Biomedical Engineering Department Theses and Dissertations

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 62
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    Framework for In-Silico Neuromodulatory Peripheral Nerve Electrode Experiments to Inform Design and Visualize Mechanisms
    (2023-08) Lazorchak, Nathaniel; Yoshida, Ken; Alfrey, Karen; Berbari, Edward
    The nervous system exists as our interface to the world, both integrating and interpreting sensory information and coordinating voluntary and involuntary movements. Given its importance, it has become a target for neuromodulatory therapies. The research to develop these therapies cannot be done purely on living tissues - animals, manpower, and equipment make that cost prohibitive and, given the cost of life required, it would be unethical to not search for alternatives. Computation modeling, the use of mathematics and modern computational power to simulate phenomena, has sought to provide such an alternative since the work of Hodgkin and Huxley in 1952. These models, though they cannot yet replace in-vivo and in-vitro experiments, can ease the burden on living tissues and provide details difficult or impossible to ascertain from them. This thesis iterates on previous frameworks for performing in-silico experiments for the purposes of mechanistic exploration and threshold prediction. To do so, an existing volume conductor model and validated nerve-fiber model were joined and a series of programs were developed around them to perform a set of in-silico experiments. The experiments are designed to predict changes in thresholds of behaviors elicited by bioelectric neuromodulation to parametric changes in experimental setup and to explore the mechanisms behind bioelectric neuromodulation, particularly surrounding the recently discovered Low Frequency Alternating Current (LFAC) waveform. This framework improved upon its predecessors through efficiency-oriented design and modularity, allowing for rapid simulation on consumer-grade computers. Results show a high degree of convergence with in-vivo experimental results, such as mechanistic alignment with LFAC and being within an order of magnitude of in-vivo pulse-stimulation threshold results for equivalent in-vivo and in-silico experimental designs.
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    A Finite Element Model for Investigation of Nuclear Stresses in Arterial Endothelial Cells
    (2022-12) Rumberger, Charles B.; Ji, Julie; Tovar, Andres; Yokota, Hiroki
    Cellular structural mechanics play a key role in homeostasis by transducing mechanical signals to regulate gene expression and by providing adaptive structural stability for the cell. The alteration of nuclear mechanics in various laminopathies and in natural aging can damage these key functions. Arterial endothelial cells appear to be especially vulnerable due to the importance of shear force mechanotransduction to structure and gene regulation as is made evident by the prominent role of atherosclerosis in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) and in natural aging. Computational models of cellular mechanics may provide a useful tool for exploring the structural hypothesis of laminopathy at the intracellular level. This thesis explores this topic by introducing the biological background of cellular mechanics and lamin proteins in arterial endothelial cells, investigating disease states related to aberrant lamin proteins, and exploring computational models of the cell structure. It then presents a finite element model designed specifically for investigation of nuclear shear forces in arterial endothelial cells. Model results demonstrate that changes in nuclear material properties consistent with those observed in progerin-expressing cells may result in substantial increases in stress concentrations on the nuclear membrane. This supports the hypothesis that progerin disrupts homeostatic regulation of gene expression in response to hemodynamic shear by altering the mechanical properties of the nucleus.
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    The Skeletal Phenotype Of The Kk/Ay Murine Model Of Type 2 Diabetes
    (2022-08) Chowdhury, Nusaiba Nahola; Wallace, Joseph; Allen, Matthew; Bone, Robert; Na, Sungsoo
    Type-2-diabetes (T2D) is a progressive metabolic disease characterized by insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction leading to persistent hyperglycemia. It is a multisystem disease that causes deterioration of multiple organ systems and obesity. Of interest, T2D affects the urinary system and is the leading cause of kidney disease. Both T2D and chronic kidney negatively impacts the skeletal system and increases fracture incidence in patients. Therefore, it is important to establish an animal model that captures the complex multiorgan effects that is common in T2D. In this study, we characterized the metabolic phenotype of the KK/Ay mouse model, a polygenic mutation model of T2D. We concluded that KK/Ay mice closely mimic T2D and are hyperglycemic, hyperinsulinemic and insulin resistant. KK/Ay mice have also had worsened kidney function as supported by elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen, phosphorous, creatinine, and calcium in plasma exhibiting the kidney’s inefficiency in clearing waste from the body. Even though we were able to confirm a metabolic phenotype for T2D and diabetic nephropathy, the skeletal effects of the disease were minimal and major differences in bone physiology were driven by sex differences. This study offered valuable insight into preliminary endpoints for the KK/Ay mouse mode that will decide the direction for future use of this model. We plan to use older mice in future studies to allow a longer time for skeletal effects to more prominently manifest.
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    A Comparative Analysis of Local and Global Peripheral Nerve Mechanical Properties During Cyclical Tensile Testing
    (2022-05) Doering, Onna Marie; Yoshida, Ken; Wallace, Joseph; Goodwill, Adam
    Understanding the mechanical properties of peripheral nerves is essential for chronically implanted device design. The work in this thesis aimed to understand the relationship between local deformation responses to global strain changes in peripheral nerves. A custom-built mechanical testing rig and sample holder enabled an improved cyclical uniaxial tensile testing environment on rabbit sciatic nerves (N=5). A speckle was placed on the surface of the nerve and recorded with a microscope camera to track local deformations. The development of a semi-automated digital image processing algorithm systematically measured local speckle dimension and nerve diameter changes. Combined with the measured force response, local and global strain values constructed a stress-strain relationship and corresponding elastic modulus. Preliminary exploration of models such as Fung and 2-Term Mooney-Rivlin confirmed the hyperelastic nature of the nerve. The results of strain analysis show that, on average, local strain levels were approximately five times smaller than globally measured strains; however, the relationship was dependent on global strain magnitude. Elastic modulus values corresponding to ~9% global strains were 2.070 ± 1.020 MPa globally and 10.15 ± 4 MPa locally. Elastic modulus values corresponding to ~6% global strains were 0.173 ± 0.091 MPa globally and 1.030 ± 0.532 MPa locally.
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    Building a Tensegrity-Based Computational Model to Understand Endothelial Alignment Under Flow
    (2021-12) Al-Muhtaseb, Tamara; Ji, Julie; Na, Sungsoo; Tovar, Andres
    Endothelial cells form the lining of the walls of blood vessels and are continuously subjected to mechanical stimuli from the blood flow. Microtubule-organizing center (MTOC), also known as centrosome is a structure found in eukaryotic cells close to the nucleus. MTOC relocates relative to the nucleus when endothelial cells are exposed to shear stress which determines their polarization, thus it plays a critical role in cell migration and wound healing. The nuclear lamina, a mesh-like network that lies underneath the nuclear membrane, is composed of lamins, type V intermediate filament proteins. Mutations in LMNA gene that encodes A-type lamins cause the production of a mutant form of lamin A called progerin and leads to a rare premature aging disease known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS). The goal of this study is to investigate how fluid flow affects the cytoskeleton of endothelial cells. This thesis consists of two main sections; computational mechanical modeling and laboratory experimental work. The mechanical model was implemented using Ansys Workbench software as a tensegrity-based cellular model in order to simulate the state of an endothelial cell under the effects of induced shear stress from the blood fluid flow. This tensegrity-based cellular model - composed of a plasma membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, microtubules, and actin filaments - aims to understand the effects of the fluid flow on the mechanics of the cytoskeleton. In addition, the laboratory experiments conducted in this study examined the MTOC-nuclear orientation of endothelial cells under shear stress with the presence of wound healing. Wild-type lamin A and progerin-expressing BAECs were studied under static and sheared conditions. Moreover, a custom MATLAB code was utilized to measure the MTOC-nuclear orientation angle and classification. Results demonstrate that shear stress leads to different responses of the MTOC orientation between the wild-type and progerin-expressing cells around the vertical wound edge. Future directions for this study involve additional experimental work together with the improved simulation results to confirm the MTOC orientation relative to the nucleus under shear stress.
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    Sex-Specific Bone Phenotype in the Streptozotocin-Induced Murine Model of Diabetes
    (2021-08) Hatch, Jennifer; Wallace, Joseph M.; Allen, Matthew R.; Bone, Robert N.; Li, Jilliang; Na, Sungsoo
    Bone disease and degradation is a ubiquitous problem, the complexity and treatment of which humanity has only begun to understand. Diabetes Mellitus is a disease which, in all forms, profoundly effects the organs of the body, bone included. As is often the case in biology, there are inherent differences between the sexes when considering skeletal development and disease progression and outcome. Although there are several reported mouse models for diabetes, until now there has been no characterization of bone disease in any model where diabetes occurs with equal frequency in males and females in greater than 90% of animals. In this study, a protocol for reliable induction of diabetes in both sexes using intraperitoneal injections of Streptozotocin was developed. The resulting bone phenotype in male and female mice was characterized and compared to weight and age matched control groups. In this model female diabetic mice exhibited a robust deficit in bone quality, while both sexes experienced loss of beta-cell mass and increased glycation of hemoglobin rendering the diabetic mice unable to produce insulin endogenously. Further, these mice were unable to metabolize exogenous insulin injected during insulin tolerance testing. This model is a strong candidate for future exploration of osteoporotic bone disease, Diabetes Mellitus, and the link between estrogen and glucose sensitivity.
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    Osteocyte signaling and its effects on the activities of osteoblasts and breast cancer cells
    (2021-05) Ahandoust, Sina; Na, Sungsoo; Yokota, Hiroki; Li, Jiliang
    Bone is a common location for breast cancer cell metastasis, and progression of tumor in bone can lead to bone loss and affect human health. Osteocytes have important roles in bone homeostasis and osteogenesis, and their interaction with metastasized cancer cells are known to affect progression of metastasized tumor. However, the potential role of metabolic signaling and actin- cytoskeleton-associated moesin in the interaction of osteocytes and tumor cells remain poorly understood. In this study, we first examined the roles of metabolic signaling, specifically global AMPK modulators and mitochondria-specific AMPK inhibitor (Mito-AIP), as well as mechanical force in beta catenin signaling through interaction between osteocytes and precursor osteoblasts as well as osteocytes and breast cancer cells. We also evaluated the role of metabolic signaling in Rho GTPases including RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42. We observed that AMPK activator (A769662) and Mito-AMPK stimulated beta catenin translocation to the nucleus, indicating the activation of Wnt signaling, while Mito-AIP did not significantly affect beta catenin activation in osteoblasts. We also observed that osteocyte conditioned medium (CM) treated with Mito-AIP substantially increased beta catenin signaling in osteoblasts, while decreasing beta catenin signaling in breast cancer cells. CM of osteocytes treated with fluid flow increased beta catenin signaling in breast cancer cells. A769662 and Mito-AIP also decreased the activities of RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42 in cancer cells which are known to regulate cancer cell migration. Additionally, we evaluated the roles of intracellular and extracellular moesin (MSN) protein in well-established oncogenic signaling proteins, such as FAK, Src, and RhoA as well beta catenin signaling. Constitutively active MSN (MSN+) significantly increased FAK and Src activities in cancer cells, but decreased the activity of RhoA. Surprisingly, CM of mesenchymal stem cells treated with MSN+ decreased the activities of FAK, Src, and RhoA, suggesting the inhibitory role of extracellular MSN in tumor-promoting signaling. Our results suggest the distinct role of AMPK signaling, specifically at mitochondria of osteocytes, in the activities of beta-catenin signaling in osteoblasts and breast cancer cells and the distinct role of intracellular and extracellular MSN in these two types of cell.
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    Thermoneutral Housing Did Not Impact the Combined Effects of External Loading and Raloxifene on Bone Morphology and Mechanical Properties in Growing Female Mice
    (2020-12) Tastad, Carli A.; Wallace, Joseph M.; Allen, Matthew R.; Li, Jiliang
    Raloxifene is an FDA-approved selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that improves tissue quality by binding to collagen and increasing the bound water content in the bone matrix in a cell-independent manner. In this thesis, active tissue formation was induced by non-invasive external tibial loading in female mice and combined with raloxifene treatment to assess their combined effect on bone morphology and mechanical properties. Thermoregulation is an important factor that could have physiological consequences on research outcomes, and was introduced as an additional experimental factor in this study. We hypothesized that by removing the mild cold stress under which normal lab animals are housed, a metabolic boost would allow for further architectural and mechanical improvements as a result of the combination of tibial loading and raloxifene treatment. Ten week old female C57BL/6J mice were treated with raloxifene, underwent tibial loading to a strain level of 2050µε and were housed in thermoneutral conditions (32°C) for 6 weeks. We investigated bone morphology through microcomputed tomography (µCT) and mechanical properties via four-point bending and fracture toughness testing. Results indicated a combined improvement by external loading and raloxifene on geometry, particularly in the cancellous region of the bone, and also in bone mechanics leading to greater improvements than either treatment individually. Temperature did not have a robust impact on either bone architecture or mechanical integrity.
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    A Novel Approach to Peripheral Nerve Activation Using Low Frequency Alternating Currents
    (2020-08) Al Hawwash, Awadh Mubarak M; Yoshida, Ken; Berbari, Edward J.; Schild, John H.
    The standard electrical stimulation waveform used for electrical activation of nerve is a rectangular pulse or a charge balanced rectangular pulse, where the pulse width is typically in the range of ∼100 µsec through ∼1000 µsec. In this work, we explore the effects of a continuous sinusoidal waveform with a frequency ranging from 5 through 20 Hz, which was named the Low Frequency Alternating Current (LFAC) waveform. The LFAC waveform was explored in the Bioelectronics Laboratory as a novel means to evoke nerve block. However, in an attempt to evoke complete nerve block on a somatic motor nerve, increasing the amplitude of the LFAC waveform unexpectedly produced nerve activation, and elicited a strong non-fatiguing muscle contraction in the anesthetized rabbit model (unpublished observation). The present thesis aimed to further explore the phenomenon to measure the effect of LFAC waveform frequency and amplitude on nerve activation. In freshly excised canine cervical vagus nerve (n=3), it was found that the LFAC waveform at 5, 10, and 20 Hz produced burst modulated activity. Compound action potentials (CAP) synchronous to the stimuli was absent from the electroneurogram (ENG) recordings. When applied in-vivo, LFAC was capable of activating the cervical vagus nerve fibers in anaesthetized swine (n=5) and induced the Hering-Breuer reflex. Additionally, when applied in-vivo to anesthetized Sprague Dawley rats (n=4), the LFAC waveform was able to activate the left sciatic nerve fibers and induced muscle contractions. The results demonstrate that LFAC activation was stochastic, and asynchronous to the stimuli unlike conventional pulse stimulation where nerve and muscle response simultaneously and synchronously to stimulus. The activation thresholds were found to be frequency dependent. As the waveform frequency increases the required current amplitude decreases. These experiments also implied that the LFAC phenomenon was most likely to be fiber type-size dependent but that more sophisticated exploration should be addressed before reaching clinical applications. In all settings, the LFAC amplitude was within the water window preventing irreversible electrochemical reactions and damages to the cuff electrodes or nerve tissues. This thesis also reconfirms the preliminary LFAC activation discovery and explores multiple methods to evaluate the experimental observations, which suggest the feasibility of the LFAC waveform at 5, 10, and 20 Hz to activate autonomic and somatic nerve fibers. LFAC appears to be a promising new technique to activate peripheral nerve fibers.
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    Reversible Nerve Conduction Block Using Low Frequency Alternating Currents
    (2020-08) Muzquiz, Maria I.; Yoshida, Ken; Schild, John; Berbari, Ed
    This thesis describes a novel method to reversibly and safely block nerve conduction using a low frequency alternating current (LFAC) waveform at 1 Hz applied through a bipolar extrafascicular electrode. This work follows up on observations made on excised mammalian peripheral nerves and earthworm nerve cords. An in-situ electrophysiology setup was used to assess the LFAC waveform on propagating action potentials (APs) within the cervical vagus nerve in anaesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 12). Two sets of bipolar cuff or hook electrodes were applied unilaterally to the cervical vagus nerve, which was crushed rostral to the electrodes to exclude reflex effects on the animal. Pulse stimulation was applied to the rostral electrode, while the LFAC conditioning waveform was applied to the caudal electrode. The efferent volley, if unblocked, elicits acute bradycardia and hypotension. The degree of block of the vagal stimulation induced bradycardia was used as a biomarker. Block was assessed by the ability to reduce the bradycardic drive by monitoring the heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) during LFAC alone, LFAC with vagal stimulation, and vagal stimulation alone. LFAC applied via a hook electrode (n = 7) achieved 86.6 +/- 11% block at current levels 95 +/- 38 uAp (current to peak). When applied via a cuff electrode (n = 5) 85.3 +/- 4.60% block was achieved using current levels of 110+/-65 uAp. Furthermore, LFAC was explored on larger vagal afferent fibers in larger human sized nerve bundles projecting to effects mediated by a reflex. The effectiveness of LFAC was assessed in an in-situ electrophysiological setup on the left cervical vagus in anaesthetized domestic swine (n = 5). Two bipolar cuff electrodes were applied unilaterally to the cervical vagus nerve, which was crushed caudal to the electrodes to eliminate cardiac effects. A tripolar extrafascicular cuff electrode was placed most rostral on the nerve for recording of propagating APs induced by electrical stimulation and blocked via the LFAC waveform. Standard pulse stimulation was applied to the left cervical vagus to induce the Hering-Breuer reflex. If unblocked, the activation of the Hering-Breuer reflex would cause breathing to slow down and potentially cease. Block was quantified by the ability to reduce the effect of the Hering-Breuer reflex by monitoring the breathing rate during LFAC alone, LFAC and vagal stimulation, and vagal stimulation alone. LFAC achieved 87.2 +/- 8.8% (n = 5) block at current levels of 0.8 +/- 0.3 mAp. Compound nerve action potentials (CNAP) were monitored directly. They show changes in nerve activity during LFAC, which manifests itself as the slowing and amplitude reduction of components of the CNAPs. Since the waveform is balanced, all forward reactions are reversed, leading to a blocking method that is similar in nature to DC block without the potential issues of toxic byproduct production. These results suggest that LFAC can achieve a high degree of nerve block in both small and large nerve bundles, resulting in the change in behavior of a biomarker, in-vivo in the mammalian nervous system at low amplitudes of electrical stimulation that are within the water window of the electrode.