Staff member


Joanna Maria Sadowska

PhD Student
RA_Biomaterials, Implants i Engenyeria de Teixits

Staff member publications

Barba, A., Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Öhman-Mägi, C., Persson, C., Manzanares, M. C., Franch, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). Impact of biomimicry in the design of osteoinductive bone substitutes: Nanoscale matters ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 11, (9), 8818-8830

Bone apatite consists of carbonated calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) nanocrystals. Biomimetic routes allow fabricating synthetic bone grafts that mimic biological apatite. In this work, we explored the role of two distinctive features of biomimetic apatites, namely, nanocrystal morphology (plate vs needle-like crystals) and carbonate content, on the bone regeneration potential of CDHA scaffolds in an in vivo canine model. Both ectopic bone formation and scaffold degradation were drastically affected by the nanocrystal morphology after intramuscular implantation. Fine-CDHA foams with needle-like nanocrystals, comparable in size to bone mineral, showed a markedly higher osteoinductive potential and a superior degradation than chemically identical coarse-CDHA foams with larger plate-shaped crystals. These findings correlated well with the superior bone-healing capacity showed by the fine-CDHA scaffolds when implanted intraosseously. Moreover, carbonate doping of CDHA, which resulted in small plate-shaped nanocrystals, accelerated both the intrinsic osteoinduction and the bone healing capacity, and significantly increased the cell-mediated resorption. These results suggest that tuning the chemical composition and the nanostructural features may allow the material to enter the physiological bone remodeling cycle, promoting a tight synchronization between scaffold degradation and bone formation.

Keywords: Biomimetic, Calcium phosphate, Carbonated apatite, Foaming, Nanostructure, Osteogenesis, Osteoinduction


Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). The influence of physicochemical properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on the in vitro behavior of endothelial progenitor cells and their interaction with mesenchymal stem cells Advanced Healthcare Materials 8, (2), 1801138

Calcium phosphate (CaP) substrates are successfully used as bone grafts due to their osteogenic properties. However, the influence of the physicochemical features of CaPs in angiogenesis is frequently neglected despite it being a crucial process for bone regeneration. The present work focuses on analyzing the effects of textural parameters of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP), such as specific surface area, surface roughness, and microstructure, on the behavior of rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) and their crosstalk with rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs). The higher reactivity of CDHA results in low proliferation rates in monocultured and cocultured systems. This effect is especially pronounced for rMSCs alone, and for CDHA with a fine microstructure. In terms of angiogenic and osteogenic gene expressions, the upregulation of particular genes is especially enhanced for needle-like CDHA compared to plate-like CDHA and β-TCP, suggesting the importance not only of the chemistry of the substrate, but also of its textural features. Moreover, the coculture of rEPCs and rMSCs on needle-like CDHA results in early upregulation of osteogenic modulator, i.e., protein deglycase 1 might be a possible cause of overexpression of osteogenic-related genes on the same substrate.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium phosphates, Cocultures, Osteogenesis


Sadowska, J. M., Wei, F., Guo, J., Guillem-Marti, J., Lin, Z., Ginebra, M. P., Xiao, Y., (2019). The effect of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite and sintered β-tricalcium phosphate on osteoimmune reaction and osteogenesis Acta Biomaterialia 96, 605-618

Biomaterial implantation triggers inflammatory reactions. Understanding the effect of physicochemical features of biomaterials on the release of inflammatory cytokines from immune cells would be of great interest in view of designing bone graft materials to enhance the healing of bone defects. The present work investigated the interactions of two chemically and texturally different calcium phosphate (CaPs) substrates with macrophages, one of the main innate immune cells, and its further impact on osteogenic differentiation of bone forming cells. The behaviour of macrophages seeded on biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) was assessed in terms of the release of inflammatory cytokines and osteoclastogenic factors. The osteogenic differentiation of bone progenitor cells (bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and osteoblastic cell line (SaOS-2)) were subsequently studied by incubating with the conditioned medium induced by macrophage-CaPs interaction in order to reveal the effect of immune cell reaction to CaPs on osteogenic differentiation. It was found that the incubation of macrophages with CaPs substrates caused a decrease of pro-inflammatory cytokines, more pronounced for β-TCP compared with CDHA showing significantly decreased IL-6, TNF-a, and iNOS. However, the macrophage-CDHA interaction resulted in a more favourable environment for osteogenic differentiation of osteoblasts with more collagen type I production and osteogenic genes (Runx2, BSP) expression, suggesting that osteogenic differentiation of bone cells is not only determined by the nature of biomaterials, but also significantly influenced by the inflammatory environment generated by the interaction of immune cells and biomaterials. Statement of Significance: The field of osteoimmunology highlights the importance of the cross-talk between immune and bone cells for effective bone regeneration. This tight interaction opens the door to new strategies that encompass the development of smart cell-instructive biomaterials which performance covers the events from early inflammation to osteogenesis. The present work links the anti-inflammatory and osteoimmunomodulatory features of synthetic bone grafts to their chemistry and texture, focussing on the cross-talk between macrophages and two major orchestrators of bone healing, namely primary mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblasts. The results emphasize the importance of the microenvironment created through the interaction between the substrate and the immune cells as it can stimulate osteogenic events and subsequently foster bone healing.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Immunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoimmunomodulation


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