Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research]]> vol. 31 num. 12 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<B>Control of gene expression in Trypanosomatidae</B>]]> The study of mechanisms which control gene expression in trypanosomatids has developed at an increasing rate since 1989 when the first successful DNA transfection experiments were reported. Using primarily Trypanosoma brucei as a model, several groups have begun to elucidate the basic control mechanisms and to define the cellular factors involved in mRNA transcription, processing and translation in these parasites. This review focuses on the most recent studies regarding a subset of genes that are expressed differentially during the life cycle of three groups of parasites. In addition to T. brucei, I will address studies on gene regulation in a few species of Leishmania and the results obtained by a much more limited group of laboratories studying gene expression in Trypanosoma cruzi. It is becoming evident that the regulatory strategies chosen by different species of trypanosomatids are not similar, and that for these very successful parasites it is probably advantageous to employ multiple mechanisms simultaneously. In addition, with the increasing numbers of parasite genes that have now been submitted to molecular dissection, it is also becoming evident that, among the various strategies for gene expression control, there is a predominance of regulatory pathways acting at the post-transcriptional level. <![CDATA[<B>Food, mood and health: a neurobiologic outlook</B>]]> Hippocrates was the first to suggest the healing power of food; however, it was not until the medieval ages that food was considered a tool to modify temperament and mood, although scientific methods as we know them today were not in use at the time. Modern scientific methods in neuroscience began to emerge much later, leading investigators to examine the role of diet in health, including mental well-being, with greater precision. This review shows how short- and long-term forced dietary interventions bring about changes in brain structure, chemistry, and physiology, leading to altered animal behavior. Examples will be presented to show how diets alter brain chemistry, behavior, and the action of neuroactive drugs. Most humans and most animal species examined in a controlled setting exhibit a fairly reproducible pattern of what and how they eat. Recent data suggest that these patterns may be under the neurochemical and hormonal control of the organisms themselves. Other data show that in many instances food may be used unconsciously to regulate mood by seemingly normal subjects as well as those undergoing drug withdrawal or experiencing seasonal affective disorders and obesity-related social withdrawal. We will discuss specific examples that illustrate that manipulation of dietary preference is actually an attempt to correct neurochemical make-up. <![CDATA[<B>Catabolism of Ap<SUB>4</SUB>A and Ap<SUB>5</SUB>A by rat brain synaptosomes</B>]]> Adenosine 5',5'''-P1,P4-tetraphosphate (Ap4A) and adenosine 5',5'''-P1,P5-pentaphosphate (Ap5A) are stored in and released from rat brain synaptic terminals. In the present study we investigated the hydrolysis of dinucleotides (Ap4A and Ap5A) in synaptosomes from the cerebral cortex of adult rats. Ap4A and Ap5A, but not Ap3A, were hydrolyzed at pH 7.5 in the presence of 20 mM Tris/HCl, 2.0 mM MgCl2, 10 mM glucose and 225 mM sucrose at 37oC. The disappearance of the substrates measured by FPLC on a mono-Q HR column was both time and protein dependent. Since synaptosome integrity was at least 90% at the end of the assay, hydrolysis probably occurred by the action of an ecto-enzyme. Extracellular actions of adenine dinucleotides at central nervous system terminate due to the existence of ecto-nucleotidases which specifically cleave these dinucleotides. These enzymes in association with an ATP diphosphohydrolase and a 5'-nucleotidase are able to promote the complete hydrolysis of dinucleotides to adenosine in the synaptic cleft. <![CDATA[<B>Erythrocyte glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity assay and affinity for its substrate under "physiological" conditions</B>]]> Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) activity and the affinity for its substrate glucose-6-phosphate were investigated under conditions similar to the physiological environment in terms of ionic strength (I: 0.188), cation concentration, pH 7.34, and temperature (37oC). A 12.4, 10.4 and 21.4% decrease was observed in G6PD B, G6PD A+ and G6PD A- activities, respectively. A Km increase of 95.1, 94.4 and 95.4% was observed in G6PD B, G6PD A+ and G6PD A-, respectively, leading to a marked decrease in affinity. In conclusion, the observation of the reduced activity and affinity for its natural substrate reflects the actual pentose pathway rate. It also suggests a much lower NADPH generation, which is crucial mostly in G6PD-deficient individuals, whose NADPH availability is poor. <![CDATA[<B>Effect of all-trans retinoic acid on newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia patients: results of a Brazilian center</B>]]> Thirty-seven patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) were treated with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). Patients received 45 mg m-2 day-1 po of ATRA until complete remission (CR) was achieved, defined as: a) presence of less than 5% blasts in the bone marrow, with b) white blood cells >103/mm3, c) platelets >105/mm3 and d) hemoglobin concentration >8 g/dl, with no blood or platelet transfusions. Thirty-one (83.7%) patients achieved CR by day 50, and 75% of these before day 30. Correction of the coagulopathy, achieved between days 2 and 10 (mean, 3 days), was the first evidence of response to treatment. Only one patient had been previously treated with chemotherapy and three had the microgranular variant M3 form. Dryness of skin and mucosae was the most common side effect observed in 82% of the patients. Thrombosis, hepatotoxicity and retinoid acid syndrome (RAS) were observed in 7 (19%), 6 (16%) and 4 (11%) patients, respectively. Thirteen (35%) patients had to be submitted to chemotherapy due to hyperleukocytosis (above 40 x 103/mm3) and six of these presented with new signs of coagulopathy after chemotherapy. Four (11%) patients died secondarily to intracerebral hemorrhage (IH) and two (5.4%) dropped out of the protocol due to severe ATRA side effects (one RAS and one hepatotoxicity). RAS and IH were related strictly to hyperleukocytosis. The reduced use of platelets and fresh frozen plasma probably lowered the total cost of treatment. We conclude that ATRA is an effective agent for inducing complete remission in APL patients. <![CDATA[<B>Low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin and hyperproinsulinemia as markers of increased pancreatic ß-cell demand in men</B>]]> Low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) are considered to be an indirect index of hyperinsulinemia, predicting the later onset of diabetes mellitus type 2. In the insulin resistance state and in the presence of an increased pancreatic ß-cell demand (e.g. obesity) both absolute and relative increases in proinsulin secretion occur. In the present study we investigated the correlation between SHBG and pancreatic ß-cell secretion in men with different body compositions. Eighteen young men (30.0 &plusmn; 2.4 years) with normal glucose tolerance and body mass indexes (BMI) ranging from 22.6 to 43.2 kg/m2 were submitted to an oral glucose tolerance test (75 g) and baseline and 120-min blood samples were used to determine insulin, proinsulin and C-peptide by specific immunoassays. Baseline SHBG values were significantly correlated with baseline insulin (r = -0.58, P&lt;0.05), proinsulin (r = -0.47, P&lt;0.05), C-peptide (r = -0.55, P&lt;0.05) and also with proinsulin at 120 min after glucose load (r = -0.58, P&lt;0.05). Stepwise regression analysis revealed that proinsulin values at 120 min were the strongest predictor of SHBG (r = -0.58, P&lt;0.05). When subjects were divided into obese (BMI >28 kg/m2, N = 8) and nonobese (BMI <FONT FACE="Symbol">&pound;</FONT>25 kg/m2, N = 10) groups, significantly lower levels of SHBG were found in the obese subjects. The obese group had significantly higher baseline proinsulin, C-peptide and 120-min proinsulin and insulin levels. For the first time using a specific assay for insulin determination, a strong inverse correlation between insulinemia and SHBG levels was confirmed. The finding of a strong negative correlation between SHBG levels and pancreatic ß-cell secretion, mainly for the 120-min post-glucose load proinsulin levels, reinforces the concept that low SHBG levels are a suitable marker of increased pancreatic ß-cell demand. <![CDATA[<B>Incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus in Passo Fundo, RS, Brazil</B>]]> To establish the incidence of type 1 diabetes among children (infants to 14 years of age) in the city of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (population under 15 years = 50,098), during the period of January to December 1996, a retrospective and prospective population-based registry was established, using physician reports of newly diagnosed patients under 15 years of age with type 1 diabetes as the primary source of case identification. Primary and nursery schools and a general call through the media (newspapers, radio and television) was the secondary source. Data were calculated according to the methods recommended by the WHO (1990). Six new cases were identified. Case ascertainment was estimated at 100%. The incidence of type 1 diabetes in the year 1996 was 12/100,000 inhabitants. These data indicate that the incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes in a subtropical region in the Southern part of Brazil was similar to that observed in developed countries throughout the world. The inability to demonstrate the North-South gradient is probably due to the European origin of inhabitants of the city. <![CDATA[<B>Topical application of a melanotropin analogue to vulgar vitiligo dermo-epidermal minigrafts</B>]]> Human subjects with active vulgar vitiligo do not respond well to autologous dermo-epidermal minigrafting. Eighteen subjects were treated with the <FONT FACE="Symbol">a</FONT>-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (<FONT FACE="Symbol">a</FONT>-MSH) synthetic analogue &amp;#091;Nle4, D-Phe7&amp;#093;-<FONT FACE="Symbol">a</FONT>-MSH. The hormone (50 &micro;l, 0.4 mM) was applied topically to 30-cm2 lesions in which 29-48 minigrafts had been made. The hormone did not improve the success of the minigrafting and no differences were observed in local or distant repigmentation in treated subjects as compared to the placebo group. Aliquots of 24-h urine concentrated by lyophilization irreversibly darkened toad skins, demonstrating the presence of the analogue. This is the first report of the transdermal delivery of a topically applied melanotropin in living human subjects. <![CDATA[<B>Monoassociation with <I>Lactobacillus acidophilus </I>UFV-H2b20 stimulates the immune defense mechanisms of germfree mice</B>]]> Probiotics are formulations containing live microorganisms or microbial stimulants that have some beneficial influence on the maintenance of a balanced intestinal microbiota and on the resistance to infections. The search for probiotics to be used in prevention or treatment of enteric infections, as an alternative to antibiotic therapy, has gained significant impulse in the last few years. Several studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of lactic acid bacteria in controlling infection by intestinal pathogens and in boosting the host's nonspecific immune response. Here, we studied the use of Lactobacillus acidophilus UFV-H2b20, a lactic acid bacterium isolated from a human newborn from Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil, as a probiotic. A suspension containing 108 cells of Lactobacillus acidophilus UFV-H2b20 was inoculated into groups of at least five conventional and germfree Swiss mice to determine its capacity to stimulate the host mononuclear phagocytic activity. We demonstrate that this strain can survive the stressing conditions of the intestinal tract in vivo. Moreover, the monoassociation of germfree mice with this strain for seven days improved the host's macrophage phagocytic capacity, as demonstrated by the clearance of a Gram-negative bacterium inoculated intravenously. Monoassociated mice showed an undetectable number of circulating E. coli, while 0.1% of the original inoculum was still present in germfree animals. Mice treated with viable or heat-killed Lactobacillus acidophilus UFV-H2b20 presented similarly improved clearance capacity when compared with germfree controls. In addition, monoassociated mice had twice the amount of Kupffer cells, which are responsible for the clearance of circulating bacteria, compared to germfree controls. These results suggest that the L. acidophilus strain used here stimulates a nonspecific immune response and is a strong candidate to be used as a probiotic. <![CDATA[<B>Regulation of T cell response to leishmania antigens by determinants of histocompatibility leukocyte class I and II molecules</B>]]> It has been shown that HLA class I molecules play a significant role in the regulation of the proliferation of T cells activated by mitogens and antigens. We evaluated the ability of mAb to a framework determinant of HLA class I molecules to regulate T cell proliferation and interferon gamma (IFN-<FONT FACE="Symbol">g</FONT>) production against leishmania, PPD, C. albicans and tetanus toxoid antigens in patients with tegumentary leishmaniasis and healthy subjects. The anti-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) mAb (W6/32) suppressed lymphocyte proliferation by 90% in cultures stimulated with <FONT FACE="Symbol">a</FONT>CD3, but the suppression was variable in cultures stimulated with leishmania antigen. This suppression ranged from 30-67% and was observed only in 5 of 11 patients. IFN-<FONT FACE="Symbol">g</FONT> production against leishmania antigen was also suppressed by anti-HLA class I mAb. In 3 patients IFN-<FONT FACE="Symbol">g</FONT> levels were suppressed by more than 60%, while in the other 2 cultures IFN-<FONT FACE="Symbol">g</FONT> levels were 36 and 10% lower than controls. The suppression by HLA class I mAb to the proliferative response in leishmaniasis patients and in healthy controls varied with the antigens and the patients or donors tested. To determine whether the suppression is directed at antigen presenting cells (APCs) or at the responding T cells, experiments with antigen-primed non-adherent cells, separately incubated with W6/32, were performed. Suppression of proliferation was only observed when the W6/32 mAb was added in the presence of T cells. These data provide evidence that a mAb directed at HLA class I framework determinants can suppress proliferation and cytokine secretion in response to several antigens. <![CDATA[<b><i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i></b>: <b>amastigote polymorphism defined by monoclonal antibodies</b>]]> We have raised monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed towards amastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi, and shown that mAbs 1D9 and 4B9 are carbohydrate while mAb 4B5 activity is resistant to periodate oxidation of the antigen. Here we used an ELISA to quantitate and compare the expression of surface epitopes on fixed parasites among different parasite isolates. The expression of markers varied among T. cruzi amastigotes isolated from infected cells or after extracellular differentiation of trypomastigotes. Moreover, we also observed an extensive polymorphic expression of these epitopes among amastigotes derived from different strains and clones. For instance, mAb 2C2 strongly and evenly reacted with 9 strains and clones (G, Y, CL, Tulahuen, MD, and F, and clones Sylvio X-10/4, D11, and CL.B), with absorbance at 492 nm (A492 nm) from 0.6 to 0.8. By contrast, mAb 4B5 had a higher expression in Tulahuen amastigotes (around 0.9 at 492 nm) whereas its reactivity with amastigotes from clones CL.B, Sylvio X-10/4 and D11 was much lower (around 0.4). mAb 1D9 displayed an interesting pattern of reactivity with amastigotes of the different strains and clones (A492 nm of G&gt;D11<FONT FACE="Symbol">³</font>Sylvio X-10/4 = MD&gt;Tulahuen = F = Y&gt;CL&gt;CL.B). Finally, we observed that mAb 4B9 had the lowest reaction with the parasites studied, with higher values of A492 nm with Y strain (around 0.6) and lower values with Tulahuen, F and CL.B strains (around 0.2). Immunoblotting analysis also showed extensive variations among amastigotes of the various parasite isolates and mAbs 4B9, 1D9 and 4B5 revealed significant differences in expression between clones and parental strains. These data describe a previously uncharacterized polymorphism of T. cruzi amastigote surface components. <![CDATA[<B>Cytotoxic activity of BCG-activated macrophages against L929 tumor cells is nitric oxide-dependent</B>]]> The tumoricidal activity of activated macrophages has been attributed largely to the release of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), or to the production of reactive oxygen or nitrogen intermediates. The L929 tumor cell line (a murine fibroblast-like cell) when treated with actinomycin D (ActD) has been used to measure TNF<FONT FACE="Symbol">a</FONT> cytotoxicity. In the present study, we determined the cytotoxic activity of BCG-activated peritoneal macrophages against ActD-untreated L929 tumor cells. Furthermore, we measured the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), nitric oxide (NO) and TNF by macrophages cultured in the presence or absence of L929 cells. As expected, BCG-activated macrophages produced significant amounts of H2O2 (16.0 &plusmn; 3.0 &micro;M), TNF (512 U/ml) and NO (71.5 &plusmn; 3.2 &micro;M). TNF (256 U/ml) and NO (78.9 &plusmn; 9.7 &micro;M) production was unchanged in co-cultures of L929 cells with BCG-activated macrophages but H2O2 production was totally inhibited. The cytotoxic activity was dependent on NO release since L-NAME (2.5, 5.0 and 10 mM), which blocks NO synthase, inhibited the killing of L929 cells. Addition of anti-TNF (20 &micro;g/ml) antibodies to the cultures did not affect the tumoricidal activity of macrophages. Our results indicate that macrophage-mediated killing of L929 cells is largely dependent on NO production but independent of H2O2 or TNF release. <![CDATA[<B>Role of angiotensin II and vasopressin receptors within the supraoptic nucleus in water and sodium intake induced by the injection of angiotensin II into the medial septal area</B>]]> In this study we investigated the effects of the injection into the supraoptic nucleus (SON) of non-peptide AT1- and AT2-angiotensin II (ANG II) receptor antagonists, DuP753 and PD123319, as well as of the arginine-vasopressin (AVP) receptor antagonist d(CH2)5-Tyr(Me)-AVP, on water and 3% NaCl intake induced by the injection of ANG II into the medial septal area (MSA). The effects on water or 3% NaCl intake were assessed in 30-h water-deprived or in 20-h water-deprived furosemide-treated adult male rats, respectively. The drugs were injected in 0.5 &micro;l over 30-60 s. Controls were injected with a similar volume of 0.15 M NaCl. Antagonists were injected at doses of 20, 80 and 180 nmol. Water and sodium intake was measured over a 2-h period. Previous administration of the AT1 receptor antagonist DuP753 into the SON decreased water (65%, N = 10, P&lt;0.01) and sodium intake (81%, N = 8, P&lt;0.01) induced by the injection of ANG II (10 nmol) into the MSA. Neither of these responses was significantly changed by injection of the AT2-receptor antagonist PD123319 into the SON. On the other hand, while there was a decrease in water intake (45%, N = 9, P&lt;0.01), ANG II-induced sodium intake was significantly increased (70%, N = 8, P&lt;0.01) following injection of the V1-type vasopressin antagonist d(CH2)5-Tyr(Me)-AVP into the SON. These results suggest that both AT1 and V1 receptors within the SON may be involved in water and sodium intake induced by the activation of ANG II receptors within the MSA. Furthermore, they do not support the involvement of MSA AT2 receptors in the mediation of these responses. <![CDATA[<B>Involvement of hippocampal NMDA receptors in retention of shuttle avoidance conditioning in rats</B>]]> The purpose of this research was to evaluate the role of hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in acquisition and consolidation of memory during shuttle avoidance conditioning in rats. Adult male Wistar rats were surgically implanted with cannulae aimed at the CA1 area of the dorsal hippocampus. After recovery from surgery, animals were trained and tested in a shuttle avoidance apparatus (30 trials, 0.5-mA footshock, 24-h training-test interval). Immediately before or immediately after training, animals received a bilateral intrahippocampal 0.5-µl infusion containing 5.0 µg of the NMDA competitive receptor antagonist aminophosphonopentanoic acid (AP5) or vehicle (phosphate-buffered saline, pH 7.4). Infusion duration was 2 min per side. Pre-training infusion of AP5 impaired retention test performance (mean ± SEM number of conditioned responses (CRs) during retention test session was 16.47 ± 1.78 in the vehicle group and 9.93 ± 1.59 in the AP5 group; P&lt;0.05). Post-training infusion of AP5 did not affect retention (mean ± SEM number of conditioned responses during retention test session was 18.46 ± 1.94 in the vehicle group and 20.42 ± 2.38 in the AP5 group; P&gt;0.10). This impairment could not be attributed to an effect on acquisition, motor activity or footshock sensitivity since AP5 affected neither training session performance measured by the number of CRs nor the number of intertrial crossings during the training session. These data suggest that NMDA receptors in the hippocampus are critical for retention of shuttle avoidance conditioning, in agreement with previous evidence showing a role of NMDA receptors in fear memory. <![CDATA[<b>Decreased gastric emptying and gastrointestinal and intestinal transits of liquid after complete spinal cord transection in awake rats</b>]]> We studied the effect of complete spinal cord transection (SCT) on gastric emptying (GE) and on gastrointestinal (GI) and intestinal transits of liquid in awake rats using the phenol red method. Male Wistar rats (N = 65) weighing 180-200 g were fasted for 24 h and complete SCT was performed between C7 and T1 vertebrae after a careful midline dorsal incision. GE and GI and intestinal transits were measured 15 min, 6 h or 24 h after recovery from anesthesia. A test meal (0.5 mg/ml phenol red in 5% glucose solution) was administered intragastrically (1.5 ml) and the animals were sacrificed by an iv thiopental overdose 10 min later to evaluate GE and GI transit. For intestinal transit measurements, 1 ml of the test meal was administered into the proximal duodenum through a cannula inserted into a gastric fistula. GE was inhibited (P&lt;0.05) by 34.3, 23.4 and 22.7%, respectively, at 15 min, 6 h and 24 h after SCT. GI transit was inhibited (P&lt;0.05) by 42.5, 19.8 and 18.4%, respectively, at 15 min, 6 h and 24 h after SCT. Intestinal transit was also inhibited (P&lt;0.05) by 48.8, 47.2 and 40.1%, respectively, at 15 min, 6 h and 24 h after SCT. Mean arterial pressure was significantly decreased (P&lt;0.05) by 48.5, 46.8 and 41.5%, respectively, at 15 min, 6 h and 24 h after SCT. In summary, our report describes a decreased GE and GI and intestinal transits in awake rats within the first 24 h after high SCT.