Abstract in English:Fatty acids have various effects on immune and inflammatory responses, acting as intracellular and intercellular mediators. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of the omega-3 family have overall suppressive effects, inhibiting lymphocyte proliferation, antibody and cytokine production, adhesion molecule expression, natural killer cell activity and triggering cell death. The omega-6 PUFAs have both inhibitory and stimulatory effects. The most studied of these is arachidonic acid that can be oxidized to eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes and thromboxanes, all of which are potent mediators of inflammation. Nevertheless, it has been found that many of the effects of PUFA on immune and inflammatory responses are not dependent on eicosanoid generation. Fatty acids have also been found to modulate phagocytosis, reactive oxygen species production, cytokine production and leukocyte migration, also interfering with antigen presentation by macrophages. The importance of fatty acids in immune function has been corroborated by many clinical trials in which patients show improvement when submitted to fatty acid supplementation. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain fatty acid modulation of immune response, such as changes in membrane fluidity and signal transduction pathways, regulation of gene transcription, protein acylation, and calcium release. In this review, evidence is presented to support the proposition that changes in cell metabolism also play an important role in the effect of fatty acids on leukocyte functioning, as fatty acids regulate glucose and glutamine metabolism and mitochondrial depolarization.
Abstract in English:Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with JB1 or REP consensus oligonucleotides and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) were used to study genomic DNA extracted from 31 strains of enterococci. Eleven ATCC strains, representative of 11 species of Enterococcus, were initially tested by JB1-PCR, revealing that Enterococcus malodoratus and Enterococcus hirae presented identical banding patterns. Eight Enterococcus faecium isolates from Stanford University and 12 from São Paulo Hospital were studied by JB1-PCR, REP-PCR 1/2R and PFGE. Among the isolates from Stanford University, 5 genotypes were defined by JB1-PCR, 7 by REP-PCR 1/2R and 4 by PFGE. Among the isolates from São Paulo Hospital, 9 genotypes were identified by JB1-PCR, 6 by REP-PCR and 5 by PFGE. The three methods identified identical genotypes, but there was not complete agreement among them.
Abstract in English:The genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv contains three contiguous genes (plc-a, plc-b and plc-c) which are similar to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa phospholipase C (PLC) genes. Expression of mycobacterial PLC-a and PLC-b in E. coli and M. smegmatis has been reported, whereas expression of the native proteins in M. tuberculosis H37Rv has not been demonstrated. The objective of the present study was to demonstrate that native PLC-a is expressed in M. tuberculosis H37Rv. Sera from mice immunized with recombinant PLC-a expressed in E. coli were used in immunoblots to evaluate PLC-a expression. The immune serum recognized a 49-kDa protein in immunoblots against M. tuberculosis extracts. No bands were visible in M. tuberculosis culture supernatants or extracts from M. avium, M. bovis and M. smegmatis. A 550-bp DNA fragment upstream of plc-a was cloned in the pJEM12 vector and the existence of a functional promoter was evaluated by detection of ß-galactosidase activity. ß-Galactosidase activity was detected in M. smegmatis transformed with recombinant pJEM12 grown in vitro and inside macrophages. The putative promoter was active both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that expression is constitutive. In conclusion, expression of non-secreted native PLC-a was demonstrated in M. tuberculosis.
Abstract in English:We report here for the first time the structure and function of a promoter from a cestode. The ability of DNA fragments respectively encompassing the 935-bp and 524-bp regions upstream from the ATG codon from the EgactI and EgactII actin genes of Echinococcus granulosus to promote transcription was studied in the NIH3T3 mouse cell line. The results of transfection assays showed that both regions have strong promoter activity in these cells. The fragments were tested in both orientations and the 524-bp fragment of EgactII presented a bidirectional promoter activity. Deletion analysis of EgactI and EgactII promoters indicated the presence of regulatory regions containing putative silencer elements. These results indicate that both EgactI and EgactII promoters are functional and that the preliminary functional evaluation of E. granulosus and possibly of other cestode promoters can be performed in heterologous cell lines.
Abstract in English:This article describes the presence of two new forms of a thrombin-like enzyme, both with apparent molecular masses of 38 kDa, in Bothrops atrox venom. Both share the ability to cleave fibrinogen into fibrin and to digest casein. Both present identical Km on the substrate BApNA. Their N-terminal amino acid sequences are identical for 26 residues, sharing 80% homology with batroxobin and flavoxobin. Two groups of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) raised against the purified enzyme forms recognized different epitopes of the putative corresponding enzymes present in B. atrox crude venom. On Western blotting analysis of B. atrox crude venom, mAbs 5DB2C8, 5AA10 and 5CF11, but not mAbs 6CC5 and 6AD2-G5, revealed two or more protein bands ranging from 25 to 38 kDa. By immunoprecipitation assays, the 6AD2-G5 mAb was able to precipitate protein bands of 36-38 kDa from B. atrox, B. leucurus, B. pradoi, B. moojeni, B. jararaca and B. neuwiedii crude venoms. Fibrinogen-clotting activity was inhibited when the same venom specimens were pre-incubated with mAb 6AD2-G5, except for B. jararaca and B. neuwiedii.
Abstract in English:Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a metabolic disorder inherited as an autosomal dominant trait characterized by an increased plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level. The disease is caused by several different mutations in the LDL receptor gene. Although early identification of individuals carrying the defective gene could be useful in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction, the techniques available for determining the number of the functional LDL receptor molecules are difficult to carry out and expensive. Polymorphisms associated with this gene may be used for unequivocal diagnosis of FH in several populations. The aim of our study was to evaluate the genotype distribution and relative allele frequencies of three polymorphisms of the LDL receptor gene, HincII1773 (exon 12), AvaII (exon 13) and PvuII (intron 15), in 50 unrelated Brazilian individuals with a diagnosis of heterozygous FH and in 130 normolipidemic controls. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood leukocytes by a modified salting-out method. The polymorphisms were detected by PCR-RFLP. The FH subjects showed a higher frequency of A+A+ (AvaII), H+H+ (HincII1773) and P1P1 (PvuII) homozygous genotypes when compared to the control group (P<0.05). In addition, FH probands presented a high frequency of A+ (0.58), H+ (0.61) and P1 (0.78) alleles when compared to normolipidemic individuals (0.45, 0.45 and 0.64, respectively). The strong association observed between these alleles and FH suggests that AvaII, HincII1773 and PvuII polymorphisms could be useful to monitor the inheritance of FH in Brazilian families.
Abstract in English:The repercussions of secondary hyperparathyroidism on the nutritional status of chronic renal failure patients have not been well established. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the nutritional indices of hemodialysis patients with and without secondary hyperparathyroidism. Sixteen hemodialysis patients with serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels higher than 420 pg/ml (hyperparathyroidism group) were matched for gender, age and length of dialysis treatment to 16 patients with serum PTH between 64 and 290 pg/ml (control group). The following parameters were assessed: anthropometric indices (body mass index, skinfold thickness, midarm muscle circumference and body fat), 4-day food diaries, protein catabolic rate, biochemical indices (blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, albumin, ionized calcium, inorganic phosphorus, serum alkaline phosphatase, PTH, pH and HCO3) and dialysis efficiency. We did not observe differences in the anthropometric indices between the two groups. Only calcium intake was significantly different between groups (307.9 mg/day for the hyperparathyroidism group vs 475.8 mg/day for the control group). Protein catabolic rate tended to be higher in the hyperparathyroidism group compared to the control group (1.3 vs 0.9 g kg-1 day-1; P = 0.08). Except for blood urea nitrogen (86.4 vs 75.7 mg/dl), alkaline phosphatase (175 vs 65 U/l) and PTH (898 vs 155 pg/ml), no other differences were found between groups in the biochemical indices studied. PTH was directly correlated with protein catabolic rate (r = 0.61; P<0.05) and length of dialysis (r = 0.53; P<0.05) only in the hyperparathyroidism group. Considering the indices used, we could not demonstrate the deleterious effect of high PTH levels on the nutritional status of hemodialysis patients. Indirect evidence, however, suggests an action of PTH on protein metabolism.
Abstract in English:Fetal hemoglobin was measured in HIV1/2 patients under treatment with combined therapy (zidovudine and a protease inhibitor). A total of 143 patients and 103 normal individuals were investigated by the quantitative method of Betke and the semi-quantitative acid elution method of Kleihauer. In the normal person, hemoglobin F makes up less than 1% and an increase higher than 1.5% was observed in 21.4% of HIV patients by the method of Betke and in 24.8% of HIV-infected patients by the method of Kleihauer. The quantitative biochemical method of Betke showed that the populations were significantly different (two-tailed Mann-Whitney test). The reason for this hemoglobin F increase might be ascribed to the effect of zidovudine or to direct viral action on gamma chain expression. The finding of a higher F cell frequency indicated by the method of Kleihauer rather suggests that there is an increased F cell clone proliferation rather than an increase in hemoglobin F level in every cell.
Abstract in English:Our aim was to observe the induction of panic attacks by a hyperventilation challenge test in panic disorder patients (DSM-IV) and their healthy first-degree relatives. We randomly selected 25 panic disorder patients, 31 healthy first-degree relatives of probands with panic disorder and 26 normal volunteers with no family history of panic disorder. All patients had no psychotropic drugs for at least one week. They were induced to hyperventilate (30 breaths/min) for 4 min and anxiety scales were applied before and after the test. A total of 44.0% (N = 11) panic disorder patients, 16.1% (N = 5) of first-degree relatives and 11.5% (N = 3) of control subjects had a panic attack after hyperventilating (chi² = 8.93, d.f. = 2, P = 0.011). In this challenge test the panic disorder patients were more sensitive to hyperventilation than first-degree relatives and normal volunteers. Although the hyperventilation test has a low sensitivity, our data suggest that there is no association between a family history of panic disorder and hyperreactivity to an acute hyperventilation challenge test. Perhaps cognitive variables should be considered to play a specific role in this association since symptoms of a panic attack and acute hyperventilation overlap.
Abstract in English:Breast cancer in families with germ line mutations in the TP53 gene has been described in the medical literature. Mutation screening for susceptibility genes should allow effective prophylactic and preventive measures. Using single-strand conformational polymorphism, we screened for mutations in exons 5, 6, 7 and 8 of gene TP53 in the peripheral blood of 8 young non-affected members (17 to 36 years old) of families with a history of breast cancer. Studies of this type on young patients (mean age, 25 years) are very rare in the literature. The identification of these mutations would contribute to genetic counseling of members of families with predisposition to breast cancer. The results obtained did not show any polymorphism indicating mutation. In our sample, the familial tumorigenesis is probably related to other gene etiologies.
Abstract in English:Rats infected with the helminth Capillaria hepatica regularly develop septal hepatic fibrosis that may progress to cirrhosis in a relatively short time. Because of such characteristics, this experimental model was selected for testing drugs exhibiting antifibrosis potential, such as pentoxifylline, gadolinium chloride and vitamin A. Hepatic fibrosis was qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated in liver samples obtained by partial hepatectomy and at autopsy. The material was submitted to histological, biochemical and morphometric methods. A statistically significant reduction of fibrosis was obtained with pentoxifylline when administered intraperitoneally rather than intravenously. Gadolinium chloride showed moderate activity when administered prophylactically (before fibrosis had started), but showed a poor effect when fibrosis was well advanced. No modification of fibrosis was seen after vitamin A administration. Hydroxyproline content was correlated with morphometric measurements. The model appears to be adequate, since few animals die of the infection, fibrosis develops regularly in all animals, and the effects of different antifibrotic drugs and administration protocols can be easily detected.
Abstract in English:The objective of the present study was to explore the regulatory mechanisms of free radicals during streptozotocin (STZ)-induced pancreatic damage, which may involve nitric oxide (NO) production as a modulator of cellular oxidative stress. Removal of oxygen species by incubating pancreatic tissues in the presence of polyethylene glycol-conjugated superoxide dismutase (PEG-SOD) (1 U/ml) produced a decrease in nitrite levels (42%) and NO synthase (NOS) activity (50%) in diabetic but not in control samples. When NO production was blocked by N G-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) (600 µM), SOD activity increased (15.21 ± 1.23 vs 24.40 ± 2.01 U/mg dry weight). The increase was abolished when the NO donor, spermine nonoate, was added to the incubating medium (13.2 ± 1.32). Lipid peroxidation was lower in diabetic tissues when PEG-SOD was added (0.40 ± 0.02 vs 0.20 ± 0.03 nmol/mg protein), and when L-NMMA blocked NOS activity in the incubating medium (0.28 ± 0.05); spermine nonoate (100 µM) abolished the decrease in lipoperoxide level (0.70 ± 0.02). We conclude that removal of oxygen species produces a decrease in pancreatic NO and NOS levels in STZ-treated rats. Moreover, inhibition of NOS activity produces an increase in SOD activity and a decrease in lipoperoxidation in diabetic pancreatic tissues. Oxidative stress and NO pathway are related and seem to modulate each other in acute STZ-induced diabetic pancreas in the rat.
Abstract in English:Emotional changes can influence feeding behavior. Previous studies have shown that chronically stressed animals present increased ingestion of sweet food, an effect reversed by a single dose of diazepam administered before testing the animals. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the response of animals chronically treated with midazolam and/or submitted to repeated restraint stress upon the ingestion of sweet food. Male adult Wistar rats were divided into two groups: controls and exposed to restraint 1 h/day, 5 days/week for 40 days. Both groups were subdivided into two other groups treated or not with midazolam (0.06 mg/ml in their drinking water during the 40-day treatment). The animals were placed in a lighted area in the presence of 10 pellets of sweet food (Froot loops®). The number of ingested pellets was measured during a period of 3 min, in the presence or absence of fasting. The group chronically treated with midazolam alone presented increased ingestion when compared to control animals (control group: 2.0 ± 0.44 pellets and midazolam group: 3.60 ± 0.57 pellets). The group submitted to restraint stress presented an increased ingestion compared to controls (control group: 2.0 ± 0.44 pellets and stressed group: 4.18 ± 0.58 pellets). Chronically administered midazolam reduced the ingestion in stressed animals (stressed/water group: 4.18 ± 0.58 pellets; stressed/midazolam group: 3.2 ± 0.49 pellets). Thus, repeated stress increases appetite for sweet food independently of hunger and chronic administration of midazolam can decrease this behavioral effect.
Abstract in English:The molluscicidal activity of Punica granatum Linn. (Punicaceae) and Canna indica Linn. (Cannaceae) against the snail Lymnaea acuminata was studied. The molluscicidal activity of P. granatum bark and C. indica root was found to be both time and dose dependent. The toxicity of P. granatum bark was more pronounced than that of C. indica. The 24 h LC50 of the column-purified root of C. indica was 6.54 mg/l whereas that of the column-purified bark of P. granatum was 4.39 mg/l. The ethanol extract of P. granatum (24 h LC50: 22.42 mg/l) was more effective than the ethanol extract of C. indica (24 h LC50: 55.65 mg/l) in killing the test animals. P. granatum and C. indica may be used as potent molluscicides since the concentrations used to kill the snails were not toxic for the fish Colisa fasciatus, which shares the same habitat with the snail L. acuminata.
Abstract in English:Abnormalities in glucose metabolism and insulin action are frequently detected in patients with essential hypertension. Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have been used as an experimental model to understand this pathological condition. The objective of the present study was to assess glucose metabolism and insulin action in SHR and Wistar rats under fed and fasting conditions. Peripheral glucose utilization was estimated by kinetic studies with [6-³H]-glucose and gluconeogenetic activity was measured during continuous [14C]-bicarbonate infusion. Plasma glucose levels were higher in the SHR group. Plasma insulin levels in the fed state were higher in the SHR group (99.8 ± 6.5 µM) than in the control group (70.4 ± 3.6 µM). Muscle glycogen content was reduced in SHR compared to control under the various experimental conditions. Peripheral glucose utilization was slightly lower in the SHR group in the fed state (8.72 ± 0.55 vs 9.52 ± 0.80 mg kg-1 min-1 in controls). Serum free fatty acid levels, hepatic glycogen levels, hepatic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase activity and gluconeogenetic activity were similar in the two groups. The presence of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia and the slightly reduced peripheral glucose utilization suggest the presence of resistance to the action of insulin in peripheral tissues of SHR. Hepatic gluconeogenesis does not seem to contribute to the metabolic alterations detected in these animals.
Abstract in English:The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of experimental diabetes on the oxidant and antioxidant status of latissimus dorsi (LD) muscles of male Wistar rats (220 ± 5 g, N = 11). Short-term (5 days) diabetes was induced by a single injection of streptozotocin (STZ, 50 mg/kg, iv; glycemia >300 mg/dl). LD muscle of STZ-diabetic rats presented higher levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and chemiluminescence (0.36 ± 0.02 nmol/mg protein and 14706 ± 1581 cps/mg protein) than LD muscle of normal rats (0.23 ± 0.04 nmol/mg protein and 7389 ± 1355 cps/mg protein). Diabetes induced a 92% increase in catalase and a 27% increase in glutathione S-transferase activities in LD muscle. Glutathione peroxidase activity was reduced (58%) in STZ-diabetic rats and superoxide dismutase activity was similar in LD muscle of both groups. A positive correlation was obtained between catalase activity and the oxidative stress of LD, as evaluated in terms of TBARS (r = 0.78) and by chemiluminescence (r = 0.89). Catalase activity also correlated inversely with glutathione peroxidase activity (r = 0.79). These data suggest that an increased oxidative stress in LD muscle of diabetic rats may be related to skeletal muscle myopathy.
Abstract in English:The effects of transient forebrain ischemia, reperfusion and ischemic preconditioning on rat blood platelet ATP diphosphohydrolase and 5'-nucleotidase activities were evaluated. Adult Wistar rats were submitted to 2 or 10 min of single ischemic episodes, or to 10 min of ischemia 1 day after a 2-min ischemic episode (ischemic preconditioning) by the four-vessel occlusion method. Rats submitted to single ischemic insults were reperfused for 60 min and for 1, 2, 5, 10 and 30 days after ischemia; preconditioned rats were reperfused for 60 min 1 and 2 days after the long ischemic episode. Brain ischemia (2 or 10 min) inhibited ATP and ADP hydrolysis by platelet ATP diphosphohydrolase. On the other hand, AMP hydrolysis by 5'-nucleotidase was increased after 2, but not 10, min of ischemia. Ischemic preconditioning followed by 10 min of ischemia caused activation of both enzymes. Variable periods of reperfusion distinctly affected each experimental group. Enzyme activities returned to control levels in the 2-min group. However, the decrease in ATP diphosphohydrolase activity was maintained up to 30 days of reperfusion after 10-min ischemia. 5'-Nucleotidase activity was decreased 60 min and 1 day following 10-min ischemia; interestingly, enzymatic activity was increased after 2 and 5 days of reperfusion, and returned to control levels after 10 days. Ischemic preconditioning cancelled the effects of 10-min ischemia on the enzymatic activities. These results indicate that brain ischemia and ischemic preconditioning induce peripheral effects on ecto-enzymes from rat platelets involved in nucleotide metabolism. Thus, ATP, ADP and AMP degradation and probably the generation of adenosine in the circulation may be altered, leading to regulation of microthrombus formation since ADP aggregates platelets and adenosine is an inhibitor of platelet aggregation.
Abstract in English:The neurotransmission of the chemoreflex in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), particularly of the sympatho-excitatory component, is not completely understood. There is evidence that substance P may play a role in the neurotransmission of the chemoreflex in the NTS. Microinjection of substance P (50 pmol/50 nl, N = 12, and 5 nmol/50 nl, N = 8) into the commissural NTS of unanesthetized rats produced a significant increase in mean arterial pressure (101 ± 1 vs 108 ± 2 and 107 ± 3 vs 115 ± 4 mmHg, respectively) and no significant changes in heart rate (328 ± 11 vs 347 ± 15 and 332 ± 7 vs 349 ± 13 bpm, respectively) 2 min after microinjection. Previous treatment with WIN, an NK-1 receptor antagonist (2.5 nmol/50 nl), microinjected into the NTS of a specific group of rats, blocked the pressor (11 ± 5 vs 1 ± 2 mmHg) and tachycardic (31 ± 6 vs 4 ± 3 bpm) responses to substance P (50 pmol/50 nl, N = 5) observed 10 min after microinjection. Bilateral microinjection of WIN into the lateral commissural NTS (N = 8) had no significant effect on the pressor (50 ± 4 vs 42 ± 6 mmHg) or bradycardic (-230 ± 16 vs -220 ± 36 bpm) responses to chemoreflex activation with potassium cyanide (iv). These data indicate that the activation of NK-1 receptors by substance P in the NTS produces an increase in baseline mean arterial pressure and heart rate. However, the data obtained with WIN suggest that substance P and NK-1 receptors do not play a major role in the neurotransmission of the chemoreflex in the lateral commissural NTS.
Abstract in English:Endometrium is one of the fastest growing human tissues. Sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in interaction with several growth factors, control its growth and differentiation. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) interacts with cell surface receptors and also with specific soluble binding proteins. IGF-binding proteins (IGF-BP) have been shown to modulate IGF-1 action. Of six known isoforms, IGF-BP-1 has been characterized as a marker produced by endometrial stromal cells in the late secretory phase and in the decidua. In the current study, IGF-1-BP concentration and affinity in the proliferative and secretory phase of the menstrual cycle were measured. Endometrial samples were from patients of reproductive age with regular menstrual cycles and taking no steroid hormones. Cytosolic fractions were prepared and binding of 125I-labeled IGF-1 performed. Cross-linking reaction products were analyzed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (7.5%) followed by autoradiography. 125I-IGF-1 affinity to cytosolic proteins was not statistically different between the proliferative and secretory endometrium. An approximately 35-kDa binding protein was identified when 125I-IGF-1 was cross-linked to cytosol proteins. Secretory endometrium had significantly more IGF-1-BP when compared to proliferative endometrium. The specificity of the cross-linking process was evaluated by the addition of 100 nM unlabeled IGF-1 or insulin. Unlabeled IGF-1 totally abolished the radioactivity from the band, indicating specific binding. Insulin had no apparent effect on the intensity of the labeled band. These results suggest that IGF-BP could modulate the action of IGF-1 throughout the menstrual cycle. It would be interesting to study this binding protein in other pathologic conditions of the endometrium such as adenocarcinomas and hyperplasia.