[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-resolution imaging of bacterial capsules by microscopy is of paramount importance in microbiology due to their role in pathogenesis. This is, however, quite a challenging task due to their delicate nature. In this context, recent reports have claimed successful exploitation of the capacity of atomic force microscopy (AFM) for imaging of extremely deformable (even liquid) surfaces under ambient conditions to detect bacterial capsules in the form of tiny amounts of liquid-like substances around bacteria. In order to further explore this supposed capacity of AFM, in this work, three staphylococcal strains have been scrutinized for the presence of capsules using such an AFM-based approach with a phosphate buffer and water as the suspending liquids. Similar results were obtained with the three strains. AFM showed the presence of liquid-like substances identical to those attributed to bacterial capsules in the previous literature. Extensive imaging and chemical analysis point out the central role of the suspending liquid (buffer) in the formation of these substances. The phenomenon has been reproduced even by using nonliving particles, a finding that refutes the biological origin of the liquid-like substances visualized around the cells. Deliquescence of major components of biological buffers, such as K(2)HPO(4), CaCl(2), or HEPES, is proposed as the fundamental mechanism of the formation of these ultrasmall liquid-like structures. Such an origin could explain the high similarity of our results obtained with three very different strains and also the high similarity of these results to others reported in the literature based on other bacteria and suspending liquids. Finally, possible biological/biomedical implications of the presence of these ultrasmall amounts of liquids wrapping microorganisms are discussed.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 03/2011; 77(9):3102-14. · 3.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patterned surfaces direct cell spatial dynamics, yielding cells oriented along the surface geometry, in a process known as contact guidance. The Rho family of GTPases controls the assembly of focal adhesions and cytoskeleton dynamics, but its role in modulating bone-cell alignment on patterned surfaces remains unknown. This article describes the interactions of two human cell types involved in osseointegration, specifically mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblasts, with submicron- or nano-scale Ti6Al4V grooved surfaces generated by mechanical abrasion. The surface chemistry of the alloy was not affected by grinding, ensuring that the differences found in cellular responses were exclusively due to changes in topography. Patterned surfaces supported cell growth and stimulated mesenchymal stem cell viability. Anisotropic surfaces promoted cell orientation and elongation along the grates. Both cell types oriented on nanometric surfaces with grooves of 150 nm depth and 2 μm width. The number of aligned cells increased by approximately 30% on submicrometric grooves with sizes of about 1 μm depth and 10 μm width. Cells were treated with drugs that attenuate the activities of the GTPase RhoA and one of its downstream effectors, Rho-associated kinase (ROCK), and contact guidance of treated cells on the grooved surfaces was investigated. The data indicate that the RhoA/ROCK pathway is a key modulator of both mesenchymal stem cell and osteoblast orientation on nanometric surface features. RhoA and its effector participate in the alignment of mesenchymal stem cells on submicrometric grooves, but not of osteoblasts. These findings show that RhoA/ROCK signaling is involved in contact guidance of bone-related cells on metallic substrates, although to a varying extent depending on the specific cell type and the dimensions of the pattern.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The colonization of an implant surface by bacteria is an extremely important medical problem, which often leads to the failure of medical devices. Modern surface modification techniques, such as ion implantation, can confer to the surfaces very different properties from those of the bulk underlying material. In this work, austenitic stainless steel 316 LVM has been superficially modified by Si+ ion implantation. The effect of surface modification on the biocompatibility and bacterial adhesion to 316 LVM stainless steel has been investigated. To this aim, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), as precursor of osteoblastic cells, and bacterial strains relevant in infections related to orthopedic implants, i.e., Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, have been assayed. For the understanding of changes in the biological response associated to ion implantation, variations in the chemical surface composition, topography, surface Gibbs energy, isoelectric point and in vitro corrosion behavior have been evaluated. hMSCs adhesion, viability and differentiation to the osteoblastic lineage were unaffected by Si+ ion implantation. On the other hand, Si+ ion implantation diminished the number of attached bacteria in static conditions and led to smaller adhesion rates and retention strength. The ability of implanted surfaces to reduce the bacterial adhesion was higher for Staphylococcus epidermidis than for Staphylococcus aureus. This study proposes Si+ ion implantation as an effective way of reducing bacterial adhesion on 316 LVM stainless steel surfaces without compromising its good biocompatibility.
Materials Science and Engineering C 01/2011; 31(7):1567-1576. · 2.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The colonization of an implant surface by bacteria is an extremely important medical problem, which often leads to the failure of medical devices. Modern surface modification techniques, such as ion implantation, can confer to the surfaces very different properties from those of the bulk underlying material. In this work, austenitic stainless steel 316 LVM has been superficially modified by Si + ion implantation. The effect of surface modification on the biocompatibility and bacterial adhesion to 316 LVM stainless steel has been investigated. To this aim, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), as precursor of osteoblastic cells, and bacterial strains relevant in infections related to orthopedic implants, i.e., Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, have been assayed. For the understanding of changes in the biological response associated to ion implantation, variations in the chemical surface composition, topography, surface Gibbs energy, isoelectric point and in vitro corrosion behavior have been evaluated. hMSCs adhesion, viability and differentiation to the osteoblastic lineage were unaffected by Si + ion implantation. On the other hand, Si + ion implantation diminished the number of attached bacteria in static conditions and led to smaller adhesion rates and retention strength. The ability of implanted surfaces to reduce the bacterial adhesion was higher for Staphylococcus epidermidis than for Staphylococcus aureus. This study proposes Si + ion implantation as an effective way of reducing bacterial adhesion on 316 LVM stainless steel surfaces without compromising its good biocompatibility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Soft lithography comprises a set of approaches for shaping the surface of soft materials such as PDMS on the microscopic scales. These procedures usually begin with the development of templates/masters normally generated by electron or photolithography techniques. However, the richness in available shapes is limited, usually producing shapes containing sharp parts. Innovation is called for to develop reliable approaches capable of imparting well-defined 3D curved shapes to these solids, a topology that is somehow unnatural for solid surfaces. Here we report on the use of tiny drops of room-temperature ionic liquid, organic liquids that have attracted increasing amounts of attention in recent years because of their unique chemical properties) as a versatile platform for imprinting PDMS with tunable 3D curved geometry, which is out of reach of conventional lithographic techniques and ranges from almost flat depressions to almost closed cavities on the millimeter to micrometer scale. The concept exploits a peculiar combination of physical properties displayed by ionic liquids as their null volatility and their polarity, together with some unique properties of liquid surfaces as their virtually null surface roughness. Proof-of-concept experiments show their application as chemical microreactors and ultrasmooth optical lenses. This all-liquid method is simple, low-cost, versatile, maskless, tension-free, and easily scalable, so we envision a community-wide application in numerous modern physical, chemical, biological, and engineering settings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The investigation of micro- and nanoscale droplets on solid surfaces offers a wide range of research opportunities both at a fundamental and an applied level. On the fundamental side, advances in the techniques for production and imaging of such ultrasmall droplets will allow wetting theories to be tested down to the nanometer scale, where they predict the significant influence of phenomena such as the contact line tension or evaporation, which can be neglected in the case of macroscopic droplets. On the applied side, these advances will pave the way for characterizing a diverse set of industrially important materials such as textile or biomedical micro- and nanofibers, powdered solids, and topographically or chemically nanopatterned surfaces, as well as micro-and nanoscale devices, with relevance in diverse industries from biomedical to petroleum engineering. Here, the basic principles of wetting at the micro- and nanoscales are presented, and the essential characteristics of the main experimental techniques available for producing and imaging these droplets are described. In addition, the main fundamental and applied results are reviewed. The most problematic aspects of studying such ultrasmall droplets, and the developments that are in progress that are thought to circumvent them in the coming years, are highlighted.
Small 07/2009; 5(12):1366-90. · 7.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AFM probing of microbial cells in liquid environments usually requires them to be physically or chemically attached to a solid surface. The fixation mechanisms may influence the nanomechanical characterization done by force curve mapping using an AFM. To study the response of a microbial cell surface to this kind of local measurement this study attempts to overcome the problem associated to the uncertainties introduced by the different fixation treatments by analysing the surface of Staphylococcus epidermidis cells naturally (non-artificially mediated) immobilised on a glass support surface. The particularities of this natural bacterial fixation process for AFM surface analysis are discussed in terms of theoretical predictions of the XDLVO model applied to the systems bacteria/support substratum and bacteria/AFM tip immersed in water. In this sense, in the first part of this study the conditions for adequate natural fixation of three S. epidermidis strains have been analyzed by taking into account the geometries of the bacterium, substrate and tip. In the second part, bacteria are probed without the risk of any possible artefacts due to the mechanical or chemical fixation procedures. Forces measured over the successfully adhered cells have (directly) shown that the untreated bacterial surface suffers from a combination of both reversible and non-reversible deformations during acquisition of force curves all taken under the same operational conditions. This is revealed directly through high-resolution tapping-mode imaging of the bacterial surface immediately following force curve mapping. The results agree with the two different types of force curves that were repeatedly obtained. Interestingly, one type of these force curves suggests that the AFM tip is breaking (rather than pushing) the cell surface during acquisition of the force curve. In this case, adhesive peaks were always observed, suggesting a mechanical origin of the measured pull-off forces. The other type of force curves shows no adhesive peaks and exhibits juxtaposing of approaching and retraction curves, reflecting elastic deformations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thermal oxidation of Ti6Al4V increases the thickness, modifies the structure, and changes the amount of alloying elements of the surface titanium dioxide layer with respect to the spontaneous passive layer of Ti6Al4V. The effects on the surface properties of Ti6Al4V and thermally oxidized Ti6Al4V after different periods of UV irradiation have been studied by measurement of water, formamide, and diiodomethane contact angles. The rate of modification of the water contact angle with the irradiation time is dependent on the surface treatment, but the water adhesion work, after an initial energetic step, follows a similar trend for both. Application of the Young equation together with the van Oss approach allowed evaluation of the surface Gibbs energy of the alloys. Similar to the water adhesion work, the surface Gibbs energy dependence on the irradiation time follows a similar trend for both samples and it is due to the change of the electron-donor parameter of the acid-base component. Also, a linear relationship common for both samples has been obtained between the cosines of the water contact angle and the formamide or diiodomethane contact angle. These facts indicate that the surface modification continuously produced by the UV irradiation is similar all along the process and similar for both samples after an energetic threshold for the thermally oxidized sample. It has been also tested that the hydrophilic-hydrophobic conversion is reversible for Ti6Al4V and Ti6Al4V thermally treated.
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 05/2008; 320(1):117-24. · 3.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have investigated a novel ultrafine grained (UFG) Zr obtained by severe plastic deformation (SPD) which resulted in a refinement of the grain size by several orders of magnitude. Compared to conventional Zr, higher hardness values were measured on UFG Zr. Polished surfaces having similar topographical features from both materials were prepared, as assessed by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Surface hydrophobicity of Zr, evaluated by measuring water contact angles, was unaffected by grain size reduction. In vitro biocompatibility was addressed on conventional and UFG Zr surfaces and, for comparative purposes, a polished Ti6Al4V alloy was also investigated. Cell attachment and spreading, actin and beta-tubulin cytoskeleton reorganisation, fibronectin secretion and cellular distribution as well as cell viability were evaluated by culturing human osteoblastic Saos-2 cells on the surfaces. The osteoblastic response to conventional Zr was found to be essentially identical to Ti6Al4V and was not affected by grain size reduction. In order to evaluate the ability of the surfaces to promote osteogenic maturation and bone matrix mineralisation, human mesenchymal cells from bone marrow were switched to the osteoblastic phenotype by incubation in osteogenic induction media. Compared to undifferentiated mesenchymal cells, alkaline phosphatase activity and formation of mineralisation nodules were enhanced to the same extent on both Zr surfaces and Ti6Al4V alloy after induction of osteoblastic differentiation. In summary, improved mechanical properties together with excellent in vitro biocompatibility make UFG Zr a promising biomaterial for surgical implants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the field of biomaterials surfaces, the ability of the atomic force microscope (AFM) to access the surface structure at unprecedented spatial (vertical and lateral) resolution, is helping in a better understanding on how topography affects the overall interaction of biological cells with the material surface. Since cells in a wide range of sizes are in contact with the biomaterial surface, a quantification of the surface structure in such a wide range of dimensional scales is needed. With the advent of the AFM, this can be routinely done in the lab. In this work, we show that even when it is clear that such a scale-dependent study is needed, AFM maps of the biomaterial surface taken at different scanning lengths are not completely consistent when they are taken at the same scanning resolution, as it is usually done: AFM images of different scanning areas have different point-to-point physical distances. We show that this effect influences the quantification of the average (R(a)) and rms (R(q)) roughness parameters determined at different length scales. This is the first time this inconsistency is reported and should be taken into account when roughness is measured in this way. Since differences will be in general in the range of nanometres, this is especially interesting for those processes involving the interaction of the biomaterial surface with small biocolloids as bacteria, while this effect should not represent any problems for larger animal cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article presents a study on the influence of the protocol used for immobilization of bacterial cells onto surfaces by mechanically trapping them into a filter. In this sense, the surface and structure of trapped cells are analyzed. Bacteria can be present solely or with extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). To test the behavior of the EPS layer duing the filtering process, different strains of a well-known EPS-producer bacteria (Staphylococcus epidermidis), which produce an extracellular matrix clearly visible in AFM images, have been used. Results show that this immobilization method can cause severe structural and mechanical deformation to the cell membrane. This altered mechanical state may possibly influence the parameters derived from AFM force curves (which are micro/nano-mechanical tests). Also, our results suggest that the EPS layer might move during the filtering process and could accumulate at the upper part of the cell, thus favoring distorted data of adhesion/pull-off forces as measured by an AFM tip, especially in the case of submicron-sized microbial cells such as bacteria.
Microscopy and Microanalysis 03/2007; 13(1):55-64. · 2.50 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to show that surface area is not always a quantity proportional to the surface roughness, we have constructed simple surfaces consisting of boxes of the same height equally spaced, and rms roughness and surface area have been computed. We have shown how we can get examples of surface configurations for which an increment in the surface roughness corresponds to a decrease in the surface area, although this is observed only for surfaces having similar rms roughness. We have also shown that even in the more intuitive situations where an increase in the surface roughness leads to an increase in the surface area, this increase is not necessarily equivalent. Analogous conclusions have been found when roughness was evaluated through the average roughness. These results could be interesting when analyzing interfacial phenomena such as cell adhesion, especially from a microscopic point of view, where the exact contact area between interacting phases governs these phenomena, and an exact-as-possible approximation to its real value is desirable. Also, the results of this paper could be of interest in various biomedical applications where the modulation of material surface-by-surface roughness may play a significant role. It can be concluded that care should be taken when using roughness parameters as estimators or indicators of the contact area between phases, since the relationship is not always simple.
International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 01/2007;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Surface topography of polished and blasted samples of a Ti6Al4V biomaterial has been studied using an atomic force microscope. Surface RMS roughness and surface area have been measured at different scales, from 1 to 50 microm, while at distances below 10 microm the surface RMS roughness in both kinds of samples is not very different, this difference becomes significant at larger scanning sizes. This means that the surface roughness scale that could have a main role in cell adhesion varies depending on the size, shape and flexibility of participating cells. This consideration suggests that in cell-material interaction studies, surface roughness should not be considered as an absolute and independent property of the material, but should be measured at scales in the order of the cell sizes, at least if a microscopic interpretation of the influence of roughness on the adhesion is intended. The microscopic information is contrasted with that coming from a macroscopic approach obtained by contact angle measurements for polar and non-polar liquids whose surface tension is comprised in a broad range. Despite the very large differences of contact angles among liquids for each surface condition, a similar increase for the blasted surface with respect to the polished has been found. Interpretation of these results are in accordance with the microscopic analysis done through the use of a functional roughness parameter, namely the valley fluid retention index, evaluated from the AFM images, which has been shown not to correlate with the RMS roughness, one of the most commonly used roughness parameter.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The surface of hydrated cells of Staphylococcus epidermidis has been probed using an atomic force microscope. While local force measurements over the surface of bacteria reveal a heterogeneous chemical surface, with heterogeneous mechanical properties, different kinds of force curves appear with high frequency, and are thought to provide information on features contributing strongly to the overall mechanical and surface behaviour of the cell. Force curves often present two different mechanical regimes, being the first one (outer) of about 48 nm thick, and presenting a local relative elasticity of about 0.08 N/m, which is about a third of the relative elasticity of the inner part of the cell wall, harder, with a relative elasticity of about 0.24 N/m, in water. Both regimes appears as straight lines in the force versus distance curves (the 'corresponding' stress-strain curves in contact mechanics), but hysteresis is observed between the approach and the retraction line in the inner regime, indicating a degree of viscoelasticity. No viscoelasticity is observed in the outer regime, however, which presents quite linear and juxtaposed approach-retraction lines. These kinds of force curves do not present measurable pull-off forces nor snap-in forces, which indicates an almost null interaction between tip and bacterial surface, which could be in agreement with the measured very high hydrophobicity of this strain. Another kind of force curve has been observed recurrently, showing peaks in the retraction curves. Adhesive pull-off forces were measured giving an average of about 2 nN. Interestingly, however, these force curves appear only when quite irregular and wavy retraction curves are present, from the very beginning of its trace (maximum indentation). This leads us to think that these pull-off forces measured by our AFM do not give information on surface forces-unbinding events at the surface of the bacteria, but could be related to events at the sub-surface of the cell surface. Oscillations seen in the retraction curve in the portion corresponding to the contact with the bacteria surface could be due to rupture phenomena within the multilayered cell wall architecture expected in Gram-positive bacteria as Staphylococcus epidermidis, which could result in local irreversible deformations of the cell surface. Imaging with a sharp tip in contact mode sometimes leads to surface damage. Force curves recorded over damaged parts of the cell surface showed a completely different behaviour, in many cases with two well-defined high-adhesion peaks, and also interestingly, with snap-in forces of about 0-2 nN, which seems to indicate a completely different electrical/hydrophobicity state only a few nanometers down from the surface. Similar indentation effects can occur in the contact of a bacterial cell with a solid surface, even when showing only atomic-molecular-scale roughness, thus interacting not only with the very surface of the cell, especially when soft layers are present in the outer. Our results highlight the importance of the cell surface mechanical properties and their interplay with purely surface properties when analyzing cell-material interaction, and show the AFM as a useful method for investigating this.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 01/2006; 89(3-4):373-86. · 2.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Scanning force microscopy has been used to probe the surface of the emerging pathogenic yeast Candida parapsilosis, in order to get insight into its surface structure and properties at submicrometer scales. AFM friction images eventually show patches with a very strong contrast, showing high lateral interaction with the tip. Adhesion force measurement also reveals a high normal interaction with the tip, and patches show extraordinarily high pull off values. The tip eventually sticks completely at the center of the patches. While an extraordinarily high interaction is measured by the tip at those zones, topographic images show extraordinarily flat topography over those zones, both of which characteristics are consistent with a liquid-like area. High resolution friction images show those zones to be surrounded by microfibrillar structures, concentrically oriented, of a mean width of about 25 nm, structures that become progressively less defined as we move away from the center of the patches. No structure can be appreciated inside the zones of maximum contrast. Also some helical or ribbon-like structure can be resolved from friction images. There is not only an ordered disposition of the microfibrillar structures, but also the adhesion force increases radially in the direction towards the center of the patches. These structures responsible for the high adhesion are thought to be incipient-emerging budding zones. Microfibrillar structures are thought to represent the first steps of chitin biosynthesis and cell wall digestion, with chitin polymers being biosynthesized, associated with other macromolecules of the yeast cell wall. They can be also beta glucan helical structures, made visible in the zone of yeast division due to the action of autolysins. The observed gradient in surface adhesion and elastic properties correlates well with that expected from a biochemical point of view. The higher adhesion force measured could be either due to the different macromolecular nature of the patches, or to a mechanical adhesion effect due to the different plasticity of that zone. This work reveals the importance of taking into account the dynamic nature of the cell wall physico-chemical properties. Processes related to the normal cell-cycle, as division, can strongly alter the surface morphology and physico-chemical properties and cause important heterogeneities that might have a profound impact on the adhesion behavior of a single cell, which could not be detected by more macroscopic methods.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 01/2006; 89(3-4):495-509. · 2.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A simple theoretical model, which assumes a perfect pyramidal tip, has been used in order to compute the dependence of the contact area on the slope of the imaged sample. The resulting expression has been computed for an azimuthal angle of 0° (null slope) and for 45°. The theoretical decrease ratio depends on the sidewall angle of the tip, which is about 10° in our case (Ultralevers, ThermoMicroscopes). For this tip geometry, the ratio between adhesion force for 0 and 45° is about 1.6. A very similar value of the decrease ratio of adhesion force has been obtained experimentally, by collecting force curves on mircrospheres of three different materials, which seems to confirm the geometrical nature of this observed dependence of the adhesion force with the surface topography.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have retrieved a clear wavy pattern form and AFM image taken in the friction mode, over a highly polished stainless steel surface, which is usually assumed to be due to an optical interference phenomenon. A clear spatial correlation has been found between the best resolved parts of the pattern observed, and the smoothest part of the original topographical image, which clearly support the idea that the observed effect (not appeared in the topographical image), is effectively due to an optical interference phenomenon.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Contact and non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been used for analyzing the influence of the defects in N-glycosidic process in mnn9 mutants of S. cerevisiae in the cell wall physical properties. High-resolution non-contact AFM image have shown the mutant cell surface to present large highly rough areas (compared with wild type ones) and also some irregular but compact structures usually associated to the former areas. Since no crater-like rings (scars) were observed on the surface of mutant cells (unlike high-resolution imaging of these surface features in wild type cells), these structures are suggested to be deformed scars. These results would also confirm a critical influence of mannoproteins in the zone of the septum, which was already suggested in previous works. Force curves obtained on the irregular and rough areas have shown them to be physically softer than other parts of the cell surface and than wild type cells, and were easily deformed by the AFM tip while scanning in the contact mode. These results could be taken as a direct verification of the known highly osmotic fragility of these mutants. This is at our knowledge the first time defects on cell wall on mnn9 mutants have been directly probed and observed at nanometer scale.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Slime-producer Staphylococcus epidermidis is one opportunistic bacteria directly related to biomaterial infections inside the human body. The characterisation of the bacterial surface is crucial when trying to control its adhesion process and prevent the biofilm formation. This work aims to analyse the microscopic and submicroscopic surface structure of two strains of S. epidermidis with different slime production, as well as mapping the surface interaction forces. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) shows that S. epidermidis ATCC35984 is covered by a granular-like film, highly compacted with the presence of repeated “holes”. However, S. epidermidis ATCC35983 only shows a partial coverage by a less compacted granular-like film, mainly located in the inter-cellular zones. Both films are related to the slime of the two strains studied. As regards to the adhesion forces, results show a greater adhesion of the tip to the slime covering S. epidermidis ATCC35984, than that covering the surface of S. epidermidis ATCC35983. In addition, the adhesion to the free-slime zones of the last strain was higher than to the slime-covered parts.