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Biomaterials (v.31, #16)

Editorial board (pp. ifc).

Poly(ethylene glycol)-grafted poly(propylene fumarate) networks and parabolic dependence of MC3T3 cell behavior on the network composition by Lei Cai; Kan Wang; Shanfeng Wang (pp. 4457-4466).
We present a method to modify poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF), an injectable biomaterial for bone-tissue-engineering applications, by photo-crosslinking it with methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) monoacrylate (mPEGA) at various mPEGA compositions of 0–30%. The bulk properties such as thermal and rheological properties of uncrosslinked mPEGA/PPF blends and the mechanical properties of photo-crosslinked mPEGA/PPF blends were also investigated and correlated with surface characteristics to elaborate on the modulation of mouse MC3T3 cell adhesion, spreading, proliferation and differentiation through controlled physicochemical properties. Unlike PPF crosslinked with PEG dimethacrylate, mPEGA chains tethered on the surface of crosslinked PPF did not influence the swelling ratio in water while increased surface hydrophilicity greatly. Meanwhile, surface frictional coefficient and the capability of adsorbing proteins from cell culture medium decreased continuously with increasing the mPEGA composition in mPEGA/PPF networks. Demonstrating cell repulsive effect at the mPEGA compositions higher than 7%, the modified surfaces improved MC3T3 cell attachment, proliferation and differentiation, which reached maxima at the mPEGA composition of 5–7%. Besides revealing that mPEGA pendant chains could enhance cell responses by increasing hydrophilicity when their fraction on the hydrophobic surface was small, the present study also offered a new method of improving the wettability and performance of the scaffolds made from PPF for bone repair.

Keywords: Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Methoxy polyethylene glycol monoacrylate (mPEGA); Photo-crosslinking; Cell-biomaterial interaction


Cytotoxicity and in vivo tissue compatibility of poly(amidoamine) with pendant aminobutyl group as a gene delivery vector by Lin Peng; Yuan Gao; Ya-Nan Xue; Shi-Wen Huang; Ren-Xi Zhuo (pp. 4467-4476).
To design successful polymeric gene delivery vehicles with good biocompatibility and highly efficient gene transfer ability is one of the great scientific challenges in modern gene therapy. Poly(amidoamine) with pendant aminobutyl group (PAA-BA) has been proved to exhibit high transfection efficiency against bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in vitro. In this work, based on previous research, PAA-BA's biocompatibility including in vitro cytotoxicity determined by effect on BMSCs' morphology, viability, membrane damage and apoptosis/necrosis, and in vivo tissue compatibility determined by muscular and hepatic tissue response were further investigated in comparison to branched polyethylenimine (PEI) 25 kDa. The results demonstrated that PAA-BA possess much better cytocompatibility than PEI, yielding slight cell morphological change, high cell viability and mild effect on cell membrane damage as well as inducing less apoptotic/necrotic cells at optimal N/P ratio. PAA-BA also exhibited better tissue compatibility, reflected by no or less inflammatory response in the site of muscle injection at the same (0.03% w/v) or higher concentration (0.1% w/v) and no hepatic tissue morphological change with normal hepatocytes. We concluded that PAA-BA was promising and safe candidate for in vitro BMSCs gene delivery and had potential for in future in vivo gene therapy.

Keywords: Poly(amidoamine); Bone marrow stromal cell; Gene delivery; Biocompatibility; Cytotoxicity; Apoptosis


Thresholds for indirect DNA damage across cellular barriers for orthopaedic biomaterials by Michael C. Parry; Gevdeep Bhabra; Aman Sood; Filipa Machado; Laura Cartwright; Margaret Saunders; E. Ingham; R. Newson; Ashley W. Blom; Charles P. Case (pp. 4477-4483).
Cobalt–chromium particles and ions can induce indirect DNA damage and chromosome aberrations in human cells on the other side of a cellular barrier in tissue culture. This occurs by intercellular signalling across the barrier. We now show that the threshold for this effect depends on the metal form and the particle composition. Ionic cobalt and chromium induced single strand breaks at concentrations equivalent to those found in the blood of patients with well functioning metal on metal hip prostheses. However, they only caused double strand breaks if the chromium was present as chromium (VI), and did not induce chromosome aberrations. Nanoparticles of cobalt–chromium alloy caused DNA double strand breaks and chromosome aberrations, of which the majority were tetraploidy. Ceramic nanoparticles induced only single strand breaks and/or alkaline labile sites when indirectly exposed to human fibroblasts. The assessment of reproductive risk from maternal exposure to biomaterials is not yet possible with epidemiology. Whilst the barrier model used here differs from the in vivo situation in several respects, it may be useful as a framework to evaluate biomaterial induced damage across physiological barriers.

Keywords: Arthroplasty; Cobalt alloy; Cell signalling; Genotoxicity; Nanoparticle; Reproductive toxicity


The creation of an antithrombotic surface by apyrase immobilization by Per H. Nilsson; Anna E. Engberg; Jennie Bäck; Lars Faxälv; Tomas L. Lindahl; Bo Nilsson; Kristina N. Ekdahl (pp. 4484-4491).
Blood incompatibility reactions caused by surfaces often involve platelet activation and subsequent platelet-initiated activation of the coagulation and complement cascades. The goal of this study was to immobilize apyrase on a biomaterial surface in order to develop an enzymatically active surface that would have the capacity to inhibit platelet activation by degrading ADP. We were able to immobilize apyrase on a polystyrene surface with preservation of the enzymatic activity. We then analyzed the hemocompatibility of the apyrase surface and of control surfaces by incubation with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or whole blood. Monitoring of markers of platelet, coagulation, and complement activation and staining of the surfaces revealed decreased levels of platelet and coagulation activation parameters on the apyrase surface. The formation of antithrombin-thrombin and antithrombin-factor XIa complexes and the extent of platelet consumption were significantly lower on the apyrase surface than on any of the control surfaces. No significant differences were seen in complement activation (C3a levels). Staining of the apyrase surface revealed low platelet adherence and no formation of granulocyte–platelet complexes. These results demonstrate that it is possible to create an antithrombotic surface targeting the ADP amplification of platelet activation by immobilizing apyrase.

Keywords: Blood compatibiliy; Apyrase; Platelet; Platelet regulation; Adenosine diphosphate


An engineered 3D blood-testis barrier model for the assessment of reproductive toxicity potential by A. Legendre; P. Froment; S. Desmots; A. Lecomte; R. Habert; E. Lemazurier (pp. 4492-4505).
We have developed an in vitro model that replicates the composition, organization, and barrier and spermatogenesis functions of the in vivo rat blood-testis barrier. This engineered blood-testis barrier (eBTB) is based on a three-dimensional (3-D) culture in a bicameral chamber of testicular cells isolated from 18-day-old rats. Peritubular cells were cultured on the bottom of the insert. On the top of the insert, a mixture of Sertoli and germ cells were coated within an artificial extracellular matrix, thereby mimicking the basement membrane. The matrix composition was defined to obtain a cord-like organization. This structure was revealed depending on morphogenetic gradients, and was made of polarized Sertoli cells and germ cells in the center of the structure. The in vivo functionality of the BTB was characterized by tight junctions between Sertoli cells. Claudin-11 protein immunodetection suggests that these junctions were also implicated in vitro in the cord-like structure, suggesting the presence of a physical compartment with apical and basal spaces. Measurement of the trans-epithelial electrical resistance characterized the relationship between the Sertoli cells, peritubular cells, and matrix/cells that influenced the tightness of their junctions during the course of the culture. In vitro germ cell differentiation was confirmed with the detection of haploid cells. The development of the eBTB under optimum conditions addresses the involvement of new models, testing the barrier and spermatogenesis functions that are sensitive to chemical compounds from the environment. In this way, the eBTB could be used as an alternative method to animal reprotoxicity studies, and would be of high interest in the scope of regulatory requests for chemical risk assessment.

Keywords: Blood-testis barrier; 3-D culture; Barrier functionality; Spermatogenesis; Rat


The optimization of porous polymeric scaffolds for chondrocyte/atelocollagen based tissue-engineered cartilage by Yoko Tanaka; Hisayo Yamaoka; Satoru Nishizawa; Satoru Nagata; Toru Ogasawara; Yukiyo Asawa; Yuko Fujihara; Tsuyoshi Takato; Kazuto Hoshi (pp. 4506-4516).
To broaden the clinical application of cartilage regenerative medicine, we should develop an implant-type tissue-engineered cartilage with firmness and 3-D structure. For that, we attempted to use a porous biodegradable polymer scaffold in the combination with atelocollagen hydrogel, and optimized the structure and composition of porous scaffold. We administered chondrocytes/atelocollagen mixture into the scaffolds with various kinds of porosities (80–95%) and pore sizes (0.3–2.0 mm), consisting of PLLA or related polymers (PDLA, PLA/CL and PLGA), and transplanted the constructs in the subcutaneous areas of nude mice. The constructs using scaffolds of excessively large pore sizes (>1 mm) broke out on the skin and impaired the host tissue. The scaffold with the porosity of 95% and pore size of 0.3 mm could effectively retain the cells/gel mixture and indicated a fair cartilage regeneration. Regarding the composition, the tissue-engineered cartilage was superior in PLGA and PLLA to that in PLA/CA and PDLA. The latter two showed the dense accumulation of macrophages, which may deteriorate the cartilage regeneration. Although PLGA or PLLA has been currently recommended for the scaffold of cartilage, the polymer for which biodegradation was exactly synchronized to the cartilage regeneration would improve the quality of the tissue-engineered cartilage.

Keywords: Cartilage tissue engineering; Scaffold; In vivo test; Copolymer; Biodegradation


A functional extracellular matrix biomaterial derived from ovine forestomach by Stan Lun; Sharleen M. Irvine; Keryn D. Johnson; Neil J. Fisher; Evan W. Floden; Leonardo Negron; Sandi G. Dempsey; Rene J. McLaughlin; Madhusudan Vasudevamurthy; Brian R. Ward; Barnaby C.H. May (pp. 4517-4529).
Extracellular matrix (ECM) based biomaterials have an established place as medical devices for wound healing and tissue regeneration. In the search for biomaterials we have identified ovine forestomach matrix (OFM), a thick, large format ECM which is biochemically diverse and biologically functional. OFM was purified using an osmotic process that was shown to reduce the cellularity of the ECM and aid tissue delamination. OFM produced using this technique was shown to retain residual basement membrane components, as evidence by the presence of laminin and collagen IV. The collagenous microarchitecture of OFM retained many components of native ECM including fibronectin, glycosaminoglycans, elastin and fibroblast growth factor basic. OFM was non-toxic to mammalian cells and supported fibroblast and keratinocyte migration, differentiation and infiltration. OFM is a culturally acceptable alternative to current collagen-based biomaterials and has immediate clinical applications in wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Keywords: ECM (extracellular matrix); Wound healing; Tissue regeneration; Collagen; Fibroblast growth factor; Cell culture


Long-term calibration considerations during subcutaneous microdialysis sampling in mobile rats by Xiaodun Mou; Michelle R. Lennartz; Daniel J. Loegering; Julie A. Stenken (pp. 4530-4539).
The level at which implanted sensors and sampling devices maintain their calibration is an important research area. In this work, microdialysis probes with identical geometry and different membranes, polycarbonate/polyether (PC) or polyethersulfone (PES), were used with internal standards (Vitamin B12 (MW 1355), antipyrine (MW 188) and 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG, MW 164)) and endogenous glucose to investigate changes in their long-term calibration after implantation into the subcutaneous space of Sprague-Dawley rats. Histological analysis confirmed an inflammatory response to the microdialysis probes and the presence of a collagen capsule. The membrane extraction efficiency (percentage delivered to the tissue space) for antipyrine and 2-DG was not altered throughout the implant lifetime for either PC- or PES membranes. Yet, Vitamin B12 extraction efficiency and collected glucose concentrations decreased during the implant lifetime. Antipyrine was administered i.v. and its concentrations obtained in both PC- and PES-membrane probes were significantly reduced between the implant day and seven (PC) or 10 (PES) days post-implantation suggesting that solute supply is critical for in vivo extraction efficiency. For the low molecular weight solutes such as antipyrine and glucose, localized delivery is not affected by the foreign body reaction, but recovery is significantly reduced. For Vitamin B12, a larger solute, the fibrotic capsule formed around the probe significantly restricts diffusion from the implanted microdialysis probes.

Keywords: Antipyrine; Calibration; Foreign body reaction; Glucose; In vivo; microdialysis sampling


Critical role of tissue mast cells in controlling long-term glucose sensor function in vivo by Ulrike Klueh; Manjot Kaur; Yi Qiao; Donald L. Kreutzer (pp. 4540-4551).
Little is known about the specific cells, mediators and mechanisms involved in the loss of glucose sensor function (GSF) in vivo. Since mast cells (MC) are known to be key effector cells in inflammation and wound healing, we hypothesized that MC and their products are major contributors to the skin inflammation and wound healing that controls GSF at sites of sensor implantation. To test this hypothesis we utilized a murine model of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) in vivo in both normal C57BL/6 mice (mast cell sufficient), as well as mast cell deficient B6.Cg-Kit W-sh/HNihrJaeBsmJ (Sash) mice over a 28 day CGM period. As expected, both strains of mice displayed excellent CGM for the first 7 days post sensor implantation (PSI). CGM in the mast cell sufficient C57BL/6 mice was erratic over the remaining 21 days PSI. CGM in the mast cell deficient Sash mice displayed excellent sensor function for the entire 28 day of CGM. Histopathologic evaluation of implantation sites demonstrated that tissue reactions in Sash mice were dramatically less compared to the reactions in normal C57BL/6 mice. Additionally, mast cells were also seen to be consistently associated with the margins of sensor tissue reactions in normal C57BL/6 mice. Finally, direct injection of bone marrow derived mast cells at sites of sensor implantation induced an acute and dramatic loss of sensor function in both C57BL/6 and Sash mice. These results demonstrate the key role of mast cells in controlling glucose sensor function in vivo.

Keywords: Diabetes; Biosensor; Tissue responses; Mast cells; Mast cell deficiency; Inflammation


The cytoskeletal organization of breast carcinoma and fibroblast cells inside three dimensional (3-D) isotropic silicon microstructures by Mehdi Nikkhah; Jeannine S. Strobl; Raffaella De Vita; Masoud Agah (pp. 4552-4561).
Studying the cytoskeletal organization as cells interact in their local microenvironment is interest of biological science, tissue engineering and cancer diagnosis applications. Herein, we describe the behavior of cell lines obtained from metastatic breast tumor pleural effusions (MDA-MB-231), normal fibrocystic mammary epithelium (MCF10A), and HS68 normal fibroblasts inside three dimensional (3-D) isotropic silicon microstructures fabricated by a single-mask, single-isotropic-etch process. We report differences in adhesion, mechanism of force balance within the cytoskeleton, and deformability among these cell types inside the 3-D microenvironment. HS68 fibroblasts typically stretched and formed vinculin-rich focal adhesions at anchor sites inside the etched cavities. In contrast, MCF10A and MDA-MB-231 cells adopted the curved surfaces of isotropic microstructures and exhibited more diffuse vinculin cytoplasmic staining in addition to vinculin localized in focal adhesions. The measurement of cells elasticity using atomic force microscopy (AFM) indentation revealed that HS68 cells are significantly stiffer ( p < 0.0001) than MCF10A and MDA-MB-231 cells. Upon microtubule disruption with nocodazole, fibroblasts no longer stretched, but adhesion of MCF10A and MDA-MB-231 within the etched features remained unaltered. Our findings are consistent with tensegrity theory. The 3-D microstructures have the potential to probe cytoskeletal-based differences between healthy and diseased cells that can provide biomarkers for diagnostics purposes.

Keywords: MEMS; Silicon; Isotropic; AFM; Breast cancer; HS68 fibroblasts


The effect of strain rate on the precision of penetration of short densely-packed microprojection array patches coated with vaccine by Michael L. Crichton; Alexander Ansaldo; Xianfeng Chen; Tarl W. Prow; Germain J.P. Fernando; Mark A.F. Kendall (pp. 4562-4572).
If skin's non-linear viscoelastic properties are mechanically exploited for precise antigen placement, there is tremendous promise for improved vaccines. To achieve this, we designed a Nanopatch™—densely packed micro-nanoprojections (>20,000/cm2) to directly deposit antigen to large numbers of epidermal Langerhans cells and dermal dendritic cells. Here, we controllably applied our Nanopatches™ with discrete conditions between peak strain rates of ∼100 s−1–7000 s−1 and quantified resulting penetration depths, delivery payloads and skin mechanics. Increasing the strain rate of application, we overcame key skin variability, achieving increases in both projection penetration depth (by over 50% length) and area coverage of a full array (from 50% to 100%). This delivery depth precision opens the way for more fully utilizing the skin's immune function. Furthermore, we yielded new insights on mechanical behaviour of skin, including: 1) internal skin property changes that could affect/facilitate penetration; 2) projection design to dictate penetration depth; 3) puncture mechanics of skin in this strain rate range. Indeed, we show delivery of a model vaccine using our tested range of strain rates achieved functionally relevant tunable systemic antibody generation in mice. These findings could be of great utility in extending skin strata vaccine targeting approaches to human use.

Keywords: Skin; Drug delivery; Mechanical properties; Vaccine; Microneedles


The effects of controlled HGF delivery from an affinity-binding alginate biomaterial on angiogenesis and blood perfusion in a hindlimb ischemia model by Emil Ruvinov; Jonathan Leor; Smadar Cohen (pp. 4573-4582).
Enhancing tissue self-repair through the use of active acellular biomaterials is one of the main goals of regenerative medicine. We now describe the features of an injectable alginate biomaterial designed to affinity-bind heparin–binding proteins and release them at a rate reflected by their association constant to alginate-sulfate. The interactions of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) with alginate-sulfate resulted in factor protection from proteolysis, as shown by mass spectroscopy analysis after trypsin digestion. When the HGF/alginate-sulfate bioconjugate was incorporated into alginate hydrogel, HGF release was sustained by a factor of 3, as compared to the release rate from non-modified hydrogel. The released factor retained activity, as shown by its induction of ERK1/2 activation and affording cytoprotection in rat neonatal cardiomyocyte cultures. In vivo, an injectable form of the affinity-binding alginate system extended by 10-fold, as compared to a saline-treated group, retention of HGF in myocardial tissue when delivered immediately after myocardial infarction. In a severe murine hindlimb ischemia model, HGF delivery from the affinity-binding system improved tissue blood perfusion and induced mature blood vessel network formation. The therapeutic efficacy of the affinity-binding system, as well as its ease of delivery by injection, provides a proof-of-concept for the potential use of this bioactive biomaterial strategy in cardiovascular repair.

Keywords: Affinity-binding; Alginate hydrogel; Angiogenesis; Controlled delivery; Hepatocyte growth factor; Hindlimb ischemia


Controlling silk fibroin particle features for drug delivery by Andreas S. Lammel; Xiao Hu; Sang-Hyug Park; David L. Kaplan; Thomas R. Scheibel (pp. 4583-4591).
Silk proteins are a promising material for drug delivery due to their aqueous processability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability. A simple aqueous preparation method for silk fibroin particles with controllable size, secondary structure and zeta potential is reported. The particles were produced by salting out a silk fibroin solution with potassium phosphate. The effect of ionic strength and pH of potassium phosphate solution on the yield and morphology of the particles was determined. Secondary structure and zeta potential of the silk particles could be controlled by pH. Particles produced by salting out with 1.25m potassium phosphate pH 6 showed a dominating silk II (crystalline) structure whereas particles produced at pH 9 were mainly composed of silk I (less crystalline). The results show that silk I-rich particles possess chemical and physical stability and secondary structure which remained unchanged during post treatments even upon exposure to 100% ethanol or methanol. A model is presented to explain the process of particle formation based on intra- and intermolecular interactions of the silk domains, influenced by pH and kosmotropic salts. The reported silk fibroin particles can be loaded with small molecule model drugs, such as alcian blue, rhodamine B, and crystal violet, by simple absorption based on electrostatic interactions. In vitro release of these compounds from the silk particles depends on charge–charge interactions between the compounds and the silk. With crystal violet we demonstrated that the release kinetics are dependent on the secondary structure of the particles.

Keywords: Silk; Drug delivery; Self-assembly; Beta sheet


Prostate cancer cell death produced by the co-delivery of Bcl-xL shRNA and doxorubicin using an aptamer-conjugated polyplex by Eunjung Kim; Yukyung Jung; Hyangtae Choi; Jaemoon Yang; Jin-Suck Suh; Yong-Min Huh; Kunhong Kim; Seungjoo Haam (pp. 4592-4599).
We investigated the synergism between shRNAs against Bcl-xL and doxorubicin (DOX) using aptamer-conjugated polyplexes (APs) in combination cancer therapy. Synergistic and selective cancer cell death was achieved by AP-mediated co-delivery of very small amounts of DOX and Bcl-xL-specific shRNA, which simultaneously activated an intrinsic apoptotic pathway. A branched polyethyleneimine (PEI) was grafted to polyethylene glycol (PEI–PEG) to serve as a vehicle for shRNA delivery, and its surface was further conjugated with an anti-PSMA aptamer (APT) for the selective delivery of APs to prostate cancer cells that express prostate-specific membrane antigens (PSMA) on their cell surface. The APs were finally obtained after intercalation of DOX to form shRNA/PEI–PEG–APT/DOX conjugates. Cell viability assays and FACS analysis of GFP expression against PC3 (PSMA deficient) and LNCaP (PSMA overexpressed) cells demonstrated that the synthesized APs inhibited the growth of PSMA-abundant prostate cancer cells with strong cell selectivity. Consequently, IC50 values of APs loaded with both DOX and shRNA were approximately 17-fold less than those for the simple mixture of shRNA plus drug (shRNA/Lipofectamine + DOX). These results suggest that AP-mediated co-delivery of an anti-cancer drug and shRNA against Bcl-xL may widen the therapeutic window and allow for the selective destruction of cancer cells.

Keywords: Combination cancer therapy; Co-delivery; Aptamer; Doxorubicin; Bcl-xL shRNA


Characterization of amine donor and acceptor sites for tissue type transglutaminase using a sequence from the C-terminus of human fibrillin-1 and the N-terminus of osteonectin by Shih T. Khew; Pradeep P. Panengad; Michael Raghunath; Yen W. Tong (pp. 4600-4608).
Transglutaminase (TGase)-modified proteins are commonly observed in a wide range of biological systems. Therefore, the identification of TGase substrates and respective consensus sites may contribute to a better understanding of the physiological role of TGase. In this study, we identified enzyme-specific properties of two peptide sequences, EDGFFKI, derived from human fibrillin-1, and the previously characterized APQQEA, derived from human osteonectin. EDGFFKI was identified in a previous publication as an amine donor substrate for tissue TGase; APQ3Q4EA is an amine acceptor for this enzyme. A widely-used lysine donor mimic, monodansylcadaverine (MDC), was used as a control. EDGFFKI crosslinked specifically only to Q3 of the acceptor probe. The EDGFFKI sequence also showed enzyme specificity for tissue TGase while no reaction was observed with plasma TGase (Factor XIIIa), consistent with its natural occurrence in vivo. Using this substrate in biotinylated form we demonstrate its value as a tracer probe to detect endogenous TGase activity in human tissues as well as to target potential amine acceptor substrates via an enzyme-directed site-specific labeling. The results of this study show natively derived EDGFFKI and APQQEA are better and more specific indicators of endogenous tissue TGase activity as compared to a small molecule probe; this may be important in diagnostic applications. The specificity with which matrix sequences APQQEA and EDGFFKI interact with tissue TGase but not plasma TGase may also be crucial for understanding and controlling the function of these TGases in vivo and in tissue engineering.

Keywords: Transglutaminase; Collagen crosslinking; Specificity; Natural probes; Extracellular matrix; Tissue targeting

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