Staff member


Joanna Maria Sadowska

PhD Student
RA_Biomaterials, Implants i Engenyeria de Teixits

Staff member publications

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, A., Diez-Escudero, A., Maazouz, Y., Rappe, K., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Bonany, M., Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Öhman-Mägi, C., Persson, C., Manzanares, M. C., Franch, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Osteoinduction by Foamed and 3D-Printed Calcium Phosphate Scaffolds: Effect of Nanostructure and Pore Architecture ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (48), 41722-41736

Some biomaterials are osteoinductive, that is, they are able to trigger the osteogenic process by inducing the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to the osteogenic lineage. Although the underlying mechanism is still unclear, microporosity and specific surface area (SSA) have been identified as critical factors in material-associated osteoinduction. However, only sintered ceramics, which have a limited range of porosities and SSA, have been analyzed so far. In this work, we were able to extend these ranges to the nanoscale, through the foaming and 3D-printing of biomimetic calcium phosphates, thereby obtaining scaffolds with controlled micro- and nanoporosity and with tailored macropore architectures. Calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds were evaluated after 6 and 12 weeks in an ectopic-implantation canine model and compared with two sintered ceramics, biphasic calcium phosphate and β-tricalcium phosphate. Only foams with spherical, concave macropores and not 3D-printed scaffolds with convex, prismatic macropores induced significant ectopic bone formation. Among them, biomimetic nanostructured CDHA produced the highest incidence of ectopic bone and accelerated bone formation when compared with conventional microstructured sintered calcium phosphates with the same macropore architecture. Moreover, they exhibited different bone formation patterns; in CDHA foams, the new ectopic bone progressively replaced the scaffold, whereas in sintered biphasic calcium phosphate scaffolds, bone was deposited on the surface of the material, progressively filling the pore space. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the high reactivity of nanostructured biomimetic CDHA combined with a spherical, concave macroporosity allows the pushing of the osteoinduction potential beyond the limits of microstructured calcium phosphate ceramics.

Keywords: 3D-printing, Calcium phosphate, Foaming, Nanostructure, Osteoinduction


Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Montufar, E. B., Espanol, M., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Biomimetic versus sintered calcium phosphates: The in vitro behavior of osteoblasts and mesenchymal stem cells Tissue Engineering Part A 23, (23-24), 1297-1309

The fabrication of calcium phosphates using biomimetic routes, namely, precipitation processes at body temperature, results in distinct features compared to conventional sintered calcium phosphate ceramics, such as a high specific surface area (SSA) and micro-or nanometric crystal size. The aim of this article is to analyze the effects of these parameters on cell response, focusing on two bone cell types: rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs) and human osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2). Biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) was obtained by a low temperature setting reaction, and α-Tricalcium phosphate (α-TCP) and β-Tricalcium phosphate were subsequently obtained by sintering CDHA either at 1400°C or 1100°C. Sintered stoichiometric hydroxyapatite (HA) was also prepared using ceramic routes. The materials were characterized in terms of SSA, skeletal density, porosity, and pore size distribution. SaOS-2 cells and rMSCs were seeded either directly on the surfaces of the materials or on glass coverslips subsequently placed on top of the materials to expose the cells to the CaP-induced ionic changes in the culture medium, while avoiding any topography-related effects. CDHA produced higher ionic fluctuations in both cell culture media than sintered ceramics, with a strong decrease of calcium and a release of phosphate. Indirect contact cell cultures revealed that both cell types were sensitive to these ionic modifications, resulting in a decrease in proliferation rate, more marked for CDHA, this effect being more pronounced for rMSCs. In direct contact cultures, good cell adhesion was found on all materials, but, while cells were able to proliferate on the sintered calcium phosphates, cell number was significantly reduced with time on biomimetic CDHA, which was associated to a higher percentage of apoptotic cells. Direct contact of the cells with biomimetic CDHA resulted also in a higher alkaline phosphatase activity for both cell types compared to sintered CaPs, indicating a promotion of the osteoblastic phenotype.

Keywords: Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Calcium phosphate, Mesenchymal stem cell, Osteoblast