Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases]]> vol. 23 num. lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Antiviral activity of animal venom peptides and related compounds]]> Abstract Viruses exhibit rapid mutational capacity to trick and infect host cells, sometimes assisted through virus-coded peptides that counteract host cellular immune defense. Although a large number of compounds have been identified as inhibiting various viral infections and disease progression, it is urgent to achieve the discovery of more effective agents. Furthermore, proportionally to the great variety of diseases caused by viruses, very few viral vaccines are available, and not all are efficient. Thus, new antiviral substances obtained from natural products have been prospected, including those derived from venomous animals. Venoms are complex mixtures of hundreds of molecules, mostly peptides, that present a large array of biological activities and evolved to putatively target the biochemical machinery of different pathogens or host cellular structures. In addition, non-venomous compounds, such as some body fluids of invertebrate organisms, exhibit antiviral activity. This review provides a panorama of peptides described from animal venoms that present antiviral activity, thereby reinforcing them as important tools for the development of new therapeutic drugs. <![CDATA[Highlights in the knowledge of brown spider toxins]]> Abstract Brown spiders are venomous arthropods that use their venom for predation and defense. In humans, bites of these animals provoke injuries including dermonecrosis with gravitational spread of lesions, hematological abnormalities and impaired renal function. The signs and symptoms observed following a brown spider bite are called loxoscelism. Brown spider venom is a complex mixture of toxins enriched in low molecular mass proteins (4–40 kDa). Characterization of the venom confirmed the presence of three highly expressed protein classes: phospholipases D, metalloproteases (astacins) and insecticidal peptides (knottins). Recently, toxins with low levels of expression have also been found in Loxosceles venom, such as serine proteases, protease inhibitors (serpins), hyaluronidases, allergen-like toxins and histamine-releasing factors. The toxin belonging to the phospholipase-D family (also known as the dermonecrotic toxin) is the most studied class of brown spider toxins. This class of toxins single-handedly can induce inflammatory response, dermonecrosis, hemolysis, thrombocytopenia and renal failure. The functional role of the hyaluronidase toxin as a spreading factor in loxoscelism has also been demonstrated. However, the biological characterization of other toxins remains unclear and the mechanism by which Loxosceles toxins exert their noxious effects is yet to be fully elucidated. The aim of this review is to provide an insight into brown spider venom toxins and toxicology, including a description of historical data already available in the literature. In this review article, the identification processes of novel Loxosceles toxins by molecular biology and proteomic approaches, their biological characterization and structural description based on x-ray crystallography and putative biotechnological uses are described along with the future perspectives in this field. <![CDATA[Multiple uses of fibrin sealant for nervous system treatment following injury and disease]]> Abstract Lesions to the nervous system often produce hemorrhage and tissue loss that are difficult, if not impossible, to repair. Therefore, scar formation, inflammation and cavitation take place, expanding the lesion epicenter. This significantly worsens the patient conditions and impairment, increasing neuronal loss and glial reaction, which in turn further decreases the chances of a positive outcome. The possibility of using hemostatic substances that also function as a scaffold, such as the fibrin sealant, reduces surgical time and improve postoperative recovery. To date, several studies have demonstrated that human blood derived fibrin sealant produces positive effects in different interventions, becoming an efficient alternative to suturing. To provide an alternative to homologous fibrin sealants, the Center for the Study of Venoms and Venomous Animals (CEVAP, Brazil) has proposed a new bioproduct composed of certified animal components, including a thrombin-like enzyme obtained from snake venom and bubaline fibrinogen. Thus, the present review brings up to date literature assessment on the use of fibrin sealant for nervous system repair and positions the new heterologous bioproduct from CEVAP as an alternative to the commercial counterparts. In this way, clinical and pre-clinical data are discussed in different topics, ranging from central nervous system to peripheral nervous system applications, specifying positive results as well as future enhancements that are necessary for improving the use of fibrin sealant therapy. <![CDATA[Alpha-type phospholipase A<sub>2</sub> inhibitors from snake blood]]> Abstract It is of popular and scientific knowledge that toxins from snake venom (among them the PLA2 and myotoxins) are neutralized by various compounds, such as antibodies and proteins purified from animal blood. Venomous and nonvenomous snakes have PLA2 inhibitory proteins, called PLIs, in their blood serum. One hypothesis that could explain the presence of these PLIs in the serum of venomous snakes would be self-protection against the enzymes of their own venom, which eventually could reach the circulatory system. However, the presence of PLIs in non-venomous snakes suggests that their physiological role might not be restricted to protection against PLA2 toxins, but could be extended to other functions, as in the innate immune system and local regulation of PLA2s. The present study aimed to review the currently available literature on PLA2 and myotoxin alpha inhibitors present in snake plasma, thus helping to improve the research on these molecules. Furthermore, this review includes current information regarding the mechanism of action of these inhibitors in an attempt to better understand their application, and proposes the use of these molecules as new models in snakebite therapy. These molecules may help in the neutralization of different types of phospholipases A2 and myotoxins, complementing the conventional serum therapy. <![CDATA[Heterologous fibrin sealant derived from snake venom: from bench to bedside – an overview]]> Abstract Hemostatic and adhesive agents date back to World War II, when homologous fibrin sealant came onto scene. Considering that infectious diseases can be transmitted via human blood, a new heterologous fibrin sealant was standardized in the 1990s. Its components were a serine protease (a thrombin-like enzyme) extracted from the venom of Crotalus durissus terrificus snakes and a fibrinogen-rich cryoprecipitate extracted from the blood of Bubalus bubalis buffaloes. This new bioproduct has been used as a coagulant, sealant, adhesive and recently as a candidate scaffold for mesenchymal stem cells and bone and cartilage repair. This review discusses the composition of a new heterologous fibrin sealant, and cites published articles related to its preclinical applications aiming at repairing nervous system traumas and regenerating bone marrow. Finally, we present an innovative safety trial I/II that found the product to be a safe and clinically promising candidate for treating chronic venous ulcers. A multicenter clinical trial, phase II/III, with a larger number of participants will be performed to prove the efficacy of an innovative biopharmaceutical product derived from animal venom. <![CDATA[Protein-species quantitative venomics: looking through a crystal ball]]> Abstract In this paper we discuss recent significant developments in the field of venom research, specifically the emergence of top-down proteomic applications that allow achieving compositional resolution at the level of the protein species present in the venom, and the absolute quantification of the venom proteins (the term “protein species” is used here to refer to all the different molecular forms in which a protein can be found. Please consult the special issue of Jornal of Proteomics “Towards deciphering proteomes via the proteoform, protein speciation, moonlighting and protein code concepts” published in 2016, vol. 134, pages 1-202). Challenges remain to be solved in order to achieve a compact and automated platform with which to routinely carry out comprehensive quantitative analysis of all toxins present in a venom. This short essay reflects the authors’ view of the immediate future in this direction for the proteomic analysis of venoms, particularly of snakes. <![CDATA[Strategies in ‘snake venomics’ aiming at an integrative view of compositional, functional, and immunological characteristics of venoms]]> Abstract This work offers a general overview on the evolving strategies for the proteomic analysis of snake venoms, and discusses how these may be combined through diverse experimental approaches with the goal of achieving a more comprehensive knowledge on the compositional, toxic, and immunological characteristics of venoms. Some recent developments in this field are summarized, highlighting how strategies have evolved from the mere cataloguing of venom components (proteomics/venomics), to a broader exploration of their immunological (antivenomics) and functional (toxicovenomics) characteristics. Altogether, the combination of these complementary strategies is helping to build a wider, more integrative view of the life-threatening protein cocktails produced by venomous snakes, responsible for thousands of deaths every year. <![CDATA[Cardiorespiratory alterations in rodents experimentally envenomed with <em>Hadruroides lunatus</em> scorpion venom]]> Abstract Background Hadruroides lunatus is the most abundant scorpion species in the Peruvian central coast, where most of the accidents involving humans are registered. In spite of its prevalence, there are only very few studies on H. lunatus envenomation. The aim of the present study was to analyze the cardiorespiratory alterations caused by H. lunatus envenomation in rodents. Methods Wistar rats injected with H. lunatus scorpion venom were submitted to electrocardiography. After euthanasia, rat lungs were collected and histopathologically analyzed. Mouse cardiomyocytes were used to perform immunofluorescence and calcium transient assays. Data were analyzed by ANOVA or Student’s t-test. The significance level was set at p&lt; 0.05. Results It was observed that H. lunatus venom increased heart rate and caused arrhythmia, thereby impairing the heart functioning. Lungs of envenomed animals showed significant alterations, such as diffuse hemorrhage. In addition, immunofluorescence showed that H. lunatus venom was capable of binding to cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, mouse ventricular cardiomyocytes incubated with H. lunatus venom showed a significant decrease in calcium transient, confirming that H. lunatus venom exerts a toxic effect on heart. Conclusion Our results showed that H. lunatus venom is capable of inducing cardiorespiratory alterations, a typical systemic effect of scorpionism, stressing the importance of medical monitoring in envenomation cases. <![CDATA[Ocellatin peptides from the skin secretion of the South American frog <em>Leptodactylus labyrinthicus</em> (Leptodactylidae): characterization, antimicrobial activities and membrane interactions]]> Abstract Background The availability of antimicrobial peptides from several different natural sources has opened an avenue for the discovery of new biologically active molecules. To the best of our knowledge, only two peptides isolated from the frog Leptodactylus labyrinthicus, namely pentadactylin and ocellatin-F1, have shown antimicrobial activities. Therefore, in order to explore the antimicrobial potential of this species, we have investigated the biological activities and membrane interactions of three peptides isolated from the anuran skin secretion. Methods Three peptide primary structures were determined by automated Edman degradation. These sequences were prepared by solid-phase synthesis and submitted to activity assays against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and against two fungal strains. The hemolytic properties of the peptides were also investigated in assays with rabbit blood erythrocytes. The conformational preferences of the peptides and their membrane interactions have been investigated by circular dichroism spectroscopy and liposome dye release assays. Results The amino acid compositions of three ocellatins were determined and the sequences exhibit 100% homology for the first 22 residues (ocellatin-LB1 sequence). Ocellatin-LB2 carries an extra Asn residue and ocellatin-F1 extra Asn-Lys-Leu residues at C-terminus. Ocellatin-F1 presents a stronger antibiotic potential and a broader spectrum of activities compared to the other peptides. The membrane interactions and pore formation capacities of the peptides correlate directly with their antimicrobial activities, i.e., ocellatin-F1 &gt; ocellatin-LB1 &gt; ocellatin-LB2. All peptides acquire high helical contents in membrane environments. However, ocellatin-F1 shows in average stronger helical propensities. Conclusions The obtained results indicate that the three extra amino acid residues at the ocellatin-F1 C-terminus play an important role in promoting stronger peptide-membrane interactions and antimicrobial properties. The extra Asn-23 residue present in ocellatin-LB2 sequence seems to decrease its antimicrobial potential and the strength of the peptide-membrane interactions. <![CDATA[Hematological and plasma biochemical parameters in a wild population of <em>Naja naja</em> (Linnaeus, 1758) in Sri Lanka]]> Abstract Background Hematological studies of any animal species comprise an important diagnostic method in veterinary medicine and an essential tool for the conservation of species. In Sri Lanka, this essential technique has been ignored in studies of many species including reptiles. The aim of the present work was to establish a reference range of hematological values and morphological characterization of wild spectacled cobras (Naja naja) in Sri Lanka in order to provide a diagnostic tool in the assessment of health condition in reptiles and to diagnose diseases in wild populations. Methods Blood samples were collected from the ventral caudal vein of 30 wild-caught Naja naja (18 males and 12 females). Hematological analyses were performed using manual standard methods. Results Several hematological parameters were examined and their mean values were: red blood cell count 0.581 ± 0.035 × 106/μL in males; 0.4950 ± 0.0408 × 106/μL in females; white blood cell count 12.45 ± 1.32 × 103/μL in males; 11.98 ± 1.62 × 103/μL in females; PCV (%) in males was 30.11 ± 1.93 and in females was 23.41 ± 1.67; hemoglobin (g/dL) was 7.6 ± 0.89 in males and 6.62 ± 1.49 in females; plasma protein (g/dL) was 5.11 ± 0.75 in males and 3.25 ± 0.74 in females; whereas cholesterol (mg/mL) was 4.09 ± 0.12 in males and 3.78 ± 0.42 in females. There were no significant differences in hematological parameters between the two genders except for erythrocyte count, thrombocyte count, hematocrit, hemoglobin, plasma protein, percentage of azurophil and heterophil. Intracellular parasites were not found in any of the studied specimens. Conclusion Hematological and plasma biochemical parameters indicated a difference between geographically isolated populations and some values were significantly different between the two genders. These hematological results provide a reference range for Sri Lankan population of adult Naja naja. <![CDATA[Structural determinants of the hyperalgesic activity of myotoxic Lys49-phospholipase A<sub>2</sub>]]> Abstract Background Bothropstoxin-I (BthTx-I) is a Lys49-phospholipase A2 (Lys49-PLA2) from the venom of Bothrops jararacussu, which despite of the lack of catalytic activity induces myotoxicity, inflammation and pain. The C-terminal region of the Lys49-PLA2s is important for these effects; however, the amino acid residues that determine hyperalgesia and edema are unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize the structural determinants for the Lys49-PLA2-induced nociception and inflammation. Methods Scanning alanine mutagenesis in the active-site and C-terminal regions of BthTx-I has been used to study the structural determinants of toxin activities. The R118A mutant was employed as this substitution decreases PLA2 myotoxicity. In addition, K115A and K116A mutants – which contribute to decrease cytotoxicity – and the K122A mutant – which decreases both myotoxicity and cytotoxicity – were also used. The H48Q mutant – which does not interfere with membrane damage or myotoxic activity – was used to evaluate if the PLA2 catalytic site is relevant for the non-catalytic PLA2-induced pain and inflammation. Wistar male rats received intraplantar injections with mutant PLA2. Subsequently, hyperalgesia and edema were evaluated by the paw pressure test and by a plethysmometer. Native and recombinant BthTx-I were used as controls. Results Native and recombinant BthTx-I induced hyperalgesia and edema, which peaked at 2 h. The R118A mutant did not induce nociception or edema. The mutations K115A and K116A abolished hyperalgesia without interfering with edema. Finally, the K122A mutant did not induce hyperalgesia and presented a decreased inflammatory response. Conclusions The results obtained with the BthTx-I mutants suggest, for the first time, that there are distinct residues responsible for the hyperalgesia and edema induced by BthTx-I. In addition, we also showed that cytolytic activity is essential for the hyperalgesic effect but not for edematogenic activity, corroborating previous data showing that edema and hyperalgesia can occur in a non-dependent manner. Understanding the structure-activity relationship in BthTx-I has opened new possibilities to discover the target for PLA2-induced pain. <![CDATA[Standardization and validation of Dot-ELISA assay for <em>Paracoccidioides brasiliensis</em> antibody detection]]> Abstract Background Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a neglected systemic mycosis caused by a dimorphic fungus of the Paracoccidioides genus. The standard diagnosis is based on isolation of the fungi in culture, and by microscopic visualization of characteristic multiple budding yeast cells in biological samples. However, in some situations, access to the site of injury prevents the collection of biological material. A variety of immuno-serological techniques has proven useful for allowing inferring diagnosis with a certain degree of certainty, thus optimizing time. The aim of this study was to standardize and validate the Dot-ELISA (DE) assay, comparing it with the serological standard, double immunodiffusion (DI). Methods In order to standardize the DE assay, 143 serum samples were used. Out of those, 23 were from apparently healthy patients, 77 were from patients with confirmed PCM and 43 were from patients with other lung infections (tuberculosis, aspergillosis and histoplasmosis). To validate the DE technique, 300 serum samples from patients with PCM clinical suspicion (probable and possible cases) were employed, and these results were compared with those of DI. Results The DE assay showed sensitivity of 91%, specificity of 95.4%, positive predictive value of 96%, negative predictive value of 98.2%, accuracy of 93%, and great precision (k = 0.93). In addition, the nitrocellulose membranes have proved to be viable for using at least 90 days after P. brasiliensis B-339 antigen sensitization. Conclusion Dot-ELISA method was found to be an extremely promising tool as serologic screening technique, because of its high sensitivity. Furthermore, Dot-ELISA shows the prospect of being transferred to laboratories of mycoserology including those with fewer resources or even to be used directly in the field. It has an excellent shelf life – membranes coated with antigen can be used for testing without changes in the pattern of reactivity among laboratories – and presents reliable values of sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, accuracy and a high correlation with the serological standard methodology. Based on the present findings, it possible to state that this technique constitutes a remarkable option to be used in routine diagnosis for public health centers. <![CDATA[<em>Agaricus brasiliensis</em> polysaccharides stimulate human monocytes to capture <em>Candida albicans,</em> express toll-like receptors 2 and 4, and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines]]> Abstract Background Agaricus brasiliensis is a medicinal mushroom with immunomodulatory and antitumor activities attributed to the β-glucans presented in the polysaccharide fraction of its fruiting body. Since β-glucans enhance cellular immunoresponsiveness, in this study we aimed to evaluate the effect of an acid-treated polysaccharide-rich fraction (ATF) of A. brasiliensis on the ability of human monocytes to adhere/phagocyte C. albicans yeast cells, their expression of pattern recognition receptors and their ability to produce cytokines. Methods Adhesion/phagocytosis of FITC-labeled C. albicans was evaluated by flow cytometry. Cells were incubated with specific fluorochrome-labeled antibodies for TLR2 and 4, βGR and MR and also evaluated by flow cytometry. Monocytes were cultured with ATF, and culture supernatants were collected for analysis of in vitro cytokine production by ELISA (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-12 and IL-10). Results ATF significantly increased the adherence/phagocytosis of C. albicans by monocytes and this was associated with enhanced expression of TLR2 and TLR4, while no effect was observed on βGR or MR. Moreover, expression of TLR4 and TLR2 was associated with higher levels of in vitro production of TNF-α and IL-1, respectively. Production of IL-10 was also increased by ATF treatment, but we found no association between its production and the expression of Toll-like receptors. Conclusion Our results provided us with evidence that A. brasiliensis polysaccharides affect human monocytes probably through the modulation of Toll-like receptors. <![CDATA[Articular inflammation induced by an enzymatically-inactive Lys49 phospholipase A<sub>2</sub>: activation of endogenous phospholipases contributes to the pronociceptive effect]]> Abstract Background Arthritis is a set of inflammatory conditions that induce aching, stiffness, swelling, pain and may cause functional disability with severe consequences to the patient’s lives. These are multi-mediated pathologies that cannot be effectively protected and/or treated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish a new model of acute arthritis, using a Lys49-PLA2 (Bothrops asper myotoxin II; MT-II) to induce articular inflammation. Methods The articular inflammation was induced by MT-II (10 μg/joint) injection into the left tibio-tarsal or femoral-tibial-patellar joints. Cellular influx was evaluated counting total and differential cells that migrated to the joint. The plasma extravasation was determined using Evans blue dye. The edematogenic response was evaluated measuring the joint thickness using a caliper. The articular hypernociception was determined by a dorsal flexion of the tibio-tarsal joint using an electronic pressure-meter test. The mediators involved in the articular hypernociception were evaluated using receptor antagonists and enzymatic inhibitors. Results Plasma extravasation in the knee joints was observed 5 and 15 min after MT-II (10 μg/joint) injection. MT-II also induced a polymorphonuclear cell influx into the femoral-tibial-patellar joints observed 8 h after its injection, a period that coincided with the peak of the hyperalgesic effect. Hyperalgesia was inhibited by the pretreatment of the animals with cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin, with type-2 cyclooxygenase inhibitor celecoxib, with AACOCF3 and PACOCF3, inhibitors of cytosolic and Ca2+-independent PLA2s, respectively, with bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist HOE 140, with antibodies against TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6 and CINC-1 and with selective ET-A (BQ-123) and ET-B (BQ-788) endothelin receptors antagonists. The MT-II-induced hyperalgesia was not altered by the lipoxygenase inhibitor zileuton, by the bradykinin B1 receptor antagonist Lys-(Des-Arg9,Leu8)-bradykinin, by the histamine and serotonin antagonists promethazine and methysergide, respectively, by the nitric oxide inhibitor LNMMA and by the inhibitor of matrix 1-, 2-, 3-, 8- and 9- metalloproteinases GM6001 (Ilomastat). Conclusion These results demonstrated the multi-mediated characteristic of the articular inflammation induced by MT-II, which demonstrates its relevance as a model for arthritis mechanisms and treatment evaluation. <![CDATA[Can anti-bothropstoxin-I antibodies discriminate between <em>Bothrops jararaca</em> and <em>Bothrops jararacussu</em> venoms?]]> Abstract Background Snakes of the genus Bothrops, popularly known as pit vipers, are responsible for most cases of snakebite in Brazil. Within this genus, Bothrops jararacussu and B. jararaca deserve special attention due to the severity of their bites and for inhabiting densely populated areas. Regarding the treatment of snakebites by Bothrops jararacussu, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the specific bothropic antivenom in neutralizing myotoxic effects; however, there are no accurate data for humans. Thus, the development of a differential diagnostic kit for this species would be of great interest because it provides, for healthcare professionals, a tool that would allow us to determine whether the accident was caused by B. jararacussu or other species of the genus. It would also make it possible to evaluate the specificity of the treatment and to provide data for epidemiological studies. Methods First, we produced a species-specific polyclonal antibody – a potential biomarker of Bothrops jararacussu venom – against bothropstoxin-I (BthTx-I), which is also found in smaller quantities in the venoms of B. jararaca from southern Brazil. Results Polyclonal antibodies against bothropstoxin-I could be separated into several species-specific immunoglobulins. Then, aiming to develop a system of safe and standardized immunoassay, we produced monoclonal antibodies. Seven hybridomas were obtained. Five of them were specific to the venom of B. jararacussu and two recognized the venom of B. jararaca from the southeastern population. The use of monoclonal antibodies also made it possible to differentiate B. jararacussu from B. jararaca venom obtained from the southern population. Analyzing the reactivity of monoclonal antibodies against other bothropic venoms, we found mAb Bt-3 to be more specific than others for B. jararacussu venom. Conclusions These results show the potential of BthTx-I for producing monoclonal antibodies that differentiate between B. jararacussu and other Bothrops species venoms. <![CDATA[A clinical trial protocol to treat massive Africanized honeybee (<em>Apis mellifera</em>) attack with a new apilic antivenom]]> Abstract Background Envenomation caused by multiple stings from Africanized honeybees Apis mellifera constitutes a public health problem in the Americas. In 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported 13,597 accidents (incidence of seven cases per 100,000 inhabitants) with 39 deaths (lethality of 0.25%). The toxins present in the venom, which include melittin and phospholipase A2, cause lesions in diverse organs and systems that may be fatal. As there has been no specific treatment to date, management has been symptomatic and supportive only. Methods In order to evaluate the safety and neutralizing capacity of a new apilic antivenom, as well as to confirm its lowest effective dose, a clinical protocol was developed to be applied in a multicenter, non-randomized and open phase I/II clinical trial. Twenty participants with more than five stings, aged more than 18 years, of both sexes, who have not previously received the heterologous serum against bee stings, will be included for 24 months. The proposed dose was based on the antivenom neutralizing capacity and the number of stings. Treatment will be administered only in a hospital environment and the participants will be evaluated for a period up to 30 days after discharge for clinical and laboratory follow-up. Results This protocol, approved by the Brazilian regulatory agencies for ethics (National Commission for Ethics on Research – CONEP) and sanitation (National Health Surveillance Agency – ANVISA), is a guideline constituted by specific, adjuvant, symptomatic and complementary treatments, in addition to basic orientations for conducting a clinical trial involving heterologous sera. Conclusions This is the first clinical trial protocol designed specifically to evaluate the preliminary efficacy and safety of a new antivenom against stings from the Africanized honeybee Apis mellifera. The results will support future studies to confirm a new treatment for massive bee attack that has a large impact on public health in the Americas. <![CDATA[Preparation and neutralization efficacy of IgY antibodies raised against <em>Deinagkistrodon acutus</em> venom]]> Abstract Background The five-paced pit viper (Deinagkistrodon acutus), endemic to China and northern Vietnam, is responsible for most snakebites in the Chinese territory. Antivenom produced from horses is the main treatment for snakebites, but it may cause numerous clinical side effects and have other disadvantages involved in their production such as the welfare of animals. The present study was conducted aiming to develop an alternative antibody (IgY) from the egg yolk of leghorn chickens immunized with snake venom. Methods IgY from the egg yolk of white leghorn chickens previously immunized intramuscularly with D. acutus venom was extracted by water, precipitated by ammonium sulfate and purified by affinity chromatographic system. IgY was identified by SDS-PAGE, ELISA and Western blot. Finally, IgY neutralization assays to test its efficacy against hemorrhagic, edema-forming and myotoxic activities of D. acutus venom were conducted on mice. Results For the first time, IgY antibodies against D. acutus venom were raised successfully in egg yolk of chickens injected with D. acutus venom multiple times. By three steps, including caprylic acid extraction, ammonium sulfate precipitation and affinity chromatography, IgY antibodies were isolated and purified from egg yolk, which exhibited a single protein band on SDS-PAGE and two bands (about 65 kDa and 35 kDa, respectively) under reducing conditions, and presented a high titer (1:40,000) tested by ELISA. Immunoblot analysis confirmed that these IgY were polyclonal antibodies since they bound to components of D. acutus venom. Furthermore, immunodiffusion assay showed that anti-D. acutus venom IgY cross-reacted with the venoms of Trimeresurus albolabris and D. saxatilis Emelianov, but did not react to the venoms of Bungarus multicinctus and Naja atra. In the neutralizing lethal assay, the median effective dose of anti-D. acutus venom IgY was 14.14 mg/kg of mouse body weight under the challenge dose (3 LD50 of D. acutus venom). In neutralizing the hemorrhagic, edema-forming and myotoxic activities of D. acutus venom, IgY showed the characteristic dose-dependent neutralization effects against all these toxic activities of D. acutus venom. Conclusion Anti-D. acutus venom IgY antibodies with high purity and titer were for the first time raised successfully in egg yolk of chickens immunized with D. acutus venom. They were effective in neutralizing the lethal effects, and the hemorrhagic, edema-forming and myotoxic acitivities of D. acutus venom. IgY could be an effective source to develop a treatment against snake bites in humans or animals in the future. <![CDATA[Rattlesnake <em>Crotalus molossus nigrescens</em> venom induces oxidative stress on human erythrocytes]]> Abstract Background Globally, snake envenomation is a well-known cause of death and morbidity. In many cases of snakebite, myonecrosis, dermonecrosis, hemorrhage and neurotoxicity are present. Some of these symptoms may be provoked by the envenomation itself, but others are secondary effects of the produced oxidative stress that enhances the damage produced by the venom toxins. The only oxidative stress effect known in blood is the change in oxidation number of Fe (from ferrous to ferric) in hemoglobin, generating methemoglobin but not in other macromolecules. Currently, the effects of the overproduction of methemoglobin derived from snake venom are not extensively recorded. Therefore, the present study aims to describe the oxidative stress induced by Crotalus molossus nigrescens venom using erythrocytes. Methods Human erythrocytes were washed and incubated with different Crotalus molossus nigrescens venom concentrations (0–640 μg/mL). After 24 h, the hemolytic activity was measured followed by attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, non-denaturing PAGE, conjugated diene and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances determination. Results Low concentrations of venom (&lt;10 μg/mL) generates oxyhemoglobin release by hemolysis, whereas higher concentrations produced a hemoglobin shift of valence, producing methemoglobin (&gt;40 μg/mL). This substance is not degraded by proteases present in the venom. By infrared spectroscopy, starting in 80 μg/mL, we observed changes in bands that are associated with protein damage (1660 and 1540 cm−1) and lipid peroxidation (2960, 2920 and 1740 cm−1). Lipid peroxidation was confirmed by conjugated diene and thiobarbituric acid reactive substance determination, in which differences were observed between the control and erythrocytes treated with venom. Conclusions Crotalus molossus nigrescens venom provokes hemolysis and oxidative stress, which induces methemoglobin formation, loss of protein structure and lipid peroxidation. <![CDATA[Isolation of biologically active peptides from the venom of Japanese carpenter bee, <em>Xylocopa appendiculata</em>]]> Abstract Background Mass spectrometry-guided venom peptide profiling is a powerful tool to explore novel substances from venomous animals in a highly sensitive manner. In this study, this peptide profiling approach is successfully applied to explore the venom peptides of a Japanese solitary carpenter bee, Xylocopa appendiculata (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Apidae: Anthophila: Xylocopinae: Xylocopini). Although interesting biological effects of the crude venom of carpenter bees have been reported, the structure and biological function of the venom peptides have not been elucidated yet. Methods The venom peptide profiling of the crude venom of X. appendiculata was performed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectroscopy. The venom was purified by a reverse-phase HPLC. The purified peptides were subjected to the Edman degradation, MS/MS analysis, and/or molecular cloning methods for peptide sequencing. Biological and functional characterization was performed by circular dichroism analysis, liposome leakage assay, and antimicrobial, histamine releasing and hemolytic activity tests. Results Three novel peptides with m/z 16508, 1939.3, and 1900.3 were isolated from the venom of X. appendiculata. The peptide with m/z 16508 was characterized as a secretory phospholipase A2 (PLA2) homolog in which the characteristic cysteine residues as well as the active site residues found in bee PLA2s are highly conserved. Two novel peptides with m/z 1939.3 and m/z 1900.3 were named as Xac-1 and Xac-2, respectively. These peptides are found to be amphiphilic and displayed antimicrobial and hemolytic activities. The potency was almost the same as that of mastoparan isolated from the wasp venom. Conclusion We found three novel biologically active peptides in the venom of X. appendiculata and analyzed their molecular functions, and compared their sequential homology to discuss their molecular diversity. Highly sensitive mass analysis plays an important role in this study. <![CDATA[Ergosterol isolated from the basidiomycete <em>Pleurotus salmoneostramineus</em> affects <em>Trypanosoma cruzi</em> plasma membrane and mitochondria]]> Abstract Background Major drawbacks of the available treatment against Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) include its toxicity and therapeutic inefficiency in the chronic phase of the infection, which makes it a concern among neglected diseases. Therefore, the discovery of alternative drugs for treating chronic Chagas disease requires immediate action. In this work, we evaluated the mushroom Pleurotus salmoneostramineus in the search for potential antiparasitic compounds. Methods Fruit bodies of the basidiomycete Pleurotus salmoneostramineus were triturated and submitted to organic solvent extraction. After liquid-liquid partition of the crude extract, three fractions were obtained and the bioguided fractionation study was conducted to isolate the active metabolites. The elucidation of the chemical structure was performed using GC-MS and NMR techniques. The biological assays for antiparasitic activity were carried out using trypomastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi and murine macrophages for mammalian cytotoxicity. The mechanism of action of the isolated compound used different fluorescent probes to evaluate the plasma membrane permeability, the potential of the mitochondrial membrane and the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Results The most abundant fraction showing the antiparasitic activity was isolated and chemically elucidated, confirming the presence of ergosterol. It showed anti-Trypanosoma cruzi activity against trypomastigotes, with an IC50 value of 51.3 μg/mL. The compound demonstrated no cytotoxicity against mammalian cells to the maximal tested concentration of 200 μg/mL. The mechanism of action of ergosterol in Trypanosoma cruzi trypomastigotes resulted in permeabilization of the plasma membrane, as well as depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential, leading to parasite death. Nevertheless, no increase in ROS levels could be observed, suggesting damages to plasma membrane rather than an induction of oxidative stress in the parasite. Conclusions The selection of naturally antiparasitic secondary metabolites in basidiomycetes, such as ergosterol, may provide potential scaffolds for drug design studies against neglected diseases. <![CDATA[Envenoming by <em>Viridovipera stejnegeri</em> snake: a patient with liver cirrhosis presenting disruption of hemostatic balance]]> Abstract Background In most cases of envenoming by the green habu Viridovipera stejnegeri in Taiwan coagulopathy is not observed. Case presentation Herein, we describe the case of a patient with liver cirrhosis who developed venom-induced consumptive coagulopathy after V. stejnegeri bite. Laboratory investigation revealed the following: prothrombin time &gt; 100 s (international normalized ratio &gt; 10), activated partial thromboplastin time &gt; 100 s, fibrinogen &lt; 50 mg/dL, and fibrin degradation product &gt; 80 μg/mL. The patient recovered after administration of bivalent hemorrhagic antivenom, vitamin K, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate. Conclusion The liver, directly involved in the acute phase reaction, is the main responsible for neutralization of animal toxins. Any patient with history of liver cirrhosis bitten by a venomous snake, even those whose venoms present low risk of coagulopathy, should be very carefully monitored for venom-induced consumptive coagulopathy (VICC), since the hemostatic balance may be disrupted. <![CDATA[Envenomation by the red-tailed coral snake (<em>Micrurus mipartitus</em>) in Colombia]]> Abstract Background Although the red-tailed coral snake (Micrurus mipartitus) is widely distributed in Colombia and its venom is highly neurotoxic and life threatening, envenomation by this species is rare. Therefore, this report may shed some light on the clinical presentation of M. mipartitus bites. Case presentations Herein, we describe two cases of patients bitten by red-tailed coral snakes, illustrating the clinical presentation of the victims, the outcomes and treatment provided. Conclusion Envenomation caused by M. mipartitus provokes predicable neurotoxicity, and its treatment should be based on respiratory support and use of specific antivenom. <![CDATA[Reversible atrial fibrillation following Crotalinae envenomation]]> Abstract Background Cardiotoxicity is a documented complication of Crotalinae envenomation. Reported cardiac complications following snake envenomation have included acute myocardial infarction, electrocardiogram abnormalities and arrhythmias. Few reports exist describing arrhythmia induced by viper envenomation and to our knowledge none describe arrhythmia induced by Crotalinae envenomation. This report concerns the first known case of atrial fibrillation precipitated by rattlesnake bite. Case presentation A 73-year-old Caucasian man with a past medical history of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and a baseline first-degree atrioventricular block presented to the emergency department following a rattlesnake bite to his left lower leg. He developed pain and swelling in his left leg two-hour post-envenomation and subsequently received four vials of Crotalidae polyvalent immune fab (ovine). At three-hour post-envenomation following transfer to the intensive care unit, an electrocardiogram revealed new-onset atrial fibrillation. An amiodarone drip was started and the patient successfully converted to normal sinus rhythm approximately six hours after he was found to be in atrial fibrillation. A transthoracic echocardiogram revealed mild concentric left ventricular hypertrophy and an ejection fraction of 72%. He was discharged the following day with no hematological abnormalities and a baseline first-degree atrioventricular block. Conclusion This is the first documented case of reversible atrial fibrillation precipitated by Crotalinae envenomation. In patients with pertinent risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation, physicians should be aware of the potential for this arrhythmia. Direct toxic effects of venom or structural and electrophysiological cardiovascular abnormalities may predispose snakebite patients to arrhythmia, warranting extended and attentive cardiac monitoring. <![CDATA[Neurological complications and death in children with dengue virus infection: report of two cases]]> Abstract Background Dengue virus infection can have different complications; the best known is hemorrhagic dengue fever. However, other effects such as neurological disorders may endanger the lives of patients. Dengue neurological manifestations can be confused with encephalitis symptoms and can lead to cerebral edema and death. Therefore, we consider important in the endemic areas to take into account the diagnosis of dengue encephalitis in patients with neurological disorders, and to request the determination of serology in cerebrospinal fluid for the NS1 antigen test. Case presentation We present the cases of two patients from the state of Morelos, Mexico, with 17 and 14 years of age. Both cases presented a rapid evolution characterized by fever, seizures and neurological deterioration secondary to severe cerebral edema that evolved to cerebral death in both cases. The diagnosis of brain death was confirmed by electroencephalogram in both patients. The two patients were submitted to serology for NS1 that tested positive in both cases. They died between the second and fifth day after admission. Conclusions Retrospective studies have found that up to 4% of the patients have dengue virus infections, which leads us to believe that in endemic areas, this infection should be suspected in cases of encephalic and febrile symptoms. RT-PCR should be performed to identify cases of encephalitis caused by the dengue virus, and early interventions should be performed to attempt to reduce the morbidity and mortality of these cases. <![CDATA[Interleukin 8 (-251 T>A) polymorphism in children and teenagers infected with <em>Helicobacter pylori</em>]]> Abstract Background Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a gram-negative bacterium that colonizes the human stomach and causes a variety of gastric diseases. This study evaluated the correlations between the -251 (T&gt;A) (rs4073) polymorphism of interleukin-8 (IL-8), the etiology of gastric disease, and H. pylori infection in pediatric and adolescent patients. Methods DNA samples were obtained from 285 gastric biopsies from pediatric patients. H. pylori was detected by PCR, whereas PCR-RFLP was used to characterize the -251 (T&gt;A) polymorphism of IL-8. Results The histological analysis revealed the presence of gastritis in 158 patients (55.44%). H. pylori was found in 71 samples (24.9%). The -251 (T&gt;A) polymorphism revealed that 58 (29.47%) samples were TT, 143 (50.18%) samples were TA, and 84 (20.35%) samples were AA. Conclusions Our findings suggest that IL8-251 A allele may be an important risk factor for the development of gastric disease when associated with H. pylori infection. <![CDATA[Antivenomics as a tool to improve the neutralizing capacity of the crotalic antivenom: a study with crotamine]]> Abstract Background Snakebite treatment requires administration of an appropriate antivenom that should contain antibodies capable of neutralizing the venom. To achieve this goal, antivenom production must start from a suitable immunization protocol and proper venom mixtures. In Brazil, antivenom against South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) bites is produced by public institutions based on the guidelines defined by the regulatory agency of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, ANVISA. However, each institution uses its own mixture of rattlesnake venom antigens. Previous works have shown that crotamine, a toxin found in Crolatus durissus venom, shows marked individual and populational variation. In addition, serum produced from crotamine-negative venoms fails to recognize this molecule. Methods In this work, we used an antivenomics approach to assess the cross-reactivity of crotalic antivenom manufactured by IVB towards crotamine-negative venom and a mixture of crotamine-negative/crotamine-positive venoms. Results We show that the venom mixture containing 20% crotamine and 57% crotoxin produced a strong immunogenic response in horses. Antivenom raised against this venom mixture reacted with most venom components including crotamine and crotoxin, in contrast to the antivenom raised against crotamine-negative venom. Conclusions These results indicate that venomic databases and antivenomics analysis provide a useful approach for choosing the better venom mixture for antibody production and for the subsequent screening of antivenom cross-reactivity with relevant snake venom components. <![CDATA[From the perception of a cluster of cases of children with microcephaly to congenital Zika syndrome in Brazil: the lessons we have learned and the challenges that lie ahead of us]]> Abstract Background Snakebite treatment requires administration of an appropriate antivenom that should contain antibodies capable of neutralizing the venom. To achieve this goal, antivenom production must start from a suitable immunization protocol and proper venom mixtures. In Brazil, antivenom against South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) bites is produced by public institutions based on the guidelines defined by the regulatory agency of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, ANVISA. However, each institution uses its own mixture of rattlesnake venom antigens. Previous works have shown that crotamine, a toxin found in Crolatus durissus venom, shows marked individual and populational variation. In addition, serum produced from crotamine-negative venoms fails to recognize this molecule. Methods In this work, we used an antivenomics approach to assess the cross-reactivity of crotalic antivenom manufactured by IVB towards crotamine-negative venom and a mixture of crotamine-negative/crotamine-positive venoms. Results We show that the venom mixture containing 20% crotamine and 57% crotoxin produced a strong immunogenic response in horses. Antivenom raised against this venom mixture reacted with most venom components including crotamine and crotoxin, in contrast to the antivenom raised against crotamine-negative venom. Conclusions These results indicate that venomic databases and antivenomics analysis provide a useful approach for choosing the better venom mixture for antibody production and for the subsequent screening of antivenom cross-reactivity with relevant snake venom components. <![CDATA[Erratum to: Pediatric suppurative parotitis caused by <em>Burkholderia pseudomallei</em>]]> Abstract Background Snakebite treatment requires administration of an appropriate antivenom that should contain antibodies capable of neutralizing the venom. To achieve this goal, antivenom production must start from a suitable immunization protocol and proper venom mixtures. In Brazil, antivenom against South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) bites is produced by public institutions based on the guidelines defined by the regulatory agency of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, ANVISA. However, each institution uses its own mixture of rattlesnake venom antigens. Previous works have shown that crotamine, a toxin found in Crolatus durissus venom, shows marked individual and populational variation. In addition, serum produced from crotamine-negative venoms fails to recognize this molecule. Methods In this work, we used an antivenomics approach to assess the cross-reactivity of crotalic antivenom manufactured by IVB towards crotamine-negative venom and a mixture of crotamine-negative/crotamine-positive venoms. Results We show that the venom mixture containing 20% crotamine and 57% crotoxin produced a strong immunogenic response in horses. Antivenom raised against this venom mixture reacted with most venom components including crotamine and crotoxin, in contrast to the antivenom raised against crotamine-negative venom. Conclusions These results indicate that venomic databases and antivenomics analysis provide a useful approach for choosing the better venom mixture for antibody production and for the subsequent screening of antivenom cross-reactivity with relevant snake venom components.