• Liposomal photosensitizers: potential platforms for anticancer photodynamic therapy Reviews

    Muehlmann, L.A.; Joanitti, G.A.; Silva, J.R.; Longo, J.P.F.; Azevedo, R.B.

    Abstract in English:

    Photodynamic therapy is a well-established and clinically approved treatment for several types of cancer. Antineoplastic photodynamic therapy is based on photosensitizers, i.e., drugs that absorb photons translating light energy into a chemical potential that damages tumor tissues. Despite the encouraging clinical results with the approved photosensitizers available today, the prolonged skin phototoxicity, poor selectivity for diseased tissues, hydrophobic nature, and extended retention in the host organism shown by these drugs have stimulated researchers to develop new formulations for photodynamic therapy. In this context, due to their amphiphilic characteristic (compatibility with both hydrophobic and hydrophilic substances), liposomes have proven to be suitable carriers for photosensitizers, improving the photophysical properties of the photosensitizers. Moreover, as nanostructured drug delivery systems, liposomes improve the efficiency and safety of antineoplastic photodynamic therapy, mainly by the classical phenomenon of extended permeation and retention. Therefore, the association of photosensitizers with liposomes has been extensively studied. In this review, both current knowledge and future perspectives on liposomal carriers for antineoplastic photodynamic therapy are critically discussed.
  • Citations to papers from Brazilian institutions: a more effective indicator to assess productivity and the impact of research in graduate programs Concepts and Comments

    Meneghini, R.

    Abstract in English:

    A recent assessment of 4400 postgraduate courses in Brazil by CAPES (a federal government agency dedicated to the improvement of the quality of and research at the postgraduate level) stimulated a large amount of manifestations in the press, scientific journals and scientific congresses. This gigantic effort to classify 16,400 scientific journals in order to provide indicators for assessment proved to be puzzling and methodologically erroneous in terms of gauging the institutions from a metric point of view. A simple algorithm is proposed here to weigh the scientometric indicators that should be considered in the assessment of a scientific institution. I conclude here that the simple gauge of the total number of citations accounts for both the productivity of scientists and the impact of articles. The effort spent in this exercise is relatively small, and the sources of information are fully accessible. As an exercise to estimate the value of the methodology, 12 institutions of physics (10 from Brazil, one from the USA and one from Italy) have been evaluated.
  • Modulation of murine blastocyst hatching in vitro by glutamine and tryptophan Cell Biology

    Castro, W.; Bueno Sánchez, J.C.; Piedrahita-Ochoa, C.; Cadavid J., A.P.

    Abstract in English:

    Enrichment of culture media with amino acids improves embryo development. However, little is known about the specific action of each amino acid during embryogenesis. The present study was undertaken to examine the effect of L-glutamine (Gln) and tryptophan (Trp) on mouse embryo hatching, expansion and viability in vitro. Blastocysts were collected from 6- to 8-week-old female BALB/c mice (N = 30) and cultured in M2 medium containing either 0.125, 0.25 or 0.5 mM Trp, 1 mM Gln, or M2 alone. Gln significantly increased (100%; P < 0.05) blastocyst hatching at 24 h compared to M2 alone or Trp; moreover, Trp inhibited blastocyst hatching when compared to M2 alone (P < 0.05) at 72 h. In contrast, the percentage of embryos reaching the state of expanded blastocyst at 48 h was significantly higher in medium with 1 mM Gln (66.6%; P < 0.05) or with 0.125 mM Trp (61.1%; P < 0.05). Unexpectedly, Trp increased the percentage of degenerated blastocysts after 48 h (67.7%; P < 0.05), while Gln preserved blastocyst viability. These results suggest that Gln may enhance blastocyst hatching, expansion and viability in vitro.
  • Semi-automatic measurement of visual verticality perception in humans reveals a new category of visual field dependency Neurosciences and Behavior

    Kaleff, C.R.; Aschidamini, C.; Baron, J.; Leone, C.N. de; Canavarro, S.; Vargas, C.D.

    Abstract in English:

    Previous assessment of verticality by means of rod and rod and frame tests indicated that human subjects can be more (field dependent) or less (field independent) influenced by a frame placed around a tilted rod. In the present study we propose a new approach to these tests. The judgment of visual verticality (rod test) was evaluated in 50 young subjects (28 males, ranging in age from 20 to 27 years) by randomly projecting a luminous rod tilted between -18 and +18° (negative values indicating left tilts) onto a tangent screen. In the rod and frame test the rod was displayed within a luminous fixed frame tilted at +18 or -18°. Subjects were instructed to verbally indicate the rod’s inclination direction (forced choice). Visual dependency was estimated by means of a Visual Index calculated from rod and rod and frame test values. Based on this index, volunteers were classified as field dependent, intermediate and field independent. A fourth category was created within the field-independent subjects for whom the amount of correct guesses in the rod and frame test exceeded that of the rod test, thus indicating improved performance when a surrounding frame was present. In conclusion, the combined use of subjective visual vertical and the rod and frame test provides a specific and reliable form of evaluation of verticality in healthy subjects and might be of use to probe changes in brain function after central or peripheral lesions.
  • Induction of Zenk protein expression within the nucleus taeniae of the amygdala of pigeons following tone and shock stimulation Neurosciences and Behavior

    Brito, I.; Britto, L.R.G.; Ferrari, E.A.M.

    Abstract in English:

    In this study, we evaluated the expression of the Zenk protein within the nucleus taeniae of the pigeon’s amygdala (TnA) after training in a classical aversive conditioning, in order to improve our understanding of its functional role in birds. Thirty-two 18-month-old adult male pigeons (Columba livia), weighing on average 350 g, were trained under different conditions: with tone-shock associations (experimental group; EG); with shock-alone presentations (shock group; SG); with tone-alone presentations (tone group; TG); with exposure to the training chamber without stimulation (context group; CG), and with daily handling (naive group; NG). The number of immunoreactive nuclei was counted in the whole TnA region and is reported as density of Zenk-positive nuclei. This density of Zenk-positive cells in the TnA was significantly greater for the EG, SG and TG than for the CG and NG (P < 0.05). The data indicate an expression of Zenk in the TnA that was driven by experience, supporting the role of this brain area as a critical element for neural processing of aversive stimuli as well as meaningful novel stimuli.
  • Drag reduction by polyethylene glycol in the tail arterial bed of normotensive and hypertensive rats Physiology and Biophysics

    Bessa, K.L.; Belletati, J.F.; Dos Santos, L.; Rossoni, L.V.; Ortiz, J.P.

    Abstract in English:

    This study was designed to evaluate the effect of drag reducer polymers (DRP) on arteries from normotensive (Wistar) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Polyethylene glycol (PEG 4000 at 5000 ppm) was perfused in the tail arterial bed with (E+) and without endothelium (E-) from male, adult Wistar (N = 14) and SHR (N = 13) animals under basal conditions (constant flow at 2.5 mL/min). In these preparations, flow-pressure curves (1.5 to 10 mL/min) were constructed before and 1 h after PEG 4000 perfusion. Afterwards, the tail arterial bed was fixed and the internal diameters of the arteries were then measured by microscopy and drag reduction was assessed based on the values of wall shear stress (WSS) by computational simulation. In Wistar and SHR groups, perfusion of PEG 4000 significantly reduced pulsatile pressure (Wistar/E+: 17.5 ± 2.8; SHR/E+: 16.3 ± 2.7%), WSS (Wistar/E+: 36; SHR/E+: 40%) and the flow-pressure response. The E- reduced the effects of PEG 4000 on arteries from both groups, suggesting that endothelial damage decreased the effect of PEG 4000 as a DRP. Moreover, the effects of PEG 4000 were more pronounced in the tail arterial bed from SHR compared to Wistar rats. In conclusion, these data demonstrated for the first time that PEG 4000 was more effective in reducing the pressure-flow response as well as WSS in the tail arterial bed of hypertensive than of normotensive rats and these effects were amplified by, but not dependent on, endothelial integrity. Thus, these results show an additional mechanism of action of this polymer besides its mechanical effect through the release and/or bioavailability of endothelial factors.
  • Sildenafil prevents the increase of extravascular lung water and pulmonary hypertension after meconium aspiration in newborn piglets Physiology and Biophysics

    Silvera, F.E.; Blasina, M.F.; Vaamonde, L.; Tellechea, S.; Godoy, C.; Zabala, S.; Mañana, G.; Martell, M.; Olivera, W.

    Abstract in English:

    Meconium aspiration syndrome causes respiratory failure after birth and in vivo monitoring of pulmonary edema is difficult. The objective of the present study was to assess hemodynamic changes and edema measured by transcardiopulmonary thermodilution in low weight newborn piglets. Additionally, the effect of early administration of sildenafil (2 mg/kg vo, 30 min after meconium aspiration) on this critical parameter was determined in the meconium aspiration syndrome model. Thirty-eight mechanically ventilated anesthetized male piglets (Sus scrofa domestica) aged 12 to 72 h (1660 ± 192 g) received diluted fresh human meconium in the airway in order to evoke pulmonary hypertension (PHT). Extravascular lung water was measured in vivo with a PiCCO monitor and ex vivo by the gravimetric method, resulting in an overestimate of 3.5 ± 2.3 mL compared to the first measurement. A significant PHT of 15 Torr above basal pressure was observed, similar to that of severely affected humans, leading to an increase in ventilatory support. The vascular permeability index increased 57%, suggesting altered alveolocapillary membrane permeability. Histology revealed tissue vessel congestion and nonspecific chemical pneumonitis. A group of animals received sildenafil, which prevented the development of PHT and lung edema, as evaluated by in vivo monitoring. In summary, the transcardiopulmonary thermodilution method is a reliable tool for monitoring critical newborn changes, offering the opportunity to experimentally explore putative therapeutics in vivo. Sildenafil could be employed to prevent PHT and edema if used in the first stages of development of the disease.
  • Effect of tamoxifen on the coronary vascular reactivity of spontaneously hypertensive female rats Physiology and Biophysics

    Borgo, M.V.; Lopes, A.B.; Gouvêa, S.A.; Romero, W.G.; Moyses, M.R.; Bissoli, N.S.; Abreu, G.R.

    Abstract in English:

    Tamoxifen has been associated with a reduction in the incidence of myocardial infarction. However, the effects of tamoxifen on coronary reactivity have not been fully elucidated. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of chronic treatment with tamoxifen on coronary vascular reactivity in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Female SHR were divided into four groups (N = 7 each): sham-operated (SHAM), sham-operated and treated with tamoxifen (10 mg/kg) by gavage for 90 days (TAMOX), ovariectomized (OVX), and ovariectomized and treated with tamoxifen (OVX+TAMOX). Mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), coronary perfusion pressure (CPP), and coronary vascular reactivity were measured. MAP and HR were reduced (9.42 and 11.67%, respectively) in the OVX+TAMOX group compared to the OVX group (P < 0.01). The coronary vascular reactivity of the OVX+TAMOX group presented smaller vasoconstrictor responses to acetylcholine (2-64 µg) when compared to the OVX group (P < 0.01) and this response was similar to that of the SHAM group. The adenosine-induced vasodilator response was greater in the TAMOX group compared to the SHAM and OVX groups (P < 0.05). Baseline CPP was higher in OVX+TAMOX and TAMOX groups (136 ± 3.6 and 130 ± 1.5 mmHg) than in OVX and SHAM groups (96 ± 2 and 119 ± 2.3 mmHg; P < 0.01). Tamoxifen, when combined with OVX, attenuated the vasoconstriction induced by acetylcholine and increased the adenosine-induced vasodilatory response, as well as reducing the MAP, suggesting beneficial effects of tamoxifen therapy on coronary vascular reactivity after menopause.
  • Candidate gene linkage analysis indicates genetic heterogeneity in Marfan syndrome Analytica, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Instruments

    Teixeira, L.V.S.; Mandelbaum, K.L.; Pereira, L.V.; Perez, A.B.A.

    Abstract in English:

    Marfan syndrome (MFS) is an autosomal dominant disease of the connective tissue that affects the ocular, skeletal and cardiovascular systems, with a wide clinical variability. Although mutations in the FBN1 gene have been recognized as the cause of the disease, more recently other loci have been associated with MFS, indicating the genetic heterogeneity of this disease. We addressed the issue of genetic heterogeneity in MFS by performing linkage analysis of the FBN1 and TGFBR2 genes in 34 families (345 subjects) who met the clinical diagnostic criteria for the disease according to Ghent. Using a total of six microsatellite markers, we found that linkage with the FBN1 gene was observed or not excluded in 70.6% (24/34) of the families, and in 1 family the MFS phenotype segregated with the TGFBR2 gene. Moreover, in 4 families linkage with the FBN1 and TGFBR2 genes was excluded, and no mutations were identified in the coding region of TGFBR1, indicating the existence of other genes involved in MFS. Our results suggest that the genetic heterogeneity of MFS may be greater that previously reported.
  • Time motion analysis of football (soccer) referees during official matches in relation to the type of fluid consumed Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Sport Medicine

    Da Silva, A.I.; Fernandes, L.C.; Fernandez, R.

    Abstract in English:

    The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of volume and composition of fluid replacement on the physical performance of male football referees. Ten referees were evaluated during three official matches. In one match the participants were asked to consume mineral water ad libitum, and in the others they consumed a pre-determined volume of mineral water or a carbohydrate electrolyte solution (6.4% carbohydrate and 22 mM Na+) equivalent to 1% of their baseline body mass (half before the match and half during the interval). Total water loss, sweat rate and match physiological performance were measured. When rehydrated ad libitum (pre-match and at half time) participants lost 1.97 ± 0.18% of their pre-match body mass (2.14 ± 0.19 L). This parameter was significantly reduced when they consumed a pre-determined volume of fluid. Sweat rate was significantly reduced when the referees ingested a pre-determined volume of a carbohydrate electrolyte solution, 0.72 ± 0.12 vs 1.16 ± 0.11 L/h ad libitum. The high percentage (74.1%) of movements at low speed (walking, jogging) observed when they ingested fluid ad libitum was significantly reduced to 71% with mineral water and to 69.9% with carbohydrate solution. An increase in percent movement expended in backward running was observed when they consumed a pre-determined volume of carbohydrate solution, 7.7 ± 0.5 vs 5.5 ± 0.5% ad libitum. The improved hydration status achieved with the carbohydrate electrolyte solution reduced the length of time spent in activities at low-speed movements and increased the time spent in activities demanding high-energy expenditure.
  • Frequency of primary glomerular disease in northeastern China Kidney and Extracellular Environment

    Wu, Yi-Qi; Wang, Zheng; Xu, Hua-Feng; Jin, Xiao-Ming; Zhou, Hai-Zhou

    Abstract in English:

    Most frequently reported Chinese renal biopsy data have originated from southeastern China. The present study analyzed the renal biopsy data from northeastern China. The records of 1550 consecutive native patients who were diagnosed with primary glomerular diseases (PGD) after renal biopsy at our hospital during 2005-2009 were used. These patients were divided into four age groups for stratified analysis: <15, 15-44, 45-59, and ≥60 years old. Among PGD, minimal change disease (MCD) was the most common histologically diagnosed disease (30.7%), followed by IgA nephropathy (IgAN), mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis (MsPGN), membranous nephropathy (MN), membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN), focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and endocapillary proliferative glomerulonephritis (EnPGN). MCD was the disease most frequently observed (43.7%) in the <15-year-old group. MsPGN was the most common disease in the elderly group (38.1%). MsPGN was more prevalent in females (27.8%), whereas MCD was more prevalent in males (35.3%). Primary glomerular diseases constituted the most commonly encountered group of diseases with a high prevalence of MCD, which predominantly affected males and young adults. The prevalence of MCD was high in northeastern China. Further study is necessary to expand the epidemiologic data available for renal disease in China.
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