Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases]]> vol. 25 num. lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Nanoparticulate drug delivery systems for the treatment of neglected tropical protozoan diseases]]> Abstract Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) comprise of a group of seventeen infectious conditions endemic in many developing countries. Among these diseases are three of protozoan origin, namely leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and African trypanosomiasis, caused by the parasites Leishmania spp., Trypanosoma cruzi, and Trypanosoma brucei respectively. These diseases have their own unique challenges which are associated with the development of effective prevention and treatment methods. Collectively, these parasitic diseases cause more deaths worldwide than all other NTDs combined. Moreover, many current therapies for these diseases are limited in their efficacy, possessing harmful or potentially fatal side effects at therapeutic doses. It is therefore imperative that new treatment strategies for these parasitic diseases are developed. Nanoparticulate drug delivery systems have emerged as a promising area of research in the therapy and prevention of NTDs. These delivery systems provide novel mechanisms for targeted drug delivery within the host, maximizing therapeutic effects while minimizing systemic side effects. Currently approved drugs may also be repackaged using these delivery systems, allowing for their potential use in NTDs of protozoan origin. Current research on these novel delivery systems has provided insight into possible indications, with evidence demonstrating their improved ability to specifically target pathogens, penetrate barriers within the host, and reduce toxicity with lower dose regimens. In this review, we will examine current research on these delivery systems, focusing on applications in the treatment of leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and African trypanosomiasis. Nanoparticulate systems present a unique therapeutic alternative through the repositioning of existing medications and directed drug delivery. <![CDATA[Scorpion toxins targeting Kv1.3 channels: insights into immunosuppression]]> Abstract Scorpion venoms are natural sources of molecules that have, in addition to their toxic function, potential therapeutic applications. In this source the neurotoxins can be found especially those that act on potassium channels. Potassium channels are responsible for maintaining the membrane potential in the excitable cells, especially the voltage-dependent potassium channels (Kv), including Kv1.3 channels. These channels (Kv1.3) are expressed by various types of tissues and cells, being part of several physiological processes. However, the major studies of Kv1.3 are performed on T cells due its importance on autoimmune diseases. Scorpion toxins capable of acting on potassium channels (KTx), mainly on Kv1.3 channels, have gained a prominent role for their possible ability to control inflammatory autoimmune diseases. Some of these toxins have already left bench trials and are being evaluated in clinical trials, presenting great therapeutic potential. Thus, scorpion toxins are important natural molecules that should not be overlooked in the treatment of autoimmune and other diseases. <![CDATA[Identification of a pore-forming protein from sea anemone <em>Anthopleura dowii</em> Verrill (1869) venom by mass spectrometry]]> Abstract Background: Pore-forming proteins (PFP) are a class of toxins abundant in the venom of sea anemones. Owing to their ability to recognize and permeabilize cell membranes, pore-forming proteins have medical potential in cancer therapy or as biosensors. In the present study, we showed the partial purification and sequencing of a pore-forming protein from Anthopleura dowii Verrill (1869). 17. Methods: Cytolytic activity of A. dowii Verrill (1869) venom was determined via hemolysis assay in the erythrocytes of four mammals (sheep, goat, human and rabbit). The cytotoxic activity was analyzed in the human adherent lung carcinoma epithelial cells (A549) by the cytosolic lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assay, and trypan blue staining. The venom was fractionated via ammonium sulfate precipitation gradient, dialysis, and ion exchange chromatography. The presence of a pore-forming protein in purified fractions was evaluated through hemolytic and cytotoxic assays, and the activity fraction was analyzed using the percent of osmotic protections after polyethylene glycol (PEG) treatment and mass spectrometry. 18. Results: The amount of protein at which the venom produced 50% hemolysis (HU50) was determined in hemolysis assays using erythrocytes from sheep (HU50 = 10.7 ± 0.2 μg), goat (HU50 = 13.2 ± 0.3 μg), rabbit (HU50 = 34.7 ± 0.5 μg), and human (HU50 = 25.6 ± 0.6 μg). The venom presented a cytotoxic effect in A549 cells and the protein amount present in the venom responsible for producing 50% death (IC50) was determined using a trypan blue cytotoxicity assay (1.84 ± 0.40 μg/mL). The loss of membrane integrity in the A549 cells caused by the venom was detected by the release of LDH in proportion to the amount of protein. The venom was fractionated; and the fraction with hemolytic and cytotoxic activities was analyzed by mass spectrometry. A pore-forming protein was identified. The cytotoxicity in the A549 cells produced by the fraction containing the pore-forming protein was osmotically protected by PEG-3350 Da molecular mass, which corroborated that the loss of integrity in the plasma membrane was produced via pore formation. 19. Conclusion: A. dowii Verrill (1869) venom contains a pore-forming protein suitable for designing new drugs for cancer therapy. <![CDATA[A lung image reconstruction from computed radiography images as a tool to tuberculosis treatment control]]> Abstract Background: Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious lung disease with high worldwide incidence that severely compromises the quality of life in affected individuals. Clinical tests are currently employed to monitor pulmonary status and treatment progression. The present study aimed to apply a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction method based on chest radiography to quantify lung-involvement volume of TB acute-phase patients before and after treatment. In addition, these results were compared with indices from conventional clinical exams to show the coincidence level. Methods: A 3D lung reconstruction method using patient chest radiography was applied to quantify lung-involvement volume using retrospective examinations of 50 patients who were diagnosed with pulmonary TB and treated with two different drugs schemes. Twenty-five patients were treated with Scheme I (rifampicin, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide), whereas twenty-five patients were treated with Scheme II (rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol). Acute-phase reaction: Serum exams included C-reactive protein levels, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and albumin levels. Pulmonary function was tested posttreatment. Results: We found strong agreement between lung involvement and serum indices pre- and posttreatment. Comparison of the functional severity degree with lung involvement based on 3D image quantification for both treatment schemes found a high correlation. Conclusions: The present 3D reconstruction method produced a satisfactory agreement with the acute-phase reaction, most notably a higher significance level with the C-reactive protein. We also found a quite reasonable coincidence between the 3D reconstruction method and the degree of functional lung impairment posttreatment. The performance of the quantification method was satisfactory when comparing the two treatment schemes. Thus, the 3D reconstruction quantification method may be useful tools for monitoring TB treatment. The association with serum indices are not only inexpensive and sensitive but also may be incorporated into the assessment of patients during TB treatment. <![CDATA[Nitro-Heterocyclic compounds induce apoptosis-like effects in <em>Leishmania (L). amazonensis</em> promastigotes]]> Abstract Background: Three drugs - pentavalent antimonials, amphotericin B and pentamidine - are currently used for leishmaniasis treatment. They are administered for long periods, only parenterally, and have high cardiac, renal and hepatic toxicities. Therefore, the investigation of new compounds is required. Nitro-heterocyclic derivatives have been used as possible drug candidates to treat diseases caused by trypanosomatids. Methods: Leishmania (L.) amazonensis promastigotes (MHO/BR/73/M2269), maintained in the Laboratório de Soroepidemiologia - Instituto de Medicina Tropical- USP, were exposed to five nitroheterocyclic derivatives, with differences at phenyl-ring position 4: BSF-C4H9, BSF-H, BSF-NO2, BSF-CH3 and BSF-Cl, for 48 hours. After analyzing viability (MTT assay), we evaluated cellular-morphology activity of compounds by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and measurement of apoptosis (phosphatidylserine expression) by flow cytometry. Results: EC50 of amphotericin B and BSF-CH3 were 0.50 (M and 0.39 (M respective. Other nitro-heterocyclic compounds presented EC50 higher than amphotericin B. All compounds showed greater AV- and PI-positive expression than amphotericin B at 100 (M, except BSF-NO2. TEM showed complete nuclear disfigurement with 100 (M of BSF-NO2, 25 and 6.25 (M of BSF-H, and 6.25 (M BSF-Cl; presence of vesicles within the flagellar pocket with 25 (M BSF-H; alteration of the kinetoplast with 25 (M BSF-C4H9, 25 (M of BSF-H, 6.25 (M BSF-CH3 and 6.25 (M of BSF-Cl. Conclusions: Nitro-heterocyclic compounds have shown activity against promastigotes of L. amazonensis, at lower concentrations. However, improvement of compound scaffolds are needed to assist the elucidation of the mechanism of action and to achieve greater activity. <![CDATA[Pharmacokinetics of neutron-irradiated meglumine antimoniate in <em>Leishmania amazonensis</em>-infected BALB/c mice]]> Abstract Background: Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Leishmania spp. Pentavalent antimonial agents have been used as an effective therapy, despite their side effects and resistant cases. Their pharmacokinetics remain largely unexplored. This study aimed to investigate the pharmacokinetic profile of meglumine antimoniate in a murine model of cutaneous leishmaniasis using a radiotracer approach. Methods: Meglumine antimoniate was neutron-irradiated inside a nuclear reactor and was administered once intraperitoneally to uninfected and L. amazonensis-infected BALB/c mice. Different organs and tissues were collected and the total antimony was measured. Results: Higher antimony levels were found in infected than uninfected footpad (0.29% IA vs. 0.14% IA, p = 0.0057) and maintained the concentration. The animals accumulated and retained antimony in the liver, which cleared slowly. The kidney and intestinal uptake data support the hypothesis that antimony has two elimination pathways, first through renal excretion, followed by biliary excretion. Both processes demonstrated a biphasic elimination profile classified as fast and slow. In the blood, antimony followed a biexponential open model. Infected mice showed a lower maximum concentration (6.2% IA/mL vs. 11.8% IA/mL, p = 0.0001), a 2.5-fold smaller area under the curve, a 2.7-fold reduction in the mean residence time, and a 2.5-fold higher clearance rate when compared to the uninfected mice. Conclusions: neutron-irradiated meglumine antimoniate concentrates in infected footpad, while the infection affects antimony pharmacokinetics. <![CDATA[BjussuLAAO-II induces cytotoxicity and alters DNA methylation of cell-cycle genes in monocultured/co-cultured HepG2 cells]]> Abstract Background: The use of animal venoms and their toxins as material sources for biotechnological applications has received much attention from the pharmaceutical industry. L-amino acid oxidases from snake venoms (SV-LAAOs) have demonstrated innumerous biological effects and pharmacological potential against different cancer types. Hepatocellular carcinoma has increased worldwide, and the aberrant DNA methylation of liver cells is a common mechanism to promote hepatic tumorigenesis. Moreover, tumor microenvironment plays a major role in neoplastic transformation. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for the cytotoxic effects of SV-LAAO in human cancer cells, this study aimed to evaluate the cytotoxicity and the alterations in DNA methylation profiler in the promoter regions of cell-cycle genes induced by BjussuLAAO-II, an LAAO from Bothrops jaracussu venom, in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells in monoculture and co-culture with endothelial (HUVEC) cells. Methods: BjussuLAAO-II concentrations were 0.25, 0.50, 1.00 and 5.00 μg/mL. Cell viability was assessed by MTT assay and DNA methylation of the promoter regions of 22 cell-cycle genes by EpiTect Methyl II PCR array. Results: BjussuLAAO-II decreased the cell viability of HepG2 cells in monoculture at all concentrations tested. In co-culture, 1.00 and 5.00 μg/mL induced cytotoxicity (p &lt; 0.05). BjussuLAAO-II increased the methylation of CCND1 and decreased the methylation of CDKN1A in monoculture and GADD45A in both cell-culture models (p &lt; 0.05). Conclusion: Data showed BjussuLAAO-II induced cytotoxicity and altered DNA methylation of the promoter regions of cell-cycle genes in HepG2 cells in monoculture and co-culture models. We suggested the analysis of DNA methylation profile of GADD45A as a potential biomarker of the cell cycle effects of BjussuLAAO-II in cancer cells. The tumor microenvironment should be considered to comprise part of biotechnological strategies during the development of snake-toxin-based novel drugs. <![CDATA[Functional and biological insights of rCollinein-1, a recombinant serine protease from <em>Crotalus durissus collilineatus</em>]]> ABSTRACT Background: The prevalent class of snake venom serine proteases (SVSP) in Viperidae venoms is the thrombin-like enzymes, which, similarly to human thrombin, convert fibrinogen into insoluble fibrin monomers. However, thrombin-like serine proteases differ from thrombin by being unable to activate factor XIII, thus leading to the formation of loose clots and fibrinogen consumption. We report the functional and biological characterization of a recombinant thrombin-like serine protease from Crotalus durissus collilineatus, named rCollinein-1. Methods: Heterologous expression of rCollinein-1 was performed in Pichia pastoris system according to a previously standardized protocol, with some modifications. rCollinein-1 was purified from the culture medium by a combination of three chromatographic steps. The recombinant toxin was tested in vitro for its thrombolytic activity and in mice for its edematogenicity, blood incoagulability and effect on plasma proteins. Results: When tested for the ability to induce mouse paw edema, rCollinein-1 demonstrated low edematogenic effect, indicating little involvement of this enzyme in the inflammatory processes resulting from ophidian accidents. The rCollinein-1 did not degrade blood clots in vitro, which suggests that this toxin lacks fibrinolytic activity and is not able to directly or indirectly activate the fibrinolytic system. The minimal dose of rCollinein-1 that turns the blood incoagulable in experimental mice is 7.5 mg/kg. The toxin also led to a significant increase in activated partial thromboplastin time at the dose of 1 mg/kg in the animals. Other parameters such as plasma fibrinogen concentration and prothrombin time were not significantly affected by treatment with rCollinein-1 at this dose. The toxin was also able to alter plasma proteins in mouse after 3 h of injection at a dose of 1 mg/kg, leading to a decrease in the intensity of beta zone and an increase in gamma zone in agarose gel electrophoresis Conclusion: These results suggest that the recombinant enzyme has no potential as a thrombolytic agent but can be applied in the prevention of thrombus formation in some pathological processes and as molecular tools in studies related to hemostasis. <![CDATA[Subproteome of <em>Lachesis muta rhombeata</em> venom and preliminary studies on LmrSP-4, a novel snake venom serine proteinase]]> Abstract Background: Lachesis muta rhombeata is one of the venomous snakes of medical importance in Brazil whose envenoming is characterized by local and systemic effects which may produce even shock and death. Its venom is mainly comprised of serine and metalloproteinases, phospholipases A2 and bradykinin-potentiating peptides. Based on a previously reported fractionation of L. m. rhombeata venom (LmrV), we decided to perform a subproteome analysis of its major fraction and investigated a novel component present in this venom. Methods: LmrV was fractionated through molecular exclusion chromatography and the main fraction (S5) was submitted to fibrinogenolytic activity assay and fractionated by reversed-phase chromatography. The N-terminal sequences of the subfractions eluted from reversed-phase chromatography were determined by automated Edman degradation. Enzyme activity of LmrSP-4 was evaluated upon chromogenic substrates for thrombin (S-2238), plasma kallikrein (S-2302), plasmin and streptokinase-activated plasminogen (S-2251) and Factor Xa (S-2222) and upon fibrinogen. All assays were carried out in the presence or absence of possible inhibitors. The fluorescence resonance energy transfer substrate Abz-KLRSSKQ-EDDnp was used to determine the optimal conditions for LmrSP-4 activity. Molecular mass of LmrSP-4 was determined by MALDI-TOF and digested peptides after trypsin and Glu-C treatments were analyzed by high resolution MS/MS using different fragmentation modes. Results: Fraction S5 showed strong proteolytic activity upon fibrinogen. Its fractionation by reversed-phase chromatography gave rise to 6 main fractions (S5C1-S5C6). S5C1-S5C5 fractions correspond to serine proteinases whereas S5C6 represents a C-type lectin. S5C4 (named LmrSP-4) had its N-terminal determined by Edman degradation up to the 53rd amino acid residue and was chosen for characterization studies. LmrSP-4 is a fibrinogenolytic serine proteinase with high activity against S-2302, being inhibited by PMSF and benzamidine, but not by 1,10-phenantroline. In addition, this enzyme exhibited maximum activity within the pH range from neutral to basic and between 40 and 50 °C. About 68% of the LmrSP-4 primary structure was covered, and its molecular mass is 28,190 Da. Conclusions: Novel serine proteinase isoforms and a lectin were identified in LmrV. Additionally, a kallikrein-like serine proteinase that might be useful as molecular tool for investigating bradykinin-involving process was isolated and partially characterized. <![CDATA[Proteome of fraction from <em>Tityus serrulatus</em> venom reveals new enzymes and toxins]]> Abstract Background: Tityus serrulatus venom (Ts venom) is a complex mixture of several compounds with biotechnological and therapeutical potentials, which highlights the importance of the identification and characterization of these components. Although a considerable number of studies have been dedicated to the characterization of this complex cocktail, there is still a limitation of knowledge concerning its venom composition. Most of Ts venom studies aim to isolate and characterize their neurotoxins, which are small, basic proteins and are eluted with high buffer concentrations on cation exchange chromatography. The first and largest fraction from carboxymethyl cellulose-52 (CMC-52) chromatography of Ts venom, named fraction I (Fr I), is a mixture of proteins of high and low molecular masses, which do not interact with the cation exchange resin, being therefore a probable source of components still unknown of this venom. Thus, the present study aimed to perform the proteome study of Fraction I from Ts venom, by high resolution mass spectrometry, and its biochemical characterization, by the determination of several enzymatic activities. Methods: Fraction I was obtained by a cation exchange chromatography using 50 mg of crude venom. This fraction was subjected to a biochemical characterization, including determination of L-amino acid oxidase, phospholipase, hyaluronidase, proteases activities and inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity. Fraction I was submitted to reduction, alkylation and digestion processes, and the tryptic digested peptides obtained were analyzed in a Q-Exactive Orbitrap mass spectrometer. Data analysis was performed by PEAKS 8.5 software against NCBI database. Results: Fraction I exhibits proteolytic activity and it was able to inhibit ACE activity. Its proteome analysis identified 8 different classes of venom components, among them: neurotoxins (48%), metalloproteinases (21%), hypotensive peptides (11%), cysteine-rich venom protein (9%), antimicrobial peptides (AMP), phospholipases and other enzymes (chymotrypsin and lysozymes) (3%) and phosphodiesterases (2%). Conclusions: The combination of a proteomic and biochemical characterization strategies leads us to identify new components in the T. serrulatus scorpion venom. The proteome of venom´s fraction can provide valuable direction in the obtainment of components in their native forms in order to perform a preliminary characterization and, consequently, to promote advances in biological discoveries in toxinology. <![CDATA[Assessment of neuropharmacological potential of low molecular weight components extracted from <em>Rhinella schneideri</em> toad poison]]> Abstract Background: Studies on toad poison are relevant since they are considered a good source of toxins that act on different biological systems. Among the molecules found in the toad poison, it can be highlighted the cardiotonic heterosides, which have a known mechanism that inhibit Na+/K+-ATPase enzyme. However, these poisons have many other molecules that may have important biological actions. Therefore, this work evaluated the action of the low molecular weight components from Rhinella schneideri toad poison on Na+/K+-ATPase and their anticonvulsive and / or neurotoxic effects, in order to detect molecules with actions of biotechnological interest. Methods: Rhinella schneideri toad (male and female) poison was collected by pressuring their parotoid glands and immediately dried and stored at -20 °C. The poison was dialysed and the water containing the low molecular mass molecules (&lt; 8 kDa) that permeate the dialysis membrane was collected, frozen and lyophilized, resulting in the sample used in the assays, named low molecular weight fraction (LMWF). Na+/K+ ATPase was isolated from rabbit kidneys and enzyme activity assays performed by the quantification of phosphate released due to enzyme activity in the presence of LMWF (1.0; 10; 50 and 100 µg/mL) from Rhinella schneideri poison. Evaluation of the L-Glutamate (L-Glu) excitatory amino acid uptake in brain-cortical synaptosomes of Wistar rats was performed using [3H]L-glutamate and different concentration of LMWF (10-5 to 10 µg/µL). Anticonvulsant assays were performed using pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) to induce seizures in Wistar rats (n= 6), which were cannulated in the lateral ventricle and treated with different concentration of LMWF (0.25; 0.5; 1.0; 2.0; 3.0 and 4.0 µg/µL) 15 min prior to the injection of the seizure agent. Results: LMWF induced a concentration-dependent inhibition of Na+/K+-ATPase (IC50% = 107.5 μg/mL). The poison induces an increased uptake of the amino acid L-glutamate in brain-cortical synaptosomes of Wistar rats. This increase in the L-glutamate uptake was observed mainly at the lowest concentrations tested (10-5 to 10-2 µg/µL). In addition, this fraction showed a very relevant central neuroprotection on seizures induced by PTZ and NMDA. Conclusions: LMWF from Rhinella schneideri poison has low molecular weight compounds, which were able to inhibit Na+/K+-ATPase activity, increase the L-glutamate uptake and reduced seizures induced by PTZ and NMDA. These results showed that LMWF is a rich source of components with biological functions of high medical and scientific interest.