Development of Methotrexate Complexes Endowed with New Biological Properties Envisioned for Musculoskeletal Regeneration in Rheumatoid Arthritis Environments

Methotrexate (MTX) administration is the gold standard treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but its effects are limited to preventing the progression of the disease. Therefore, effective egenerative therapies for damaged tissues are still to be developed. In this regard, MTX complexes of general molecular formula M(MTX)xH2O, where M = Sr, Zn, or Mg, were synthesized and physicochemically characterized by TGA, XRD, NMR, ATR–FTIR, and EDAX spectroscopies. Characterization results demonstrated the coordination between the different cations and MTX via two monodentate bonds with the carboxylate groups of MTX. Cation complexation provided MTX with new bioactive properties such as increasing the deposition of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and alternative anti-inflammatory capacities, without compromising the immunosuppressant properties of MTX on macrophages. Lastly, these new complexes were loaded into spray-dried chitosan microparticles as a proof of concept that they can be encapsulated and further delivered in situ in RA-affected joints, envisioning them as a suitable alternative to oral MTX therapy.

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Fernández-Villa, D. et al. Development of Methotrexate Complexes Endowed with New Biological Properties Envisioned for Musculoskeletal Regeneration in Rheumatoid Arthritis Environments. Int J Mol Sci 23, 10054 (2022).

The Role of Polymeric Biomaterials in the Treatment of Articular Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a high-prevalence joint disease characterized by the degradation of cartilage, subchondral bone thickening, and synovitis. Due to the inability of cartilage to self-repair, regenerative medicine strategies have become highly relevant in the management of osteoarthritis. Despite the great advances in medical and pharmaceutical sciences, current therapies stay unfulfilled, due to the inability of cartilage to repair itself. Additionally, the multifactorial etiology of the disease, including endogenous genetic dysfunctions and exogenous factors in many cases, also limits the formation of new cartilage extracellular matrix or impairs the regular recruiting of chondroprogenitor cells. Hence, current strategies for osteoarthritis management involve not only analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or viscosupplementation but also polymeric biomaterials that are able to drive native cells to heal and repair the damaged cartilage. This review updates the most relevant research on osteoarthritis management that employs polymeric biomaterials capable of restoring the viscoelastic properties of cartilage, reducing symptomatology, and favoring adequate cartilage regeneration properties.

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Velasco-Salgado, C. et al. The Role of Polymeric Biomaterials in the Treatment of Articular Osteoarthritis. Pharmaceutics 14, 1644 (2022). Download

Injectable Tripeptide/Polymer Nanoparticles Supramolecular Hydrogel: A Candidate for the Treatment of Inflammatory Pathologies

Supramolecular peptide-based hydrogels attract great attention in several fields, i.e., biomedicine, catalysis, energy, and materials chemistry, due to the noncovalent nature of the self-assembly and functional tunable properties defined by the amino acid sequence. In this work, we developed an injectable hybrid supramolecular hydrogel whose formation was triggered by electrostatic interactions between a phosphorylated tripeptide, Fmoc-FFpY (F: phenylalanine, pY: phosphorylated tyrosine), and cationic polymer nanoparticles made of vinylimidazole and ketoprofen (poly(HKT-co-VI) NPs). Hydrogel formation was assessed through inverted tube tests, and its fibrillary structure, around polymer NPs, was observed by transmission electron microscopy. Interestingly, peptide self-assembly yields the formation of nontwisted and twisted fibers, which could be attributed to β-sheets and α-helix structures, respectively, as characterized by circular dichroism and infrared spectroscopies. An increase of the elastic modulus of the Fmoc-FFpY/polymer NPs hybrid hydrogels was observed with peptide concentration as well as its injectability property, due to its shear thinning behavior and self-healing ability. After checking their stability under physiological conditions, the cytotoxicity properties of these hybrid hydrogels were evaluated in contact with human dermal fibroblasts (FBH) and murine macrophages (RAW 264.7). Finally, the Fmoc-FFpY/polymer NPs hybrid hydrogels exhibited a great nitric oxide reduction (∼67%) up to basal values of pro-inflammatory RAW 264.7 cells, thus confirming their excellent anti-inflammatory properties for the treatment of localized inflammatory pathologies.

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Criado-Gonzalez, M. et al. Injectable Tripeptide/Polymer Nanoparticles Supramolecular Hydrogel: A Candidate for the Treatment of Inflammatory Pathologies. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 14, 10068–10080 (2022). Download

Biomimetic Gradient Scaffolds Containing Hyaluronic Acid and Sr/Zn Folates for Osteochondral Tissue Engineering

Regenerative therapies based on tissue engineering are becoming the most promising alternative for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, regeneration of full-thickness articular osteochondral defects that reproduces the complexity of native cartilage and osteochondral interface still remains challenging. Hence, in this work, we present the fabrication, physic-chemical characterization, and in vitro and in vivo evaluation of biomimetic hierarchical scaffolds that mimic both the spatial organization and composition of cartilage and the osteochondral interface. The scaffold is composed of a composite porous support obtained by cryopolymerization of poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) in the presence of biodegradable poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA), bioactive tricalcium phosphate β-TCP and the bone promoting strontium folate (SrFO), with a gradient biomimetic photo-polymerized methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) based hydrogel containing the bioactive zinc folic acid derivative (ZnFO). Microscopical analysis of hierarchical scaffolds showed an open interconnected porous open microstructure and the in vitro behaviour results indicated high swelling capacity with a sustained degradation rate. In vitro release studies during 3 weeks indicated the sustained leaching of bioactive compounds, i.e., Sr2+, Zn2+ and folic acid, within a biologically active range without negative effects on human osteoblast cells (hOBs) and human articular cartilage cells (hACs) cultures. In vitro co-cultures of hOBs and hACs revealed guided cell colonization and proliferation according to the matrix microstructure and composition. In vivo rabbit-condyle experiments in a critical-sized defect model showed the ability of the biomimetic scaffold to promote the regeneration of cartilage-like tissue over the scaffold and neoformation of osteochondral tissue

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Asensio, G. et al. Biomimetic Gradient Scaffolds Containing Hyaluronic Acid and Sr/Zn Folates for Osteochondral Tissue Engineering. Polymers 14, 12 (2022). Download

Development of bioactive catechol functionalized nanoparticles applicable for 3D bioprinting

Efficient wound treatments to target specific events in the healing process of chronic wounds constitute a significant aim in regenerative medicine. In this sense, nanomedicine can offer new opportunities to improve the effectiveness of existing wound therapies. The aim of this study was to develop catechol bearing polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) and to evaluate their potential in the field of wound healing. Thus, NPs wound healing promoting activities, potential for drug encapsulation and controlled release, and further incorporation in a hydrogel bioink formulation to fabricate cell-laden 3D scaffolds are studied. NPs with 2 and 29 M % catechol contents (named NP2 and NP29) were obtained by nanoprecipitation and presented hydrodynamic diameters of 100 and 75 nm respectively. These nanocarriers encapsulated the hydrophobic compound coumarin-6 with 70% encapsulation efficiency values. In cell culture studies, the NPs had a protective effect in RAW 264.7 macrophages against oxidative stress damage induced by radical oxygen species (ROS). They also presented a regulatory effect on the inflammatory response of stimulated macrophages and promoted upregulation of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in fibroblasts and endothelial cells. In particular, NP29 were used in a hydrogel bioink formulation using carboxymethyl chitosan and hyaluronic acid as polymeric matrices. Using a reactive mixing bioprinting approach, NP-loaded hydrogel scaffolds with good structural integrity, shape fidelity and homogeneous NPs dispersion, were obtained. The in vitro catechol NPs release profile of the printed scaffolds revealed a sustained delivery. The bioprinted scaffolds supported viability and proliferation of encapsulated L929 fibroblasts over 14 days. We envision that the catechol functionalized NPs and resulting bioactive bioink presented in this work offer promising advantages for wound healing applications, as they: 1) support controlled release of bioactive catechol NPs to the wound site; 2) can incorporate additional therapeutic functions by co-encapsulating drugs; 3) can be printed into 3D scaffolds with tailored geometries based on patient requirements.

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Puertas-Bartolomé, M., Włodarczyk-Biegun, M. K., del Campo, A., Vázquez-Lasa, B. & San Román, J. Development of bioactive catechol functionalized nanoparticles applicable for 3D bioprinting. Materials Science and Engineering: C 131, 112515 (2021).

Chitosan – Rosmarinic acid conjugates with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties

Rosmarinic acid is an attractive candidate for skin applications because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and photoprotective functions, however, its poor bioavailability hampers its therapeutic outcome. In this context, synthesis of polymer conjugates is an alternative to enlarge its applications. This work describes the synthesis of novel water-soluble chitosan – rosmarinic acid conjugates (CSRA) that have great potential for skin applications. Chitosan was functionalized with different contents of rosmarinic acid as confirmed by ATR-FTIR, 1H NMR and UV spectroscopies. CSRA conjugates presented three-fold radical scavenger capacity compared to the free phenolic compound. Films were prepared by solvent-casting procedure and the biological activity of the lixiviates was studied in vitro. Results revealed that lixiviates reduced activation of inflamed macrophages, improved antibacterial capacity against E. coli with respect to native chitosan and free rosmarinic acid, and also attenuated UVB-induced cellular damage and reactive oxygen species production in fibroblasts and keratinocytes.

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Huerta-Madroñal, M., Caro-León, J., Espinosa-Cano, E., Aguilar, M. R. & Vázquez-Lasa, B. Chitosan – Rosmarinic acid conjugates with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. Carbohydrate Polymers 118619 (2021) http://doi.org/10.1016/j.carbpol.2021.118619.

DEAE-chitosan nanoparticles as a pneumococcus-biomimetic material for the development of antipneumococcal therapeutics

Advanced biomaterials provide an interesting and versatile platform to implement new and more effective strategies to fight bacterial infections. Chitosan is one of these biopolymers and possesses relevant features for biomedical applications. Here we synthesized nanoparticles of chitosan derivatized with diethylaminoethyl groups (ChiDENPs) to emulate the choline residues in the pneumococcal cell wall and act as ligands for choline-binding proteins (CBPs). Firstly, we assessed the ability of diethylaminoethyl (DEAE) to sequester the CBPs present in the bacterial surface, thus promoting chain formation. Secondly, the CBP-binding ability of ChiDENPs was purposed to encapsulate a bio-active molecule, the antimicrobial enzyme Cpl-711 (ChiDENPs-711), with improved stability over non-derivatized chitosan. The enzyme-loaded system released more than 90% of the active enzybiotic in ≈ 2 h, above the usual in vivo half-life of this kind of enzymes. Therefore, ChiDENPs provide a promising platform for the controlled release of CBP-enzybiotics in biological contexts.

Antitumor Activity of Nanoparticles Loaded with PHT-427, a Novel AKT/PDK1 Inhibitor, for the Treatment of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Currently, new treatments are required to supplement the current standard of care for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The phosphatidylinositol3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway is commonly altered and activated in HNSCC. PHT-427 is a dual PI3K-mammalian target of the AKT/PDK1 inhibitor; however, to the best of our knowledge, the effect of the PHT-427 inhibitor on HNSCC has not been investigated. This study aims to evaluate the antitumoral effect of PHT-427-loaded polymeric nanoparticles based on α-tocopheryl succinate (α-TOS). The in vitro activity of PHT-427 was tested in hypopharynx carcinoma squamous cells (FaDu) to measure the cell viability, PI3KCA/AKT/PDK1 gene expression, and PI3KCA/AKT/PDK1 levels. Apoptosis, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were also measured. The presence of PHT-427 significantly enhances its antiproliferative and proapoptotic activity by inactivating the PI3K/AKT/PDK1 pathway. Nanoparticles (NPs) effectively suppress AKT/PDK1 expression. Additionally, NPs loaded with PHT-427 produce high oxidative stress levels that induce apoptosis. In conclusion, these results are promising in the use of this nanoformulation as a PHT-427 delivery system for effective HNSCC treatment.

Oregano essential oil micro- and nanoencapsulation with bioactive properties for biotechnological and biomedical applications

Due to the preservative, antioxidant, antimicrobial and therapeutic properties of oregano essential oil, it has received an emerging interest for biotechnological and biomedical applications. However, stability and bioactivity can be compromised by its natural volatile and hydrophobic nature, and by external factors including light, heat or oxygen. Therefore, micro- and nanoencapsulation are being employed to guarantee oregano oil protection from outside aggressions and to maximize its potential. Oregano oil encapsulation is an interesting strategy used to increase its stability, enhance its bioactivity and decrease its volatility. At the same time, the versatility that micro- and nanocarriers offer, allow to prepare tailored systems that can provide a controlled and targeted release of the encapsulated principle, influence its bioactive activities or even provide additional properties. Most common materials used to prepare these carriers are based on lipids and cyclodextrins, due to its hydrophobic nature, polymers due to its versatility in composition and hybrid lipid-polymer systems. In this context, recently developed micro- and nanocarriers encapsulating oregano oil with applications in the biotechnological and biomedical fields will be discussed.

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Pontes-Quero, G. M., Esteban-Rubio, S., Pérez-Cano, J., Aguilar, M. R. & Vazquez-Lasa, M. B. Oregano essential oil micro- and nanoencapsulation with bioactive properties for biotechnological and biomedical applications. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 9, (2021). Cite

Paclitaxel-loaded polymeric nanoparticles based on α-tocopheryl succinate for the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: in vivo murine model

The prognosis of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is generally poor. New treatments are required to supplement the current standard of care. Paclitaxel (PTX), an effective chemotherapeutic for HNSCC, has serious side effects. A polymeric nanocarrier system was developed for the delivery of PTX to improve HNSCC treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the antitumor efficacy of PTX-loaded polymeric nanoparticles based on α-TOS (PTX-NPs) administered by direct intratumoral injection into a Hypopharynx carcinoma squamous cells (FaDu) tumor xenograft mouse model. The nanocarrier system based on block copolymers of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and a methacrylic derivative of α-TOS was synthesized and PTX was loaded into the delivery system. Tumor volume was measured to evaluate the antitumor effect of the PTX-NPs. The relative mechanisms of apoptosis, cell proliferation, growth, angiogenesis, and oxidative and nitrosative stress were detected by Western blotting, fluorescent probes, and immunohistochemical analysis. The antitumor activity results showed that compared to free PTX, PTX-NPs exhibited much higher antitumor efficacy and apoptosis-inducing in a FaDu mouse xenograft model and demonstrated an improved safety profile. Ki-67, EGFR, and angiogenesis markers (Factor VIII, CD31, and CD34) expression were significantly lower in the PTX-NPs group compared with other groups (p < .05). Also, PTX-NPs induced oxidative and nitrosative stress in tumor tissue. Direct administration of PTX-loaded polymeric nanoparticles based on α-Tocopheryl Succinate at the tumor sites, proved to be promising for HNSCC therapy.

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