Abstract in English:Toxic cyanobacteria are common in Portuguese freshwaters and the most common toxins are microcystins. The occurrence of microcystin-LR (MCYST-LR) has been reported since 1990 and a significant number of water reservoirs that are used for drinking water attain high levels of this toxin. Aquatic animals that live in eutrophic freshwater ecosystems may be killed by microcystins but in many cases the toxicity is sublethal and so the animals can survive long enough to accumulate the toxins and transfer them along the food chain. Among these, edible mollusks, fish and crayfish are especially important because they are harvested and sold for human consumption. Mussels that live in estuarine waters and rivers where toxic blooms occur may accumulate toxins without many significant acute toxic effects. In this study data are presented in order to understand the dynamics of the accumulation and depuration of MCYST-LR in mussels. The toxin is readily accumulated and persists in the shellfish for several days after contact. In the crayfish the toxin is accumulated mainly in the gut but is also cleared very slowly. In carps, although the levels of the toxins found in naturally caught specimens were not very high, some toxin was found in the muscle and not only in the viscera. This raises the problem of the toxin accumulation by fish and possible transfer through the food chain. The data gathered from these experiments and from naturally caught specimens are analyzed in terms of risk for human consumption. The occurrence of microcystins in tap water and the incidence of toxic cyanobacteria in fresh water beaches in Portugal are reported. The Portuguese National Monitoring Program of cyanobacteria is mentioned and its implications are discussed.
Abstract in English:Porphyrias are a family of inherited diseases, each associated with a partial defect in one of the enzymes of the heme biosynthetic pathway. In six of the eight porphyrias described, the main clinical manifestation is skin photosensitivity brought about by the action of light on porphyrins, which are deposited in the upper epidermal layer of the skin. Porphyrins absorb light energy intensively in the UV region, and to a lesser extent in the long visible bands, resulting in transitions to excited electronic states. The excited porphyrin may react directly with biological structures (type I reactions) or with molecular oxygen, generating excited singlet oxygen (type II reactions). Besides this well-known photodynamic action of porphyrins, a novel light-independent effect of porphyrins has been described. Irradiation of enzymes in the presence of porphyrins mainly induces type I reactions, although type II reactions could also occur, further increasing the direct non-photodynamic effect of porphyrins on proteins and macromolecules. Conformational changes of protein structure are induced by porphyrins in the dark or under UV light, resulting in reduced enzyme activity and increased proteolytic susceptibility. The effect of porphyrins depends not only on their physico-chemical properties but also on the specific site on the protein on which they act. Porphyrin action alters the functionality of the enzymes of the heme biosynthetic pathway exacerbating the metabolic deficiencies in porphyrias. Light energy absorption by porphyrins results in the generation of oxygen reactive species, overcoming the protective cellular mechanisms and leading to molecular, cell and tissue damage, thus amplifying the porphyric picture.
Abstract in English:Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) was used to examine the extent of mtDNA polymorphism among six strains of rats (Rattus norvegicus) - Wistar, Wistar Munich, Brown Norway, Wistar Kyoto, SHR and SHR-SP. A survey of 26 restriction enzymes has revealed a low level of genetic divergence among strains. The sites of cleavage by EcoRI, NcoI and XmnI were shown to be polymorphic. The use of these three enzymes allows the 6 strains to be classified into 4 haplotypes and identifies specific markers for each one. The percentage of sequence divergence among all pairs of haplotypes ranged from 0.035 to 0.33%, which is the result of a severe population constriction undergone by the strains. These haplotypes are easily demonstrable and therefore RFLP analysis can be employed for genetic monitoring of rats within animal facilities or among different laboratories.
Abstract in English:Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), the most used drug worldwide, is hydrolyzed to salicylic acid and acetate by esterases present in tissues of several species including humans. Sex differences in drug metabolism by rodent liver are documented in the literature. In this paper we report a difference in the activities of the esterases (ASA-esterase I and II) in the kidneys of male and female mice. In this species there is no difference between males and females in liver ASA-esterases (ASA-esterase I: males 38.5 ± 7.9 (N = 5) and females 31.6 ± 7.6 (N = 5) nmol of salicylic acid formed min-1 mg protein-1, P>0.05; ASA-esterase II: males 77.3 ± 17.4 (N = 5) and females 61.4 ± 15.1 (N = 5) nmol of salicylic acid formed min-1 mg protein-1, P>0.05). However, in the kidneys males presented a much higher enzyme activity than females (ASA-esterase I: males 25.2 ± 6.3 (N = 5) and females 6.8 ± 0.6 (N = 5) nmol of salicylic acid formed min-1 mg protein-1, P<0.0002; ASA-esterase II: males 79.8 ± 10.1 (N = 5) and females 13.0 ± 1.1 (N = 5) nmol of salicylic acid formed min-1 mg protein-1, P<0.0001). The difference between sexes observed in mouse kidneys could serve as a model to study the molecular basis of this sex difference and also to determine the possible involvement of pituitary and gonadal hormones in this difference in ASA-esterase activities since these hormones control the sex differences in rodent liver enzyme activity.
Abstract in English:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is widespread and responsible for more than 60% of chronic hepatitis cases. HCV presents a genetic variability which has led to viral classification into at least 6 genotypes and a series of subtypes. These variants present characteristic geographical distribution, but their association with different responses to treatment with interferon and severity of disease still remains controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the patterns of distribution of HCV genotypes among different exposure categories in Brazil. Two hundred and fifty anti-HCV positive samples were submitted to HCV-RNA detection by RT-PCR and their genotype was determined by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. In addition, the genotype/subtype of 60 samples was also determined by a reverse hybridization assay. HCV 1 was the most prevalent (72.0%), followed by type 3 (25.3%), HCV 2 (2.0%) and HCV 4 (0.7%). The HCV genotype distribution varied among the different exposure categories, with HCV 1 being more frequent among blood donors, hemophiliacs and hemodialysis patients. A high frequency of HCV 3 was observed in cirrhotic patients, blood donors from the South of Brazil and injecting drug users (IDUs). The general distribution of the HCV genotype in Brazil is similar to that in other regions of the world.
Abstract in English:The surgical specimens from 51 men submitted to radical prostatectomy for localized prostate cancer were examined by immunohistochemistry using proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) monoclonal antibody to evaluate the proliferative index (PI). The relationship between PI, biological variables and p53 protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. PI was low in invasive localized prostate carcinoma (mean, 12.4%) and the incidence of PCNA-positive cells was significantly higher in tumors with p53 expression (P = 0.0226). There was no statistical difference in PCNA values when biological parameters such as Gleason score, tumor volume, extraprostatic involvement, seminal vesicle infiltration or lymph node metastasis were considered. We conclude that proliferative activity is usually low in prostate carcinoma but is correlated with p53 immune staining, indicating that p53 is important in cell cycle control in this neoplasm.
Abstract in English:The survival of hemodialysis patients is likely to be influenced not only by well-known risk factors like age and comorbidity, but also by changes in dialysis technology and practices accumulated along time. We compared the survival curves, dialysis routines and some risk factors of two groups of patients admitted to a Brazilian maintenance hemodialysis program during two consecutive decades: March 1977 to December 1986 (group 1, N = 162) and January 1987 to June 1997 (group 2, N = 237). The median treatment time was 22 months (range 1-198). Survival curves were constructed using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank method. The Cox proportional hazard regression model was used to investigate the more important variables associated with outcome. The most important changes in dialysis routine and in patient care during the total period of observation were the progressive increase in the dose of dialysis delivered, the prohibition of potassium-free dialysate, the use of bicarbonate as a buffer and the upgrading of the dialysis equipment. There were no significant differences between the survival curves of the two groups. Survival rates at 1, 5 and 10 years were 84, 53 and 29%, respectively, for group 1 and 77, 42 and 21% for group 2. Patients in group 1 were younger (45.5 ± 15.2 vs 55.2 ± 15.9 years, P<0.001) and had a lower prevalence of diabetes (11.1 vs 27.4%, P<0.001) and of cardiovascular disease (9.3 vs 20.7%, P<0.001). According to the Cox multivariate model, only age (hazard ratio (HR) 1.04, confidence interval (CI) 1.03-1.05, P<0.001) and diabetes (HR 2.55, CI 1.82-3.58, P<0.001) were independent predictors of mortality for the whole group. Patients of group 2 had a lower prevalence of sudden death (19.1 vs 9.7%, P<0.001). After adjusting for age, diabetes and other mortality risk factors, the risk of death was 17% lower in group 2, although this difference was not statistically significant. We conclude that the negative effects of advanced age and of higher frequency of comorbidity on the survival of group 2 patients were probably offset by improvements in patient care and in the quality and dose of dialysis delivered, so that the survival curves did not undergo significant changes along time.
Abstract in English:The pentavalent antimonial (Sb5+) meglumine is the drug of choice for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Brazil. Although the cardiotoxicity of high-dose, long-term Sb5+ therapy is well known, the use of low-dose, short-term meglumine has been considered to be safe and relatively free from significant cardiac effects. In order to investigate the cardiotoxicity of low-dose, short-term therapy with meglumine in cutaneous leishmaniasis, 62 CL patients treated with meglumine were studied. A standard ECG was obtained before and immediately after the first cycle of treatment (15 mg Sb5+ kg-1 day-1). The electrocardiographic interpretation was carried out blindly by two investigators using the Minnesota Code. There were no significant differences in qualitative ECG variables before and after meglumine treatment. However, the corrected QT interval was clearly prolonged after antimonial therapy (420.0 vs 429.3 ms, P<10-6). QTc augmentation exceeded 40 ms in 12 patients, 7 of whom developed marked QTc interval enlargement (500 ms) after meglumine therapy. This previously unrecognized cardiac toxicity induced by short-term, low-dose antimonial therapy has potentially important clinical implications. Since sudden death has been related to QTc prolongation over 500 ms induced by high-dose antimonial therapy, routine electrocardiographic monitoring is probably indicated even in CL patients treated with short-term, low-dose meglumine schedules. Until further studies are conducted to establish the interactions between pentavalent antimonials and other drugs, special care is recommended when using meglumine in combination with other medications, in particular with drugs that also increase the QTc interval.
Abstract in English:Many clinical and epidemiological studies have demonstrated the relationship between serum ferritin and ischemic heart disease. In the present study we evaluated the relationship between coronary heart disease (CHD) and serum ferritin levels in patients submitted to coronary arteriography. We evaluated 307 patients (210 (68.7%) males; median age: 60 years) who were submitted to coronary angiography, measurement of serum ferritin and identification of clinical events of ischemic heart disease. Serum ferritin is reported as quartiles. Ninety-six patients (31.27%) had normal coronary angiography (group 1) and 211 (68.73%) had coronary heart disease (group 2). Of the patients with CHD, 61 (28.9%) had serum ferritin levels higher than 194 ng/ml (4th quartile), as opposed to only 14 (14.58%) of those without CHD (P = 0.0067). In the 2nd quartile, 39 patients (18.48%) had CHD, while 35 patients (36.46%) had normal coronary arteries (P = 0.00064). Multivariate analysis of the data showed that the difference between groups was not statistically significant (P = 0.33). We conclude that there is no independent relationship between coronary heart disease and increased levels of serum ferritin.
Abstract in English:In the course of studies on the effects of septal area lesions on neuroimmunomodulation and Walker 256 tumor development, it was observed that tumor-induced sodium and water retention was less marked in lesioned than in non-lesioned rats. In the present study possible mechanisms involved in this phenomenon were investigated. The experiments were performed in septal-lesioned (LW; N = 15) and sham-operated (SW; N = 7) 8-week-old male Wistar rats, which received multifocal simultaneous subcutaneous (sc) inoculations of Walker 256 tumor cells about 30 days after the stereotaxic surgery. Control groups (no tumor, sham-operated food-restricted (SFR), N = 7) and lesioned food-restricted (LFR, N = 10) were subjected to a feeding pattern similar to that observed in tumor-bearing animals. Multifocal inoculation of Walker 256 tumor rapidly induces anorexia, which is paradoxically accompanied by an increase in body weight, as a result of renal Na+ and fluid retention. These effects of the tumor were also seen in LW rats, although the rise in fractional sodium balance during the early clinical period was significantly smaller than in SW rats (day 4: SW = 47.6 ± 6.4% and LW = 13.8 ± 5.2%; day 5: SW = 57.5 ± 3.5% and LW = 25.7 ± 4.8%; day 6: SW = 54.4 ± 3.8% and LW = 32.1 ± 4.4%; P<0.05), suggesting a temporary reduction in tumor-induced sodium retention. In contrast, urine output was significantly reduced in SW rats and increased in LW rats (LW up to -0.85 and SW up to 4.5 ml/100 g body weight), with no change in osmolar excretion. These temporary changes in the tumor's effects on LW rats may reflect a "reversal" of the secondary central antidiuretic response induced by the tumor (from antidiuretic to diuretic).
Abstract in English:We describe a cage to be used for foster nursing in order to guarantee that original mother's colostrum is not ingested by the newborn mice. A common (30.5 cm x 19.5 cm x 12.0 cm) mouse cage was fitted with a wire net tray with a mesh (1 cm x 1 cm), which divides the cage into an upper and a lower compartment. Mice born to females placed in the upper compartment pass through the mesh and fall into the lower compartment, where another lactating female with one or two of its own pups are. Of a total of 28 newborn mice of C3H/He and Swiss strains, 23 were successfully fostered. Important observations are presented to show that this is a valuable alternative for foster studies without great suffering on the part of the female.
Abstract in English:In order to study the role of natural killer (NK) cells during the early period of Leishmania infection, BALB/c mice were selectively and permanently depleted of NK cells by injection with 90Sr and subsequently infected with Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis (HSJD-1 strain). 90Sr is known to selectively deplete NK cells, leaving an intact T- and B-cell compartment and preserving the ability to produce both interferon alpha and IL-2. This method of depletion has advantages when compared with depletion using anti-NK cell monoclonal antibodies because the effect is permanent and neither activates complement nor provokes massive cell death. In the present study, after one month of treatment with 90Sr, the depletion of NK cells was shown by a more than ten-fold reduction in the cytotoxic activity of these cells: 2 x 106 spleen cells from NK-depleted animals were required to reach the same specific lysis of target cells effected by 0.15 x 106 spleen cells from normal control animals. The histopathology of the skin lesion at 7 days after Leishmania infection showed more parasites in the NK cell-depleted group. This observation further strengthens a direct role of NK cells during the early period of Leishmania infection.
Abstract in English:Invertebrate glial cells show a variety of morphologies depending on species and location. They have been classified according to relatively general morphological or functional criteria and also to their location. The present study was carried out to characterize the organization of glial cells and their processes in the zona fasciculata and in the protocerebral tract of the crab Ucides cordatus. We performed routine and cytochemical procedures for electron microscopy analysis. Semithin sections were observed at the light microscope. The Thiéry procedure indicated the presence of carbohydrates, particularly glycogen, in tissue and in cells. To better visualize the axonal ensheathment at the ultrastructural level, we employed a method to enhance the unsaturated fatty acids present in membranes. Our results showed that there are at least two types of glial cells in these nervous structures, a light one and a dark one. Most of the dark cell processes have been mentioned in the literature as extracellular matrix, but since they presented an enveloping membrane, glycogen and mitochondria - intact and with different degrees of disruption - they were considered to be glial cells in the present study. We assume that they correspond to the perineurial cells on the basis of their location. The light cells must correspond to the periaxonal cells. Some characteristics of the axons such as their organization, ensheathment and subcellular structures are also described.
Abstract in English:The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine (FLX) is widely prescribed for depression and anxiety-related disorders. On the other hand, enhanced serotonergic transmission is known to be classically related to anxiety. In this study, the effects of acute (5.0 mg/kg) and chronic (5.0 mg/kg, 22 days) FLX were investigated in both food-deprived and non-deprived rats tested in the elevated plus-maze. Significant main effects of the three factors (drug, food condition and administration regimen) were observed, but no interaction between them. The administration of either acute or chronic FLX resulted in an anxiogenic effect, as detected by a significant reduction in the percentage of time spent in the open arms and in the percentage of open arm entries. Food deprivation yielded an anxiolytic-like profile, probably related to changes in locomotor activity. The administration regimen resulted in an anxiolytic profile in chronically treated rats, as would be expected after 22 days of regular handling. The anxiogenic action of acute FLX is consistent with both its neurochemical and clinical profile. The discrepancy between the anxiogenic profile of chronic FLX and its therapeutic uses is discussed in terms of possible differences between the type of anxiety that is measured in the plus-maze and the types of human anxiety that are alleviated by fluoxetine.
Abstract in English:The present study investigated the effect of repeated stress applied to female rats on memory evaluated by three behavioral tasks: two-way shuttle avoidance, inhibitory avoidance and habituation to an open field. Repeated stress had different effects on rat behavior when different tasks were considered. In the two-way active avoidance test the stressed animals presented memory of the task, but their memory scores were impaired when compared to all other groups. In the habituation to the open field, only the control group showed a significant difference in the number of rearings between training and testing sessions, which is interpreted as an adequate memory of the task. In the handled and chronically stressed animals, on the other hand, no memory was observed, suggesting that even a very mild repeated stress would be enough to alter habituation to this task. The performance in the inhibitory avoidance task presented no significant differences between groups. The findings suggest that repeated restraint stress might induce cognitive impairments that are dependent on the task and on stress intensity.
Abstract in English:Intra-amygdala infusion of the non-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) prior to testing impairs inhibitory avoidance retention test performance. Increased training attenuates the impairing effects of amygdala lesions and intra-amygdala infusions of CNQX. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of additional training on the impairing effects of intra-amygdala CNQX on expression of the inhibitory avoidance task. Adult female Wistar rats bilaterally implanted with cannulae into the border between the central and the basolateral nuclei of the amygdala were submitted to a single session or to three training sessions (0.2 mA, 24-h interval between sessions) in a step-down inhibitory avoidance task. A retention test session was held 48 h after the last training. Ten minutes prior to the retention test session, the animals received a 0.5-µl infusion of CNQX (0.5 µg) or its vehicle (25% dimethylsulfoxide in saline). The CNQX infusion impaired, but did not block, retention test performance in animals submitted to a single training session. Additional training prevented the impairing effect of CNQX. The results suggest that amygdaloid non-NMDA receptors may not be critical for memory expression in animals given increased training.
Abstract in English:The excessive stimulation of beta-adrenergic receptors in the heart induces myocardial hypertrophy. There are several experimental data suggesting that this hypertrophy may also depend, at least partially, on the increase of local production of angiotensin II secondary to the activation of the cardiac renin-angiotensin system. In this study we investigated the effects of isoproterenol on the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) in the heart and also in the aorta and plasma. Male Wistar rats weighing 250 to 305 g were treated with a dose of (±)-isoproterenol (0.3 mg kg-1 day-1, N = 8) sufficient to produce cardiac hypertrophy without deleterious effects on the pumping capacity of the heart. Control rats (N = 7) were treated with vehicle (corn oil). The animals were killed one week later. ACE activity was determined in vitro in the four cardiac chambers, aorta and plasma by a fluorimetric assay. A significant hypertrophy was observed in both ventricular chambers. ACE activity in the atria remained constant after isoproterenol treatment. There was a significant increase (P<0.05) of ACE activity in the right ventricle (6.9 ± 0.9 to 8.2 ± 0.6 nmol His-Leu g-1 min-1) and in the left ventricle (6.4 ± 1.1 to 8.9 ± 0.8 nmol His-Leu g-1 min-1). In the aorta, however, ACE activity decreased (P<0.01) after isoproterenol (41 ± 3 to 27 ± 2 nmol His-Leu g-1 min-1) while it remained unchanged in the plasma. These data suggest that ACE expression in the heart can be increased by stimulation of beta-adrenoceptors. However, this effect is not observed on other local renin-angiotensin systems, such as the aorta. Our data also suggest that the increased sympathetic discharge and the elevated plasma concentration of catecholamines may contribute to the upregulation of ACE expression in the heart after myocardial infarction and heart failure.
Abstract in English:Baroreflex sensitivity was studied in the same group of conscious rats using vasoactive drugs (phenylephrine and sodium nitroprusside) administered by three different approaches: 1) bolus injection, 2) steady-state (blood pressure (BP) changes produced in steps), 3) ramp infusion (30 s, brief infusion). The heart rate (HR) responses were evaluated by the mean index (mean ratio of all HR changes and mean arterial pressure (MAP) changes), by linear regression and by the logistic method (maximum gain of the sigmoid curve by a logistic function). The experiments were performed on three consecutive days. Basal MAP and resting HR were similar on all days of the study. Bradycardic responses evaluated by the mean index (-1.5 ± 0.2, -2.1 ± 0.2 and -1.6 ± 0.2 bpm/mmHg) and linear regression (-1.8 ± 0.3, -1.4 ± 0.3 and -1.7 ± 0.2 bpm/mmHg) were similar for all three approaches used to change blood pressure. The tachycardic responses to decreases of MAP were similar when evaluated by linear regression (-3.9 ± 0.8, -2.1 ± 0.7 and -3.8 ± 0.4 bpm/mmHg). However, the tachycardic mean index (-3.1 ± 0.4, -6.6 ± 1 and -3.6 ± 0.5 bpm/mmHg) was higher when assessed by the steady-state method. The average gain evaluated by logistic function (-3.5 ± 0.6, -7.6 ± 1.3 and -3.8 ± 0.4 bpm/mmHg) was similar to the reflex tachycardic values, but different from the bradycardic values. Since different ways to change BP may alter the afferent baroreceptor function, the MAP changes obtained during short periods of time (up to 30 s: bolus and ramp infusion) are more appropriate to prevent the acute resetting. Assessment of the baroreflex sensitivity by mean index and linear regression permits a separate analysis of gain for reflex bradycardia and reflex tachycardia. Although two values of baroreflex sensitivity cannot be evaluated by a single symmetric logistic function, this method has the advantage of better comparing the baroreflex sensitivity of animals with different basal blood pressures.