Abstract in English:Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid derived from the metabolism of methionine, an essential amino acid, and is metabolized by one of two pathways: remethylation or transsulfuration. Abnormalities of these pathways lead to hyperhomocysteinemia. Hyperhomocysteinemia is observed in approximately 5% of the general population and is associated with an increased risk for many disorders, including vascular and neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, birth defects, diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, and cancer. We review here the correlation between homocysteine metabolism and the disorders described above with genetic variants on genes coding for enzymes of homocysteine metabolism relevant to clinical practice, especially common variants of the MTHFR gene, 677C>T and 1298A>C. We also discuss the management of hyperhomocysteinemia with folic acid supplementation and fortification of folic acid and the impact of a decrease in the prevalence of congenital anomalies and a decline in the incidence of stroke mortality.
Abstract in English:The manner by which effects of simultaneous mutations combine to change enzymatic activity is not easily predictable because these effects are not always additive in a linear manner. Hence, the characterization of the effects of simultaneous mutations of amino acid residues that bind the substrate can make a significant contribution to the understanding of the substrate specificity of enzymes. In the β-glycosidase from Spodoptera frugiperda (Sfβgly), both residues Q39 and E451 interact with the substrate and this is essential for defining substrate specificity. Double mutants of Sfβgly (A451E39, S451E39 and S451N39) were prepared by site-directed mutagenesis, expressed in bacteria and purified using affinity chromatography. These enzymes were characterized using p-nitrophenyl β-galactoside and p-nitrophenyl β-fucoside as substrates. The k cat/Km ratio for single and double mutants of Sfβgly containing site-directed mutations at positions Q39 and E451 was used to demonstrate that the effect on the free energy of ES‡ (enzyme-transition state complex) of the double mutations (∆∆G‡xy) is not the sum of the effects resulting from the single mutations (∆∆G‡x and ∆∆G‡y). This difference in ∆∆G‡ indicates that the effects of the single mutations partially overlap. Hence, this common effect counts only once in ∆∆G‡xy. Crystallographic data on β-glycosidases reveal the presence of a bidentate hydrogen bond involving residues Q39 and E451 and the same hydroxyl group of the substrate. Therefore, both thermodynamic and crystallographic data suggest that residues Q39 and E451 exert a mutual influence on their respective interactions with the substrate.
Abstract in English:Group B rotaviruses (RV-B) were first identified in piglet feces, being later associated with diarrhea in humans, cattle, lambs, and rats. In human beings, the virus was only described in China, India, and Bangladesh, especially infecting adults. Only a few studies concerning molecular analysis of the RV-B NSP2 gene have been conducted, and porcine RV-B has not been characterized. In the present study, three porcine wild-type RV-B strains from piglet stool samples collected from Brazilian pig herds were used for analysis. PAGE results were inconclusive for those samples, but specific amplicons of the RV-B NSP2 gene (segment 8) were obtained in a semi-nested PCR assay. The three porcine RV-B strains showed the highest nucleotide identity with the human WH1 strain and the alignments with other published sequences resulted in three groups of strains divided according to host species. The group of human strains showed 92.4 to 99.7% nucleotide identity while the porcine strains of the Brazilian RV-B group showed 90.4 to 91.8% identity to each other. The identity of the Brazilian porcine RV-B strains with outer sequences consisting of group A and C rotaviruses was only 35.3 to 38.8%. A dendrogram was also constructed to group the strains into clusters according to host species: human, rat, and a distinct third cluster consisting exclusively of the Brazilian porcine RV-B strains. This is the first study of the porcine RV-B NSP2 gene that contributes to the partial characterization of this virus and demonstrates the relationship among RV-B strains from different host species.
Abstract in English:We have demonstrated that a synthetic DNA enzyme targeting early growth response factor-1 (Egr-1) can inhibit neointimal hyperplasia following vascular injury. However, the detailed mechanism of this inhibition is not known. Thus, the objective of the present study was to further investigate potential inhibitory mechanisms. Catalytic DNA (ED5) and scrambled control DNA enzyme (ED5SCR) were synthesized and transfected into primary cultures of rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). VSMC proliferation and DNA synthesis were analyzed by the MTT method and BrdU staining, respectively. Egr-1, TGF-β1, p53, p21, Bax, and cyclin D1 expression was detected by RT-PCR and Western blot. Apoptosis and cell cycle assays were performed by FACS. Green fluorescence could be seen localized in the cytoplasm of 70.6 ± 1.52 and 72 ± 2.73% VSMCs 24 h after transfection of FITC-labeled ED5 and ED5SCR, respectively. We found that transfection with ED5 significantly inhibited cultured VSMC proliferation in vitro after 24, 48, and 72 h of serum stimulation, and also effectively decreased the uptake of BrdU by VSMC. ED5 specifically reduced serum-induced Egr-1 expression in VSMCs, further down-regulated the expression of cyclin D1 and TGF-β1, and arrested the cells at G0/G1, inhibiting entry into the S phase. FACS analysis indicated that there was no significant difference in the rate of apoptosis between ED5- and ED5SCR-transfected cells. Thus, ED5 can specifically inhibit Egr-1 expression, and probably inhibits VSMC proliferation by down-regulating the expressions of cyclin D1 and TGF-β1. However, ED5 has no effect on VSMC apoptosis.
Abstract in English:Integrins are heterodimeric receptors composed of α and β transmembrane subunits that mediate attachment of cells to the extracellular matrix and counter-ligands such as ICAM-1 on adjacent cells. β2 integrin (CD18) associates with four different α (CD11) subunits to form an integrin subfamily, which has been reported to be expressed exclusively on leukocytes. However, recent studies indicate that β2 integrin is also expressed by other types of cells. Since the gene for β2 integrin is located in the region of human chromosome 21 associated with congenital heart defects, we postulated that it may be expressed in the developing heart. Here, we show the results from several different techniques used to test this hypothesis. PCR analyses indicated that β2 integrin and the αL, αM, and αX subunits are expressed during heart development. Immunohistochemical studies in both embryonic mouse and chicken hearts, using antibodies directed against the N- or C-terminal of β2 integrin or against its α subunit partners, showed that β2 integrin, as well as the αL, αM, and αX subunits, are expressed by the endothelial and mesenchymal cells of the atrioventricular canal and in the epicardium and myocardium during cardiogenesis. In situ hybridization studies further confirmed the presence of β2 integrin in these various locations in the embryonic heart. These results indicate that the β2 integrin subfamily may have other activities in addition to leukocyte adhesion, such as modulating the migration and differentiation of cells during the morphogenesis of the cardiac valves and myocardial walls of the heart.
Abstract in English:Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) plays an important role in the fibrogenic process in the liver. The aim of the present study was to explore the action of TGF-β1 on fibronectin expression in rat hepatic stem-like cells and the underlying mechanisms. The level of fibronectin expression was determined in hepatic stem-like cells (WB cells) before and after TGF-β1 stimulation by RT-PCR and Western blot methods. Using immunogold transmission electron microscopy and the Western blot method, we observed the result of the expression and the distribution of cAMP, phosphorylated Smad3 and Smad7 before and after TGF-β1 treatment. The levels of fibronectin expression in both mRNA and protein increased 4- to 5-fold after TGF-β1 stimulation, reaching an optimum level after 8 h and then gradually falling back. Similarly, TGF-β1 stimulation resulted in an increase of cAMP in WB cells, peaking at 8 h. After treatment with TGF-β1 for 24 h, the expression of cAMP gradually decreased. In addition, we found that TGF-β1 treatment also contributed to the increased expression and to changes in cellular distribution of phosphorylated Smad3 (translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus) and Smad7 (translocation from the nucleus to the cytoplasm) in WB cells. The present study demonstrates that TGF-β is involved in the fibrogenic process in hepatic stem cells through up-regulation of fibronectin expression, and the mechanisms underlying this process may be associated with the activation of cAMP and Smad pathways.
Abstract in English:Myocardial ischemic preconditioning up-regulated protein 1 (Mipu1), a novel zinc finger protein, was originally cloned using bioinformatic analysis and 5' RACE technology of rat heart after a transient myocardial ischemia/reperfusion procedure in our laboratory. In order to investigate the functions of Mipu1, the recombinant prokaryotic expression vector pQE31-Mipu1 was constructed and transformed into Escherichia coli M15(pREP4), and Mipu1-6His fusion protein was expressed and purified. The identity of the purified protein was confirmed by mass spectrometry. The molecular mass of the Mipu1 protein was 70.03779 kDa. The fusion protein was intracutaneously injected to immunize New Zealand rabbits to produce a polyclonal antibody. The antibody titer was approximately 1:16,000. The antibody was tested by Western blotting for specificity and sensitivity. Using the antibody, it was found that Mipu1 was highly expressed in the heart and brain of rats and was localized in the nucleus of H9c2 myogenic cells. The present study lays the foundation for further study of the biological functions of Mipu1.
Abstract in English:Aldosterone concentrations vary in advanced chronic renal failure (CRF). The isozyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (11β-HSD2), which confers aldosterone specificity for mineralocorticoid receptors in distal tubules and collecting ducts, has been reported to be decreased or normal in patients with renal diseases. Our objective was to determine the role of aldosterone and 11β-HSD2 renal microsome activity, normalized for glomerular filtration rate (GFR), in maintaining K+ homeostasis in 5/6 nephrectomized rats. Male Wistar rats weighing 180-220 g at the beginning of the study were used. Rats with experimental CRF obtained by 5/6 nephrectomy (N = 9) and sham rats (N = 10) were maintained for 4 months. Systolic blood pressure and plasma creatinine (Pcr) concentration were measured at the end of the experiment. Sodium and potassium excretion and GFR were evaluated before and after spironolactone administration (10 mg·kg-1·day-1 for 7 days) and 11β-HSD2 activity on renal microsomes was determined. Systolic blood pressure (means ± SEM; Sham = 105 ± 8 and CRF = 149 ± 10 mmHg) and Pcr (Sham = 0.42 ± 0.03 and CRF = 2.53 ± 0.26 mg/dL) were higher (P < 0.05) while GFR (Sham = 1.46 ± 0.26 and CRF = 0.61 ± 0.06 mL/min) was lower (P < 0.05) in CRF, and plasma aldosterone (Pald) was the same in the two groups. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion was similar in the two groups under basal conditions but, after spironolactone treatment, only potassium excretion was decreased in CRF rats (sham = 0.95 ± 0.090 (before) vs 0.89 ± 0.09 µEq/min (after) and CRF = 1.05 ± 0.05 (before) vs 0.37 ± 0.07 µEq/min (after); P < 0.05). 11β-HSD2 activity on renal microsomes was lower in CRF rats (sham = 0.807 ± 0.09 and CRF = 0.217 ± 0.07 nmol·min-1·mg protein-1; P < 0.05), although when normalized for mL GFR it was similar in both groups. We conclude that K+ homeostasis is maintained during CRF development despite normal Pald levels. This adaptation may be mediated by renal 11β-HSD2 activity, which, when normalized for GFR, became similar to that of control rats, suggesting that mineralocorticoid receptors maintain their aldosterone selectivity.
Abstract in English:Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory response that can lead to tissue damage and death. In order to increase our understanding of sepsis, experimental models are needed that produce relevant immune and inflammatory responses during a septic event. We describe a lipopolysaccharide tolerance mouse model to characterize the cellular and molecular alterations of immune cells during sepsis. The model presents a typical lipopolysaccharide tolerance pattern in which tolerance is related to decreased production and secretion of cytokines after a subsequent exposure to a lethal dose of lipopolysaccharide. The initial lipopolysaccharide exposure also altered the expression patterns of cytokines and was followed by an 8- and a 1.5-fold increase in the T helper 1 and 2 cell subpopulations. Behavioral data indicate a decrease in spontaneous activity and an increase in body temperature following exposure to lipopolysaccharide. In contrast, tolerant animals maintained production of reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide when terminally challenged by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Survival study after CLP showed protection in tolerant compared to naive animals. Spleen mass increased in tolerant animals followed by increases of B lymphocytes and subpopulation Th1 cells. An increase in the number of stem cells was found in spleen and bone marrow. We also showed that administration of spleen or bone marrow cells from tolerant to naive animals transfers the acquired resistance status. In conclusion, lipopolysaccharide tolerance is a natural reprogramming of the immune system that increases the number of immune cells, particularly T helper 1 cells, and does not reduce oxidative stress.
Abstract in English:Oral tolerance can be induced in some mouse strains by gavage or spontaneous ingestion of dietary antigens. In the present study, we determined the influence of aging and oral tolerance on the secretion of co-stimulatory molecules by dendritic cells (DC), and on the ability of DC to induce proliferation and cytokine secretion by naive T cells from BALB/c and OVA transgenic (DO11.10) mice. We observed that oral tolerance could be induced in BALB/c mice (N = 5 in each group) of all ages (8, 20, 40, 60, and 80 weeks old), although a decline in specific antibody levels was observed in the sera of both tolerized and immunized mice with advancing age (40 to 80 weeks old). DC obtained from young, adult and middle-aged (8, 20, and 40 weeks old) tolerized mice were less efficient (65, 17 and 20%, respectively) than DC from immunized mice (P < 0.05) in inducing antigen-specific proliferation of naive T cells from both BALB/c and DO11.10 young mice, or in stimulating IFN-g, IL-4 and IL-10 production. However, TGF-β levels were significantly elevated in co-cultures carried out with DC from tolerant mice (P < 0.05). DC from both immunized and tolerized old and very old (60 and 80 weeks old) mice were equally ineffective in inducing T cell proliferation and cytokine production (P < 0.05). A marked reduction in CD86+ marker expression was observed in DC isolated from both old and tolerized mice (75 and 50%, respectively). The results indicate that the aging process does not interfere with the establishment of oral tolerance in BALB/c mice, but reduces DC functions, probably due to the decline of the expression of the CD86 surface marker.
Abstract in English:The loss of brain volume has been used as a marker of tissue destruction and can be used as an index of the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. In the present study, we tested a new method for tissue segmentation based on pixel intensity threshold using generalized Tsallis entropy to determine a statistical segmentation parameter for each single class of brain tissue. We compared the performance of this method using a range of different q parameters and found a different optimal q parameter for white matter, gray matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. Our results support the conclusion that the differences in structural correlations and scale invariant similarities present in each tissue class can be accessed by generalized Tsallis entropy, obtaining the intensity limits for these tissue class separations. In order to test this method, we used it for analysis of brain magnetic resonance images of 43 patients and 10 healthy controls matched for gender and age. The values found for the entropic q index were 0.2 for cerebrospinal fluid, 0.1 for white matter and 1.5 for gray matter. With this algorithm, we could detect an annual loss of 0.98% for the patients, in agreement with literature data. Thus, we can conclude that the entropy of Tsallis adds advantages to the process of automatic target segmentation of tissue classes, which had not been demonstrated previously.
Abstract in English:The objective of the present study was to determine whether lesion of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) promoted by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) would rescue nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons after unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) injection into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB). Initially, 16 mg 6-OHDA (6-OHDA group) or vehicle (artificial cerebrospinal fluid - aCSF; Sham group) was infused into the right MFB of adult male Wistar rats. Fifteen days after surgery, the 6-OHDA and SHAM groups were randomly subdivided and received ipsilateral injection of either 60 mM NMDA or aCSF in the right STN. Additionally, a control group was not submitted to stereotaxic surgery. Five groups of rats were studied: 6-OHDA/NMDA, 6-OHDA/Sham, Sham/NMDA, Sham/Sham, and Control. Fourteen days after injection of 6-OHDA, rats were submitted to the rotational test induced by apomorphine (0.1 mg/kg, ip) and to the open-field test. The same tests were performed again 14 days after NMDA-induced lesion of the STN. The STN lesion reduced the contralateral turns induced by apomorphine and blocked the progression of motor impairment in the open-field test in 6-OHDA-treated rats. However, lesion of the STN did not prevent the reduction of striatal concentrations of dopamine and metabolites or the number of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons after 6-OHDA lesion. Therefore, STN lesion is able to reverse motor deficits after severe 6-OHDA-induced lesion of the nigrostriatal pathway, but does not protect or rescue dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta.
Abstract in English:The Period 3 and Clock genes are important components of the mammalian molecular circadian system. Studies have shown association between polymorphisms in these clock genes and circadian phenotypes in different populations. Nevertheless, differences in the pattern of allele frequency and genotyping distribution are systematically observed in studies with different ethnic groups. To investigate and compare the pattern of distribution in a sample of Asian and Caucasian populations living in Brazil, we evaluated two well-studied polymorphisms in the clock genes: a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in PER3 and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in CLOCK. The aim of this investigation was to search for clues about human evolutionary processes related to circadian rhythms. We selected 109 Asian and 135 Caucasian descendants. The frequencies of the shorter allele (4 repeats) in the PER3 gene and the T allele in the CLOCK gene among Asians (0.86 and 0.84, respectively) were significantly higher than among Caucasians (0.69 and 0.71, respectively). Our results directly confirmed the different distribution of these polymorphisms between the Asian and Caucasian ethnic groups. Given the genetic differences found between groups, two points became evident: first, ethnic variations may have implications for the interpretation of results in circadian rhythm association studies, and second, the question may be raised about which evolutionary conditions shaped these genetic clock variations.
Abstract in English:The effects of L-histidine (LH) on anxiety and memory retrieval were investigated in adult male Swiss Albino mice (weight 30-35 g) using the elevated plus-maze. The test was performed on two consecutive days: trial 1 (T1) and trial 2 (T2). In T1, mice received an intraperitoneal injection of saline (SAL) or LH before the test and were then injected again and retested 24 h later. LH had no effect on anxiety at the dose of 200 mg/kg since there was no difference between the SAL-SAL and LH-LH groups at T1 regarding open-arm entries (OAE) and open-arm time (OAT) (mean ± SEM; OAE: 4.0 ± 0.71, 4.80 ± 1.05; OAT: 40.55 ± 9.90, 51.55 ± 12.10, respectively; P > 0.05, Kruskal-Wallis test), or at the dose of 500 mg/kg (OAE: 5.27 ± 0.73, 4.87 ± 0.66; OAT: 63.93 ± 11.72, 63.58 ± 10.22; P > 0.05, Fisher LSD test). At T2, LH-LH animals did not reduce open-arm activity (OAE and OAT) at the dose of 200 mg/kg (T1: 4.87 ± 0.66, T2: 5.47 ± 1.05; T1: 63.58 ± 10.22; T2: 49.01 ± 8.43 for OAE and OAT, respectively; P > 0.05, Wilcoxon test) or at the dose of 500 mg/kg (T1: 4.80 ± 1.60, T2: 4.70 ± 1.04; T1: 51.55 ± 12.10, T2: 43.88 ± 10.64 for OAE and OAT, respectively; P > 0.05, Fisher LSD test), showing an inability to evoke memory 24 h later. These data suggest that LH does not act on anxiety but does induce a state-dependent memory retrieval deficit in mice.
Abstract in English:Mutations of the HFE and TFR2 genes have been associated with iron overload. HFE and TFR2 mutations were assessed in blood donors, and the relationship with iron status was evaluated. Subjects (N = 542) were recruited at the Hemocentro da Santa Casa de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Iron status was not influenced by HFE mutations in women and was independent of blood donation frequency. In contrast, men carrying the HFE 282CY genotype had lower total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) than HFE 282CC genotype carriers. Men who donated blood for the first time and were carriers of the HFE 282CY genotype had higher transferrin saturation values and lower TIBC concentrations than those with the homozygous wild genotype for the HFE C282Y mutation. Moreover, in this group of blood donors, carriers of HFE 63DD plus 63HD genotypes had higher serum ferritin values than those with the homozygous wild genotype for HFE H63D mutation. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that HFE 282CY leads to a 17.21% increase (P = 0.018) and a 83.65% decrease (P = 0.007) in transferrin saturation and TIBC, respectively. In addition, serum ferritin is influenced by age (3.91%, P = 0.001) and the HFE 63HD plus DD genotype (55.84%, P = 0.021). In conclusion, the HFE 282Y and 65C alleles were rare, while the HFE 63D allele was frequent in Brazilian blood donors. The HFE C282Y and H63D mutations were associated with alterations in iron status in blood donors in a gender-dependent manner.
Abstract in English:The objective of this study was to investigate the occurrence of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) cross-transmission between two patient groups (long-term dialysis and kidney transplant patients). Molecular typing, by automated ribotyping with the RiboPrinter Microbial Characterization System (Qualicon, USA), was used to analyze VRE isolates from 31 fecal samples of 320 dialysis patients and 38 fecal samples of 280 kidney transplant patients. Clonal spread of E. faecalis and E. casseliflavus was observed intragroup, but not between the two groups of patients. In turn, transmission of E. gallinarum and E. faecium between the groups was suggested by the finding of vancomycin-resistant isolates belonging to the same ribogroup in both dialysis and transplant patients. The fact that these patients were colonized by VRE from the same ribogroup in the same health care facility provides evidence for cross-transmission and supports the adoption of stringent infection control measures to prevent dissemination of these bacteria.
Abstract in English:Serologic data on diseases that are preventable by vaccines are necessary to evaluate the success of immunization programs and to identify susceptible subgroups. In the present study, we determined serum IgG levels against diphtheria toxin of military and civilian blood donors (N = 75; 69.3% males and 30.7% females) aged 18-64 years, from the Brazilian Army Biology Institute, Rio de Janeiro, using a commercial diphtheria kit (Diphtheria IgG ELISA; IBL, Germany). Most (63%) unprotected military donors were from the older age group of 41 to 64 years. In contrast, the majority (71%) of young military donors (18 to 30 years) were fully protected. About half of the military donors aged 31 to 40 years were protected against diphtheria. Among the civilians, about 50% of persons aged 18 to 30 years and 31 to 40 years had protective antibody levels against diphtheria as also did 64% of individuals aged 41 to 64 years. All civilians had a similar antibody response (geometric mean = 0.55 IU/mL) independent of age group. Military donors aged 18-30 years had higher IgG levels (geometric mean = 0.82 IU/mL) than military donors of 41-64 years (geometric mean = 0.51 IU/mL; P > 0.05). In conclusion, the existence of a considerable proportion of susceptible adults supports the position that reliable data on the immune status of the population should be maintained routinely and emphasizes the importance of adequate immunization during adulthood.