van Elsland, Daphne M., Pujals, Sílvia, Bakkum, Thomas, Bos, Erik, Oikonomeas-Koppasis, Nikolaos, Berlin, Ilana, Neefjes, Jacques, Meijer, Annemarie H., Koster, Abraham J., Albertazzi, Lorenzo, van Kasteren, Sander I., (2018). Ultrastructural imaging of salmonella-host interactions using super-resolution correlative light-electron microscopy of bioorthogonal pathogens ChemBioChem 19, (16), 1766-1770

The imaging of intracellular pathogens inside host cells is complicated by the low resolution and sensitivity of fluorescence microscopy and by the lack of ultrastructural information to visualize the pathogens. Herein, we present a new method to visualize these pathogens during infection that circumvents these problems: by using a metabolic hijacking approach to bioorthogonally label the intracellular pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium and by using these bioorthogonal groups to introduce fluorophores compatible with stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) and placing this in a correlative light electron microscopy (CLEM) workflow, the pathogen can be imaged within its host cell context Typhimurium with a resolution of 20 nm. This STORM-CLEM approach thus presents a new approach to understand these pathogens during infection.


Anadol, Evrim, Lust, Kristina, Boesecke, Christoph, Schwarze-Zander, Carolynne, Mohr, Raphael, Wasmuth, Jan-Christian, Rockstroh, Jürgen Kurt, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Exposure to previous cART is associated with significant liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients PLoS ONE 13, (1), e0191118

Introduction Combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) has improved survival in HIV-patients. While the first antiretrovirals, which became available in particular D-drugs (especially didanosine and stavudine) and unboosted protease inhibitors, may impair liver function, the modern cART seems to decrease liver fibrosis. This study assessed the influence of exposure to previous antiretrovirals on liver fibrosis in HIV-infected patients. Methods This observational cross-sectional single-center study recruited 333 HIV patients and assessed liver fibrosis using transient elastography (TE). Results 83% were male with a median age of 45, while 131 were co-infected with viral hepatitis. Overall, 18% had significant fibrosis and 7.5% had cirrhosis. 11% of HIV mono-infected patients had significant fibrosis and 2% had cirrhosis. HCV infection (OR:5.3), history of exposure to didanosine (OR:2.7) and HIV load below 40copies/mL (OR:0.5) were independently associated with significant fibrosis, while HCV (OR:5.8), exposure to didanosine (OR:2.9) and azidothymidine (OR:2.8) were independently associated with cirrhosis. Interestingly, in HIV mono-infected patients, a HIV-load below 40copies/mL (OR:0.4) was independently associated with significant fibrosis, and didanosine (OR:20.8) with cirrhosis. Conclusion In conclusion, history of exposure to didanosine and azidothymidine continues to have an impact on the presence of liver cirrhosis in HIV patients. However, HCV co-infection and ongoing HIV-replication have the strongest effect on development of significant fibrosis in these patients.


Jansen, Christian, Al-Kassou, Baravan, Lehmann, Jennifer, Pohlmann, Alessandra, Chang, Johannes, Praktiknjo, Michael, Nickenig, Georg, Strassburg, Christian P., Schrickel, Jan W., Andrié, René, Linhart, Markus, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Severe abnormal Heart Rate Turbulence Onset is associated with deterioration of liver cirrhosis PLoS ONE 13, (4), e0195631

Background: In patients with liver cirrhosis, cardiac dysfunction is frequent and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Cardiac dysfunction in cirrhosis seems to be linked to autonomic dysfunction. This study investigates the role of autonomic dysfunction assessed by Heart Rate Turbulence (HRT) analyses in patients with liver cirrhosis. Methods and patients: Inclusion criteria was (1) diagnosis of cirrhosis by clinical, imaging or biopsy and (2) evaluation by standard 12-lead-ECG and 24h holter monitoring and (3) at least 3 premature ventricular contractions. The exclusion criterion was presence of cardiac diseases, independent of liver cirrhosis. Biochemical parameters were analysed using standard methods. HRT was assessed using Turbulence onset (TO) and slope (TS). The endpoint was deterioration of liver cirrhosis defined as increased MELD and readmission for complications of liver cirrhosis. Results: Out of 122 cirrhotic patients, 82 patients (63% male) with median Child score of 6 (range 5–12) and median MELD score of 10 (range 6–32) were included. Increasing Child score, INR and decreasing albumin were correlated with TO. In addition, decompensated patients with ascites showed more abnormal TO and TS. During the observation period, patients with more abnormal TO showed significantly higher rate of rising MELD Score at 6 months (p = 0.03). Nevertheless, at least in our collective HRT-parameters were not independent predictors of deterioration of cirrhosis.


Fonollosa, Jordi, Solórzano, Ana, Marco, Santiago, (2018). Chemical sensor systems and associated algorithms for fire detection: A review Sensors 18, (2), 553

Indoor fire detection using gas chemical sensing has been a subject of investigation since the early nineties. This approach leverages the fact that, for certain types of fire, chemical volatiles appear before smoke particles do. Hence, systems based on chemical sensing can provide faster fire alarm responses than conventional smoke-based fire detectors. Moreover, since it is known that most casualties in fires are produced from toxic emissions rather than actual burns, gas-based fire detection could provide an additional level of safety to building occupants. In this line, since the 2000s, electrochemical cells for carbon monoxide sensing have been incorporated into fire detectors. Even systems relying exclusively on gas sensors have been explored as fire detectors. However, gas sensors respond to a large variety of volatiles beyond combustion products. As a result, chemical-based fire detectors require multivariate data processing techniques to ensure high sensitivity to fires and false alarm immunity. In this paper, we the survey toxic emissions produced in fires and defined standards for fire detection systems. We also review the state of the art of chemical sensor systems for fire detection and the associated signal and data processing algorithms. We also examine the experimental protocols used for the validation of the different approaches, as the complexity of the test measurements also impacts on reported sensitivity and specificity measures. All in all, further research and extensive test under different fire and nuisance scenarios are still required before gas-based fire detectors penetrate largely into the market. Nevertheless, the use of dynamic features and multivariate models that exploit sensor correlations seems imperative

Keywords: Fire detection, Gas sensor, Pattern recognition, Sensor fusion, Machine learning, Toxicants, Carbon monoxide, Hydrogen cyanide, Standard test fires, Transducers, Smoke


Taghadomi-Saberi, S., Garcia, S. M., Masoumi, A. A., Sadeghi, M., Marco, S., (2018). Classification of bitter orange essential oils according to fruit ripening stage by untargeted chemical profiling and machine learning Sensors 18, (6), 1922

The quality and composition of bitter orange essential oils (EOs) strongly depend on the ripening stage of the citrus fruit. The concentration of volatile compounds and consequently its organoleptic perception varies. While this can be detected by trained humans, we propose an objective approach for assessing the bitter orange from the volatile composition of their EO. The method is based on the combined use of headspace gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (HS-GC-MS) and artificial neural networks (ANN) for predictive modeling. Data obtained from the analysis of HS-GC-MS were preprocessed to select relevant peaks in the total ion chromatogram as input features for ANN. Results showed that key volatile compounds have enough predictive power to accurately classify the EO, according to their ripening stage for different applications. A sensitivity analysis detected the key compounds to identify the ripening stage. This study provides a novel strategy for the quality control of bitter orange EO without subjective methods.

Keywords: Bitter orange essential oil, Headspace gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, Artificial neural network, Foodomics, Chemometrics, Feature selection


Burgués, J., Marco, S., (2018). Low power operation of temperature-modulated metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors Sensors 18, (2), 339

Mobile applications based on gas sensing present new opportunities for low-cost air quality monitoring, safety, and healthcare. Metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) gas sensors represent the most prominent technology for integration into portable devices, such as smartphones and wearables. Traditionally, MOX sensors have been continuously powered to increase the stability of the sensing layer. However, continuous power is not feasible in many battery-operated applications due to power consumption limitations or the intended intermittent device operation. This work benchmarks two low-power, duty-cycling, and on-demand modes against the continuous power one. The duty-cycling mode periodically turns the sensors on and off and represents a trade-off between power consumption and stability. On-demand operation achieves the lowest power consumption by powering the sensors only while taking a measurement. Twelve thermally modulated SB-500-12 (FIS Inc. Jacksonville, FL, USA) sensors were exposed to low concentrations of carbon monoxide (0–9 ppm) with environmental conditions, such as ambient humidity (15–75% relative humidity) and temperature (21–27 ◦C), varying within the indicated ranges. Partial Least Squares (PLS) models were built using calibration data, and the prediction error in external validation samples was evaluated during the two weeks following calibration. We found that on-demand operation produced a deformation of the sensor conductance patterns, which led to an increase in the prediction error by almost a factor of 5 as compared to continuous operation (2.2 versus 0.45 ppm). Applying a 10% duty-cycling operation of 10-min periods reduced this prediction error to a factor of 2 (0.9 versus 0.45 ppm). The proposed duty-cycling powering scheme saved up to 90% energy as compared to the continuous operating mode. This low-power mode may be advantageous for applications that do not require continuous and periodic measurements, and which can tolerate slightly higher prediction errors.

Keywords: Smartphone, Metal-oxide semiconductor, Gas sensor, Low power, Temperature-modulation, Interferences


Farré, Ramon, Otero, Jordi, Almendros, Isaac, Navajas, Daniel, (2018). Bioengineered lungs: A challenge and an opportunity Archivos de Bronconeumología 54, (1), 31-38

Lung biofabrication is a new tissue engineering and regenerative development aimed at providing organs for potential use in transplantation. Lung biofabrication is based on seeding cells into an acellular organ scaffold and on culturing them in an especial purpose bioreactor. The acellular lung scaffold is obtained by decellularizing a non-transplantable donor lung by means of conventional procedures based on application of physical, enzymatic and detergent agents. To avoid immune recipient's rejection of the transplanted bioengineered lung, autologous bone marrow/adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, lung progenitor cells or induced pluripotent stem cells are used for biofabricating the bioengineered lung. The bioreactor applies circulatory perfusion and mechanical ventilation with physiological parameters to the lung during biofabrication. These physical stimuli to the organ are translated into the stem cell local microenvironment - e.g. shear stress and cyclic stretch - so that cells sense the physiological conditions in normally functioning mature lungs. After seminal proof of concept in a rodent model was published in 2010, the hypothesis that lungs can be biofabricated is accepted and intense research efforts are being devoted to the topic. The current experimental evidence obtained so far in animal tests and in ex vivo human bioengineered lungs suggests that the date of first clinical tests, although not immediate, is coming. Lung bioengineering is a disrupting concept that poses a challenge for improving our basic science knowledge and is also an opportunity for facilitating lung transplantation in future clinical translation.

Keywords: Tissue engineering, Regenerative medicine, Lung transplantation, Lung repair, Lung regeneration


Páez-Avilés, C., van Rijnsoever, F. J., Juanola-Feliu, E., Samitier, J., (2018). Multi-disciplinarity breeds diversity: the influence of innovation project characteristics on diversity creation in nanotechnology Journal of Technology Transfer 43, (2), 458-481

Nanotechnology is an emerging and promising field of research. Creating sufficient technological diversity among its alternatives is important for the long-term success of nanotechnologies, as well as for other emerging technologies. Diversity prevents early lock-in, facilitates recombinant innovation, increases resilience, and allows market growth. Creation of new technological alternatives usually takes place in innovation projects in which public and private partners often collaborate. Currently, there is little empirical evidence about which characteristics of innovation projects influence diversity. In this paper we study the influence of characteristics of EU-funded nanotechnology projects on the creation of technological diversity. In addition to actor diversity and the network of the project, we also include novel variables that have a plausible influence on diversity creation: the degree of multi-disciplinarity of the project and the size of the joint knowledge base of project partners. We apply topic modelling (Latent Dirichlet allocation) as a novel method to categorize technological alternatives. Using an ordinal logistic regression model, our results show that the largest contribution to diversity comes from the multi-disciplinary nature of a project. The joint knowledge base of project partners and the geographical distance between them were positively associated with technological diversity creation. In contrast, the number and diversity of actors and the degree of clustering showed a negative association with technological diversity creation. These results extend current micro-level explanations of how the diversity of an emerging technology is created. The contribution of this study could also be helpful for policy makers to influence the level of diversity in a technological field, and hence to contribute to survival of emerging technologies.

Keywords: Innovation projects, Multi-disciplinarity, Nanotechnology, Social networks, Technological diversity, Topic models


Ralph, G. Andrzejak, Giulia, Ruzzene, Irene, Malvestio, Kaspar, Schindler, Eckehard, Schöl, Anna, Zakharova, (2018). Mean field phase synchronization between chimera states Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science 28, (9), 091101

We study two-layer networks of identical phase oscillators. Each individual layer is a ring network for which a non-local intra-layer coupling leads to the formation of a chimera state. The number of oscillators and their natural frequencies is in general different across the layers. We couple the phases of individual oscillators in one layer to the phase of the mean field of the other layer. This coupling from the mean field to individual oscillators is done in both directions. For a sufficient strength of this interlayer coupling, the phases of the mean fields lock across the two layers. In contrast, both layers continue to exhibit chimera states with no locking between the phases of individual oscillators across layers, and the two mean field amplitudes remain uncorrelated. Hence, the networks’ mean fields show phase synchronization which is analogous to the one between low-dimensional chaotic oscillators. The required coupling strength to achieve this mean field phase synchronization increases with the mismatches in the network sizes and the oscillators’ natural frequencies.

Keywords: Chaos, Complex networks, Oscillators, Synchronisation


Barón-Miranda, J.A., Calzadilla, O., San-Juan-Hernández, S., Diez-Perez, I., Díaz, J., Sanz, Fausto, Chále-Lara, F.F., Espinosa, F.J., Caballero-Briones, F., (2018). Influence of texture on the electrical properties of Al-doped ZnO films prepared by ultrasonic spray pyrolysis Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics 29, (3), 2016-2025

ZnO: Al thin films were deposited by spray pyrolysis onto glass substrates with 0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 5.0 and 10.0% [Al3+/Zn2+] ratios in the deposition solution. Films were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, UV–vis transmittance, conductive atomic force microscopy and the sheet resistance was measured. Aluminum contents in the films increases with the Al3+/Zn2+ ratio in the bath while the film deposition rate decreases due to the lower Al3+ surface mobility. Films were crystalline and display a varied morphology that evolves from flakes to mixtures between flakes and pencils and finally between triangles and hexagonal columns with increasing Al contents. Al3+ inclusion at the different sites within the ZnO lattice is proposed to direct the crystal habit and therefore the observed morphology and film texture. The optical band gap evolution and carrier density are related by the Burstein-Moss effect. The results show that film texture influences carrier mobility: increased presence of (112) planes originate a mobility increase while a predominant (110) or (100) texture reduces it. By Current sensing Atomic Force Microscopy (CAFM) the local surface current distribution was related with the observed film texture.


Laguna, Pablo, Garde, Ainara, Giraldo, Beatriz F., Meste, Olivier, Jané, Raimon, Sörnmo, Leif, (2018). Eigenvalue-based time delay estimation of repetitive biomedical signals Digital Signal Processing 75, 107-119

The time delay estimation problem associated with an ensemble of misaligned, repetitive signals is revisited. Each observed signal is assumed to be composed of an unknown, deterministic signal corrupted by Gaussian, white noise. This paper shows that maximum likelihood (ML) time delay estimation can be viewed as the maximization of an eigenvalue ratio, where the eigenvalues are obtained from the ensemble correlation matrix. A suboptimal, one-step time delay estimate is proposed for initialization of the ML estimator, based on one of the eigenvectors of the inter-signal correlation matrix. With this approach, the ML estimates can be determined without the need for an intermediate estimate of the underlying, unknown signal. Based on respiratory flow signals, simulations show that the variance of the time delay estimation error for the eigenvalue-based method is almost the same as that of the ML estimator. Initializing the maximization with the one-step estimates, rather than using the ML estimator alone, the computation time is reduced by a factor of 5M when using brute force maximization (M denoting the number of signals in the ensemble), and a factor of about 1.5 when using particle swarm maximization. It is concluded that eigenanalysis of the ensemble correlation matrix not only provides valuable insight on how signal energy, jitter, and noise influence the estimation process, but it also leads to a one-step estimator which can make the way for a substantial reduction in computation time.

Keywords: Biomedical signals, Time delay estimation, Eigenanalysis, Ensemble analysis


Garreta, E., González, F., Montserrat, N., (2018). Studying kidney disease using tissue and genome engineering in human pluripotent stem cells Nephron 138, 48-59

Kidney morphogenesis and patterning have been extensively studied in animal models such as the mouse and zebrafish. These seminal studies have been key to define the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex multistep process. Based on this knowledge, the last 3 years have witnessed the development of a cohort of protocols allowing efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards defined kidney progenitor populations using two-dimensional (2D) culture systems or through generating organoids. Kidney organoids are three-dimensional (3D) kidney-like tissues, which are able to partially recapitulate kidney structure and function in vitro. The current possibility to combine state-of-the art tissue engineering with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated systems 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome engineering provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying kidney disease with hPSCs. Recently, hPSCs with genetic mutations introduced through CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering have shown to produce kidney organoids able to recapitulate phenotypes of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulopathies. This mini review provides an overview of the most recent advances in differentiation of hPSCs into kidney lineages, and the latest implementation of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the organoid setting, as promising platforms to study human kidney development and disease.

Keywords: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated systems 9, Disease modeling, Gene editing, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney genetics, Tissue engineering


Pacheco, D., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). Long-term spatial clustering in free recall Memory Article in press

We explored the influence of space on the organisation of items in long-term memory. In two experiments, we asked our participants to explore a virtual environment and memorise discrete items presented at specific locations. Memory for those items was later on tested in immediate (T1) and 24 hours delayed (T2) free recall tests, in which subjects were asked to recall as many items as possible in any order. In experiment 2, we further examined the contribution of active and passive navigation in recollection dynamics. Results across experiments revealed a significant tendency for participants to consecutively recall items that were encountered in proximate locations during learning. Moreover, the degree of spatial organisation and the total number of items recalled were positively correlated in the immediate and the delayed tests. Results from experiment 2 indicated that the spatial clustering of items was independent of navigation types. Our results highlight the long-term stability of spatial clustering effects and their correlation with recall performance, complementing previous results collected in immediate or briefly delayed tests.

Keywords: Free recall, Spatial clustering, Spatial memory, Spatial navigation, Virtual reality


Madsen, Bjørn Stæhr, Trebicka, Jonel, Thiele, Maja, Israelsen, Mads, Arumugan, Manimozhiyan, Havelund, Troels, Krag, Aleksander, (2018). Antifibrotic and molecular aspects of rifaximin in alcoholic liver disease: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial Trials 19, (1), 143

Alcoholic liver disease is the leading cause of cirrhosis worldwide. Due to an increase in alcohol overuse, alcoholic liver disease has become an increased burden on health care systems. Abstinence from alcohol remains the cornerstone of alcoholic liver disease treatment; however, this approach is hampered by frequent relapse and lack of specific therapy for treating advanced cases of liver disease. In the present study, we hypothesized that gut microbiota drive the development of liver fibrosis and that modulation of gut microbiota with the gut-selective, nonabsorbable antibiotic rifaximin attenuates alcoholic liver fibrosis.


Miquel, Joan, Santana, F., Palau, E., Vinagre, M., Langohr, K., Casals, A., Torrens, C., (2018). Retaining or excising the supraspinatus tendon in complex proximal humeral fractures treated with reverse prosthesis: a biomechanical analysis in two different designs Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 138, (11), 1533-1539

We aimed to biomechanically evaluate the effect of the supraspinatus tendon on tuberosity stability using two different reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) models for complex proximal humeral fractures (PHFs).

Keywords: Tuberosity reconstruction, Reverse shoulder arthroplasty, Supraspinatus, Cadaveric study, Rotator cuff excision, Complex proximal humeral fractures


Munoz, J.J., Amat, D., Conte, V., (2018). Computation of forces from deformed visco-elastic biological tissues Inverse Problems 34, (4), 044001

Abstract We present a least-squares based inverse analysis of visco-elastic biological tissues. The proposed method computes the set of contractile forces (dipoles) at the cell boundaries that induce the observed and quantified deformations. We show that the computation of these forces requires the regularisation of the problem functional for some load configurations that we study here. The functional measures the error of the dynamic problem being discretised in time with a second-order implicit time-stepping and in space with standard finite elements. We analyse the uniqueness of the inverse problem and estimate the regularisation parameter by means of a L-curved criterion. We apply the methodology to a simple toy problem and to an in vivo set of morphogenetic deformations of the Drosophila embryo.


Laleman, Wim, Claria, Joan, Van der Merwe, Schalk, Moreau, Richard, Trebicka, Jonel, (2018). Systemic inflammation and acute-on-chronic liver failure: Too much, not enough Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2018, 10

ACLF is a specifc, but complex and multifactorial form of acute decompensation of cirrhosis and is characterized by an extraordinary dynamic natural course, rapidly evolving organ failure, and high short-term mortality. Dysbalanced immune function is central to its pathogenesis and outcome with an initial excessive systemic infammatory response that drives organ failure and mortality. Later in its course, immuno-exhaustion/immunoparalysis prevails predisposing the patient to secondary infectious events and reescalation in end-organ dysfunction and mortality. Te management of patients with ACLF is still poorly defned. However, as its pathophysiology is gradually being unravelled, potential therapeutic targets emerge that warrant further study such as restoring or substituting albumin via plasma exchange or via albumin dialysis and evaluating usefulness of TLR4 antagonists, modulators of gut dysbiosis (pre- or probiotics), and FXR-agonists.


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis


Sebastian, P., Giannotti, M. I., Gómez, E., Feliu, J. M., (2018). Surface Sensitive Nickel Electrodeposition in Deep Eutectic Solvent ACS Applied Energy Materials Article ASAP

The first steps of nickel electrodeposition in a deep eutectic solvent (DES) are analyzed in detail. Several substrates from glassy carbon to Pt(111) were investigated pointing out the surface sensitivity of the nucleation and growth mechanism. For that, cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, in combination with scanning electron microscopy (SEM), were employed. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to more deeply analyze the Ni deposition on Pt substrates. In a 0.1 M NiCl2 + DES solution (at 70 °C), the nickel deposition on glassy carbon takes place within the potential limits of the electrode in the blank solution. Although, the electrochemical window of Pt|DES is considerably shorter than on glassy carbon|DES, it was still sufficient for the nickel deposition. On the Pt electrode, the negative potential limit was enlarged while the nickel deposit grew, likely because of the lower catalytic activity of the nickel toward the reduction of the DES. At lower overpotentials, different hydrogenated Ni structures were favored, most likely because of the DES co-reduction on the Pt substrate. Nanometric metallic nickel grains of rounded shape were obtained on any substrate, as evidenced by the FE-SEM. Passivation phenomena, related to the formation of Ni oxide and Ni hydroxylated species, were observed at high applied overpotentials. At low deposited charge, on Pt(111) the AFM measurements showed the formation of rounded nanometric particles of Ni, which rearranged and formed small triangular arrays at sufficiently low applied overpotential. This particle pattern was induced by the ⟨111⟩ orientation and related to surface sensitivity of the nickel deposition in DES. The present work provides deep insights into the Ni electrodeposition mechanism in the selected deep eutectic solvent.

Keywords: AFM, Deep eutectic solvent, Glassy carbon, Nanostructures, Nickel electrodeposition, Platinum electrode, Pt(111), SEM, Surface sensitive


De Goede, M., Chang, L., Dijkstra, M., Obregón, R., Ramón-Azcon, J., Martínez, E., Padilla, L., Adan, J., Mitjans, F., García-Blanco, S.M., (2018). Al2O3 Microresonator based passive and active biosensors ICTON 2018 20th International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks , IEEE Computer Society (Bucharest, Romania) , 8473820

Al2O3 microresonators were realized for sensing applications of both passive and active devices. Passive microring resonators exhibited quality factors up to 3.2×105 in air. A bulk refractive index sensitivity of 100 nm/RIU was demonstrated together with a limit of detection of 10-6 RIU. Functionalizing their surface allowed for the label-free detection of the biomarker rhS100A4 from urine with a limit of detection of 3 nM. Furthermore, single-mode Al2O3:Yb3+ microdisk lasers were realized that could operate in an aqueous environment. Upon varying the bulk refractive index their lasing wavelength could be tuned with a sensitivity of 20 nm/RIU and a LOD of 3×10-6 RIU.


De Goede, M., Chang, L., Dijkstra, M., Obregón, R., Ramón-Azcon, J., Martínez, E., Padilla, L., Adan, J., Mitjans, F., García-Blanco, S.M., (2018). Al2O3 Mmicroresonators for passive and active sensing applications Sensors 2018 Optical Sensors , OSA - The Optical Society (Zurich, Switzerland) Part F110, 1-2

The Al2O3 waveguide technology was explored for sensing applications. Passive microring resonators with a quality factor in air of 3.2×105 were developed with a bulk refractive index sensitivity of ~100 nm/RIU and limit of detection of ~10-6 RIU. These were functionalized to detect the biomarker rhS100A4 from urine down to concentrations of 3 nM. Furthermore, Al2O3:Yb3+ microdisk lasers were realized that exhibited single mode lasing operation in water. Their lasing wavelength was tuned by varying the bulk refractive index and a bulk refractive index sensitivity of ~20 nm/RIU with a LOD of ~3×10-6 was achieved.


de Goede, M., Dijkstra, M., Obregón, R., Martínez, E., García-Blanco, S.M., (2018). High quality factor Al2O3 microring resonators for on-chip sensing applications Proceedings SPIE. Integrated Optics: Devices, Materials, and Technologies XXII SPIE OPTO , SPIE (California, USA) 10535, 7

Microring resonators find many applications for on-chip integrated optical sensors. Their spectral response contains resonance dips that shift due to variations of the optical path length of the microring probed. Numerous examples of such microring resonator sensors in the SOI, Si3N4 and SiON waveguide technologies have been reported for the detection of bulk refractive index variations and the label-free detection of biomarkers. Al2O3 is an alternative waveguide technology that exhibits low optical propagation losses, is transparent over a large spectral range extending from the visible to the mid-IR and permits co-doping with active rare-earth ions, which enables the co-integration of active devices on the chip. In this work an Al2O3 microring resonator sensor was developed for the label-free detection of protein biomarkers. The uncladded microring with a radius of 200 μm had a measured quality factor of 3.2 × 105 at 1550 nm. Submerging the devices in water decreased the quality factor to 45 × 103. This corresponds with propagation losses in the rings of 0.6 dB/cm and 5.7 dB/cm respectively. The bulk refractive index sensitivity of the sensor was determined by flowing NaCl dissolved in water in different concentrations. A sensitivity of 102.3 ± 0.5 nm/RIU with a corresponding limit of detection of 1.6 × 10-6 RIU was demonstrated for TM polarized light. High affinity human monoclonal antibodies mAb S100A4 were immobilized on the sensor to detect the S100A4 protein biomarker down to 12 nM concentrations. These results demonstrate the feasibility of this material for label-free optical biosensors.


Mestre, Rafael, Patiño, Tania, Barceló, Xavier, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). 3D Bioprinted muscle-based bio-actuators: Force adaptability due to training Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Paris, France) 10928, 316-320

The integration of biological tissue and artificial materials plays a fundamental role in the development of biohybrid soft robotics, a subfield in the field of soft robotics trying to achieve a higher degree of complexity by taking advantage of the exceptional capabilities of biological systems, like self-healing or responsiveness to external stimuli. In this work, we present a proof-of-concept 3D bioprinted bio-actuator made of skeletal muscle tissue and PDMS, which can act as a force measuring platform. The 3D bioprinting technique, which has not been used for the development of bio-actuators, offers unique versatility by allowing a simple, biocompatible and fast fabrication of hybrid multi-component systems. Furthermore, we prove controllability of contractions and functionality of the bio-actuator after applying electric pulses by measuring the exerted forces. We observe an increased force output in time, suggesting improved maturation of the tissue, opening up possibilities for force adaptability or modulation due to prolonged electrical stimuli.


Arsiwalla, Xerxes, Signorelli, Camilo M., Puigbo, Jordi-Ysard, Freire, Ismael, Verschure, P., (2018). Are brains computers, emulators or simulators? Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Paris, France) 10928, 11-15

There has been intense debate on the question of whether the brain is a computer. If so, that challenge is to show that all cognitive processes can be described by algorithms running on a universal Turing machine. By extension that implies consciousness is a computational process. Both Penrose and Searle have vehemently argued against this view, proposing that consciousness is a fundamentally non-computational process. Even proponents of the brain as a computer metaphor such a Dennett agree that the organizational architecture of the brain is unlike any computing system ever conceived, possibly alluding to non-classical computational processes. The latter class of processes veer away from any program that can be encoded by Church’s lambda calculus. In fact, such a program would have to be based on non-classical logic (either semi-classical or quantum). But quantum logic or machines that might implement them typically are not meant for solving the same type of problems that a classical computer solves (nor are they necessarily faster for any given problem). We will argue that machines implementing non-classical logic might be better suited for simulation rather than computation (a la Turing). It is thus reasonable to pit simulation as an alternative to computation and ask whether the brain, rather than computing, is simulating a model of the world in order to make predictions and guide behavior. If so, this suggests a hardware supporting dynamics more akin to a quantum many-body field theory.


Freire, Ismael, Puigbo, J., Arsiwalla, Xerxes, Verschure, Paul, (2018). Modeling the opponent’s action using control-based reinforcement learning Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Paris, France) 10928, 179-186

In this paper, we propose an alternative to model-free reinforcement learning approaches that recently have demonstrated Theory-of-Mind like behaviors. We propose a game theoretic approach to the problem in which pure RL has demonstrated to perform below the standards of human-human interaction. In this context, we propose alternative learning architectures that complement basic RL models with the ability to predict the other’s actions. This architecture is tested in different scenarios where agents equipped with similar or varying capabilities compete in a social game. Our different interaction scenarios suggest that our model-based approaches are especially effective when competing against models of equivalent complexity, in contrast to our previous results with more basic predictive architectures. We conclude that the evolution of mechanisms that allow for the control of other agents provide different kinds of advantages that can become significant when interacting with different kinds of agents. We argue that no single proposed addition to the learning architecture is sufficient to optimize performance in these scenarios, but a combination of the different mechanisms suggested is required to achieve near-optimal performance in any case.


Verschure, P., (2018). The architecture of mind and brain Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 338-345

The components of a Living Machine must be integrated into a functioning whole, which requires a detailed understanding of the architecture of living machines. This chapter starts with a conceptual and historical analysis which from Plato brings us to nineteenth-century neuroscience and early concepts of the layered structure of nervous systems. These concepts were further captured in the cognitive behaviorism of Tolman and came to full fruition in the cognitive revolution of the second half of the twentieth century. Verschure subsequently describes the most relevant proposals of cognitive architectures followed by an overview of the few proposals stemming from modern neuroscience on the architecture of the brain. Subsequently, we will look at contemporary contenders that mediate between cognitive and brain architecture. An important challenge to any model of cognitive architectures is how to benchmark it. Verschure proposes the Unified Theories of Embodied Minds (UTEM) benchmark which advances from Newell’s classic Unified Theories of Cognition benchmark.

Keywords: Architecture, Mind, Brain, Organization, System, Virtualization, Abstraction layers


Verschure, P., (2018). A chronology of Distributed Adaptive Control Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 346-360

This chapter presents the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory of the mind and brain of living machines. DAC provides an explanatory framework for biological brains and an integration framework for synthetic ones. DAC builds on several themes presented in the handbook: it integrates different perspectives on mind and brain, exemplifies the synthetic method in understanding living machines, answers well-defined constraints faced by living machines, and provides a route for the convergent validation of anatomy, physiology, and behavior in our explanation of biological living machines. DAC addresses the fundamental question of how a living machine can obtain, retain, and express valid knowledge of its world. We look at the core components of DAC, specific benchmarks derived from the engagement with the physical and the social world (the H4W and the H5W problems) in foraging and human–robot interaction tasks. Lastly we address how DAC targets the UTEM benchmark and the relation with contemporary developments in AI.

Keywords: Distributed Adaptive Control, Problem of priors, Symbol grounding problem, Convergent validation, Foraging, brain, Architecture, system


Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Verschure, P., (2018). Emotions and self-regulation Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 327-337

This chapter takes the view that emotions of living machines can be seen from the perspective of self-regulation and appraisal. We will first look at the pragmatic needs to endow machines with emotions and subsequently describe some of the historical background of the science of emotions and its different interpretations and links to affective neuroscience. Subsequently, we argue that emotions can be cast in terms of self-regulation where they provide for a descriptor of the state of the homeostatic processes that maintain the relationship between the agent and its internal and external environment. We augment the notion of homeostasis with that of allostasis which signifies a change from stability through a fixed equilibrium to stability through continuous change. The chapter shows how this view can be used to create complex living machines where emotions are anchored in the need fulfillment of the agent, in this case considering both utilitarian and epistemic needs.

Keywords: Emotion, Motivation, Needs, Appraisal, Self-regulation, Homeostasis, Allostasis, Human–robot interaction, James–Lange theory


Herreros, I., (2018). Learning and control Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 239-255

This chapter discusses basic concepts from control theory and machine learning to facilitate a formal understanding of animal learning and motor control. It first distinguishes between feedback and feed-forward control strategies, and later introduces the classification of machine learning applications into supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning problems. Next, it links these concepts with their counterparts in the domain of the psychology of animal learning, highlighting the analogies between supervised learning and classical conditioning, reinforcement learning and operant conditioning, and between unsupervised and perceptual learning. Additionally, it interprets innate and acquired actions from the standpoint of feedback vs anticipatory and adaptive control. Finally, it argues how this framework of translating knowledge between formal and biological disciplines can serve us to not only structure and advance our understanding of brain function but also enrich engineering solutions at the level of robot learning and control with insights coming from biology.

Keywords: Feedback control, Feed-forward control, Supervised learning, Unsupervised learning, Reinforcement, Learning, Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, Reflex, Anticipatory reflex


Garreta, Elena, Marco, Andrés, Eguizábal, Cristina, Tarantino, Carolina, Samitier, Mireia, Badiola, Maider, Gutiérrez, Joaquín, Samitier, Josep, Montserrat, Nuria, (2018). Pluripotent stem cells and skeletal muscle differentiation: Challenges and immediate applications The Plasticity of Skeletal Muscle: From Molecular Mechanism to Clinical Applications (ed. Sakuma, Kunihiro), Springer Singapore (Singapore, Singapore) online, 1-35

Recent advances in the generation of skeletal muscle derivatives from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) provide innovative tools for muscle development, disease modeling, and cell replacement therapies. Here, we revise major relevant findings that have contributed to these advances in the field, by the revision of how early findings using mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) set the bases for the derivation of skeletal muscle cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and patient-derived human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to the use of genome editing platforms allowing for disease modeling in the petri dish.

Keywords: Pluripotent stem cells, Differentiation, Genome editing, Disease modeling


Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P., Prescott, T. J., (2018). A roadmap for Living Machines research Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 26-50

This roadmap identifies current trends in biomimetic and biohybrid systems together with their implications for future research and innovation. Important questions include the scale at which these systems are defined, the types of biological systems addressed, the kind of principles sought, the differences between biologically based and biologically inspired approaches, the role in the understanding of living systems, relevant application domains, common benchmarks, the relation to other fields, and developments on the horizon. We interviewed and collated answers from experts who have been involved a series of events organized by the Convergent Science Network. These answers were then collated into themes of research. Overall, we see a field rapidly expanding in influence and impact. As such, this report will provide information to researchers and scientific policy makers on contemporary biomimetics and its future, together with pointers to further reading on relevant topics within this handbook.

Keywords: Biomimetics, Biohybrid, Bio-inspiration, Biologically inspired, Roadmap, Living machines, policy


Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Halloy, José, Mura, Anna, Mangan, Michael, Lepora, Nathan, Prescott, T. J., Verschure, P., (2018). Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018, Paris, France, July 17–20, 2018, Proceedings , Springer International Publishing (Lausanne, Switzerland) 10928, 1-551

This book constitutes the proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2018, held in Paris, France, in July 2018. The 40 full and 18 short papers presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 60 submissions. The theme of the conference targeted at the intersection of research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems, biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

Keywords: Artificial neural network, Bio-actuators, Bio-robotics, Biohybrid systems, Biomimetics, Bipedal robots, Earthoworm-like robots, Robotics, Decision-making, Tactile sensing, Soft robots, Locomotion, Insects, Sensors, Actuators, Robots, Artificial intelligence, Neural networks, Motion planning, Learning algorithms


Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P., (2018). Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems Oxford Scholarship , 1-623

Biomimetics is the development of novel technologies through the distillation of ideas from the study of biological systems. Biohybrids are formed through the combination of at least one biological component—an existing living system—and at least one artificial, newly engineered component. These two fields are united under the theme of Living Machines—the idea that we can construct artifacts that not only mimic life but also build on the same fundamental principles. The research described in this volume seeks to understand and emulate life’s ability to self-organize, metabolize, grow, and reproduce; to match the functions of living tissues and organs such as muscles, skin, eyes, ears, and neural circuits; to replicate cognitive and physical capacities such as perception, attention, locomotion, grasp, emotion, and consciousness; and to assemble all of these elements into integrated systems that can hold a technological mirror to life or that have the capacity to merge with it. We conclude with contributions from philosophers, ethicists, and futurists on the potential impacts of this remarkable research on society and on how we see ourselves.

Keywords: Novel technologies, Biomimetics, Biohybrids, Living systems, Living machines, Biological principles, Technology ethics, Societal impacts


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2017). Onset and offset estimation of the neural inspiratory time in surface diaphragm electromyography: A pilot study in healthy subjects IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 22, (1), 67-76

This study evaluates the onset and offset of neural inspiratory time estimated from surface diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) recordings. EMGdi and airflow signals were recorded in ten healthy subjects according to two respiratory protocols based on respiratory rate (RR) increments, from 15 to 40 breaths per minute (bpm), and fractional inspiratory time (Ti/Ttot) decrements, from 0.54 to 0.18. The analysis of diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) signal amplitude is an alternative approach for the quantification of neural respiratory drive (NRD). The EMGdi amplitude was estimated using the fixed sample entropy computed over a 250 ms moving window of the EMGdi signal (EMGdifse). The neural onset was detected through a dynamic threshold over the EMGdifse using the kernel density estimation method, while neural offset was detected by finding when the EMGdifse had decreased to 70 % of the peak value reached during inspiration. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural onsets showed a global bias of 46 ms in the RR protocol and 22 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural offsets reveals a global bias of 11 ms in the RR protocol and -2 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The relationship between pairs of RR values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.99, Bland- Altman limits of -2.39 to 2.41 bpm, and mean bias of 0.01 bpm) and between pairs of Ti/Ttot values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.86, Bland-Altman limits of -0.11 to 0.10, and mean bias of -0.01) showed a good agreement. In conclusion, we propose a method for determining neural onset and neural offset based on non-invasive recordings of the electrical activity of the diaphragm that requires no filtering of cardiac muscle interference.

Keywords: Kernel density estimation (KDE),, Surface diaphragm electromyographic,, (EMGdi) signal,, Inspiratory time,, Neural respiratory drive (NRD),, Neural inspiratory time,, Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn)


Urbano, Jessica Julioti, da Palma, Renata Kelly, de Lima, Flávia Mafra, Fratini, Paula, Guimaraes, Leticia Lopes, Uriarte, Juan J., Alvarenga, Letícia Heineck, Miglino, Maria Angelica, Vieira, Rodolfo de Paula, Prates, Renato Araujo, Navajas, Daniel, Farré, Ramon, Oliveira, Luis Vicente Franco, (2017). Effects of two different decellularization routes on the mechanical properties of decellularized lungs PLoS ONE 12, (6), e0178696

Considering the limited number of available lung donors, lung bioengineering using whole lung scaffolds has been proposed as an alternative approach to obtain lungs suitable for transplantation. However, some decellularization protocols can cause alterations on the structure, composition, or mechanical properties of the lung extracellular matrix. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the acellular lung mechanical properties when using two different routes through the trachea and pulmonary artery for the decellularization process. This study was performed by using the lungs excised from 30 healthy male C57BL/6 mice, which were divided into 3 groups: tracheal decellularization (TDG), perfusion decellularization (PDG), and control groups (CG). Both decellularized groups were subjected to decellularization protocol with a solution of 1% sodium dodecyl sulfate. The behaviour of mechanical properties of the acellular lungs was measured after decellularization process. Static (Est) and dynamic (Edyn) elastances were obtained by the end-inspiratory occlusion method. TDG and PDG showed reduced Est and Edyn elastances after lung decellularization. Scanning electron microscopy showed no structural changes after lung decellularization of the TDG and PDG. In conclusion, was demonstrated that there is no significant difference in the behaviour of mechanical properties and extracellular matrix of the decellularized lungs by using two different routes through the trachea and pulmonary artery.


Hindriks, Rikkert, Schmiedt, Joscha, Arsiwalla, Xerxes D., Peter, Alina, Verschure, Paul F. M. J., Fries, Pascal, Schmid, Michael C., Deco, Gustavo, (2017). Linear distributed source modeling of local field potentials recorded with intra-cortical electrode arrays PLoS ONE 12, (12), e0187490

Planar intra-cortical electrode (Utah) arrays provide a unique window into the spatial organization of cortical activity. Reconstruction of the current source density (CSD) underlying such recordings, however, requires “inverting” Poisson’s equation. For inter-laminar recordings, this is commonly done by the CSD method, which consists in taking the second-order spatial derivative of the recorded local field potentials (LFPs). Although the CSD method has been tremendously successful in mapping the current generators underlying inter-laminar LFPs, its application to planar recordings is more challenging. While for inter-laminar recordings the CSD method seems reasonably robust against violations of its assumptions, is it unclear as to what extent this holds for planar recordings. One of the objectives of this study is to characterize the conditions under which the CSD method can be successfully applied to Utah array data. Using forward modeling, we find that for spatially coherent CSDs, the CSD method yields inaccurate reconstructions due to volume-conducted contamination from currents in deeper cortical layers. An alternative approach is to “invert” a constructed forward model. The advantage of this approach is that any a priori knowledge about the geometrical and electrical properties of the tissue can be taken into account. Although several inverse methods have been proposed for LFP data, the applicability of existing electroencephalographic (EEG) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) inverse methods to LFP data is largely unexplored. Another objective of our study therefore, is to assess the applicability of the most commonly used EEG/MEG inverse methods to Utah array data. Our main conclusion is that these inverse methods provide more accurate CSD reconstructions than the CSD method. We illustrate the inverse methods using event-related potentials recorded from primary visual cortex of a macaque monkey during a motion discrimination task.


Garreta, Elena, Sanchez, Sonia, Lajara, Jeronimo, Montserrat, Nuria, Belmonte, Juan Carlos Izpisua, (2015). Roadblocks in the path of iPSC to the vlinic Current Transplantation Reports 5, (1), 14-18

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The goal of this paper is to highlight the major challenges in the translation of human pluripotent stem cells into a clinical setting. RECENT FINDINGS: Innate features from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) positioned these patient-specific cells as an unprecedented cell source for regenerative medicine applications. Immunogenicity of differentiated iPSCs requires more research towards the definition of common criteria for the evaluation of innate and host immune responses as well as in the generation of standardized protocols for iPSC generation and differentiation. The coming years will resolve ongoing clinical trials using both human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and hiPSCs providing exciting information for the optimization of potential clinical applications of stem cell therapies. SUMMARY: Rapid advances in the field of iPSCs generated high expectations in the field of regenerative medicine. Understanding therapeutic applications of iPSCs certainly needs further investigation on autologous/allogenic iPSC transplantation.