SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland)

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In calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD), microcalcifications originating from nanoscale calcifying vesicles disrupt the aortic valve (AV) leaflets, which consist of three (biomechanically) distinct layers: the fibrosa, spongiosa, and ventricularis. CAVD has no pharmacotherapy and lacks in vitro models as a result of complex valvular biomechanical features surrounding resident mechanosensitive valvular interstitial cells (VICs). We measured layer-specific mechanical properties of the human AV and engineered a three-dimensional (3D)-bioprinted CAVD model that recapitulates leaflet layer biomechanics for the first time. Human AV leaflet layers were separated by microdissection, and nanoindentation determined layer-specific Young’s moduli. Methacrylated gelatin (GelMA)/methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) hydrogels were tuned to duplicate layer-specific mechanical characteristics, followed by 3D-printing with encapsulated human VICs. Hydrogels were exposed to osteogenic media (OM) to induce microcalcification, and VIC pathogenesis was assessed by near infrared or immunofluorescence microscopy. Median Young’s moduli of the AV layers were 37.1, 15.4, and 26.9 kPa (fibrosa/spongiosa/ventricularis, respectively). The fibrosa and spongiosa Young’s moduli matched the 3D 5% GelMa/1% HAMA UV-crosslinked hydrogels. OM stimulation of VIC-laden bioprinted hydrogels induced microcalcification without apoptosis. We report the first layer-specific measurements of human AV moduli and a novel 3D-bioprinted CAVD model that potentiates microcalcification by mimicking the native AV mechanical environment. This work sheds light on valvular mechanobiology and could facilitate high-throughput drug-screening in CAVD.

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Hexagonally ordered arrays of polystyrene (PS) microspheres were prepared by a modified air-water self-assembly method. A detailed analysis of the air-water interface self-assembly process was conducted. Several parameters affect the quality of the monolayer colloidal crystals, i.e., the colloidal microsphere concentration on the latex, the surfactant concentration, the polystyrene microsphere diameter, the microsphere polydispersity, and the degree of sphericity of polystyrene microspheres. An abrupt change in surface tension was used to improve the quality of the monolayer colloidal crystal. Three typical microstructures, i.e., a cone, a pillar, and a binary structure were prepared by reactive-ion etching using a high-quality colloidal crystal mask. This study provides insight into the production of microsphere templates with flexible structures for large-area patterned materials.

Concepts: Colloid, Nanoparticle, Crystals, Colloidal chemistry, Photonic crystal, Colloidal crystal, Crystal, Materials science

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Electrochemical gas sensors are often used for identifying and quantifying redox-active analyte gases in the atmosphere. However, for amperometric sensors, the current signal is usually dependent on the electroactive surface area, which can become small when using microelectrodes and miniaturized devices. Microarray thin-film electrodes (MATFEs) are commercially available, low-cost devices that give enhanced current densities compared to mm-sized electrodes, but still give low current responses (e.g., less than one nanoamp), when detecting low concentrations of gases. To overcome this, we have modified the surface of the MATFEs by depositing platinum into the recessed holes to create arrays of 3D structures with high surface areas. Dendritic structures have been formed using an additive, lead acetate (Pb(OAc)₂) into the plating solution. One-step and two-step depositions were explored, with a total deposition time of 300 s or 420 s. The modified MATFEs were then studied for their behavior towards oxygen reduction in the room temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) [N8,2,2,2][NTf₂]. Significantly enhanced currents for oxygen were observed, ranging from 9 to 16 times the current of the unmodified MATFE. The highest sensitivity was obtained using a two-step deposition with a total time of 420 s, and both steps containing Pb(OAc)₂. This work shows that commercially-available microelectrodes can be favorably modified to give significantly enhanced analytical performances.

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Light-activated therapies are ideal for treating cancer because they are non-invasive and highly specific to the area of light application. Photothermal therapy (PTT) and photodynamic therapy (PDT) are two types of light-activated therapies that show great promise for treating solid tumors. In PTT, nanoparticles embedded within tumors emit heat in response to laser light that induces cancer cell death. In PDT, photosensitizers introduced to the diseased tissue transfer the absorbed light energy to nearby ground state molecular oxygen to produce singlet oxygen, which is a potent reactive oxygen species (ROS) that is toxic to cancer cells. Although PTT and PDT have been extensively evaluated as independent therapeutic strategies, they each face limitations that hinder their overall success. To overcome these limitations, we evaluated a dual PTT/PDT strategy for treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells mediated by a powerful combination of silica core/gold shell nanoshells (NSs) and palladium 10,10-dimethyl-5,15-bis(pentafluorophenyl)biladiene-based (Pd[DMBil1]-PEG750) photosensitizers (PSs), which enable PTT and PDT, respectively. We found that dual therapy works synergistically to induce more cell death than either therapy alone. Further, we determined that low doses of light can be applied in this approach to primarily induce apoptotic cell death, which is vastly preferred over necrotic cell death. Together, our results show that dual PTT/PDT using silica core/gold shell NSs and Pd[DMBil1]-PEG750 PSs is a comprehensive therapeutic strategy to non-invasively induce apoptotic cancer cell death.

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Due to the increasing use and production of nanomaterials (NMs), the ability to characterise their physical/chemical properties quickly and reliably has never been so important. Proper characterisation allows a thorough understanding of the material and its stability, and is critical to establishing dose-response curves to ascertain risks to human and environmental health. Traditionally, methods such as Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Field Flow Fractionation (FFF) and Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) have been favoured for size characterisation, due to their wide-availability and well-established protocols. Capillary Electrophoresis (CE) offers a faster and more cost-effective solution for complex dispersions including polydisperse or non-spherical NMs. CE has been used to rapidly separate NMs of varying sizes, shapes, surface modifications and compositions. This review will discuss the literature surrounding the CE separation techniques, detection and NM characteristics used for the analysis of a wide range of NMs. The potential of combining CE with mass spectrometry (CE-MS) will also be explored to further expand the characterisation of NMs, including the layer of biomolecules adsorbed to the surface of NMs in biological or environmental compartments, termed the acquired biomolecule corona. CE offers the opportunity to uncover new/poorly characterised low abundance and polar protein classes due to the high ionisation efficiency of CE-MS. Furthermore, the possibility of using CE-MS to characterise the poorly researched small molecule interactions within the NM corona is discussed.

Concepts: Scientific techniques, Transmission electron microscopy, Biochemistry, Stokes radius, Molecule, Gel electrophoresis, Oxygen, Electron

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Silicon nanowires (SiNWs) decorated by pulsed laser ablation with gold or copper nanoparticles (labeled as AuNPs@SiNWs and CuNPs@SiNWs) were investigated for their catalytic properties. Results demonstrated high catalytic performances in the Caryl-N couplings and subsequent carbonylations for gold and copper catalysts, respectively, that have no precedents in the literature. The excellent activity, attested by the very high turn over number (TON) values, was due both to the uniform coverage along the NW length and to the absence of the chemical shell surrounding the metal nanoparticles (MeNPs). A high recyclability was also observed and can be ascribed to the strong covalent interaction at the Me-Si interface by virtue of metal “silicides” formation.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Chemical equilibrium, Aluminium, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Ultraviolet, Chemical element, Nanoparticle

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In this work, the antimicrobial effect of silver nanoparticles in polyethylene based nanocomposites has been investigated using a non-conventional processing method to produce homogeneous materials. High energy ball milling under cryogenic conditions was used to achieve a powder of well-blended low-density polyethylene and commercial silver nanoparticles. The final composites in the form of films were obtained by hot pressing. The effect of various silver nanoparticles content (0, 0.5, 1 and 2 wt %) on the properties of low-density polyethylene and the antimicrobial effectiveness of the composite against DH5α Escherichia coli were studied. The presence of silver nanoparticles did not seem to affect the surface energy and thermal properties of the materials. Apart from the inhibition of bacterial growth, slight changes in the aspect ratio of the bacteria with the content of particles were observed, suggesting a direct relationship between the presence of silver nanoparticles and the proliferation of DH5α E. coli (Escherichia coli) cells. Results indicate that these materials may be used to commercially produce antimicrobial polymers with potential applications in the food and health industries.

Concepts: Aspect ratio, Escherichia, Genetics, Enterobacteriaceae, Gut flora, Proteobacteria, Bacteria, Escherichia coli

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Various types of nanomaterials and alignment layers are considered major components of the next generation of advanced liquid crystal devices. While the steady-state properties of ion-capturing/ion-releasing processes in liquid crystals doped with nanoparticles and sandwiched between alignment films are relatively well understood, the kinetics of these phenomena remains practically unexplored. In this paper, the time dependence of ion-capturing/ion-releasing processes in liquid crystal cells utilizing contaminated nanoparticles and alignment layers is analyzed. The ionic contamination of both nanodopants and alignment films governs the switching between ion-capturing and ion-releasing regimes. The time dependence (both monotonous and non-monotonous) of these processes is characterized by time constants originated from the presence of nanoparticles and films, respectively. These time constants depend on the ion adsorption/ion desorption parameters and can be tuned by changing the concentration of nanoparticles, their size, and the cell thickness.

Concepts: Liquid crystals, Colloidal crystal, Crystal structure, Solid, Blue Phase Mode LCD, Liquid crystal display, Liquid crystal, Crystal

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The relative uptake and mechanisms of lipid-based emulsions of three different particle diameters by Caco-2 cells were studied. The corn oil-sodium caseinate emulsions showed little or no cytotoxicity even at 2 mg/mL protein concentration for any of the three droplet size emulsions. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) of Nile red containing emulsions showed that the lipid-based emulsions were absorbed by Caco-2 cells. A negative correlation between the mean droplet size and cellular uptake was observed. There was a time-dependent and energy-dependent uptake as shown by incubation at different times and treatment with sodium azide a general inhibitor of active transport. The endocytosis of lipid-based emulsions was size-dependent. The internalization of nanoemulsion droplets into Caco-2 cells mainly occurred through clathrin- and caveolae/lipid raft-related pathways, while macropinocytosis route played the most important role for 556 nm emulsion endocytosis as shown by the use of specific pathway inhibitors. Permeability of the emulsion through the apical or basal routes also suggested that active transport may be the main route for lipid-based nanoemulsions. The results may assist in the design and application of lipid-based nanoemulsions in nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals delivery.

Concepts: Cell, Water, Azide, Protein, Emulsion, Endocytosis, Surface tension, Liquid

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Raman scattering and its particular effect, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), are whole-organism fingerprinting spectroscopic techniques that gain more and more popularity in bacterial detection. In this work, two relevant Gram-positive bacteria species, Lactobacillus casei (L. casei) and Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) were characterized based on their Raman and SERS spectral fingerprints. The SERS spectra were used to identify the biochemical structures of the bacterial cell wall. Two synthesis methods of the SERS-active nanomaterials were used and the recorded spectra were analyzed. L. casei and L. monocytogenes were successfully discriminated by applying Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to their specific spectral data.

Concepts: Bacteriology, Lactobacillus, Raman spectroscopy, Bacterial cell structure, Spectroscopy, Listeria, Microbiology, Bacteria