Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research]]> vol. 37 num. 7 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<B>Evaluation by blue native polyacrylamide electrophoresis colorimetric staining of the effects of physical exercise on the activities of mitochondrial complexes in rat muscle</B>]]> Blue native polyacrylamide electrophoresis (BN-PAGE) is a technique developed for the analysis of membrane complexes. Combined with histochemical staining, it permits the analysis and quantification of the activities of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation enzymes using whole muscle homogenates, without the need to isolate muscle mitochondria. Mitochondrial complex activities were measured by emerging gels in a solution containing all specific substrates for NADH dehydrogenase and cytochrome c oxidase enzymes (complexes I and IV, respectively) and the colored bands obtained were measured by optique densitometry. The objective of the present study was the application of BN-PAGE colorimetric staining for enzymatic characterization of mitochondrial complexes I and IV in rat muscles with different morphological and biochemical properties. We also investigated these activities at different times after acute exercise of rat soleus muscle. Although having fewer mitochondria than oxidative muscles, white gastrocnemius muscle presented a significantly higher activity (26.7 ± 9.5) in terms of complex I/V ratio compared to the red gastrocnemius (3.8 ± 0.65, P < 0.05) and soleus (9.8 ± 0.9, P < 0.001) muscles. Furthermore, the complex IV/V ratio of white gastrocnemius muscle was always significantly higher when compared to the other muscles. Ninety-five minutes of exhaustive physical exercise induced a decrease in complex I/V and complex IV/V ratios after all resting times (0, 3 and 6 h) compared to control (P < 0.05), probably reflecting the oxidative damage due to increasing free radical production in mitochondria. These results demonstrate the possible and useful application of BN-PAGE-histochemical staining to physical exercise studies. <![CDATA[<B>Recombinant antigen-based immuno-slot blot method for serodiagnosis of syphilis</B>]]> Three recombinant antigens of Treponema pallidum Nichols strain were fused with GST, cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, resulting in high levels of GST-rTp47 and GST-rTp17 expression, and supplementation with arginine tRNA for the AGR codon was needed to obtain GST-rTp15 overexpression. Purified fusion protein yields were 1.9, 1.7 and 5.3 mg/l of cell culture for GST-rTp47, GST-rTp17 and GST-rTp15, respectively. The identities of the antigens obtained were confirmed by automated DNA sequencing using ABI Prism 310 and peptide mapping by Finningan LC/MS. These recombinant antigens were evaluated by immuno-slot blot techniques applied to 137 serum samples from patients with a clinical and laboratory diagnosis of syphilis (61 samples), from healthy blood donors (50 samples), individuals with sexually transmitted disease other than syphilis (3 samples), and from individuals with other spirochetal diseases such as Lyme disease (20 samples) and leptospirosis (3 samples). The assay had sensitivity of 95.1% (95% CI, 86.1 to 98.7%) and a specificity of 94.7% (95% CI, 87.0 to 98.7%); a stronger reactivity was observed with fraction rTp17. The immunoreactivity results showed that fusion recombinant antigens based-immuno-slot blot techniques are suitable for use in diagnostic assays for syphilis. <![CDATA[<B>Elevated levels of erythrocyte-conjugated dienes indicate increased lipid peroxidation in schistosomiasis mansoni patients</B>]]> Schistosoma mansoni causes liver disease by inducing granulomatous inflammation. This favors formation of reactive oxygen species, including superoxide ions, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals all of which may induce lipid peroxidation. We have evaluated lipid peroxidation in 18 patients with hepatosplenic schistosomiasis mansoni previously treated with oxamniquine followed by splenectomy, ligature of the left gastric vein and auto-implantation of spleen tissue, by measuring levels of erythrocyte-conjugated dienes and plasma malondialdehyde (MDA). Age-matched, healthy individuals (N = 18) formed the control group. Erythrocyte-conjugated dienes were extracted with dichloromethane/methanol and quantified by UV spectrophotometry, while plasma MDA was measured by reaction with thiobarbituric acid. Patient erythrocytes contained two times more conjugated dienes than control cells (584.5 ± 67.8 vs 271.7 ± 20.1 µmol/l, P < 0.001), whereas the increase in plasma MDA concentration (about 10%) was not statistically significant. These elevated conjugated dienes in patients infected by S. mansoni suggest increased lipid peroxidation in cell membranes, although this was not evident when a common marker of oxidative stress, plasma MDA, was measured. Nevertheless, these two markers of lipid peroxidation, circulating MDA and erythrocyte-conjugated dienes, correlated significantly in both patient (r = 0.62; P < 0.01) and control (r = 0.57; P < 0.05) groups. Our data show that patients with schistosomiasis have abnormal lipid peroxidation, with elevated erythrocyte-conjugated dienes implying dysfunctional cell membranes, and also imply that this may be attenuated by the redox capacity of antioxidant agents, which prevent accumulation of plasma MDA. <![CDATA[<B>Quenching of the intrinsic fluorescence of bovine serum albumin by chlorpromazine and hemin</B>]]> The binding of chlorpromazine (CPZ) and hemin to bovine serum albumin was studied by the fluorescence quenching technique. CPZ is a widely used anti-psychotic drug that interacts with blood components, influences bioavailability, and affects function of several biomolecules. Hemin is an important ferric residue of hemoglobin that binds within the hydrophobic region of albumin with high specificity. Quenching of the intrinsic fluorescence of bovine serum albumin (BSA) was observed by selectively exciting tryptophan residues at 290 nm. Emission spectra were recorded in the range from 300 to 450 nm for each quencher addition. Stern-Volmer graphs were plotted, and the quenching constant estimated for BSA solution titrated with hemin at 25ºC was 1.44 (± 0.05) x 10(5) M-1. Results showed that bovine albumin tryptophans are not equally accessible to CPZ, in agreement with the idea that polar or charged quenchers have more affinity for amino acid residues on the outer wall of the protein. Hemin added to albumin solution at a molar ratio of 1:1 quenched about 25% of their fluorescence. The quenching effect of CPZ on albumin-hemin solution was stronger than on pure BSA. This increase can be the result of combined conformational changes in the structure of albumin caused firstly by hemin and then by CPZ. Our results suggest that the primary binding site for hemin on bovine albumin may be located asymmetrically between the two tryptophans along the sequence formed by subdomains IB and IIA, closer to tryptophan residue 212. <![CDATA[<B>Neutralization of the edema-forming, defibrinating and coagulant effects of <I>Bothrops asper</I> venom by extracts of plants used by healers in Colombia</B>]]> We determined the neutralizing activity of 12 ethanolic extracts of plants against the edema-forming, defibrinating and coagulant effects of Bothrops asper venom in Swiss Webster mice. The material used consisted of the leaves and branches of Bixa orellana (Bixaceae), Ficus nymphaeifolia (Moraceae), Struthanthus orbicularis (Loranthaceae) and Gonzalagunia panamensis (Rubiaceae); the stem barks of Brownea rosademonte (Caesalpiniaceae) and Tabebuia rosea (Bignoniaceae); the whole plant of Pleopeltis percussa (Polypodiaceae) and Trichomanes elegans (Hymenophyllaceae); rhizomes of Renealmia alpinia (Zingiberaceae), Heliconia curtispatha (Heliconiaceae) and Dracontium croatii (Araceae), and the ripe fruit of Citrus limon (Rutaceae). After preincubation of varying amounts of each extract with either 1.0 µg venom for the edema-forming effect or 2.0 µg venom for the defibrinating effect, the mixture was injected subcutaneously (sc) into the right foot pad or intravenously into the tail, respectively, to groups of four mice (18-20 g). All extracts (6.2-200 µg/mouse) partially neutralized the edema-forming activity of venom in a dose-dependent manner (58-76% inhibition), with B. orellana, S. orbicularis, G. panamensis, B. rosademonte, and D. croatii showing the highest effect. Ten extracts (3.9-2000 µg/mouse) also showed 100% neutralizing ability against the defibrinating effect of venom, and nine prolonged the coagulation time induced by the venom. When the extracts were administered either before or after venom injection, the neutralization of the edema-forming effect was lower than 40% for all extracts, and none of them neutralized the defibrinating effect of venom. When they were administered in situ (sc at the same site 5 min after venom injection), the neutralization of edema increased for six extracts, reaching levels up to 64% for C. limon. <![CDATA[<B>Effect of cyclooxygenase inhibitors on gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in rats</B>]]> The frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) in combination with gentamicin poses the additional risk of nephrotoxic renal failure. Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) is the main enzyme responsible for the synthesis of renal vasodilator prostaglandins, while COX-2 participates predominantly in the inflammatory process. Both are inhibited by non-selective NSAID such as indomethacin. Selective COX-2 inhibitors such as rofecoxib seem to have fewer renal side effects than non-selective inhibitors. The objective of the present study was to determine whether the combined use of rofecoxib and gentamicin can prevent the increased renal injury caused by gentamicin and indomethacin. Male Wistar rats (250-300 g) were treated with gentamicin (100 mg/kg body weight, ip, N = 7), indomethacin (5 mg/kg, orally, N = 7), rofecoxib (1.4 mg/kg, orally, N = 7), gentamicin + rofecoxib (100 and 1.4 mg/kg, respectively) or gentamicin + indomethacin (100 and 5 mg/kg, respectively, N = 8) for 5 days. Creatinine clearance and alpha-glutathione-S-transferase concentrations were used as markers of renal injury. Animals were anesthetized with ether and sacrificed for blood collection. The use of gentamicin plus indomethacin led to worsened renal function (0.199 ± 0.019 ml/min), as opposed to the absence of a nephrotoxic effect of rofecoxib when gentamicin plus rofexicob was used (0.242 ± 0.011 ml/min). These results indicate that COX-2-selective inhibitors can be used as an alternative treatment to conventional NSAID, especially in situations in which risk factors for nephrotoxicity are present. <![CDATA[<B>Effects of melatonin on the ovarian response to pinealectomy or continuous light in female rats</B>: <B>similarity with polycystic ovary syndrome</B>]]> The current study was conducted to investigate the relationship between melatonin and chronic anovulation. Adult (3-4 months old) female Wistar rats were submitted to pinealectomy: group I: pinealectomized ovariectomized melatonin-treated (N = 10); group II: pinealectomized ovariectomized placebo-treated (N = 12); group III: pinealectomized light-treated placebo-treated(N = 10) or maintained under continuous light; group IV: maintained under continuous light, ovariectomized melatonin-treated (N = 22); group V: maintained under continuous light, ovariectomized placebo-treated (N = 10); group VI: maintained under continuous light placebo-treated (N = 10). In order to assess ovarian modifications, unilateral ovariectomy was performed during the fourth month in groups I, II, IV, V and the other ovary was removed after 8 months. Ovariectomy was performed in groups III and VI only after eight months. Melatonin (200 µg/100 g body weight) dissolved in 0.02 ml absolute ethanol was injected intramuscularly daily during the last 4 months into groups I and IV. The other groups were treated with placebo (NaCl). The ovarian cysts were analyzed and their area, perimeter and maximum diameter, as well as the thickness of the ovarian capsule were measured. Daily colpocytological smears were performed throughout the study. Persistent estrous condition and ovarian cysts were observed in all groups. In pinealectomized rats the ovarian and vaginal alterations disappeared at the end of the study and in rats maintained under continuous light the vaginal and ovarian polycystic aspect was reversed only in those treated with melatonin. We conclude that melatonin may act on the ovarian response reverting chronic anovulation induced by pinealectomy or continuous light. <![CDATA[<B>Colocalization of coilin and nucleolar proteins in Cajal body-like structures of micronucleated PtK<SUB>2</SUB> cells</B>]]> Cajal bodies (CB) are ubiquitous nuclear structures involved in the biogenesis of small nuclear ribonucleoproteins and show narrow association with the nucleolus. To identify possible relationships between CB and the nucleolus, the localization of coilin, a marker of CB, and of a set of nucleolar proteins was investigated in cultured PtK2 cells undergoing micronucleation. Nocodazol-induced micronucleated cells were examined by double indirect immunofluorescence with antibodies against coilin, fibrillarin, NOR-90/hUBF, RNA polymerase I, PM/Scl, and To/Th. Cells were imaged on a BioRad 1024-UV confocal system attached to a Zeiss Axiovert 100 microscope. Since PtK2 cells possess only one nucleolus organizer region, micronucleated cells presented only one or two micronuclei containing nucleolus. By confocal microscopy we showed that in most micronuclei lacking a typical nucleolus a variable number of round structures were stained by antibodies against fibrillarin, NOR-90/hUBF protein, and coilin. These bodies were regarded as CB-like structures and were not stained by anti-PM/Scl and anti-To/Th antibodies. Anti-RNA polymerase I antibodies also reacted with CB-like structures in some micronuclei lacking nucleolus. The demonstration that a set of proteins involved in RNA/RNP biogenesis, namely coilin, fibrillarin, NOR-90/hUBF, and RNA polymerase I gather in CB-like structures present in nucleoli-devoid micronuclei may contribute to shed some light into the understanding of CB function. <![CDATA[<B>Effect of the <I>Escherichia coli</I> EMO strain on experimental infection by <I>Salmonella enterica</I> serovar Typhimurium in gnotobiotic mice</B>]]> An experimental infection with Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium was evaluated in gnotobiotic mice previously exposed to a plasmid-free non-pathogenic Escherichia coli (EMO strain). Mice were exposed to EMO (experimental) or not (control) 10 days before challenge with Salmonella Typhimurium (10² colony forming units (CFU)/mouse). Survival after challenge was higher (P < 0.05) in the experimental group (16%) than in the control animals (0%). Histopathological examination of the colon and ileum mucosa of the experimental group showed less extensive lesions such as edema, cell inflammatory infiltration and hyperemia. The epithelial cells of the mucosal surface and the production of the mucous layer were also better preserved in the experimental group. The population levels of Salmonella Typhimurium in the feces were initially 10-fold lower (P < 0.05) in the experimental groups. However, 3 days after challenge both experimental and control groups showed similar population levels ranging from 10(8) to()10(9) CFU/g of feces. The intestinal contents of total and anti-Salmonella Typhimurium sIgA were higher in the experimental groups 10 days after inoculation of E. coli EMO strain. Translocation of Salmonella Typhimurium to the spleen was 10-fold lower (P < 0.05) in the experimental group only on day 3 after infection. This was not related to an increase in the bacterial blood clearance of the animals, as shown by experimental venous challenge with E. coli B41. In conclusion, treatment of mice with E. coli EMO strain promoted a relative protection against experimental infection with Salmonella Typhimurium. This protection was not due to the reduction of the population of pathogens in the intestine but was probably related to stimulation of the immune response. <![CDATA[<B>An experimental model of mycobacterial infection under corneal flaps</B>]]> In order to develop a new experimental animal model of infection with Mycobacterium chelonae in keratomileusis, we conducted a double-blind prospective study on 24 adult male New Zealand rabbits. One eye of each rabbit was submitted to automatic lamellar keratotomy with the automatic corneal shaper under general anesthesia. Eyes were immunosuppressed by a single local injection of methyl prednisolone. Twelve animals were inoculated into the keratomileusis interface with 1 µl of 10(6) heat-inactivated bacteria (heat-inactivated inoculum controls) and 12 with 1 µl of 10(6) live bacteria. Trimethoprim drops (0.1%, w/v) were used as prophylaxis for the surgical procedure every 4 h (50 µl, qid). Animals were examined by 2 observers under a slit lamp on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 11th, 16th, and 23rd postoperative days. Slit lamp photographs were taken to document clinical signs. Animals were sacrificed when corneal disease was detected and corneal samples were taken for microbiological analysis. Eleven of 12 experimental rabbits developed corneal disease, and M. chelonae could be isolated from nine rabbits. Eleven of the 12 controls receiving a heat-inactivated inoculum did not develop corneal disease. M. chelonae was not isolated from any of the control rabbits receiving a heat-inactivated inoculum, or from the healthy cornea of control rabbits. Corneal infection by M. chelonae was successfully induced in rabbits submitted to keratomileusis. To our knowledge, this is the first animal model of M. chelonae infection following corneal flaps for refractive surgery to be described in the literature and can be used for the analysis of therapeutic responses. <![CDATA[<B><I>In situ</I> enzyme immunoassay for titration of a Brazilian hepatitis A virus strain (HAF-203)</B>]]> Hepatitis A virus (HAV) replicates relatively slowly in cell culture without a cytopathic effect, a fact that limits the use of tissue culture assays. The radioimmunofocus assay is the standard method for HAV titration, although it is labor intensive and requires the use of radioisotopes. A simple, rapid and objective infectivity assay based on an in situ enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is described here for a Brazilian cell culture-adapted HAV strain (HAF-203). The assay uses a peroxidase-labeled polyclonal antibody to fixed monolayers as an indicator of infection. EIA may be completed within 7 days using serial 5-fold dilutions of the virus, yielding a titer of 5.024 log 50% tissue culture infective dose (TCID50)/ml for HAF-203. This technique had a detection limit of 1.1 log TCID50/ml and the specificity was demonstrated by detecting no reaction on the columns of uninfected wells. The reproducibility (with intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation ranging from 1.9 to 3.8% and from 3.5 to 9.9%, respectively) and quantitation of the assay were demonstrated by close agreement in virus infectivity titers among different assays of the same amount of virus and between assays of different amounts of virus. Furthermore, this assay does not require the use of radiolabeled antibodies. We describe here an efficient EIA that is highly reproducible and that could be used to monitor HAV growth in cell culture and to determine the quantity of HAV antigen needed for diagnostic assays. This is the first report of the infectious titer of the Brazilian cell culture-adapted HAV strain (HAF-203). <![CDATA[<B>Tomato and garlic by gavage modulate 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced genotoxicity and oxidative stress in mice</B>]]> Chemoprotection by dietary agents is a promising strategy for cancer prevention. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the combined effect of tomato and garlic against 7,12-dimethylbenz- [a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced genetic damage and oxidative stress in 12-14-week-old male Swiss albino mice. The animals were randomized into experimental and control groups and divided into eight groups of five animals each. Group 1 animals were injected intraperitoneally with 35 mg/kg body weight DMBA suspended in peanut oil as a single dose. Groups 2-4 animals received tomato (500 mg/kg body weight), garlic (125 mg/kg body weight) and a combination of tomato and garlic for 5 days by gavage, respectively, followed by DMBA 1.5 h after the final feeding. The doses of tomato and garlic correspond to the average human daily consumption. Animals in groups 5, 6 and 7 received tomato alone, garlic alone and tomato + garlic combination, respectively, for 5 days. Group 8 animals received the same volume of water and served as control. The incidence of bone marrow micronuclei and the extent of lipid peroxidation and the concentrations of antioxidants glutathione, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase were measured in the liver, 48 h after DMBA exposure. Increased frequency of micronuclei and enhanced lipid peroxidation accompanied by compromised antioxidant defenses were observed in DMBA-treated animals. Although pretreatment with tomato or garlic significantly reduced the frequency of DMBA-induced bone marrow micronuclei, the combination of tomato and garlic exhibited more profound effect in inhibiting DMBA-induced genotoxicity and oxidative stress. We suggest that a broad spectrum of antimutagenic and anticlastogenic effects can be achieved through an effective combination of functional foods such as tomato and garlic. <![CDATA[<B>The interaction of housing condition and acute immobilization stress on the elevated plus-maze behaviors of protein-malnourished rats</B>]]> Protein malnutrition induces structural, neurochemical and functional alterations in the central nervous system, leading to behavioral alterations. In the present study, we used the elevated plus-maze (EPM) as a measure of anxiety to evaluate the interaction between acute immobilization and housing conditions on the behavior of malnourished rats. Pups (6 males and 2 females) were fed by Wistar lactating dams receiving a 6% (undernourished) or 16% (well-nourished) protein diet. After weaning, the animals continued to receive the same diets ad libitum until 49 days of age when they started to receive a regular lab chow diet. From weaning to the end of the tests on day 70, the animals were housed under two different conditions, i.e., individual or in groups of three. On the 69th day, half of the animals were submitted to immobilization for 2 h, while the other half were undisturbed, and both groups were tested 24 h later for 5 min in the EPM. Independent of other factors, protein malnutrition increased, while immobilization and social isolation per se decreased, EPM exploration. Analysis of the interaction of diet vs immobilization vs housing conditions showed that the increased EPM exploration presented by the malnourished group was reversed by acute immobilization in animals reared in groups but not in animals reared individually. The interaction between immobilization and housing conditions suggests that living for a long time in social isolation is sufficiently stressful to reduce the responses to another anxiogenic procedure (immobilization), while living in groups prompts the animals to react to acute stress. Thus, it is suggested that housing condition can modulate the effects of an anxiogenic procedure on behavioral responses of malnourished rats in the EPM. <![CDATA[<B>Monoamines in the pedal plexus of the land snail <I>Megalobulimus oblongus </I>(Gastropoda, Pulmonata)</B>]]> In molluscs, the number of peripheral neurons far exceeds those found in the central nervous system. Although previous studies on the morphology of the peripheral nervous system exist, details of its organization remain unknown. Moreover, the foot of the terrestrial species has been studied less than that of the aquatic species. As this knowledge is essential for our experimental model, the pulmonate gastropod Megalobulimus oblongus, the aim of the present study was to investigate monoamines in the pedal plexus of this snail using two procedures: glyoxylic acid histofluorescence to identify monoaminergic structures, and the unlabeled antibody peroxidase anti-peroxidase method using antiserum to detect the serotonergic component of the plexus. Adult land snails weighing 48-80 g, obtained from the counties of Barra do Ribeiro and Charqueadas (RS, Brazil), were utilized. Monoaminergic fibers were detected throughout the pedal musculature. Blue fluorescence (catecholamines, probably dopamine) was observed in nerve branches, pedal and subepithelial plexuses, and in the pedal muscle cells. Yellow fluorescence (serotonin) was only observed in thick nerves and in muscle cells. However, when immunohistochemical methods were used, serotonergic fibers were detected in the pedal nerve branches, the pedal and subepithelial plexuses, the basal and lateral zones of the ventral integument epithelial cells, in the pedal ganglion neurons and beneath the ventral epithelium. These findings suggest catecholaminergic and serotonergic involvement in locomotion and modulation of both the pedal ganglion interneurons and sensory information. Knowledge of monoaminergic distribution in this snail´s foot is important for understanding the pharmacological control of reflexive responses and locomotive behavior. <![CDATA[<B>Selegiline increases heme oxygenase-1 expression and the cytotoxicity produced by dopamine treatment of</B> <B>neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells</B>]]> Increased dopamine catabolism may be associated with oxidative stress and neuronal cell death in Parkinson's disease. The present study was carried out to examine the effect of dopamine on the expression of heme oxygenase-1 and -2 (HO-1 and HO-2) in human neuroblastomas (SK-N-SH cell line) and the effects of selegiline and antioxidants on this expression. Cells were kept with close control of pH and were incubated with varying concentrations of dopamine (0.1-100 µM) for 24 h. HO-1 and HO-2 cDNA probes were prepared by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction amplification. The mRNA expression of HO-1 and HO-2 was measured by Northern blot analysis. The levels of HO-1 mRNA increased after dopamine treatment, in a dose-dependent manner, in all cell lines studied, whereas levels of the two HO-2 transcripts did not. The HO-1 and HO-2 protein expression was analyzed by Western blotting. HO-1 protein was undetectable in untreated SK-N-SH cells and increased after treatment with dopamine. In contrast, the HO-2 protein (36 kDa) was detected in untreated cells and the levels did not change as a result of treatment. alpha-Tocopherol (10-100 µM) and ascorbic acid (100 µM) did not attenuate the effects of dopamine. Selegiline (10 µM) produced significant increase (P < 0.01) in the induction of HO-1 by dopamine (more than six times the control values). The increased expression of HO-1 following dopamine treatment indicates that dopamine produces oxidative stress in this cell line. <![CDATA[<B>Experimental context modulates warning signal effects</B>]]> Previous studies have shown that saccadic eye responses but not manual responses were sensitive to the kind of warning signal used, with visual onsets producing longer saccadic latencies compared to visual offsets. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of distinct warning signals on manual latencies and to test the premise that the onset interference, in fact, does not occur for manual responses. A second objective was to determine if the magnitude of the warning effects could be modulated by contextual procedures. Three experimental conditions based on the kind of warning signal used (visual onset, visual offset and auditory warning) were run in two different contexts (blocked and non-blocked). Eighteen participants were asked to respond to the imperative stimulus that would occur some milliseconds (0, 250, 500 or 750 ms) after the warning signal. The experiment consisted in three experimental sessions of 240 trials, where all the variables were counterbalanced. The data showed that visual onsets produced longer manual latencies than visual offsets in the non-blocked context (275 vs 261 ms; P < 0.001). This interference was obtained, however, only for short intervals between the warning and the stimulus, and was abolished when the blocked context was used (256 vs 255 ms; P = 0.789). These results are discussed in terms of bottom-up and top-down interactions, mainly those related to the role of attentional processing in canceling out competitive interactions and suppressive influences of a distractor on the relevant stimulus. <![CDATA[<B>The alga <I>Bryothamnion seaforthii </I>contains carbohydrates with antinociceptive activity</B>]]> Bryothamnion seaforthii, a red alga common to the Northeastern coast of Brazil, was used to prepare the protein fraction F0/60 by ammonium sulfate precipitation. The chromatography of F0/60 on DEAE-Sephadel column resulted in two lectin fractions, PI and PII, which have antinociceptive properties in rodents. We determined the antinociceptive activity of the PII fraction and of a carbohydrate-containing fraction (CF) in mice. The CF was prepared from the dried algae, after digestion with 100 mM sodium acetate, pH 6.0, containing 5 mM cysteine, EDTA and 0.4% papain, at 60ºC. A 10% cetylpyridinium chloride was added to the filtrate, and the precipitate was dissolved with 2 M NaCl:ethanol (100:15, v/v) followed by the carbohydrate precipitation with ethanol. The final precipitate, in acetone, was dried at 25ºC. The PII fraction markedly inhibited acetic acid-induced abdominal writhing after ip administration (control: 27.1 ± 2.20; PII 0.1 mg/kg: 5.5 ± 1.85; 1 mg/kg: 1.6 ± 0.72 writhes/20 min) and after oral administration (control: 32.0 ± 3.32; PII 0.1 mg/kg: 13.1 ± 2.50; 1 mg/kg: 9.4 ± 3.96 writhes/20 min). PII was also effective against both phases of pain induced by 1% formalin (control, ip: 48.2 ± 2.40 and 27.7 ± 2.56 s; PII: 1 mg/kg, ip: 34.3 ± 5.13 and 5.6 ± 2.14 s; control, po: 44.5 ± 3.52 and 25.6 ± 2.39 s; PII 5 mg/kg, po: 26.5 ± 4.67 and 15.3 ± 3.54 s for the 1st and 2nd phases, respectively) and in the hot-plate test. The CF (ip) also displayed significant antinociceptive properties in all tests but at higher doses (1 and 5 mg/kg, ip and po). Thus, CF at the dose of 5 mg/kg significantly inhibited writhes (ip: 7.1 ± 2.47 and po: 14.5 ± 2.40 writhes/20 min) as well as the 1st (po: 19.6 ± 1.74 s) and 2nd (po: 7.1 ± 2.24 s) phases of the formalin test compared to controls ip and po. The antinociceptive effects of both the PII and CF in the formalin and hot-plate tests were prevented at least partially by pretreatment with the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (2 mg/kg, sc). Moreover, both fractions retained antinociceptive activity in the acetic acid-induced writhing test following heating, a procedure which abolished the hemagglutinating activity of the fraction, presumably due to lectins also present. Finally, both fractions also prolonged the barbiturate-induced sleeping time. These results indicate that carbohydrate molecules present in the PII (26.8% carbohydrate) and CF (21% of the alga dried weight) obtained from B. seaforthii display pronounced antinociceptive activity which is resistant to heat denaturation and is mediated by an opioid mechanism, as indicated by naloxone inhibition. <![CDATA[<B>Spectral analysis of the electromyograph of the erector spinae muscle before and after a dynamic manual load-lifting test</B>]]> The aim of the present study was to assess the spectral behavior of the erector spinae muscle during isometric contractions performed before and after a dynamic manual load-lifting test carried out by the trunk in order to determine the capacity of muscle to perform this task. Nine healthy female students participated in the experiment. Their average age, height, and body mass (± SD) were 20 ± 1 years, 1.6 ± 0.03 m, and 53 ± 4 kg, respectively. The development of muscle fatigue was assessed by spectral analysis (median frequency) and root mean square with time. The test consisted of repeated bending movements from the trunk, starting from a 45º angle of flexion, with the application of approximately 15, 25 and 50% of maximum individual load, to the stand up position. The protocol used proved to be more reliable with loads exceeding 50% of the maximum for the identification of muscle fatigue by electromyography as a function of time. Most of the volunteers showed an increase in root mean square versus time on both the right (N = 7) and the left (N = 6) side, indicating a tendency to become fatigued. With respect to the changes in median frequency of the electromyographic signal, the loads used in this study had no significant effect on either the right or the left side of the erector spinae muscle at this frequency, suggesting that a higher amount and percentage of loads would produce more substantial results in the study of isotonic contractions. <![CDATA[<B>Cholesterol induces fetal rat enterocyte death in culture</B>]]> The effect of cholesterol on fetal rat enterocytes and IEC-6 cells (line originated from normal rat small intestine) was examined. Both cells were cultured in the presence of 20 to 80 µM cholesterol for up to 72 h. Apoptosis was determined by flow cytometric analysis and fluorescence microscopy. The expression of HMG-CoA reductase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) was measured by RT-PCR. The addition of 20 µM cholesterol reduced enterocyte proliferation as early as 6 h of culture. Reduction of enterocyte proliferation by 28 and 41% was observed after 24 h of culture in the presence and absence of 10% fetal calf serum, respectively, with the effect lasting up to 72 h. Treatment of IEC-6 cells with cholesterol for 24 h raised the proportion of cells with fragmented DNA by 9.7% at 40 µM and by 20.8% at 80 µM. When the culture period was extended to 48 h, the effect of cholesterol was still more pronounced, with the percent of cells with fragmented DNA reaching 53.5% for 40 µM and 84.3% for 80 µM. Chromatin condensation of IEC-6 cells was observed after treatment with cholesterol even at 20 µM. Cholesterol did not affect HMG-CoA reductase expression. A dose-dependent increase in PPARgamma expression in fetal rat enterocytes was observed. The expression of PPAR-gamma was raised by 7- and 40-fold, in the presence and absence of fetal calf serum, respectively, with cholesterol at 80 mM. The apoptotic effect of cholesterol on enterocytes was possibly due to an increase in PPARgamma expression. <![CDATA[<B>Abnormal subcellular distribution of GLUT4 protein in obese and insulin-treated diabetic female dogs</B>]]> The GLUT4 transporter plays a key role in insulin-induced glucose uptake, which is impaired in insulin resistance. The objective of the present study was to investigate the tissue content and the subcellular distribution of GLUT4 protein in 4- to 12-year-old control, obese and insulin-treated diabetic mongrel female dogs (4 animals per group). The parametrial white adipose tissue was sampled and processed to obtain both plasma membrane and microsome subcellular fractions for GLUT4 analysis by Western blotting. There was no significant difference in glycemia and insulinemia between control and obese animals. Diabetic dogs showed hyperglycemia (369.9 ± 89.9 mg/dl). Compared to control, the plasma membrane GLUT4, reported per g tissue, was reduced by 55% (P < 0.01) in obese dogs, and increased by 30% (P < 0.05) in diabetic dogs, and the microsomal GLUT4 was increased by ~45% (P < 0.001) in both obese and diabetic animals. Considering the sum of GLUT4 measured in plasma membrane and microsome as total cellular GLUT4, percent GLUT4 present in plasma membrane was reduced by ~65% (P < 0.001) in obese compared to control and diabetic animals. Since insulin stimulates GLUT4 translocation to the plasma membrane, percent GLUT4 in plasma membrane was divided by the insulinemia at the time of tissue removal and was found to be reduced by 75% (P < 0.01) in obese compared to control dogs. We conclude that the insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 to the cell surface is reduced in obese female dogs. This probably contributes to insulin resistance, which plays an important role in glucose homeostasis in dogs.