ResearchPad - gels Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[SULF1 suppresses Wnt3A-driven growth of bone metastatic prostate cancer in perlecan-modified 3D cancer-stroma-macrophage triculture models]]> Bone marrow stroma influences metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) progression, latency, and recurrence. At sites of PCa bone metastasis, cancer-associated fibroblasts and tumor-associated macrophages interact to establish a perlecan-rich desmoplastic stroma. As a heparan sulfate proteoglycan, perlecan (HSPG2) stores and stabilizes growth factors, including heparin-binding Wnt3A, a positive regulator of PCa cell growth. Because PCa cells alone do not induce CAF production of perlecan in the desmoplastic stroma, we sought to discover the sources of perlecan and its growth factor-releasing modifiers SULF1, SULF2, and heparanase in PCa cells and xenografts, bone marrow fibroblasts, and macrophages. SULF1, produced primarily by bone marrow fibroblasts, was the main glycosaminoglycanase present, a finding validated with primary tissue specimens of PCa metastases with desmoplastic bone stroma. Expression of both HSPG2 and SULF1 was concentrated in αSMA-rich stroma near PCa tumor nests, where infiltrating pro-tumor TAMs also were present. To decipher SULF1’s role in the reactive bone stroma, we created a bone marrow biomimetic hydrogel incorporating perlecan, PCa cells, macrophages, and fibroblastic bone marrow stromal cells. Finding that M2-like macrophages increased levels of SULF1 and HSPG2 produced by fibroblasts, we examined SULF1 function in Wnt3A-mediated PCa tumoroid growth in tricultures. Comparing control or SULF1 knockout fibroblastic cells, we showed that SULF1 reduces Wnt3A-driven growth, cellularity, and cluster number of PCa cells in our 3D model. We conclude that SULF1 can suppress Wnt3A-driven growth signals in the desmoplastic stroma of PCa bone metastases, and SULF1 loss favors PCa progression, even in the presence of pro-tumorigenic TAMs.

<![CDATA[Mechanical characterization of PVA hydrogels’ rate-dependent response using multi-axial loading]]> The time-dependent properties of rubber-like synthesized and biological materials are crucial for their applications. Currently, this behavior is mainly measured using axial tensile test, compression test, or indentation. Limited studies performed on using multi-axial loading measurements of time-dependent material behavior exist in the literature. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the viscoelastic response of rubber-like materials under multi-axial loading using cavity expansion and relaxation tests. The tests were performed on PVA hydrogel specimens. Three hyperelasitc models and one term Prony series were used to characterize the viscoelastic response of the hydrogels. Finite element (FE) simulations were performed to verify the validity of the calibrated material coefficients by reproducing the experimental results. The excellent agreement between the experimental, analytical and numerical data proves the capability of the cavity expansion technique to measure the time-dependent behavior of viscoelastic materials.

<![CDATA[Prevention of tooth extraction-triggered bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws with basic fibroblast growth factor: An experimental study in rats]]>

Osteonecrosis of the jaw induced by administration of bisphosphonates (BPs), BP-related osteonecrosis (BRONJ), typically develops after tooth extraction and is medically challenging. As BPs inhibit oral mucosal cell growth, we hypothesized that suppression of the wound healing-inhibiting effects could prevent BRONJ onset after tooth extraction. Since basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) promotes wound healing, but has a short half-life, we examined whether the initiation of BRONJ could be prevented by applying a bFGF-containing gelatin hydrogel over the extraction sockets of BRONJ model rats. Forty-three rats, received two intravenous injections of zoledronic acid 60 μg/kg, once per week for a period of 2 weeks, underwent extraction of a unilateral lower first molar. The rats here were randomly assigned to the bFGF group (n = 15 rats, gelatin hydrogel sheets with incorporated bFGF applied over the sockets); the phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) group (n = 14 rats, gelatin hydrogel sheets without bFGF applied over the sockets); or the control group (n = 14 rats, nothing applied over the sockets). One rat in the bFGF group was sacrificed immediately after tooth extraction. Twenty-one rats were sacrificed at 3 weeks, and the remaining 21 rats were sacrificed at 8 weeks after tooth extractions. The harvested mandibles were analyzed using micro-computed tomography and sections were evaluated qualitatively for mucosal disruption and osteonecrosis. The incidence of osteonecrosis at 8 weeks after tooth extraction was 0% in the bFGF group, 100% in the PBS group, and 85.7% in the control group. The frequency of complete coverage of the extraction socket by mucosal tissue was significantly greater in the bFGF group than in the other groups. These results suggest that application of bFGF in the extraction socket promoted socket healing, which prevented BRONJ development. The growth-stimulating effects of bFGF may have offset the inhibition of wound healing by BP.

<![CDATA[Preparation and characterization of size-controlled glioma spheroids using agarose hydrogel microwells]]>

Treatment of glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumors, is a major medical challenge and the development of new alternatives requires simple yet realistic models for these tumors. In vitro spheroid models offer attractive platforms to mimic the tumor behavior in vivo and have thus, been increasingly applied for assessment of drug efficacy in various tumors. The aim of this study was to produce and characterize size-controlled U251 glioma spheroids towards application in glioma drug evaluation studies. To this end, we fabricated agarose hydrogel microwells with cylindrical shape and diameters of 70–700 μm and applied these wells without any surface modification for glioma spheroid formation. The resultant spheroids were homogeneous in size and shape, exhibited high cell viability (> 90%), and had a similar growth rate to that of natural brain tumors. The final size of spheroids depended on cell seeding density and microwell size. The spheroids’ volume increased linearly with the cell seeding density and the rate of this change increased with the well size. Lastly, we tested the therapeutic effect of an anti-cancer drug, Di-2-pyridylketone-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (Dp44mT) on the resultant glioma spheroids and demonstrated the applicability of this spheroid model for drug efficacy studies.

<![CDATA[Injectable polypeptide hydrogel/inorganic nanoparticle composites for bone tissue engineering]]>

The general concept of tissue engineering is to restore biological function by replacing defective tissues with implantable, biocompatible, and easily handleable cell-laden scaffolds. In this study, osteoinductive and osteoconductive super paramagnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles (MNP) and hydroxyapatite (HAP) nanoparticles were incorporated into a di-block copolymer based thermo-responsive hydrogel, methoxy(polyethylene glycol)-polyalanine (mPA), at various concentrations to afford composite, injectable hydrogels. Incorporating nanoparticles into the thermo-responsive hydrogel increased the complex viscosity and decreased the gelation temperature of the starting hydrogel. Functionally, the integration of inorganic nanoparticles modulated bio-markers of bone differentiation and enhanced bone mineralization. Moreover, this study adopted the emerging method of using either a supplementary static magnetic field (SMF) or a moving magnetic field to elicit biological response. These results demonstrate that combining external (magnet) and internal (scaffold) magnetisms is a promising approach for bone regeneration.

<![CDATA[Feasibility of the annulus fibrosus repair with in situ gelating hydrogels – A biomechanical study]]>

The surgical standard of care for lumbar discectomy leaves the annulus fibrosus (AF) defect unrepaired, despite considerable risk for a recurrent herniation. Identification of a viable defect repair strategy has until now been elusive. The scope of this ex vivo biomechanical study was to evaluate crosslinking hydrogels as potentially promising AF defect sealants, and provide a baseline for their use in combination with collagen scaffolds that restore disc volume. This study directly compared genipin crosslinked fibrin hydrogel (FibGen) as a promising preclinical candidate against a clinically available adhesive composed of glutaraldehyde and albumin (BioGlue). Forty-two bovine coccygeal functional spine units (FSU) were randomly allocated into four groups, namely untreated (control, n = 12), repaired with either one of the tested hydrogels (BioGlue, n = 12; FibGen, n = 12), or FibGen used in combination with a collagen hydrogel scaffold (FibGen+Scaffold, n = 6). All specimens underwent a moderate mechanical testing protocol in intact, injured and repaired states. After completion of the moderate testing protocol, the samples underwent a ramp-to-failure test. Lumbar discectomy destabilized the FSU as quantified by increased torsional range of motion (28.0° (19.1, 45.1) vs. 41.39° (27.3, 84.9), p<0.001), torsional neutral zone (3.1° (1.2, 7.7) vs. 4.8° (2.1, 12.1), Z = -3.49, p < 0.001), hysteresis(24.4 J (12.8, 76.0) vs. 27.6 J (16.4, 54.4), Z = -2.61, p = 0.009), with loss of both disc height (7.0 mm (5.0, 10.5) vs 6.1 mm (4.0, 9.3), Z = -5.16, p < 0.001) and torsional stiffness (0.76 Nmdeg-1 (0.38, 1.07) vs. 0.66 Nmdeg-1 (0.38, 0.97), Z = -3.98, p < 0.001). Most FibGen repaired AF endured the entire testing procedure whereas only a minority of BioGlue repaired AF and all FibGen+Scaffold repaired AF failed (6/10 vs. 3/12 vs. 0/6 respectively, p = 0.041). Both BioGlue and FibGen+Scaffold repaired AF partially restored disc height (0.47 mm (0.07, 2.41), p = 0.048 and 1.52 mm (0.41, 2.57), p = 0.021 respectively) compared to sham treatment (0.08 mm (-0.63, 0.88)) whereas FibGen-only repaired AF had no such effect (0.04 mm (-0.73, 1.13), U = 48.0, p = 1). The AF injury model demonstrated considerable change of FSU mechanics that could be partially restored by use of an AF sealant. While inclusion of a volumetric collagen scaffold led to repair failure, use of FibGen alone demonstrated clinically relevant promise for prevention of mechanical reherniation, outperforming an FDA approved sealant in this ex vivo test series.

<![CDATA[Highly porous regenerated cellulose hydrogel and aerogel prepared from hydrothermal synthesized cellulose carbamate]]>

Here, a stable derivative of cellulose, called cellulose carbamate (CC), was produced from Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) core pulp (KCP) and urea with the aid of a hydrothermal method. Further investigation was carried out for the amount of nitrogen yielded in CC as different urea concentrations were applied to react with cellulose. The effect of nitrogen concentration of CC on its solubility in a urea-alkaline system was also studied. Regenerated cellulose products (hydrogels and aerogels) were fabricated through the rapid dissolution of CC in a urea-alkaline system. The morphology of the regenerated cellulose products was viewed under Field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM). The transformation of allomorphs in regenerated cellulose products was examined by X-ray diffraction (XRD). The transparency of regenerated cellulose products was determined by Ultraviolet–visible (UV–Vis) spectrophotometer. The degree of swelling (DS) of regenerated cellulose products was also evaluated. This investigation provides a simple and efficient procedure of CC determination which is useful in producing regenerated CC products.

<![CDATA[Fibrous Hydrogels for Cell Encapsulation: A Modular and Supramolecular Approach]]>

Artificial 3-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems, which mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), hold great potential as models to study cellular processes under controlled conditions. The natural ECM is a 3D structure composed of a fibrous hydrogel that provides both mechanical and biochemical cues to instruct cell behavior. Here we present an ECM-mimicking genetically engineered protein-based hydrogel as a 3D cell culture system that combines several key features: (1) Mild and straightforward encapsulation meters (1) ease of ut I am not so sure.encapsulation of the cells, without the need of an external crosslinker. (2) Supramolecular assembly resulting in a fibrous architecture that recapitulates some of the unique mechanical characteristics of the ECM, i.e. strain-stiffening and self-healing behavior. (3) A modular approach allowing controlled incorporation of the biochemical cue density (integrin binding RGD domains). We tested the gels by encapsulating MG-63 osteoblastic cells and found that encapsulated cells not only respond to higher RGD density, but also to overall gel concentration. Cells in 1% and 2% (weight fraction) protein gels showed spreading and proliferation, provided a relative RGD density of at least 50%. In contrast, in 4% gels very little spreading and proliferation occurred, even for a relative RGD density of 100%. The independent control over both mechanical and biochemical cues obtained in this modular approach renders our hydrogels suitable to study cellular responses under highly defined conditions.

<![CDATA[Efficacy of two different thiol-modified crosslinked hyaluronate formulations as vitreous replacement compared to silicone oil in a model of retinal detachment]]>

The efficacy of two novel artificial vitreous body substitutes (VBS) consisting of highly biocompatible thiolated cross-linked hyaluronic acid (HA)-based hydrogels in comparison to silicone oil in a model of retinal detachment was investigated. Pars plana vitrectomy (23G) was performed in the right eye of 24 pigmented rabbits. Retinal detachment of two quadrants was induced by creating a small retinotomy near the vascular arcade and injecting balanced salt solution (BSS) subretinally. The retina was reattached by injecting air, which was followed by increasing the infusion pressure, and the retinal tear was treated by endolaser photocoagulation. At the end of the procedure, the eye was filled either with 5000-cs silicone oil (after fluid air exchange) or the respective hydrogel (with two different viscosities). Follow-up examination included slit lamp examination, funduscopy, intraocular pressure measurements (IOP), optical coherence tomography (OCT) and electroretinogram (ERG) measurements. After a maximum follow-up of four weeks both eyes were removed, examined macroscopically, photographed, and prepared for histology. Of the eight rabbits that received silicone oil, seven (87.5%) developed a recurrent retinal detachment with pronounced proliferative vitreoretinopathy within the first two weeks after surgery. In contrast, in the hydrogel treated eyes, the retina stayed attached in the majority of the cases (73.3%). IOP and retinal morphology were normal as long as the retina remained re-attached. In conclusions, this model of retinal detachment, both thiolated crosslinked hyaluronate hydrogels showed superior efficacy when compared to silicone oil. These hydrogels have a promising potential as novel vitreous body substitutes.

<![CDATA[Effect of Transplanting Various Concentrations of a Composite of Human Umbilical Cord Blood-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogel on Articular Cartilage Repair in a Rabbit Model]]>


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are known to have therapeutic potential for cartilage repair. However, the optimal concentration of MSCs for cartilage repair remains unclear. Therefore, we aimed to explore the feasibility of cartilage repair by human umbilical cord blood-derived MSCs (hUCB-MSCs) and to determine the optimal concentrations of the MSCs in a rabbit model.


Osteochondral defects were created in the trochlear groove of femur in 55 rabbits. Four experimental groups (11 rabbits/group) were treated by transplanting the composite of hUCB-MSCs and HA with various MSCs concentrations (0.1, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 x 107 cells/ml). One control group was left untreated. At 4, 8, and 16 weeks post-transplantation, the degree of cartilage repair was evaluated grossly and histologically.


Overall, transplanting hUCB-MSCs and HA hydrogel resulted in cartilage repair tissue with better quality than the control without transplantation (P = 0.015 in 0.1, P = 0.004 in 0.5, P = 0.004 in 1.0, P = 0.132 in 1.5 x 107 cells/ml). Interestingly, high cell concentration of hUCB-MSCs (1.5×107 cells/ml) was inferior to low cell concentrations (0.1, 0.5, and 1.0 x 107 cells/ml) in cartilage repair (P = 0.394,P = 0.041, P = 0.699, respectively). The 0.5 x 107 cells/ml group showed the highest cartilage repair score at 4, 8 and 16 weeks post transplantation, and followed by 0.1x107 cells/ml group or 1.0 x 107 cell/ml group.


The results of this study suggest that transplantation of the composite of hUCB-MSCs and HA is beneficial for cartilage repair. In addition, this study shows that optimal MSC concentration needs to be determined for better cartilage repair.

<![CDATA[Gelation of Soy Milk with Hagfish Exudate Creates a Flocculated and Fibrous Emulsion- and Particle Gel]]>

Hagfish slime is an ultra dilute, elastic and cohesive hydrogel that deploys within milliseconds in cold seawater from a glandularly secreted exudate. The slime is made of long keratin-like fibers and mucin-like glycoproteins that span a network which entraps water and acts as a defense mechanism against predators. Unlike other hydrogels, the slime only confines water physically and is very susceptible to mechanical stress, which makes it unsuitable for many processing operations and potential applications. Despite its huge potential, little work has been done to improve and functionalize the properties of this hydrogel. To address this shortcoming, hagfish exudate was mixed with a soy protein isolate suspension (4% w/v) and with a soy emulsion (commercial soy milk) to form a more stable structure and combine the functionalities of a suspension and emulsion with those of the hydrogel. Hagfish exudate interacted strongly with the soy systems, showing a markedly increased viscoelasticity and water retention. Hagfish mucin was found to induce a depletion and bridging mechanism, which caused the emulsion and suspension to flocculate, making “soy slime”, a cohesive and cold-set emulsion- and particle gel. The flocculation network increases viscoelasticity and substantially contributes to liquid retention by entrapping liquid in the additional confinements between aggregated particles and protein fibers. Because the mucin-induced flocculation resembles the salt- or acid-induced flocculation in tofu curd production, the soy slime was cooked for comparison. The cooked soy slime was similar to conventional cooked tofu, but possessed a long-range cohesiveness from the fibers. The fibrous, cold-set, and curd-like structure of the soy slime represents a novel way for a cold coagulation and fiber incorporation into a suspension or emulsion. This mechanism could be used to efficiently gel functionalized emulsions or produce novel tofu-like structured food products.

<![CDATA[Creation of an intramedullary cavity by hemorrhagic necrosis removal 24 h after spinal cord contusion in rats for eventual intralesional implantation of restorative materials]]>

Intramedullary hemorrhagic necrosis occurs early after spinal cord injury at the site of injury and adjacent segments. It is considered harmful because of its potential to aggravate secondary injury, and to interfere with axonal regeneration; it might also lead to an unfavorable environment for intralesional implants. Removal of hemorrhagic necrosis has been attempted before with variable results. The invasive nature of these procedures carries the risk of exacerbating damage to the injured cord. The overall objective for this study was to test several strategies for non-damaging removal of hemorrhagic necrosis and characterize the resulting cavity looking for a space for future intralesional therapeutic implants in rats with acute cord injury. Rats were subjected to graded cord contusion, and hemorrhagic necrosis was removed after 24h. Three grades of myelotomy (extensive, medium sized, and small) were tested. Using the small surgical approach to debridement, early and late effects of the intervention were determined by histology and by analytical and behavioral analysis. Appearance and capacity of the resulting cavity were characterized. Satisfactory removal of hemorrhagic necrosis was achieved with all three surgical approaches to debridement. However, bleeding in spared cord tissue was excessive after medium sized and extensive myelotomies but similar to control injured rats after small cord surgery. Small surgical approach to debridement produced no swelling nor acute inflammation changes, nor did it affect long-term spontaneous locomotor recovery, but resulted in modest improvement of myelination in rats subjected to both moderate and severe injuries. Cavity created after intervention was filled with 10 to 15 μL of hydrogel. In conclusion, by small surgical approach to debridement, removal of hemorrhagic necrosis was achieved after acute cord contusion thereby creating intramedullary spaces without further damaging the injured spinal cord. Resulting cavities appear suitable for future intralesional placement of pro-reparative cells or other regenerative biomaterials in a clinically relevant model of spinal cord injury.

<![CDATA[Fabrication of Artificial Food Bolus for Evaluation of Swallowing]]>

Simple and easy methods to evaluate swallowing are required because of the recently increased need of rehabilitation for dysphagia. "Artificial food bolus", but not "artificial food", would be a valuable tool for swallowing evaluation without considering the mastication effect which is altered according to the individual's oral condition. Thus, this study was carried out to fabricate artificial bolus resembling natural food bolus. The mechanical property and the volume change of food bolus in normal people were firstly investigated. Thirty healthy adults without dysphagia were selected and asked to chew four sample foods (rice cake, peanut, burdock, and gummy candy). The results indicated that Young’s modulus of bolus before swallowing was below 150 kPa. The bolus volume before swallowing was below 400 mm3. In addition, the saliva component ratio of each bolus was approximately 30wt%, and the average saliva viscosity of research participants was approximately 10 mPa•s. Based on the obtained data, artificial food bolus was designed and fabricated by using alginate hydrogel as a visco-elastic material and gelatin solution as a viscotic material with a ratio of 7:3 based on weight. Consequently, the swallowing time of fabricated artificial food bolus was measured among the same participants. The results indicated the participants swallowed fabricated food bolus with similar manner reflecting their mechanical property and volume. Thus, this artificial food bolus would be a promising tool for evaluation of swallowing.

<![CDATA[Three Dimensional Collagen Scaffold Promotes Intrinsic Vascularisation for Tissue Engineering Applications]]>

Here, we describe a porous 3-dimensional collagen scaffold material that supports capillary formation in vitro, and promotes vascularization when implanted in vivo. Collagen scaffolds were synthesized from type I bovine collagen and have a uniform pore size of 80 μm. In vitro, scaffolds seeded with primary human microvascular endothelial cells suspended in human fibrin gel formed CD31 positive capillary-like structures with clear lumens. In vivo, after subcutaneous implantation in mice, cell-free collagen scaffolds were vascularized by host neovessels, whilst a gradual degradation of the scaffold material occurred over 8 weeks. Collagen scaffolds, impregnated with human fibrinogen gel, were implanted subcutaneously inside a chamber enclosing the femoral vessels in rats. Angiogenic sprouts from the femoral vessels invaded throughout the scaffolds and these degraded completely after 4 weeks. Vascular volume of the resulting constructs was greater than the vascular volume of constructs from chambers implanted with fibrinogen gel alone (42.7±5.0 μL in collagen scaffold vs 22.5±2.3 μL in fibrinogen gel alone; p<0.05, n = 7). In the same model, collagen scaffolds seeded with human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) produced greater increases in vascular volume than did cell-free collagen scaffolds (42.9±4.0 μL in collagen scaffold with human ASCs vs 25.7±1.9 μL in collagen scaffold alone; p<0.05, n = 4). In summary, these collagen scaffolds are biocompatible and could be used to grow more robust vascularized tissue engineering grafts with improved the survival of implanted cells. Such scaffolds could also be used as an assay model for studies on angiogenesis, 3-dimensional cell culture, and delivery of growth factors and cells in vivo.

<![CDATA[Feasibility Study on a Microwave-Based Sensor for Measuring Hydration Level Using Human Skin Models]]>

Tissue dehydration results in three major types of exsiccosis—hyper-, hypo-, or isonatraemia. All three types entail alterations of salt concentrations leading to impaired biochemical processes, and can finally cause severe morbidity. The aim of our study was to demonstrate the feasibility of a microwave-based sensor technology for the non-invasive measurement of the hydration status. Electromagnetic waves at high frequencies interact with molecules, especially water. Hence, if a sample contains free water molecules, this can be detected in a reflected microwave signal. To develop the sensor system, human three-dimensional skin equivalents were instituted as a standardized test platform mimicking reproducible exsiccosis scenarios. Therefore, skin equivalents with a specific hydration and density of matrix components were generated and microwave measurements were performed. Hydration-specific spectra allowed deriving the hydration state of the skin models. A further advantage of the skin equivalents was the characterization of the impact of distinct skin components on the measured signals to investigate mechanisms of signal generation. The results demonstrate the feasibility of a non-invasive microwave-based hydration sensor technology. The sensor bears potential to be integrated in a wearable medical device for personal health monitoring.

<![CDATA[Monitoring Endothelial and Tissue Responses to Cobalt Ferrite Nanoparticles and Hybrid Hydrogels]]>

Iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) have been proposed for many biomedical applications as in vivo imaging and drug delivery in cancer treatment, but their toxicity is an ongoing concern. When NPs are intravenously administered, the endothelium represents the first barrier to tissue diffusion/penetration. However, there is little information about the biological effects of NPs on endothelial cells. In this work we showed that cobalt-ferrite (CoFe2O4) NPs affect endothelial cell integrity by increasing permeability, oxidative stress, inflammatory profile and by inducing cytoskeletal modifications. To overcome these problems, NPs have be loaded into biocompatible gels to form nanocomposite hybrid material (polysaccharide hydrogels containing magnetic NPs) that can be further conjugated with anticancer drugs to allow their release close to the target. The organic part of hybrid biomaterials is a carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) polymer, while the inorganic part consists of CoFe2O4 NPs coated with (3-aminopropyl)trimethoxysilane. The biological activity of these hybrid hydrogels was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Our findings showed that hybrid hydrogels, instead of NPs alone, were not toxic on endothelial, stromal and epithelial cells, safe and biodegradable in vivo. In conclusion, biohydrogels with paramagnetic NPs as cross-linkers can be further exploited for antitumor drug loading and delivery systems.

<![CDATA[About the Sterilization of Chitosan Hydrogel Nanoparticles]]>

In the last years, nanostructured biomaterials have raised a great interest as platforms for delivery of drugs, genes, imaging agents and for tissue engineering applications. In particular, hydrogel nanoparticles (HNP) associate the distinctive features of hydrogels (high water uptake capacity, biocompatibility) with the advantages of being possible to tailor its physicochemical properties at nano-scale to increase solubility, immunocompatibility and cellular uptake. In order to be safe, HNP for biomedical applications, such as injectable or ophthalmic formulations, must be sterile. Literature is very scarce with respect to sterilization effects on nanostructured systems, and even more in what concerns HNP. This work aims to evaluate the effect and effectiveness of different sterilization methods on chitosan (CS) hydrogel nanoparticles. In addition to conventional methods (steam autoclave and gamma irradiation), a recent ozone-based method of sterilization was also tested. A model chitosan-tripolyphosphate (TPP) hydrogel nanoparticles (CS-HNP), with a broad spectrum of possible applications was produced and sterilized in the absence and in the presence of protective sugars (glucose and mannitol). Properties like size, zeta potential, absorbance, morphology, chemical structure and cytotoxicity were evaluated. It was found that the CS-HNP degrade by autoclaving and that sugars have no protective effect. Concerning gamma irradiation, the formation of agglomerates was observed, compromising the suspension stability. However, the nanoparticles resistance increases considerably in the presence of the sugars. Ozone sterilization did not lead to significant physical adverse effects, however, slight toxicity signs were observed, contrarily to gamma irradiation where no detectable changes on cells were found. Ozonation in the presence of sugars avoided cytotoxicity. Nevertheless, some chemical alterations were observed in the nanoparticles.

<![CDATA[Delivery of Human Adipose Stem Cells Spheroids into Lockyballs]]>

Adipose stem cells (ASCs) spheroids show enhanced regenerative effects compared to single cells. Also, spheroids have been recently introduced as building blocks in directed self-assembly strategy. Recent efforts aim to improve long-term cell retention and integration by the use of microencapsulation delivery systems that can rapidly integrate in the implantation site. Interlockable solid synthetic microscaffolds, so called lockyballs, were recently designed with hooks and loops to enhance cell retention and integration at the implantation site as well as to support spheroids aggregation after transplantation. Here we present an efficient methodology for human ASCs spheroids biofabrication and lockyballs cellularization using micro-molded non-adhesive agarose hydrogel. Lockyballs were produced using two-photon polymerization with an estimated mechanical strength. The Young’s modulus was calculated at level 0.1362 +/-0.009 MPa. Interlocking in vitro test demonstrates high level of loading induced interlockability of fabricated lockyballs. Diameter measurements and elongation coefficient calculation revealed that human ASCs spheroids biofabricated in resections of micro-molded non-adhesive hydrogel had a more regular size distribution and shape than spheroids biofabricated in hanging drops. Cellularization of lockyballs using human ASCs spheroids did not alter the level of cells viability (p › 0,999) and gene fold expression for SOX-9 and RUNX2 (p › 0,195). The biofabrication of ASCs spheroids into lockyballs represents an innovative strategy in regenerative medicine, which combines solid scaffold-based and directed self-assembly approaches, fostering opportunities for rapid in situ biofabrication of 3D building-blocks.

<![CDATA[Characterization of three-dimensional cancer cell migration in mixed collagen-Matrigel scaffolds using microfluidics and image analysis]]>

Microfluidic devices are becoming mainstream tools to recapitulate in vitro the behavior of cells and tissues. In this study, we use microfluidic devices filled with hydrogels of mixed collagen-Matrigel composition to study the migration of lung cancer cells under different cancer invasion microenvironments. We present the design of the microfluidic device, characterize the hydrogels morphologically and mechanically and use quantitative image analysis to measure the migration of H1299 lung adenocarcinoma cancer cells in different experimental conditions.

Our results show the plasticity of lung cancer cell migration, which turns from mesenchymal in collagen only matrices, to lobopodial in collagen-Matrigel matrices that approximate the interface between a disrupted basement membrane and the underlying connective tissue. Our quantification of migration speed confirms a biphasic role of Matrigel. At low concentration, Matrigel facilitates migration, most probably by providing a supportive and growth factor retaining environment. At high concentration, Matrigel slows down migration, possibly due excessive attachment. Finally, we show that antibody-based integrin blockade promotes a change in migration phenotype from mesenchymal or lobopodial to amoeboid and analyze the effect of this change in migration dynamics, in regards to the structure of the matrix.

In summary, we describe and characterize a robust microfluidic platform and a set of software tools that can be used to study lung cancer cell migration under different microenvironments and experimental conditions. This platform could be used in future studies, thus benefitting from the advantages introduced by microfluidic devices: precise control of the environment, excellent optical properties, parallelization for high throughput studies and efficient use of therapeutic drugs.

<![CDATA[3D bioprinting of methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) hydrogel with intrinsic osteogenicity]]>

In bone regenerative medicine there is a need for suitable bone substitutes. Hydrogels have excellent biocompatible and biodegradable characteristics, but their visco-elastic properties limit their applicability, especially with respect to 3D bioprinting. In this study, we modified the naturally occurring extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronic acid (HA), in order to yield photo-crosslinkable hydrogels with increased mechanical stiffness and long-term stability, and with minimal decrease in cytocompatibility. Application of these tailor-made methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) gels for bone tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting was the subject of investigation. Visco-elastic properties of MeHA gels, measured by rheology and dynamic mechanical analysis, showed that irradiation of the hydrogels with UV light led to increased storage moduli and elastic moduli, indicating increasing gel rigidity. Subsequently, human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) were incorporated into MeHA hydrogels, and cell viability remained 64.4% after 21 days of culture. Osteogenic differentiation of MSCs occurred spontaneously in hydrogels with high concentrations of MeHA polymer, in absence of additional osteogenic stimuli. Addition of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) to the culture medium further increased osteogenic differentiation, as evidenced by increased matrix mineralisation. MeHA hydrogels demonstrated to be suitable for 3D bioprinting, and were printed into porous and anatomically shaped scaffolds. Taken together, photosensitive MeHA-based hydrogels fulfilled our criteria for cellular bioprinted bone constructs within a narrow window of concentration.