Abstract in English:Brazil's scientific community is under pressure. Each year there is an increase in its contribution to international science and in the number of students who are trained to do research and teach at an advanced level. Most of these activities are carried out in state and federal universities, but with government funding that has decreased by more than 70% since 1996. Interviews with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and professors in one university department with a strong research tradition illustrate the level of stress engendered by the conflict between increasing competition and diminishing resources, and serve to underscore the negative effects on creativity and on the tendency to choose science as a career.
Abstract in English:The cardiovascular protective actions of estrogen are partially mediated by a direct effect on the vessel wall. Estrogen is active both on vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells where functionally competent estrogen receptors have been identified. Estrogen administration promotes vasodilation in humans and in experimental animals, in part by stimulating prostacyclin and nitric oxide synthesis, as well as by decreasing the production of vasoconstrictor agents such as cyclooxygenase-derived products, reactive oxygen species, angiotensin II, and endothelin-1. In vitro, estrogen exerts a direct inhibitory effect on smooth muscle by activating potassium efflux and by inhibiting calcium influx. In addition, estrogen inhibits vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation. In vivo, 17ß-estradiol prevents neointimal thickening after balloon injury and also ameliorates the lesions occurring in atherosclerotic conditions. As is the case for other steroids, the effect of estrogen on the vessel wall has a rapid non-genomic component involving membrane phenomena, such as alteration of membrane ionic permeability and activation of membrane-bound enzymes, as well as the classical genomic effect involving estrogen receptor activation and gene expression.
Abstract in English:The etiopathogenesis of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN III) and invasive squamous cell carcinoma are largely unknown. Since there are few studies on Brazilian patients, our purpose was to determine the frequency of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and the expression of p53 in these lesions, and associate them with other factors such as age, morphological subtypes, multicentric and multifocal disease. Thirty-eight cases of VIN III, nine of superficially invasive carcinoma, and 55 of invasive vulvar carcinoma were retrospectively evaluated from 1983 to 1995 for the presence of HPV by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, and for p53 protein expression by immunohistochemistry on paraffin sections. All cases for whom material (slides and paraffin blocks) and clinical data were available were included. HPV and p53 were detected in 57.9 and 21.1% of the VIN III lesions, 33.3 and 66.7% of superficially invasive carcinomas, and 7.3 and 58.2% of invasive squamous cell carcinomas, respectively. HPV infection was associated with younger age in the VIN III and invasive carcinoma groups. In the latter, HPV infection was associated with the basaloid variant. p53 expression rate was higher in superficially invasive and invasive lesions and was not related to HPV infection. Our findings are similar to others and support the hypothesis that there are two separate entities of the disease, one associated with HPV and the other unrelated, with p53 inactivation possibly being implicated in some of the cases.
Abstract in English:Since the discovery of bovine insulin in plants, much effort has been devoted to the characterization of these proteins and elucidation of their functions. We report here the isolation of a protein with similar molecular mass and same amino acid sequence to bovine insulin from developing fruits of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) genotype Epace 10. Insulin was measured by ELISA using an anti-human insulin antibody and was detected both in empty pods and seed coats but not in the embryo. The highest concentrations (about 0.5 ng/µg of protein) of the protein were detected in seed coats at 16 and 18 days after pollination, and the values were 1.6 to 4.0 times higher than those found for isolated pods tested on any day. N-terminal amino acid sequencing of insulin was performed on the protein purified by C4-HPLC. The significance of the presence of insulin in these plant tissues is not fully understood but we speculate that it may be involved in the transport of carbohydrate to the fruit.
Abstract in English:Mechanical forces including pressure and shear stress play an important role in vascular homeostasis via the control of the production and release of a variety of vasoactive factors. An increase in vascular shear stress is accompanied by nitric oxide (NO) release and NO synthase activation. Previously, we have demonstrated that shear stress induces angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE) down-regulation in vivo and in vitro. In the present study, we determined whether NO participates in the shear stress-induced ACE suppression response. Rabbit aortic endothelial cells were evaluated using the NO synthase inhibitor L-NAME, and two NO donors, diethylamine NONOate (DEA/NO) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP). Under static conditions, incubation of endothelial cells with 1 mM L-NAME for 18 h increased ACE activity by 27% (from 1.000 ± 0.090 to 1.272 ± 0.182) while DEA/NO and SNP (0.1, 0.5 and 1 mM) caused no change in ACE activity. Interestingly, ACE activity was down-regulated similarly in the presence or absence of L-NAME (delta(0 mM) = 0.26 ± 0.055, delta(0.1 mM) = 0.21 ± 0.22, delta(1 mM) = 0.36 ± 0.13) upon 18 h shear stress activation (from static to 15 dyn/cm²). Taken together, these results indicate that NO can participate in the maintenance of basal ACE levels in the static condition but NO is not associated with the shear stress-induced inactivation of ACE.
Abstract in English:Bone marrow contains a population of stem cells that can support hematopoiesis and can differentiate into different cell lines including adipocytes, osteocytes, chondrocytes, myocytes, astrocytes, and tenocytes. These cells have been denoted mesenchymal stem cells. In the present study we isolated a cell population derived from the endothelium and subendothelium of the umbilical cord vein which possesses morphological, immunophenotypical and cell differentiation characteristics similar to those of mesenchymal stem cells isolated from bone marrow. The cells were isolated from three umbilical cords after treatment of the umbilical vein lumen with collagenase. The cell population isolated consisted of adherent cells with fibroblastoid morphology which, when properly stimulated, gave origin to adipocytes and osteocytes in culture. Immunophenotypically, this cell population was found to be positive for the CD29, CD13, CD44, CD49e, CD54, CD90 and HLA-class 1 markers and negative for CD45, CD14, glycophorin A, HLA-DR, CD51/61, CD106, and CD49d. The characteristics described are the same as those presented by bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that the umbilical cord obtained from term deliveries is an important source of mesenchymal stem cells that could be used in cell therapy protocols.
Abstract in English:The precise nature of hormones and growth factors directly responsible for cartilage maturation is still largely unclear. Since longitudinal bone growth occurs through endochondral bone formation, excess or deficiency of most hormones and growth factors strongly influences final adult height. The structure and composition of the cartilaginous extracellular matrix have a critical role in regulating the behavior of growth plate chondrocytes. Therefore, the maintenance of the three-dimensional cell-matrix interaction is necessary to study the influence of individual signaling molecules on chondrogenesis, cartilage maturation and calcification. To investigate the effects of insulin on both proliferation and induction of hypertrophy in chondrocytes in vitro we used high-density micromass cultures of chick embryonic limb mesenchymal cells. Culture medium was supplemented with 1% FCS + 60 ng/ml (0.01 µM) insulin and cultures were harvested at regular time points for later analysis. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen immunoreactivity was widely detected in insulin-treated cultures and persisted until day 21 and [³H]-thymidine uptake was highest on day 14. While apoptosis increased in control cultures as a function of culture time, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-labeled cells were markedly reduced in the presence of insulin. Type II collagen production, alkaline phosphatase activity and cell size were also lower in insulin-treated cultures. Our results indicate that under the influence of 60 ng/ml insulin, chick chondrocytes maintain their proliferative potential but do not become hypertrophic, suggesting that insulin can affect the regulation of chondrocyte maturation and hypertrophy, possibly through an antiapoptotic effect.
Abstract in English:Recent evidence suggests that insulin may influence many brain functions. It is known that intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of nondiabetogenic doses of streptozotocin (STZ) can damage insulin receptor signal transduction. In the present study, we examined the functional damage to the brain insulin receptors on central mechanisms regulating glomerular filtration rate and urinary sodium excretion, over four periods of 30 min, in response to 3 µl insulin or 0.15 NaCl (vehicle) injected icv in STZ-treated freely moving Wistar-Hannover rats (250-300 g). The icv cannula site was visually confirmed by 2% Evans blue infusion. Centrally administered insulin (42.0 ng/µl) increased the urinary output of sodium (from 855.6 ± 85.1 to 2055 ± 310.6 delta%/min; N = 11) and potassium (from 460.4 ± 100 to 669 ± 60.8 delta%/min; N = 11). The urinary sodium excretion response to icv insulin microinjection was markedly attenuated by previous central STZ (100 µg/3 µl) administration (from 628 ± 45.8 to 617 ± 87.6 delta%/min; N = 5) or by icv injection of a dopamine antagonist, haloperidol (4 µg/3 µl) (from 498 ± 39.4 to 517 ± 73.2 delta%/min; N = 5). Additionally, insulin-induced natriuresis occurred by increased post-proximal tubule sodium rejection, despite an unchanged glomerular filtration rate. Excluding the possibility of a direct action of STZ on central insulin receptor-carrying neurons, the current data suggest that the insulin-sensitive response may be processed through dopaminergic D1 receptors containing neuronal pathways.
Abstract in English:Rats infected with the helminth Capillaria hepatica regularly develop septal fibrosis of the liver similar to that induced by repeated ip injections of pig serum. Fibrosis starts when the focal parasitic lesions begin to show signs of resorption, thus suggesting an immunologically mediated pathogenesis of this fibrosis. To explore this possibility, the development of C. hepatica-related hepatic fibrosis was observed in rats exposed to worm antigens from the first neonatal day onward. Wistar rats (150 g) were either injected ip with an extract of C. hepatica eggs (protein concentration: 1 mg/ml) or received immature eggs by gavage from the first neonatal day until adult life and were then infected with 500 embryonated eggs. Changes were monitored on the basis of serum levels of anti-worm antibodies and hepatic histopathology. Rats submitted to immunological oral tolerance markedly suppressed C. hepatica-related serum antibodies and septal fibrosis of the liver when infected with the helminth later on. Tolerance trials with ip injections of worm antigens gave essentially negative results. The partial suppression of septal fibrosis of the liver after the induction of immunological tolerance to C. hepatica antigens in rats indicates an immunological basis for the fibrosis and emphasizes the importance of immunological factors in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis.
Abstract in English:We infected NIH germ-free female mice with Helicobacter trogontum, a recently described intestinal bacterium of rats, in order to study the lesions it induced in the liver of this host. Fifteen mice were challenged with a single dose of H. trogontum (test group) and killed 6, 12 and 18 months after inoculation (5 animals/group). Nine animals were challenged with 0.85% saline alone (control group) and killed at the same times. Fragments from the liver, cecum and colon were obtained for microbiologic and histologic examination. Stool samples were also collected. H. trogontum was detected in the cecum, colon and/or stool samples of all test mice. As expected, the bacterium was not isolated from any specimen obtained from the control animals. On the other hand, although we could not cultivate the bacterium from the liver, 13 test animals (86.7%) presented histological changes in this organ. The 6-month group presented infiltration of mononuclear and polymorphonuclear cells in the hepatic parenchyma and the two other groups presented foci of mononuclear cells. The results suggest that H. trogontum can elicit a hepatic inflammatory response in mice since the only difference between control and test animals was the presence of H. trogontum in the latter. This result, together with the growing number of related reports in the literature, reinforces the possible role of Helicobacter infection in the pathogenesis of hepatobiliary diseases.
Abstract in English:Plants from the genus Alternanthera are thought to possess antimicrobial and antiviral properties. In Brazilian folk medicine, the aqueous extract of A. tenella Colla is used for its anti-inflammatory activity. The present study investigated the immunomodulatory property of A. tenella extract by evaluating the antibody production in male albino Swiss mice weighing 20-25 g (10 per group). The animals received standard laboratory diet and water ad libitum. The effect of A. tenella extract (5 and 50 mg/kg, ip) was evaluated in mice immunized with sheep red blood cells (SRBC 10%, ip) as T-dependent antigen, or in mice stimulated with mitogens (10 µg, Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide, LPS, ip). The same doses (5 and 50 mg/kg, ip) of A. tenella extract were also tested for antitumor activity, using the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma as model. The results showed that 50 mg/kg A. tenella extract ip significantly enhanced IgM (64%) and IgG2a (50%) antibody production in mice treated with LPS mitogen. The same dose had no effect on IgM-specific response, whereas the 5 mg/kg treatment caused a statiscally significant reduction of anti-SRBC IgM-specific antibodies (82%). The aqueous extract of A. tenella (50 mg/kg) increased the life span (from 16 ± 1 to 25 ± 1 days) and decreased the number of viable tumor cells (59%) in mice with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. The present findings are significant for the development of alternative, inexpensive and perhaps even safer strategies for cancer treatment.
Abstract in English:Microbial pathogens such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induce the activation of macrophages. Activated macrophages can be characterized by the increased production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen metabolites, generated via NADPH oxidase and inducible nitric oxide synthase, respectively, and by the increased expression of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules (MHC II). Multiple microassays have been developed to measure these parameters. Usually each assay requires 2-5 x 10(5) cells per well. In some experimental conditions the number of cells is the limiting factor for the phenotypic characterization of macrophages. Here we describe a method whereby this limitation can be circumvented. Using a single 96-well microassay and a very small number of peritoneal cells obtained from C3H/HePas mice, containing as little as <=2 x 10(5) macrophages per well, we determined sequentially the oxidative burst (H2O2), nitric oxide production and MHC II (IAk) expression of BCG-activated macrophages. More specifically, with 100 µl of cell suspension it was possible to quantify H2O2 release and nitric oxide production after 1 and 48 h, respectively, and IAk expression after 48 h of cell culture. In addition, this microassay is easy to perform, highly reproducible and more economical.
Abstract in English:The gut mucosa is a major site of contact with antigens from food and microbiota. Usually, these daily contacts with natural antigens do not result in inflammatory reactions; instead they result in a state of systemic hyporesponsiveness named oral tolerance. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are associated with the breakdown of the immunoregulatory mechanisms that maintain oral tolerance. Several animal models of IBD/colitis are available. In mice, these include targeted disruptions of the genes encoding cytokines, T cell subsets or signaling proteins. Colitis can also be induced by intrarectal administration of chemical substances such as 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid in 50% ethanol. We report here a novel model of colitis induced by intrarectal administration of 50% ethanol alone. Ethanol-treated mice develop an inflammatory reaction in the colon characterized by an intense inflammatory infiltrate in the mucosa and submucosa of the large intestine. They also present up-regulation of both interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) production by cecal lymph node and splenic cells. These results suggest a mixed type of inflammation as the substrate of the colitis. Interestingly, cells from mesenteric lymph nodes of ethanol-treated mice present an increase in IFN-gamma production and a decrease in IL-4 production indicating that the cytokine balance is altered throughout the gut mucosa. Moreover, induction of oral tolerance to ovalbumin is abolished in these animals, strongly suggesting that ethanol-induced colitis interferes with immunoregulatory mechanisms in the intestinal mucosa. This novel model of colitis resembles human IBD. It is easy to reproduce and may help us to understand the mechanisms involved in IBD pathogenesis.
Abstract in English:The aim of this study was to determine if the diagnostic profile of inpatients of a psychiatric unit in a general hospital influences the length of stay. The results of a retrospective survey comprising the first 16 years of operation of the Psychiatric Unit of the Ribeirão Preto General Hospital (PURP) showed that the progressive increase observed in the length of stay correlated with the increase in percentage of schizophrenia diagnosis, after the 8th year of hospital operation, and of affective disorders, after the 12th year. The length of hospitalization kept increasing until the 16th year, even though there was no change in the diagnostic profile of the patients admitted to the unit. In a prospective study encompassing the next six months, 61 inpatients were evaluated with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). The results showed that 82% of the inpatients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for the schizophrenic or affective disorder spectrum at admission, with a discharge rate slower than for other diagnoses, although the length of hospitalization did not significantly differ among diagnostic categories. The results further demonstrated that in every diagnostic category more than 50% of the patients stayed in hospital for more than one week after reaching a BPRS score equal to 6, indicative of discharge. Overall, these data suggest that the increase in length of hospitalization may be due to a higher percentage of patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and affective disorder admitted to the PURP. In addition, patients with low symptomatic levels remained in hospital longer than they should have.
Abstract in English:Entrapment neuropathy is a group of clinical disorders involving compression of a peripheral nerve and interference with nerve function mostly through traction injury. We have investigated the chronic compression of peripheral nerves as an experimental procedure for detecting changes in ultrastructural nerve morphology. Adult hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus, N = 30) were anesthetized with a 25% pentobarbital solution and received a cuff around the right sciatic nerve. Left sciatic nerves were not operated (control group). Animals survived for varying times (up to 15 weeks), after which they were sacrificed and both sciatic nerves were immediately fixed with a paraformaldehyde solution. Experimental nerves were divided into segments based upon their distance from the site of compression (proximal, entrapment and distal). Semithin and ultrathin sections were obtained and examined by light and electron microscopy. Ultrastructural changes were qualitatively described and data from semithin sections were morphometrically analyzed both in control and in compressed nerves. We observed endoneurial edema along with both perineurial and endoneurial thickening and also the existence of whorled cell-sparse structures (Renaut bodies) in the subperineurial space of compressed sciatic nerves. Morphometric analyses of myelinated axons at the compression sites displayed a remarkable increase in the number of small axons (up to 60%) in comparison with the control axonal number. The distal segment of compressed nerves presented a distinct decrease in axon number (up to 40%) comparatively to the control group. The present experimental model of nerve entrapment in adult hamsters was shown to promote consistent histopathologic alterations analogous to those found in chronic compressive neuropathies.
Abstract in English:The vascularization of the central nervous system of the snail Megalobulimus oblongus was studied by injection of carmine-gelatin solution into the arterial system and using a histochemical technique for the detection of alkaline phosphatase. The central nervous system of M. oblongus is irrigated by the anterior aorta, from which a series of small branches emerge that supply the subesophageal nervous ganglia. In turn, these branches give rise to a series of smaller vessels that irrigate the buccal bulb, the anterior portion of the foot, the cerebral ganglia, the dorsal body gland, and the anterior portion of the reproductive system. No hemolymph vessels were detected within nervous tissue although such vessels were found in the periganglionic connective sheath. This connective sheath contains vascular loops and had a series of overlaps and projections that follow the contour of the nervous ganglia. This arrangement permits a larger area of interaction between the surface of the nervous tissue and the hemolymph and reduces the distance between the deepest portion of a given ganglion and the hemolymph vessels.
Abstract in English:Carnitine, a structurally choline-like metabolite, has been used to increase athletic performance, although its effects on neuromuscular transmission have not been investigated. It is present in skeletal muscle and its plasma levels are about 30 to 90 µM. Using rat phrenic nerve diaphragm preparations indirectly and directly stimulated with high rate pulses, D-carnitine (30 and 60 µM), L-carnitine (60 µM) and DL-carnitine (60 µM) were shown to induce tetanic fade (D-carnitine = 19.7 ± 3.1%, N = 6; L-carnitine = 16.6 ± 2.4%, N = 6; DL-carnitine = 14.9 ± 2.1%, N = 6) without any reduction of maximal tetanic tension. D-carnitine induced tetanic fade in neuromuscular preparations previously paralyzed with d-tubocurarine and directly stimulated. The effect was greater than that obtained by indirect muscle stimulation. Furthermore, previous addition of atropine (20 to 80 µM) to the bath did not reduce carnitine isomer-induced tetanic fade. In contrast to D-carnitine, the tetanic fade induced by L- and DL-carnitine was antagonized by choline (60 µM). The combined effect of carnitine isomers and hemicholinium-3 (0.01 nM) was similar to the effect of hemicholinium-3 alone. The data suggest that L- and DL-carnitine-induced tetanic fade seems to depend on their transport into the motor nerve terminal.
Abstract in English:It was previously reported that systemic administration of dipyrone inhibited the tonic component of generalized tonic-clonic seizures in both the electroshock and the audiogenic seizure models. The aim of the present study was to investigate the mechanisms involved in the anticonvulsant action of dipyrone by assessing the role of nitric oxide and opioids in the electroshock (female 60- to 90-day-old Wistar rats, N = 5-11) and audiogenic seizure (female 60- to 90-day-old Wistar audiogenic rats, N = 5-11) models of epilepsy. Naloxone (5 mg/kg, sc) significantly reversed the anticonvulsant effect of dipyrone in rats submitted to the induction of audiogenic seizures (ANOVA/Bonferroni's test), suggesting the involvement of opioid peptides in this action. In the electroshock model no reversal of the anticonvulsant effect of dipyrone by naloxone (5 mg/kg, sc) was demonstrable. The acute (120 mg/kg, ip) and chronic (25 mg/kg, ip, twice a day/4 days) administration of L-NOARG did not reverse the anticonvulsant action of dipyrone in the audiogenic seizure model, suggesting that the nitric oxide pathway does not participate in such effect. Indomethacin (10, 20 and 30 mg/kg, ip) used for comparison had no anticonvulsant effect in the audiogenic seizure model. In conclusion, opioid peptides but not nitric oxide seem to be involved in the anticonvulsant action of dipyrone in audiogenic seizures.
Abstract in English:The rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) contains neurons involved in tonic and reflex control of arterial pressure. We describe the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and anesthetics injected into the RVLM of conscious and urethane (1.2 g/kg, iv) anesthetized Wistar rats (300-350 g). In conscious rats, bilateral microinjection of GABA (50 nmol/200 nl) induced a small but significant decrease in blood pressure (from 130 ± 3.6 to 110 ± 5.6 mmHg, N = 7). A similar response was observed with sodium pentobarbital microinjection (24 nmol/200 nl). However, in the same animals, the fall in blood pressure induced by GABA (from 121 ± 8.9 to 76 ± 8.8 mmHg, N = 7) or pentobarbital (from 118 ± 4.5 to 57 ± 11.3 mmHg, N = 6) was significantly increased after urethane anesthesia. In contrast, there was no difference between conscious (from 117 ± 4.1 to 92 ± 5.9 mmHg, N = 7) and anesthetized rats (from 123 ± 6.9 to 87 ± 8.7 mmHg, N = 7) when lidocaine (34 nmol/200 nl) was microinjected into the RVLM. The heart rate variations were not consistent and only eventually reached significance in conscious or anesthetized rats. The right position of pipettes was confirmed by histology and glutamate microinjection into the RVLM. These findings suggest that in conscious animals the RVLM, in association with the other sympathetic premotor neurons, is responsible for the maintenance of sympathetic vasomotor tone during bilateral RVLM inhibition. Activity of one or more of these premotor neurons outside the RVLM can compensate for the effects of RVLM inhibition. In addition, the effects of lidocaine suggest that fibers passing through the RVLM are involved in the maintenance of blood pressure in conscious animals during RVLM inhibition.
Abstract in English:The effect of the skin secretion of the amphibian Siphonops paulensis was investigated by monitoring the changes in conductance of an artificial planar lipid bilayer. Skin secretion was obtained by exposure of the animals to ether-saturated air, and then rinsing the animals with distilled water. Artificial lipid bilayers were obtained by spreading a solution of azolectin over an aperture of a Delrin cup inserted into a cut-away polyvinyl chloride block. In 9 of 12 experiments, the addition of the skin secretion to lipid bilayers displayed voltage-dependent channels with average unitary conductance of 258 ± 41.67 pS, rather than nonspecific changes in bilayer conductance. These channels were not sensitive to 4-acetamido-4'-isothiocyanatostilbene-2,2'-disulfonic acid or tetraethylammonium ion, but the experimental protocol used does not permit us to specify their characteristics.