Department of Biomedical Engineering Works

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    Exploring the Tumor-Suppressing Potential of PSCA in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma
    (MDPI, 2023-10-10) Li, Kexin; Huo, Qingji; Minami, Kazumasa; Tamari, Keisuke; Ogawa, Kazuhiko; Na, Sungsoo; Fishel, Melissa L.; Li, Bai-Yan; Yokota, Hiroki; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer with low survival rates. We explored an innovative therapeutic approach by leveraging prognostic oncogenic markers. Instead of inhibiting these marker genes, we harnessed their tumor-modifying potential in the extracellular domain. Surprisingly, many of the proteins highly expressed in PDAC, which is linked to poor survival, exhibited tumor-suppressing qualities in the extracellular environment. For instance, prostate stem cell antigens (PSCA), associated with reduced survival, acted as tumor suppressors when introduced extracellularly. We performed in vitro assays to assess the proliferation and migration and evaluated the tumor-modifying capacity of extracellular factors from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in PDAC tissues. Molecular docking analysis, immunoprecipitation, Western blotting, and RNA interference were employed to study the regulatory mechanism. Extracellular PSCA recombinant protein notably curtailed the viability, motility, and transwell invasion of PDAC cells. Its anti-PDAC effects were partially mediated by Mesothelin (MSLN), another highly expressed tumor-associated antigen in PDAC. The anti-tumor effects of extracellular PSCA complemented those of chemotherapeutic agents like Irinotecan, 5-Fluorouracil, and Oxaliplatin. PSCA expression increased in a conditioned medium derived from PBMCs and T lymphocytes. This study unveils the paradoxical anti-PDAC potential of PSCA, hinting at the dual roles of oncoproteins like PSCA in PDAC suppression.
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    Anticancer Peptides Derived from Aldolase A and Induced Tumor-Suppressing Cells Inhibit Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cells
    (MDPI, 2023-10-11) Cui, Changpeng; Huo, Qingji; Xiong, Xue; Li, Kexin; Fishel, Melissa L.; Li, Baiyan; Yokota, Hiroki; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    PDAC (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) is a highly aggressive malignant tumor. We have previously developed induced tumor-suppressing cells (iTSCs) that secrete a group of tumor-suppressing proteins. Here, we examined a unique procedure to identify anticancer peptides (ACPs), using trypsin-digested iTSCs-derived protein fragments. Among the 10 ACP candidates, P04 (IGEHTPSALAIMENANVLAR) presented the most efficient anti-PDAC activities. P04 was derived from aldolase A (ALDOA), a glycolytic enzyme. Extracellular ALDOA, as well as P04, was predicted to interact with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and P04 downregulated oncoproteins such as Snail and Src. Importantly, P04 has no inhibitory effect on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). We also generated iTSCs by overexpressing ALDOA in MSCs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). iTSC-derived conditioned medium (CM) inhibited the progression of PDAC cells as well as PDAC tissue fragments. The inhibitory effect of P04 was additive to that of CM and chemotherapeutic drugs such as 5-Flu and gemcitabine. Notably, applying mechanical vibration to PBMCs elevated ALDOA and converted PBMCs into iTSCs. Collectively, this study presented a unique procedure for selecting anticancer P04 from ALDOA in an iTSCs-derived proteome for the treatment of PDAC.
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    Anticancer peptides from induced tumor-suppressing cells for inhibiting osteosarcoma cells
    (e-Century, 2023-09-15) Cui, Chang-Peng; Huo, Qing-Ji; Xiong, Xue; Li, Ke-Xin; Ma, Peng; Qiang, Gui-Fen; Pandya, Pankita H.; Saadatzadeh, Mohammad R.; Vishehsaraei, Khadijeh Bijangi; Kacena, Melissa A.; Aryal, Uma K.; Pollok, Karen E.; Li, Bai-Yan; Yokota, Hiroki; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most frequent primary bone cancer, which is mainly suffered by children and young adults. While the current surgical treatment combined with chemotherapy is effective for the early stage of OS, advanced OS preferentially metastasizes to the lung and is difficult to treat. Here, we examined the efficacy of ten anti-OS peptide candidates from a trypsin-digested conditioned medium that was derived from the secretome of induced tumor-suppressing cells (iTSCs). Using OS cell lines, the antitumor capabilities of the peptide candidates were evaluated by assaying the alterations in metabolic activities, proliferation, motility, and invasion of OS cells. Among ten candidates, peptide P05 (ADDGRPFPQVIK), a fragment of aldolase A (ALDOA), presented the most potent OS-suppressing capabilities. Its efficacy was additive with standard-of-care chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin and doxorubicin, and it downregulated oncoproteins such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), Snail, and Src in OS cells. Interestingly, P05 did not present inhibitory effects on non-OS skeletal cells such as mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblast cells. Collectively, this study demonstrated that iTSC-derived secretomes may provide a source for identifying anticancer peptides, and P05 may warrant further evaluations for the treatment of OS.
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    Limited Impacts of Thermoneutral Housing on Bone Morphology and Mechanical Properties in Growing Female Mice Exposed to External Loading and Raloxifene Treatment
    (Elsevier, 2021) Tastad, Carli A.; Kohler, Rachel; Wallace, Joseph M.; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Thermoregulation is an important factor that could have physiological consequences on pre-clinical research outcomes. Simply housing mice at thermoneutral temperature has been shown to prevent the well-established loss of cancellous bone that is typical in growing mice. In this study, active tissue formation was induced by non-invasive tibial loading in female mice and combined with raloxifene treatment to assess whether temperature could enhance their combined effects on bone morphology and mechanical properties. It was hypothesized that by removing the cold stress under which normal lab mice are housed, a metabolic boost would allow for further architectural and mechanical improvements in mice exposed to a combination of tibial loading and raloxifene. Ten-week old female C57BL/6J mice were treated with raloxifene, underwent tibial loading to a maximum tensile stress of 2050 με, and were housed in thermoneutral conditions (32 °C) for 6 weeks. We investigated bone morphology through microcomputed tomography (μCT), mechanical properties via four-point bending, and fracture toughness testing. Results confirmed previous work showing a combined effect of external loading and raloxifene which led to greater improvements in most properties than either individual treatment. Counter to the hypothesis, temperature had modest effects on body weight, overall bone size, and trabecular architecture, and most effects were detrimental. Thermoneutrality had no impact on mechanical integrity or fracture toughness. In most cases, the magnitude of temperature-based effects were less robust than either RAL treatment or loading.
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    Effects of Raloxifene and tibial loading on bone mass and mechanics in male and female mice
    (Taylor & Francis, 2022) Berman, Alycia G.; Damrath, John G.; Hatch, Jennifer; Pulliam, Alexis N.; Powell, Katherine M.; Hinton, Madicyn; Wallace, Joseph M.; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Raloxifene (RAL) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that has previously been shown to cause acellular benefits to bone tissue. Due to these improvements, RAL was combined with targeted tibial loading to assess if RAL treatment during periods of active bone formation would allow for further mechanical enhancements. To do so, structural, mechanical, and microstructural effects were assessed in bone from C57BL/6 mice that were treated with RAL (0.5 mg/kg), tibial loading, or both for 6 weeks, beginning at 10 weeks of age. Ex vivo microcomputed tomography (CT) images indicated RAL and loading work together to improve bone mass and architecture, especially within the cancellous region of males. Increases in cancellous bone volume fraction were heavily driven by increases in trabecular thickness, though there were some effects on trabecular spacing and number. In the cortical regions, RAL and loading both increased cross-sectional area, cortical area, and cortical thickness. Whole-bone mechanical testing primarily indicated effects of loading. Further characterization through Raman spectroscopy and nanoindentation showed load-based changes in mineralization and micromechanics, while both loading and RAL caused changes in the secondary collagen structure. In contrast to males, in females, there were large load-based effects in the cancellous and cortical regions, resulting in increased whole-bone mechanical properties. RAL had less of an effect on cancellous and cortical architecture, though some effects were still present. In conclusion, RAL and loading work together to impact bone architecture and mechanical integrity, leading to greater improvements than either treatment individually.
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    Parkinson‐like early autonomic dysfunction induced by vagal application of DOPAL in rats
    (Wiley, 2021) Sun, Jie; He, Chao; Yan, Qiu-Xin; Wang, Hong-Dan; Li, Ke-Xin; Sun, Xun; Feng, Yan; Zha, Rong-Rong; Cui, Chang-Peng; Xiong, Xue; Gao, Shan; Wang, Xue; Yin, Rui-Xue; Qiao, Guo-Fen; Li, Bai-Yan; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Aim: To understand why autonomic failures, a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD), occur earlier than typical motor disorders. Methods: Vagal application of DOPAL (3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde) to simulate PD-like autonomic dysfunction and understand the connection between PD and cardiovascular dysfunction. Molecular and morphological approaches were employed to test the time-dependent alternation of α-synuclein aggregation and the ultrastructure changes in the heart and nodose (NG)/nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). Results: Blood pressure (BP) and baroreflex sensitivity of DOPAL-treated rats were significantly reduced accompanied with a time-dependent change in orthostatic BP, consistent with altered echocardiography and cardiomyocyte mitochondrial ultrastructure. Notably, time-dependent and collaborated changes in Mon-/Tri-α-synuclein were paralleled with morphological alternation in the NG and NTS. Conclusion: These all demonstrate that early autonomic dysfunction mediated by vagal application of DOPAL highly suggests the plausible etiology of PD initiated from peripheral, rather than central site. It will provide a scientific basis for the prevention and early diagnosis of PD.
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    Control of Bone Matrix Properties by Osteocytes
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-01-18) Creecy, Amy; Damrath, John G.; Wallace, Joseph M.; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Osteocytes make up 90–95% of the cellular content of bone and form a rich dendritic network with a vastly greater surface area than either osteoblasts or osteoclasts. Osteocytes are well positioned to play a role in bone homeostasis by interacting directly with the matrix; however, the ability for these cells to modify bone matrix remains incompletely understood. With techniques for examining the nano- and microstructure of bone matrix components including hydroxyapatite and type I collagen becoming more widespread, there is great potential to uncover novel roles for the osteocyte in maintaining bone quality. In this review, we begin with an overview of osteocyte biology and the lacunar–canalicular system. Next, we describe recent findings from in vitro models of osteocytes, focusing on the transitions in cellular phenotype as they mature. Finally, we describe historical and current research on matrix alteration by osteocytes in vivo, focusing on the exciting potential for osteocytes to directly form, degrade, and modify the mineral and collagen in their surrounding matrix.
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    Probing osteocyte function in gelatin hydrogels with tunable viscoelasticity
    (American Chemical Society, 2021) Nguyen, Han D.; Sun, Xun; Yokota, Hiroki; Lin, Chien-Chi; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Bone is an attractive site for metastatic cancer cells and has been considered as "soil" for promoting tumor growth. However, accumulating evidence suggests that some bone cells (e.g., osteocytes) can actually suppress cancer cell migration and invasion via direct cell-cell contact and/or through cytokine secretion. Toward designing a biomimetic niche for supporting 3D osteocyte culture, we present here a gelatin-based hydrogel system with independently tunable matrix stiffness and viscoelasticity. In particular, we synthesized a bifunctional macromer, gelatin-norbornene-boronic acid (i.e., GelNB-BA), for covalent cross-linking with multifunctional thiol linkers [e.g., four-arm poly(ethylene glycol)-thiol or PEG4SH] to form thiol-NB hydrogels. The immobilized BA moieties in the hydrogel readily formed reversible boronate ester bonds with 1,3-diols on physically entrapped poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). Adjusting the compositions of GelNB-BA, PEG4SH, and PVA afforded hydrogels with independently tunable elasticity and viscoelasticity. With this new dynamic hydrogel platform, we investigated matrix mechanics-induced growth and cytokine secretion of encapsulated MLO-A5 pre-osteocytes. We discovered that more compliant or viscoelastic gels promoted A5 cell growth. On the other hand, cells encapsulated in stiffer gels secreted higher amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Finally, conditioned media (CM) collected from the encapsulated MLO-A5 cells (i.e., A5-CM) strongly inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and expression of tumor-activating genes. This new biomimetic hydrogel platform not only serves as a versatile matrix for investigating mechano-sensing in osteocytes but also provides a means to produce powerful anti-tumor CM.
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    The inhibition of pancreatic cancer progression by K-Ras-overexpressing mesenchymal stem cell-derived secretomes
    (Springer Nature, 2023-09-12) Huo, Qingji; Li, Kexin; Sun, Xun; Zhuang, Adam; Minami, Kazumasa; Tamari, Keisuke; Ogawa, Kazuhiko; Fishel, Melissa L.; Li, Bai‑Yan; Yokota, Hiroki; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer with poor survival. To explore an uncharted function of K-Ras proto-oncogene, K-Ras was activated in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and the effects of MSC conditioned medium (CM) on PDAC were examined. Overexpression of K-Ras elevated PI3K signaling in MSCs, and K-Ras/PI3K-activated MSC-derived CM reduced the proliferation and migration of tumor cells, as well as the growth of ex vivo freshly isolated human PDAC cultures. CM's anti-tumor capability was additive with Gemcitabine, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug in the treatment of PDAC. The systemic administration of CM in a mouse model suppressed the colonization of PDAC in the lung. MSC CM was enriched with Moesin (MSN), which acted as an extracellular tumor-suppressing protein by interacting with CD44. Tumor-suppressive CM was also generated by PKA-activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Collectively, this study demonstrated that MSC CM can be engineered to act as a tumor-suppressive agent by activating K-Ras and PI3K, and the MSN-CD44 regulatory axis is in part responsible for this potential unconventional option in the treatment of PDAC.
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    Characterization of the Electrical Properties of Mammalian Peripheral Nerve Laminae
    (Wiley, 2023) Horn, M. Ryne; Vetter, Christian; Bashirullah, Rizwan; Carr, Mike; Yoshida, Ken; Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology
    Background and objective: The intrinsic electrical material properties of the laminar components of the mammalian peripheral nerve bundle are important parameters necessary for the accurate simulation of the electrical interaction between nerve fibers and neural interfaces. Improvements in the accuracy of these parameters improve the realism of the simulation and enables realistic screening of novel devices used for extracellular recording and stimulation of mammalian peripheral nerves. This work aims to characterize these properties for mammalian peripheral nerves to build upon the resistive parameter set established by Weerasuriya et al. in 1984 for amphibian somatic peripheral nerves (frog sciatic nerve) that is currently used ubiquitously in the in-silico peripheral nerve modeling community. Methods: A custom designed characterization chamber was implemented and used to measure the radial and longitudinal impedance between 10 mHz and 50 kHz of freshly excised canine vagus nerves using four-point impedance spectroscopy. The impedance spectra were parametrically fitted to an equivalent circuit model to decompose and estimate the components of the various laminae. Histological sections of the electrically characterized nerves were then made to quantify the geometry and laminae thicknesses of the perineurium and epineurium. These measured values were then used to calculate the estimated intrinsic electrical properties, resistivity and permittivity, from the decomposed resistances and reactances. Finally, the estimated intrinsic electrical properties were used in a finite element method (FEM) model of the nerve characterization setup to evaluate the realism of the model. Results: The geometric measurements were as follows: nerve bundle (1.6 ± 0.6 mm), major nerve fascicle diameter (1.3 ± 0.23 mm), and perineurium thickness (13.8 ± 2.1 μm). The longitudinal resistivity of the endoneurium was estimated to be 0.97 ± 0.05 Ωm. The relative permittivity and resistivity of the perineurium were estimated to be 2018 ± 391 and 3.75 kΩm ± 981 Ωm, respectively. The relative permittivity and resistivity of the epineurium were found to be 9.4 × 106 ± 8.2 × 106 and 55.0 ± 24.4 Ωm, respectively. The root mean squared (RMS) error of the experimentally obtained values when used in the equivalent circuit model to determine goodness of fit against the measured impedance spectra was found to be 13.0 ± 10.7 Ω, 2.4° ± 1.3°. The corner frequency of the perineurium and epineurium were found to be 2.6 ± 1.0 kHz and 368.5 ± 761.9 Hz, respectively. A comparison between the FEM model in-silico impedance experiment against the ex-vivo methods had a RMS error of 159.0 ± 95.4 Ω, 20.7° ± 9.8°. Conclusion: Although the resistive values measured in the mammalian nerve are similar to those of the amphibian model, the relative permittivity of the laminae bring new information about the reactance and the corner frequency (frequency at peak reactance) of the peripheral nerve. The measured and estimated corner frequency are well within the range of most bioelectric signals, and are important to take into account when modeling the nerve and neural interfaces.