Abstract in English:The search for new active drugs that can alleviate or cure different diseases is a constant challenge to researchers in the biological area and to the pharmaceutical industry. Historically, research has focused on the study of substances from plants. More recently, however, animal venoms have been attracting attention and studies have been successful in addressing treatment of accidents. Furthermore, venoms and their toxins have been considered good tools for prospecting for new active drugs or models for new therapeutic drugs. In this review, we discuss some possibilities of using different toxins, especially those from arachnid venoms, which have shown some potential application in diseases involving pain, hypertension, epilepsy and erectile dysfunction. A new generation of drugs is likely to emerge from peptides, including those found in animal venoms.
Abstract in English:The crude venom of Bothrops jararacussu (Bjssu) is known to induce muscular paralysis in vitro. Many studies have shown that various substances, including heparin, neutralize the damage caused by snake venom. In the present study, the ability of heparin (Hep) and commercial bothropic antivenom (CBA) to neutralize neuromuscular effects of Bjssu venom, at different time-points, was analyzed. Mouse phrenic nerve-diaphragm preparation was used through a conventional myographic technique, following five different protocols: Group 1 was incubated with Bjssu (40 µg/mL) without any other treatment; Groups 2 and 3 were pretreated with heparin (1 µL/mL) and CBA (120 µL/mL), respectively, for 15 minutes before venom addition; Group 4 after 50% neuromuscular blockade induced by Bjssu crude venom received 1 µL/mL of heparin while Group 5 received a mixture of Hep:CBA:Bjssu. Control preparations (Tyrode) were treated with Hep and CBA (mean ± SEM; n = 3-6). After 120 minutes of venom incubation, Group 1 preparations presented twitch-tension of 12 ± 2%. However, in Groups 2 and 3, the neutralizations were 92 ± 1.9% and 81 ± 6%, respectively. The heparin addition, after 50% neuromuscular blockade by Bjssu, produced 40 ± 6% muscular response after 120 minutes of incubation. Hep:CBA:Bjssu mixture displayed a protective effect of 84 ± 10% against venom action. In conclusion, heparin and commercial bothropic antivenom efficiently neutralized the neurotoxic effects caused by B. jararacussu crude venom, even at different incubation time-points.
Abstract in English:Scorpion envenomation is a life-threatening condition, especially in children and elderly individuals affected by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In this study, the toxic effects of median lethal dose (LD50) injections of Mesobuthus eupeus (Me) venom on the heart and lungs of anesthetized rabbits were investigated. Six rabbits were selected and alterations in their electrocardiogram, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure before and after venom injection were recorded. Cardiac troponin T (cTnT), creatinine kinase muscle-brain fraction (CK-MB) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were measured at 0, 1 and 3 hours after envenomation and pathology studies were carried out postmortem. All the animals showed signs and symptoms of envenomation within 40 minutes and died 3 to 3.5 hours after venom injection. Pathology studies revealed alveolar edema in 100% of the rabbits and myocardial infarction in 16%. The main histopathological changes were myocytolysis, coagulation necrosis, focal hemorrhage, thrombus formation both in myocardium and on endocardial surfaces as well as inflammatory infiltrates in the heart and hemorrhage, vascular thrombus and interstitial inflammation in the lungs. ECG monitoring of rabbits showed ST elevation, ST depression and inverted T and Q waves. In addition, although cTnT levels increased in 16% of the animals and serum LDH was also augmented, none of these changes was statistically significant. The enzyme CK-MB also did not show any change after Me venom injection. In conclusion, the results of this study showed that Me venom killed animals in less than 3.5 hours through severe pulmonary damage and it appears that the deaths could not be attributed to cardiovascular lesions. Therefore, Me venom effects on the lungs are so important that they appear to be independent of heart damage.
Abstract in English:Snake venoms are rich in enzymes such as phospholipase A2, proteolytic enzymes, hyaluronidases and phosphodiesterases, which are well characterized. However, L-amino acid oxidase (LAO EC.188.8.131.52) from snake venoms has not been extensively studied. A novel L-amino acid oxidase from Bungarus caeruleus venom was purified to homogeneity using a combination of ion-exchange by DEAE-cellulose chromatography and gel filtration on Sephadex® G-100 column. The purified monomer of LAO showed a molecular mass of 55 ±1 kDa estimated by SDS-PAGE. The specific activity of purified LAO was 6,230 ± 178 U/min/mg, versus 230 ± 3.0 U/min/mg for the whole desiccated venom, suggesting a 27-fold purification with a 25% yield. Optimal pH and temperature for maximum purified enzyme activity were 6.5 and 37ºC, respectively. Platelet aggregation studies show that purified LAO inhibited ADP-induced platelet aggregation dose-dependently at 0.01 to 0.1 µM with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 0.04 µM, whereas at a 0.08 µM concentration it did not induce appreciable aggregation on normal platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The purified protein catalyzed oxidative deamination of L-amino acids while the most specific substrate was L-leucine. The purified LAO oxidizes only L-forms, but not D-forms of amino acids, to produce H2O2. The enzyme is important for the purification and determination of certain amino acids and for the preparation of α-keto acids.
Abstract in English:In this study, the morphology, histology and fine structure of the stinger, a part of the venom apparatus of Euscorpius mingrelicus (Kessler, 1874) (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) were studied by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The stinger, located at the end section of the telson, is sickle-shaped. The venom is ejected through a pair of venom pores on its subterminal portion. Both venom ducts extend along the stinger without contact with each other since they are separated by connective tissue cells. The stinger cuticle is composed of two layers. Additionally, there are many pore canals and some hemolymph vessels in the cuticle. This work constitutes the first histological and fine structure study on Euscorpius mingrelicus stinger.
Abstract in English:Diseases resulting from Helicobacter pylori infection appear to be dependent on a host of genetic traits and virulence factors possessed by this microorganism. This paper aimed to investigate the association between the ABO histo-blood groups and H. pylori cagA infections. Genomic DNA samples (n = 110) of gastric biopsies obtained from patients with endoscopic diagnosis of peptic ulcers (n = 25) and chronic active gastritis (n = 85) were analyzed by PCR using specific primers for the cagA gene. Of the samples, 66.4% (n = 73) tested positive and 33.6% (n = 37) negative for the gene. The cagA strain was predominant in peptic ulcers (n = 21; 84.0%) compared with chronic active gastritis (n = 52; 61.2%) (p = 0.05; OR 3.332; 95% CI: 1.050-10.576). Additionally, the cagA strain was prevalent in the type O blood (48/63; 76.2%) compared with other ABO phenotypes (25/47; 53.2%) (p = 0.01; OR 2.816; 95% CI: 1.246-6.364). These results suggest that H. pylori cagA infection is associated with the O blood group in Brazilian patients suffering from chronic active gastritis and peptic ulcers.
Abstract in English:An anticoagulant factor was purified from the venom of the Iranian snake Agkistrodon halys by gel filtration on Sephadex G-50 and ion-exchange chromatography on DEAE-Sepharose. In the final stage of purification, the percentage recovery of purified anticoagulant factor was found to be 83%. The purified anticoagulant factor revealed a single protein band in SDS-polyacrylamide electrophoresis under reducing conditions and its molecular weight was about 22 kDa. The purified peptide did not show any effect on casein, BApNA or plasma.
Abstract in English:The unifying characteristic of cnidarians is the production of protein and polypeptide toxins. The present study describes the identification of a hemolytic toxin from the soft coral Sarcophyton trocheliophorum. The crude extract was highly cytotoxic (EC50 = 50 ng/mL) against human erythrocytes. It was also tested for hemolytic activity by the blood agar plate method, resulting in a hemolytic halo of 12 mm with 50 µg of protein. The stability of the venom under different physiological conditions was analyzed. The venom hemolytic activity was augmented by alkaline and neutral pH whereas it was reduced in acidic pH. The activity was stable up to 60º C. The hemolytic activity was completely abolished by the addition of serum and reduced significantly during frequent freezing-thawing cycles. Toxin purification was performed by ammonium sulfate precipitation and subsequently desalted by dialysis against 10 mM sodium phosphate buffer (pH 7.2), followed by anion exchange chromatography on DEAE cellulose column and gel filtration chromatography using Sephadex G-50 matrix. The purified active fractions possessed a prominent protein of approximately 45 kDa, as revealed by SDS-PAGE.
Abstract in English:The present study aimed at investigating the chemical composition of essential oil extracted from Brazilian propolis and the susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermides, Streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli to this substance. The essential oil was obtained by steam distillation of propolis and examined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). In addition, the agar diffusion method using filter paper disks was employed. Antibacterial activity was measured as equivalent diameters of inhibition zones (in millimeters) after incubation at 37º C for 24 hours. From the 26 identified constituents, β-caryophyllene (12.7%), acetophenone (12.3%) and β-farnesene (9.2%) were found to be major components. New components, namely linalool, methyl hydrocinnamate, ethyl hydrocinnamate, α-ylangene, γ-elemene and valencene, are reported for the first time to be present in propolis essential oil. This oil also exhibited antibacterial activity.
Abstract in English:Leishmaniasis, a zoonosis of worldwide distribution, presents a significant impact on immunosupressed patients. This study aimed to evaluate Leishmania chagasi infection in BALB/c mice immunosuppressed with dexamethasone. Spleen cells stimulated or not with L. chagasi were cultured for cytokine quantification (IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-4 and IL-10) by sandwich ELISA. Parasite loads in the spleen and liver were determined by means of culture microtitration. Immunosuppressed groups showed statistically lower spleen weight and CD4-cell percentage in blood on the day of infection and produced Th1 and Th2 cytokines on other days of the study. The other infected groups, weather immunosupressed or not, also produced Th1 and Th2 cytokines. Parasite loads in the spleen and liver were not statistically different among the groups. It was concluded that L. chagasi infection was not affected by dexamethasone-induced immunosuppression, probably due the reversible effect of the treatment.
Abstract in English:Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti-B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti-B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.
Abstract in English:In the current work, the courtship and mating of Scorpiops luridus Zhu Lourenço & Qi, 2005 (Euscorpiidae) from Xizang province (Tibet), China, were studied for the first time in the laboratory. Most of the mating behaviors in Scorpiops luridus are not remarkably different from those exhibited by other scorpions. However, for the first time a male pulling a female with its chelicerae to rapidly accomplish the sperm uptake was observed. Additionally, the sexual stinging behavior displayed by the male occurred in the initial stage, not during the promenade stage as previously described in several scorpion species. Through observation and analysis, we speculate that venom injection during sexual stinging is selective, possibly relying on the status shown by the stung scorpion (passive or aggressive). In order to clearly describe the process of courtship and mating, both sequences are represented in a flow chart, while the main behavior components of these processes were identified, analyzed and discussed.
Abstract in English:This analysis aimed to identify characteristics of accidents that would, probably, provoke rabies infection. A total of 14,409 survey questionnaires for surveillance of human rabies from the Brazilian Information System for Disease Notification (SINAN), from 2000 to 2005, were analyzed. Regarding demographics, it was observed that 7,377 (51.5%) of the victims were white, 4,458 (30.93%) were children and 8,008 (55.58%) were males. Urban cases were prevalent (88.10%) while dogs were the animals most frequently involved in accidents, in 11,700 cases (81.19%). Bites (84.35%) and scratches (19.15%) were the most prevalent exposure types, and occurred predominantly on victims' extremities (38.79%). The prophylactic measure taken in 6,179 cases comprised anti-rabies vaccine; of these victims, 421 (2.92%) showed systemic reactions while 693 (4.80%) reported no response. The importance of developing awareness in professionals that should correctly report post-exposure immunoprophylaxis cases is emphasized given the high number of individuals who receive this type of treatment annually.
Abstract in English:In American cutaneous leishmaniasis, the initial infection phase is characterized by recruitment of neutrophils and monocytes. The migration of these cells in response to the presence of Leishmania in the peritoneum of affected animals remains unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate cell migration to the peritoneum of BALB/c mice after infection with Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and Leishmania (Leishmania) major. Initially, Leishmania spp. was intraperitoneally inoculated in five groups of six animals each and the cell migration was analyzed 0, 3, 6, 12, 24 and 48 hours after infection. Different cell counts were performed with a staining kit and showed a higher percentage of polymorphonuclear than mononuclear cells in all three species studied. The total cell count revealed peak migration in L. (L.) amazonensis and L. (L.) major at six hours, and in L. (V.) braziliensis at 12 hours. These results suggest that factors released from different cell types probably act by attracting polymorphonuclear cells, with the peak migration most likely depending on the species of Leishmania inoculated into the host.
Abstract in English:Infection of susceptible ruminants, including domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and American bison (Bison bison), with ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) may provoke the fatal vasculitis and lymphoproliferative syndrome, known as malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), reported worldwide. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a clinical case of MCF-like lesions associated with ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) infection in young calves (Bos indicus) including central nervous symptoms that occurred in Três Lagoas city, Mato Grosso do Sul state, a border town near São Paulo state, Brazil. The diagnosis was based on typical histological lesions characterized by systemic lymphohistiocytic and fibrinoid vasculitis, confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and subsequent phylogenetic analysis of detected OvHV-2 sequences. This finding indicates that MCF disease is spread among herds concentrated in border areas between Mato Grosso do Sul and São Paulo states.