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1.  Standardized Serum-Free Cryomedia Maintain Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Viability, Recovery, and Antigen-Specific T-Cell Response Compared to Fetal Calf Serum-Based Medium 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2011;9(3):229-236.
The ability to analyze cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from biobanks for antigen-specific T-cell immunity is necessary to evaluate responses to immune-based therapies. Comprehensive studies have demonstrated that the quality of frozen PBMCs is critical and the maintenance of cell viability and functionality by using appropriate cryopreservation techniques is a key to the successful outcome of assays using PBMCs. Different cryomedia additives affect cell viability. The most common additive is fetal calf serum (FCS), although it is widely known that each FCS lot has to be tested before usage to prevent nonspecific stimulation of T-cells. Also, shipping of samples containing FCS is critical because of many import restrictions. Often, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is added as a cryoprotectant. However, DMSO concentration has to be reduced significantly because of its toxic effect on cells at room temperature. Therefore, we have developed freezing approaches to minimize cytotoxicity of cryoprotectants and maintain T-cell functionality. We compared different additives to the widely used FCS and found bovine serum albumin fraction V to be an appropriate substitute for the potentially immune-modulating FCS. We also found that DMSO concentration can be reduced by the addition of hydroxyethyl starch. Using our serum-free cryomedia, the PBMC recovery was more than 83% and the PBMC viability was more than 98%. Also, the T-cell functionality measured by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) was optimal after cryopreservation with our new cryomedia. On the basis of our experimental results, we could finally design 2 different, fully working cryomedia that are standardized, serum free, and manufactured under GMP conditions.
PMCID: PMC3178417  PMID: 21977240
2.  Biocompatible micro-sized cell culture chamber for the detection of nanoparticle-induced IL8 promoter activity on a small cell population 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):505.
In most conventional in vitro toxicological assays, the response of a complete cell population is averaged, and therefore, single-cell responses are not detectable. Such averaging might result in misinterpretations when only individual cells within a population respond to a certain stimulus. Therefore, there is a need for non-invasive in vitro systems to verify the toxicity of nanoscale materials. In the present study, a micro-sized cell culture chamber with a silicon nitride membrane (0.16 mm2) was produced for cell cultivation and the detection of specific cell responses. The biocompatibility of the microcavity chip (MCC) was verified by studying adipogenic and neuronal differentiation. Thereafter, the suitability of the MCC to study the effects of nanoparticles on a small cell population was determined by using a green fluorescence protein-based reporter cell line. Interleukin-8 promoter (pIL8) induction, a marker of an inflammatory response, was used to monitor immune activation. The validation of the MCC-based method was performed using well-characterized gold and silver nanoparticles. The sensitivity of the new method was verified comparing the quantified pIL8 activation via MCC-based and standard techniques. The results proved the biocompatibility and the sensitivity of the microculture chamber, as well as a high optical quality due to the properties of Si3N4. The MCC-based method is suited for threshold- and time-dependent analysis of nanoparticle-induced IL8 promoter activity. This novel system can give dynamic information at the level of adherent single cells of a small cell population and presents a new non-invasive in vitro test method to assess the toxicity of nanomaterials and other compounds.
PACS: 85.35.Be, 81.16.Nd, 87.18.Mp
PMCID: PMC3212020  PMID: 21861875
micro-sized cell culture chamber; inflammation; nanoparticles
3.  Nanoparticulate Transport of Oximes over an In Vitro Blood-Brain Barrier Model 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14213.
Due to the use of organophosphates (OP) as pesticides and the availability of OP-type nerve agents, an effective medical treatment for OP poisonings is still a challenging problem. The acute toxicity of an OP poisoning is mainly due to the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in the peripheral and central nervous systems (CNS). This results in an increase in the synaptic concentration of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, overstimulation of cholinergic receptors and disorder of numerous body functions up to death. The standard treatment of OP poisoning includes a combination of a muscarinic antagonist and an AChE reactivator (oxime). However, these oximes can not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) sufficiently. Therefore, new strategies are needed to transport oximes over the BBB.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we combined different oximes (obidoxime dichloride and two different HI 6 salts, HI 6 dichloride monohydrate and HI 6 dimethanesulfonate) with human serum albumin nanoparticles and could show an oxime transport over an in vitro BBB model. In general, the nanoparticulate transported oximes achieved a better reactivation of OP-inhibited AChE than free oximes.
With these nanoparticles, for the first time, a tool exists that could enable a transport of oximes over the BBB. This is very important for survival after severe OP intoxication. Therefore, these nanoparticulate formulations are promising formulations for the treatment of the peripheral and the CNS after OP poisoning.
PMCID: PMC2997055  PMID: 21151975
4.  Neuro-Muscular Differentiation of Adult Porcine Skin Derived Stem Cell-Like Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8968.
Due to the genetic relationship to humans, porcine stem cells are a very important model system to investigate cell differentiation, associated cell signaling pathways, and cell fate. Porcine skin derived stem cells have been isolated from mid-gestation porcine fetus recently. To our knowledge, stem cells from the skin of the adult porcine organism have not been isolated until now. Hence, to our knowledge, we here describe the isolation, expansion, characterization and differentiation of multipotent porcine skin derived stem cell-like cells (pSSCs) from the adult porcine organism for the first time.
Methodology/Principal Findings
pSSCs had a spindle shaped morphology similar to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). They could be maintained proliferatively active in vitro for more than 120 days and were able to form colonies from single cells. pSSCs expressed Sox2 and Oct3/4, both transcription factors essential to the pluripotent and self-renewing phenotypes of embryonic stem cells, which recently gained attention due to their function in inducing pluripotent stem cells. Furthermore, the expression of the progenitor marker nestin, the somatic stem cell markers Bcrp1/ABCG2, Bmi1, and Stat3 was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in undifferentiated pSSCs. Flow cytometry revealed the expression of the MSC related proteins CD9, CD29, CD44 and CD105, but not CD90. After neuronal differentiation cells with a characteristic morphology of neuronal and smooth muscle-like cells were present in the cultures. Subsequent immunochemistry and flow cytometry revealed the down-regulation of nestin and the up-regulation of the neuron specific protein beta-III-tubulin and the astrocyte marker GFAP. Also, alpha-SMA expressing cells increased during differentiation suggesting the neuro-muscular differentiation of these skin derived cells. pSSCs could also be induced to differentiate into adipocyte-like cells when cultured under specific conditions.
Adult porcine skin harbors a population of stem cell-like cells (pSSCs) that can be isolated via enzymatic digestion. These pSSCs show characteristic features of MSCs originated in other tissues and express the embryonic stem cell marker Oct3/4, Sox2, and Stat3. Furthermore, pSSCs have the potential to differentiate into cells from two different germ lines, the ectoderm (neurons, astrocytes) and the mesoderm (smooth muscle cells, adipocytes).
PMCID: PMC2813294  PMID: 20126464
5.  Characterization of a Virtually Full-Length Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Genome of a Prevalent Intersubtype (C/B′) Recombinant Strain in China 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(23):11367-11376.
A molecular epidemiology study was conducted among more than 100 human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C seropositive intravenous drug users (IDUs) from China. Genotyping based on the envelope C2V3 coding region revealed the highest homology of the most prevalent virus strains circulating throughout China to subtype C sequences of Indian origin. Based on these results, a virtually full-length genome representing the most prevalent class of clade C strains circulating throughout China was directly amplified from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of a selected HIV-infected IDU and subcloned. Sequence analysis identified a mosaic structure, suggesting extensive intersubtype recombination events between genomes of the prevalent clade C and (B′)-subtype Thai virus strains of that geographic region. Recombinant Identification Program analysis and phylogenetic bootstrapping suggested that there were 10 breakpoints (i) in the gag-pol coding region, (ii) in vpr and at the 3′ end of the vpu gene, and (iii) in the nef open reading frame. (B′)-sequences therefore include (i) several insertions in the gag-pol coding region; (ii) 3′-vpr, the complete vpu gene, and the first exons of tat and rev; and (iii) the 5′ half of the nef gene. Breakpoints located in the vpr/vpu coding region as well as in the nef gene of 97cn54 were found at almost identical positions of all subtype C strains isolated from IDUs living in different areas of China, suggesting a common ancestor for the C/B′ recombinant strains. More than 50% of well-defined subtype B-derived cytotoxic T-lymphocyte epitopes within Gag and Pol and 10% of the known epitopes in Env were found to exactly match sequences within in this clade C/B′ chimeric reference strain. These results may substantially facilitate a biological comparison of clade C-derived reference strains as well as the generation of useful reagents supporting vaccine-related efforts in China.
PMCID: PMC113242  PMID: 11070037
6.  Functional Characterization of Two scFv-Fc Antibodies from an HIV Controller Selected on Soluble HIV-1 Env Complexes: A Neutralizing V3- and a Trimer-Specific gp41 Antibody 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97478.
HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) represent an important tool in view of prophylactic and therapeutic applications for HIV-1 infection. Patients chronically infected by HIV-1 represent a valuable source for nAbs. HIV controllers, including long-term non-progressors (LTNP) and elite controllers (EC), represent an interesting subgroup in this regard, as here nAbs can develop over time in a rather healthy immune system and in the absence of any therapeutic selection pressure. In this study, we characterized two particular antibodies that were selected as scFv antibody fragments from a phage immune library generated from an LTNP with HIV neutralizing antibodies in his plasma. The phage library was screened on recombinant soluble gp140 envelope (Env) proteins. Sequencing the selected peptide inserts revealed two major classes of antibody sequences. Binding analysis of the corresponding scFv-Fc derivatives to various trimeric and monomeric Env constructs as well as to peptide arrays showed that one class, represented by monoclonal antibody (mAb) A2, specifically recognizes an epitope localized in the pocket binding domain of the C heptad repeat (CHR) in the ectodomain of gp41, but only in the trimeric context. Thus, this antibody represents an interesting tool for trimer identification. MAb A7, representing the second class, binds to structural elements of the third variable loop V3 and neutralizes tier 1 and tier 2 HIV-1 isolates of different subtypes with matching critical amino acids in the linear epitope sequence. In conclusion, HIV controllers are a valuable source for the selection of functionally interesting antibodies that can be selected on soluble gp140 proteins with properties from the native envelope spike.
PMCID: PMC4020869  PMID: 24828352
7.  Tracking of Magnetite Labeled Nanoparticles in the Rat Brain Using MRI 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92068.
This study was performed to explore the feasibility of tracing nanoparticles for drug transport in the healthy rat brain with a clinical MRI scanner. Phantom studies were performed to assess the R1 ( =  1/T1) relaxivity of different magnetically labeled nanoparticle (MLNP) formulations that were based on biodegradable human serum albumin and that were labeled with magnetite of different size. In vivo MRI measurements in 26 rats were done at 3T to study the effect and dynamics of MLNP uptake in the rat brain and body. In the brain, MLNPs induced T1 changes were quantitatively assessed by T1 relaxation time mapping in vivo and compared to post-mortem results from fluorescence imaging. Following intravenous injection of MLNPs, a visible MLNP uptake was seen in the liver and spleen while no visual effect was seen in the brain. However a histogram analysis of T1 changes in the brain demonstrated global and diffuse presence of MLNPs. The magnitude of these T1 changes scaled with post-mortem fluorescence intensity. This study demonstrates the feasibility of tracking even small amounts of magnetite labeled NPs with a sensitive histogram technique in the brain of a living rodent.
PMCID: PMC3954869  PMID: 24633006
8.  Nanoparticulate flurbiprofen reduces amyloid-β42 generation in an in vitro blood–brain barrier model 
The amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) peptide plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common neurodegenerative disorder affecting the elderly. Over the past years, several approaches and compounds developed for the treatment of AD have failed in clinical studies, likely in part due to their low penetration of the blood–brain barrier (BBB). Since nanotechnology-based strategies offer new possibilities for the delivery of drugs to the brain, this technique is studied intensively for the treatment of AD and other neurological disorders.
The Aβ42 lowering drug flurbiprofen was embedded in polylactide (PLA) nanoparticles by emulsification-diffusion technique and their potential as drug carriers in an in vitro BBB model was examined. First, the cytotoxic potential of the PLA-flurbiprofen nanoparticles on endothelial cells and the cellular binding and uptake by endothelial cells was studied. Furthermore, the biological activity of the nanoparticulate flurbiprofen on γ-secretase modulation as well as its in vitro release was examined. Furthermore, the protein corona of the nanoparticles was studied as well as their ability to transport flurbiprofen across an in vitro BBB model.
PLA-flurbiprofen nanoparticles were endocytosed by endothelial cells and neither affected the vitality nor barrier function of the endothelial cell monolayer. The exposure of the PLA-flurbiprofen nanoparticles to human plasma occurred in a rapid protein corona formation, resulting in their decoration with bioactive proteins, including apolipoprotein E. Furthermore, luminally administered PLA-flurbiprofen nanoparticles in contrast to free flurbiprofen were able to modulate γ-secretase activity by selectively decreasing Aβ42 levels in the abluminal compartment of the BBB model.
In this study, we were able to show that flurbiprofen can be transported by PLA nanoparticles across an in vitro BBB model and most importantly, the transported flurbiprofen modulated γ-secretase activity by selectively decreasing Aβ42 levels. These results demonstrate that the modification of drugs via embedding in nanoparticles is a promising tool to facilitate drug delivery to the brain, which enables future development for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like AD.
PMCID: PMC3978673  PMID: 24280275
9.  An Automated HIV-1 Env-Pseudotyped Virus Production for Global HIV Vaccine Trials 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51715.
Infections with HIV still represent a major human health problem worldwide and a vaccine is the only long-term option to fight efficiently against this virus. Standardized assessments of HIV-specific immune responses in vaccine trials are essential for prioritizing vaccine candidates in preclinical and clinical stages of development. With respect to neutralizing antibodies, assays with HIV-1 Env-pseudotyped viruses are a high priority. To cover the increasing demands of HIV pseudoviruses, a complete cell culture and transfection automation system has been developed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The automation system for HIV pseudovirus production comprises a modified Tecan-based Cellerity system. It covers an area of 5×3 meters and includes a robot platform, a cell counting machine, a CO2 incubator for cell cultivation and a media refrigerator. The processes for cell handling, transfection and pseudovirus production have been implemented according to manual standard operating procedures and are controlled and scheduled autonomously by the system. The system is housed in a biosafety level II cabinet that guarantees protection of personnel, environment and the product. HIV pseudovirus stocks in a scale from 140 ml to 1000 ml have been produced on the automated system. Parallel manual production of HIV pseudoviruses and comparisons (bridging assays) confirmed that the automated produced pseudoviruses were of equivalent quality as those produced manually. In addition, the automated method was fully validated according to Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) guidelines, including the validation parameters accuracy, precision, robustness and specificity.
An automated HIV pseudovirus production system has been successfully established. It allows the high quality production of HIV pseudoviruses under GCLP conditions. In its present form, the installed module enables the production of 1000 ml of virus-containing cell culture supernatant per week. Thus, this novel automation facilitates standardized large-scale productions of HIV pseudoviruses for ongoing and upcoming HIV vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC3531445  PMID: 23300558
10.  Uptake Mechanism of ApoE-Modified Nanoparticles on Brain Capillary Endothelial Cells as a Blood-Brain Barrier Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32568.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) represents an insurmountable obstacle for most drugs thus obstructing an effective treatment of many brain diseases. One solution for overcoming this barrier is a transport by binding of these drugs to surface-modified nanoparticles. Especially apolipoprotein E (ApoE) appears to play a major role in the nanoparticle-mediated drug transport across the BBB. However, at present the underlying mechanism is incompletely understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, the uptake of the ApoE-modified nanoparticles into the brain capillary endothelial cells was investigated to differentiate between active and passive uptake mechanism by flow cytometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Furthermore, different in vitro co-incubation experiments were performed with competing ligands of the respective receptor.
This study confirms an active endocytotic uptake mechanism and shows the involvement of low density lipoprotein receptor family members, notably the low density lipoprotein receptor related protein, on the uptake of the ApoE-modified nanoparticles into the brain capillary endothelial cells. This knowledge of the uptake mechanism of ApoE-modified nanoparticles enables future developments to rationally create very specific and effective carriers to overcome the blood-brain barrier.
PMCID: PMC3291552  PMID: 22396775

Results 1-10 (10)