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Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, Volume: 22, Published: 2016
  • The 6th international conference on envenomation by Snakebites and Scorpion Stings in Africa: a crucial step for the management of envenomation EDITORIAL

    Chippaux, Jean-Philippe; Akaffou, Marc Hermann; Allali, Bernard Kouadio; Dosso, Mireille; Massougbodji, Achille; Barraviera, Benedito

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract During the 6th International Conference on Envenomation by Snakebites and Scorpion Stings in Africa held in Abidjan, from 1 to 5 June 2015, the measures for the management of envenomation were discussed and new recommendations were adopted by the participants. The high incidence and severity of this affliction were confirmed by several studies conducted in African countries. The poor availability of antivenom, particularly because of the cost, was also highlighted. Some experiences have been reported, mainly those regarding the financial support of antivenom in Burkina Faso (more than 90 %) and Togo (up to 60 %) or the mandatory reporting of cases in Cameroon. Key recommendations concerned: improvement of epidemiological information based on case collection; training of health workers in the management of envenomation; policy to promote the use of effective and safe antivenom; and antivenom funding by sharing its costs with stakeholders in order to improve antivenom accessibility for low-income patients.
  • Paths to the discovery of antivenom serotherapy in France REVIEW

    Bochner, Rosany

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract The current study presents a descriptive chronological survey of the articles published by Césaire Auguste Phisalix and Albert Calmette on snake poison, with the aim of shedding a light on the areas of research and reasoning followed by these scientists, leading up to their simultaneous discovery of antivenom serotherapy in 1894. The path taken by Phisalix is revealed in 15 articles that demonstrate the motivation of a naturalist and the way he confronted the puzzle of immunity against snake venom. In the case of Calmette, two articles preceded the discovery; microbiology was his theoretical base and the Pasteurian spirit of solving health problems his driving force. These two researchers followed distinct paths, mobilized by different motivations, but produced one single result. It is incontestable that the discovery of antivenom serotherapy was the work of two groups of researchers who deserve equal recognition, but who, in fact, did not receive it. Following the discovery both Calmette and Phisalix returned to their previous motivations. Calmette put the discovery into practice and began to produce antivenom serum in Lille. He came to be generally considered as the sole discoverer of antivenom serotherapy and was the recipient of a number of prestigious prizes. Phisalix, on the other hand, received little recognition and returned to his original interests, devoting himself to research on natural immunity. In Brazil, the discovery of antivenom serum therapy had a profound impact on the work of Vital Brazil Mineiro da Campanha, a researcher known worldwide for his scientific discoveries and for the evidence of the specificity of antivenom serums.
  • Scorpion incidents, misidentification cases and possible implications for the final interpretation of results Review

    Lourenço, Wilson R.

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract The aim of this contribution is to bring general information on the classification and in particular on the specific identification of scorpion species dangerous to humans. Several generic groups are taken into consideration, but the Neotropical genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 is used as a major example. The content of this paper is mostly addressed to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. Although efforts have been made in the last 20 years to create better links between ‘true scorpion experts’ and non-specialists who use scorpions in their research, such exchanges had never led to a consensus among those different branches of biological and medical research. Consequently, many cases of species misidentification and even more serious errors concerning scorpion classification/identification are often present in the specialized literature. In conclusion, it is suggested here that the frequent cases of misidentification observed in several reports may induce mistakes in the final interpretation of results, leading only to more inefficacity in the treatment of problems caused by infamous scorpion species.
  • In the picture: disulfide-poor conopeptides, a class of pharmacologically interesting compounds Review

    Lebbe, Eline K. M.; Tytgat, Jan

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract During evolution, nature has embraced different strategies for species to survive. One strategy, applied by predators as diverse as snakes, scorpions, sea anemones and cone snails, is using venom to immobilize or kill a prey. This venom offers a unique and extensive source of chemical diversity as it is driven by the evolutionary pressure to improve prey capture and/or to protect their species. Cone snail venom is an example of the remarkable diversity in pharmacologically active small peptides that venoms can consist of. These venom peptides, called conopeptides, are classified into two main groups based on the number of cysteine residues, namely disulfide-rich and disulfide-poor conopeptides. Since disulfide-poor conotoxins are minor components of this venom cocktail, the number of identified peptides and the characterization of these peptides is far outclassed by its cysteine-rich equivalents. This review provides an overview of 12 families of disulfide-poor peptides identified to date as well as the state of affairs.
  • Endogenous phospholipase A2 inhibitors in snakes: a brief overview REVIEW

    Campos, Patrícia Cota; Melo, Lutiana Amaral de; Dias, Gabriel Latorre Fortes; Fortes-Dias, Consuelo Latorre

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract The blood plasma of numerous snake species naturally comprises endogenous phospholipase A2 inhibitors, which primarily neutralize toxic phospholipases A2 that may eventually reach their circulation. This inhibitor type is generally known as snake blood phospholipase A2 inhibitors (sbPLIs). Most, if not all sbPLIs are oligomeric glycosylated proteins, although the carbohydrate moiety may not be essential for PLA2 inhibition in every case. The presently known sbPLIs belong to one of three structural classes – namely sbαPLI, sbβPLI or sbγPLI – depending on the presence of characteristic C-type lectin-like domains, leucine-rich repeats or three-finger motifs, respectively. Currently, the most numerous inhibitors described in the literature are sbαPLIs and sbγPLIs, whereas sbβPLIs are rare. When the target PLA2 is a Lys49 homolog or an Asp49 myotoxin, the sbPLI is denominated a myotoxin inhibitor protein (MIP). In this brief overview, the most relevant data on sbPLIs will be presented. Representative examples of sbαPLIs and sbγPLIs from two Old World – Gloydius brevicaudus and Malayopython reticulatus – and two New World – Bothrops alternatus and Crotalus durissus terrificus – snake species will be emphasized.
  • A review on the Scorpaena plumieri fish venom and its bioactive compounds REVIEW

    Campos, Fabiana V.; Menezes, Thiago N.; Malacarne, Pedro F.; Costa, Fábio L. S.; Naumann, Gustavo B.; Gomes, Helena L.; Figueiredo, Suely G.

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract The most poisonous fish species found along the Brazilian coast is the spotted scorpionfish Scorpaena plumieri. Though hardly ever life-threatening to humans, envenomation by S. plumieri can be quite hazardous, provoking extreme pain and imposing significant socioeconomic costs, as the victims may require days to weeks to recover from their injuries. In this review we will walk the reader through the biological features that distinguish this species as well as the current epidemiological knowledge related to the envenomation and its consequences. But above all, we will discuss the challenges involved in the biochemical characterization of the S. plumieri venom and its compounds, focusing then on the successful isolation and pharmacological analysis of some of the bioactive molecules responsible for the effects observed upon envenomation as well as on experimental models. Despite the achievement of considerable progress, much remains to be done, particularly in relation to the non-proteinaceous components of the venom. Therefore, further studies are necessary in order to provide a more complete picture of the venom’s chemical composition and physiological effects. Given that fish venoms remain considerably less studied when compared to terrestrial venoms, the exploration of their full potential opens a myriad of possibilities for the development of new drug leads and tools for elucidating the complex physiological processes.
  • Melittin induces in vitro death of Leishmania (Leishmania) infantum by triggering the cellular innate immune response RESEARCH

    Pereira, Andreia Vieira; Barros, Gustavo de; Pinto, Erika Gracielle; Tempone, Andre Gustavo; Orsi, Ricardo de Oliveira; Santos, Lucilene Delazari dos; Calvi, Sueli; Ferreira, Rui Seabra; Pimenta, Daniel Carvalho; Barraviera, Benedito

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Apis mellifera venom, which has already been recommended as an alternative anti-inflammatory treatment, may be also considered an important source of candidate molecules for biotechnological and biomedical uses, such as the treatment of parasitic diseases. Methods Africanized honeybee venom from Apis mellifera was fractionated by RP-C18-HPLC and the obtained melittin was incubated with promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes of Leishmania (L.) infantum. Cytotoxicity to mice peritoneal macrophages was evaluated through mitochondrial oxidative activity. The production of anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines, NO and H2O2 by macrophages was determined. Results Promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes were susceptible to melittin (IC50 28.3 μg.mL−1 and 1.4 μg.mL−1, respectively), but also showed mammalian cell cytotoxicity with an IC50 value of 5.7 μg.mL−1. Uninfected macrophages treated with melittin increased the production of IL-10, TNF-α, NO and H2O2. Infected melittin-treated macrophages increased IL-12 production, but decreased the levels of IL-10, TNF-α, NO and H2O2. Conclusions The results showed that melittin acts in vitro against promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes of Leishmania (L.) infantum. Furthermore, they can act indirectly on intracellular amastigotes through a macrophage immunomodulatory effect.
  • FabAV antivenin use after copperhead snakebite: clinically indicated or knee-jerk reaction? RESEARCH

    Gale, Stephen C.; Peters, Jo Ann; Allen, LaDonna; Creath, Robert; Dombrovskiy, Viktor Y.

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab (Ovine) (FabAV) antivenin is commonly recommended after pit viper snakebites. Because copperhead envenomations are usually self-limited, some physicians are reluctant to use this costly treatment routinely, while others follow a more liberal approach. We hypothesized that, in practice, only patients with evidence of significant (moderate or severe) copperhead envenomation [those with snakebite severity score (SSS) > 3] receive FabAV and examined a large cohort to determine the relationship between clinical findings and FabAV administration. Methods All data from patients evaluated for copperhead snakebite at a rural tertiary referral center from 5/2002 to 10/2013 were compiled. Demographics, transfer status, antivenin use, and clinical findings were collected; SSS was calculated. The relationships among FabAV use, clinical findings, and SSS were analyzed using t-test, chi-square, and Pearson’s coefficient (p < 0.05 was significant). Results During the study period, 318 patients were treated for copperhead snakebite; 44 (13.8 %) received antivenin. Median dose was four vials (range: 1–10; IQR: 4,6). There were no deaths. Most patients receiving FabAV (63.6 %) were admitted. With regard to demographics and symptoms, only the degree of swelling (moderate vs. none/mild; p < 0.01) and bite location (hand/arm vs. leg: p < 0.0001) were associated with FabAV use. A SSS > 3, indicating moderate or severe envenomation, was only very weakly correlated with antivenin use (r = 0.217;p < 0.0001). The majority of patients with SSS > 3 (65.8 %) did not receive antivenin while most patients who did receive antivenin (70.5 %) had SSS ≤ 3 (indicating mild envenomation). Conclusions Considerable variation occurs in antivenin administration after copperhead snakebite. Use of FabAV appears poorly correlated with patients’ symptoms. This practice may expose patients to the risks of antivenin and increasing costs of medical care without improving outcomes. Guidelines used for treating other pit viper strikes, such as rattlesnake or cottonmouth snakebite may be too liberal for copperhead envenomations. Our data suggests that most patients with mild or moderate envenomation appear to do well independent of FabAV use. We suggest, for patients with copperhead snakebite, that consideration be given to withholding FabAV for those without clinical evidence of severe envenomation until prospective randomized data are available.
  • Cloning and purification of the first termicin-like peptide from the cockroach Eupolyphaga sinensis RESEARCH

    Liu, Zichao; Yuan, Kehua; Zhang, Ruopeng; Ren, Xuchen; Liu, Xiaolong; Zhao, Shuhua; Wang, Dingkang

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Termicin is an antimicrobial peptide with six cysteines forming three disulfide bridges that was firstly isolated from the salivary glands and hemocytes of the termite Pseudacanthotermes spiniger. In contrast to many broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptides, termicin is most active against filamentous fungi. Although more than one hundred complementary DNAs (cDNAs) encoding termicin-like peptides have been reported to date, all these termicin-like peptides were obtained from Isoptera insects. Methods The cDNA was cloned by combination of cDNA library construction kit and DNA sequencing. The polypeptide was purified by gel filtration and reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC). Its amino acid sequence was determined by Edman degradation and mass spectrometry. Antimicrobial activity was tested against several bacterial and fungal strains. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was determined by microdilution tests. Results A novel termicin-like peptide with primary structure ACDFQQCWVTCQRQYSINFISARCNGDSCVCTFRT was purified from extracts of the cockroach Eupolyphaga sinensis (Insecta: Blattodea). The cDNA encoding Es-termicin was cloned by cDNA library screening. This cDNA encoded a 60 amino acid precursor which included a 25 amino acid signal peptide. Amino acid sequence deduced from the cDNA matched well with the result of protein Edman degradation. Susceptibility test indicated that Es-termicin showed strong ability to kill fungi with a MIC of 25 μg/mL against Candida albicans ATCC 90028. It only showed limited potency to affect the growth of Gram-positive bacteria with a MIC of 200 μg/mL against Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212. It was inactive against gram-negative bacteria at the highest concentration tested (400 μg/mL). Es-termicin showed high sequence similarity with termicins from many species of termites (Insecta: Isoptera). Conclusions This is the first report of a termicin-like peptide isolated from E. sinensis that belongs to the insect order Blattodea. Our results demonstrate the diversity of termicin-like peptides, as well as antimicrobial peptides in insects.
  • Anti-leptospirosis agglutinins in Brazilian capybaras (hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) RESEARCH

    Langoni, Helio; Kuribara, Ivone Yumi; Correa, Ana Paula Ferreira Lopes; Ullmann, Leila Sabrina; Sánchez, Gabriela Pacheco; Lucheis, Simone Baldini

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background The interest in commercial use of wild animals is increasing, especially regarding raising of capybaras. Although this wild species is potentially lucrative for the production of meat, oil and leather, it is suggested as a probable reservoir of leptospires. Methods Due to the economic importance of this species and the lack of studies concerning leptospirosis, the presence of anti-leptospirosis agglutinins was assayed in 55 serum samples of capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) from commercial and experimental breeding flocks located in São Paulo state, Paraná state, and Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. Samples were obtained through cephalic or femoral venipunction (5 to 10 mL). Microscopic agglutination test was used according to the Brazilian Health Ministry considering as cut-off titer of 100. Results Out of the 55 samples analyzed, 23 (41.82 %) tested positive. The most prevalent serovar was Icterohaemorrhagiae (56.52 %) in 13 samples, followed by Copenhageni in nine samples (39.13 %), Pomona in four samples (17.39 %), Djasiman and Castellonis in three samples each (13.04 %), Grippotyphosa, Hardjo, Canicola, and Cynopteri in two samples each (8.7 %), and Andamana and Bratislava in one sample each (4.34 %). Conclusions These results suggest the evidence of exposure toLeptospira spp. and the need of new studies to evaluate a higher number of capybaras from different regions to better understand the importance of leptospirosis infection in these animals and verify the zoonotic role of this species as a possible source of infection to humans and other animals.
  • Anticancer properties of phospholipase A2 fromDaboia siamensis venom on human skin melanoma cells RESEARCH

    Khunsap, Suchitra; Khow, Orawan; Buranapraditkun, Supranee; Suntrarachun, Sunutcha; Puthong, Songchan; Boonchang, and Supatsorn

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) is a major component of theDaboia siamensis venom, which is able to hydrolyse the membrane of various cells. For this reason, the activity of PLA2was investigated regarding its pharmaceutical properties. This study was conducted to explore the pharmacological properties of a PLA2from Daboia siamensis (dssPLA2) venom on human skin melanoma cell line (SK-MEL-28). Methods dssPLA2 was isolated by ion exchange and gel filtration columns. Various concentrations of dssPLA2were investigated for cytotoxic activity and inhibition of migration on SK-MEL-28 cells. Cell death analysis, mRNA expression levels of Notch I-III and BRAF V600E genes were also determined. Results dssPLA2 exhibited cytotoxicity on SK-MEL-28 for 24 and 72 h as compared with untreated cells. However, it had no toxic effects on CCD-1064sk cells under the same conditions. dssPLA2 (0.25 and 0.5 μg/mL) induced 17.16 and 30.60 % of apoptosis, while activated 6.53 and 7.05 % of necrotic cells. dssPLA2 at 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2 μg/mL could inhibit migration on SK-MEL-28 cells for 24 h by 31.06, 41.66, 50 and 68.75 %, respectively. The action of dssPLA2 significantly reduced the levels of Notch I and BRAF V600E genes expression on SK-MEL-28 cells compared with untreated cells at 72 h. Conclusions This study indicates that dssPLA2 had potential effects of apoptosis, necrosis, cytotoxicity and inhibition of migration on SK-MEL-28 cells. dssPLA2 could possibly be a selective agent that targets cancer cells without affecting normal cells.
  • Contribution of ultrasonography to the diagnosis of internal bleeding in snakebite envenomation RESEARCH

    Tchaou, Blaise Adelin; Tové, Kofi-Mensa Savi de; Tové, Yolande Sissinto-Savi de; Djomga, Aurélien Tchémaha C.; Aguemon, Abdou-Rahman; Massougbodji, Achille; Chippaux, Jean-Philippe

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background In Africa, snakebite envenomations are frequently complicated by life-threatening hemorrhagic syndromes. The authors of the present study conducted a prospective analysis at the University Hospital of Parakou (north of Benin) for seven months (January 1 to July 31, 2014) to assess the contribution of ultrasonography to the diagnosis of internal bleedings and management of envenomation. Methods An ultrasound examination was performed in all patients with clinical envenomation regardless of its severity. The study involved 32 patients admitted to the ICU of the University Hospital of Parakou. Results The average age was 27 ± 13.9 years. The main signs of severity were: prolongation of clotting time (88 %), severe anemia (41 %), clinical hemorrhage (47 %), and shock (19 %). The ultrasound imaging showed internal hemorrhage in 18 patients (56 %). There were hematomas (22 %), hemoperitoneum (13 %) or a combination of both (22 %). The occurrence of internal bleeding and hemoperitoneum were mainly related to the delay of hospital presentation (p = 0.007) and the existence of external bleeding (p = 0.04). Thirty patients (94 %) received antivenom. Case fatality rate was 3.1 %. Conclusion Ultrasonography may help in diagnosing internal bleeding, even in patients that did not show external hemorrhages, and evaluating its importance. As a consequence, the management of snakebite victims may be significantly improved.
  • Epidemiology of snakebites in Kédougou region (eastern Senegal): comparison of various methods for assessment of incidence and mortality RESEARCH

    Lam, Absa; Camara, Bouna; Kane, Oumar; Diouf, Amadou; Chippaux, Jean-Philippe

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Although considered a public health issue in Senegal, the actual incidence and mortality from snakebite are not known. In the present study, an epidemiological survey was carried out in Kédougou region, southeastern Senegal, where envenomations, particularly by Echisocellatus, are frequent and severe. Methods Three sources of data were used: records from health centers and reports by health professionals; traditional healers; and household surveys. Results The annual incidence and mortality provided by health centers were 24.4 envenomations and 0.24 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively. The annual incidence recorded by traditional healers was 250 bites per 100,000 inhabitants, but the number of deaths was unknown. Finally, the household surveys reported an annual incidence of 92.8 bites per 100,000 inhabitants and an annual mortality rate of 2.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The differences in incidence and mortality between the different methods were explained by significant bias, resulting in particular from the complex patient's healthcare-seeking behavior. The incidence provided by health records should be used to specify the immediate quantitative requirements of antivenoms and places where they should be available first. Conclusion Mandatory reporting of cases would improve the management of envenomation by simplifying epidemiological surveys. Patients' preference for traditional medicine should prompt health authorities to urge traditional healers to refer patients to health centers according to defined clinical criteria (mainly edema and bleeding or neurotoxic symptoms). Finally, household surveys were likely to reflect the actual epidemiological situation. Poison Control Center of Senegal should continue its work to sensitize stakeholders and train health staff.
  • Snakebites notified to the poison control center of Morocco between 2009 and 2013 RESEARCH

    Chafiq, Fouad; Hattimy, Faiçal El; Rhalem, Naima; Chippaux, Jean-Philippe; Soulaymani, Abdelmajid; Mokhtari, Abdelrhani; Soulaymani-Bencheikh, Rachida

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Snakebites cause considerable death and injury throughout the globe, particularly in tropical regions, and pose an important yet neglected threat to public health. In 2008, the Centre Anti Poison et de Parmacovigilance du Maroc (CAPM) started to set up a specific strategy for the control of snakebites that was formalized in 2012. The aim of the present study is to describe and update the epidemiological characteristics of snakebites notified to CAPM between 2009 and 2013. Methods This retrospective five-year study included all cases of snakebites notified to CAPM by mail or phone. Results During the study period, 873 snakebite cases were reported to CAPM, an average incidence of 2.65 cases per 100,000 inhabitants with 218 cases each year. The highest incidence was found in Tangier-Tetouan region with 357 cases (40.9 %) followed by Souss Massa Draa region with 128 cases (14.6 %). The average age of patients was 26.8 ± 17.2 years. The male to female sex ratio was 1.67:1 and 77 % of cases occurred in rural areas. The bites occurred mainly in spring (44 %) followed by summer (42 %). Snake species was identified in 54 cases (6.2 %): colubrids represented 31 % (n = 18) and vipers 67 % (n = 36), mainly Daboia mauritanica, Bitis arietans and Cerastes cerastes. In 311 cases (35.6 %), the patients showed viper syndrome. Thrombocytopenia was observed in 23.5 % of viper syndrome cases, whereas, compartment syndrome was observed in 7.6 % patients. FAV-Afrique® was administered in 41 patients (5 %). In patients treated with antivenom, 38 patients recovered and three died. Twenty-seven deaths were reported (3.9 %). Conclusion Despite specific efforts to better understand the epidemiology of snakebites in Morocco (incidence, severity, snake species involved), it remains underestimated. Therefore, further work is still necessary to ensure accessibility of appropriate antivenom against venomous species and to improve the management of envenomation in Morocco.
  • Retrospective study on the incidence of envenomation and accessibility to antivenom in Burkina Faso RESEARCH

    Gampini, Sandrine; Nassouri, Sonia; and, Jean-Philippe Chippaux; Semde, Rasmané

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Snakebite is a common neglected public health issue, especially in poor rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Passive immunotherapy with safe and effective antivenom is the only approved treatment for it. This study aimed to determine the incidence of snakebites, and to assess the availability and accessibility of antivenoms, from 2010 to 2014, in Burkina Faso. Methods The assessment of snakebite cases managed in all health facilities from 2010 to 2014 was performed from the Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of Health. Antivenom consumption data were collected from the drug wholesalers established in Burkina Faso. Results Snakebites are among the five leading causes of consultations in health districts. From 2010 to 2014, 114,126 envenomation cases occurred in Burkina Faso, out of which 62,293 (54.6 %) victims have been hospitalized resulting in 1,362 (2 %) deaths. The annual incidence and mortality were respectively 130 bites and 1.75 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The amount of antivenom sold by wholesalers were 5,738 vials with a total cost of US$ 539,055 (annual average = US$ 107,811). The high cost of these antivenoms (between US$ 42 and 170 per dose according to brand) limited their use by rural people, the main victims of snakebites, whose income is insufficient. Thus, only 4 % of patients received antivenom treatment over the past five years. The price of antivenom was reduced in 2015 to US$ 3.4 by a public drug wholesaler. Conclusion The study confirmed the high burden of snakebites in Burkina Faso. To better manage envenomation, Burkina Faso implemented a strategy consisting in seeking affordable sources of antivenom supply of good quality and innovative mechanisms of subsidy.
  • Experimental Lachesis muta rhombeata envenomation and effects of soursop (Annona muricata) as natural antivenom RESEARCH

    Cremonez, Caroline Marroni; Leite, Flávia Pine; Bordon, Karla de Castro Figueiredo; Cerni, Felipe Augusto; Cardoso, lara Aimê; Gregório, Zita Maria de Oliveira; Souza, Rodrigo Cançado Gonçalves de; Souza, Ana Maria de; Arantes, Eliane Candiani

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background In the Atlantic forest of the North and Northeast regions of Brazil, local population often uses the fruit juice and the aqueous extract of leaves of soursop (Annona muricata L.) to treat Lachesis muta rhombeata envenomation. Envenomation is a relevant health issue in these areas, especially due to its severity and because the production and distribution of antivenom is limited in these regions. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relevance of the use of soursop leaf extract and its juice against envenomation by Lachesis muta rhombeata. Methods We evaluated the biochemical, hematological and hemostatic parameters, the blood pressure, the inflammation process and the lethality induced by Lachesis muta rhombeata snake venom. We also assessed the action of the aqueous extract of leaves (AmL) and juice (AmJ) from A. muricata on the animal organism injected with L. m. rhombeata venom (LmrV) in the laboratory environment. Results LmrV induced a decrease of total protein, albumin and glucose; and increase of creatine kinase, aspartate aminotransferase, and urea concentrations. It provoked hemoconcentration followed by reduction of hematocrit, an increase in prothrombin time and partial thromboplastin time and a decrease of the blood pressure. LmrV induced the release of interleukin-6, an increase in neutrophils and changes in the serum protein profile, characteristic of the acute inflammatory process. LD50 values were similar for the groups injected with LmrV and treated or untreated with AmJ and AmL. Both treatments play a role on the maintenance of blood glucose, urea and coagulation parameters and exert a protective action against the myotoxicity. However, they seem to worsen the hypotension caused by LmrV. Conclusion The treatments with AmJ and AmL present some beneficial actions, but they might intensify some effects of the venom. Therefore, additional studies on A. muricata are necessary to enable its use as natural antivenom for bushmaster snakebite.
  • Canine visceral leishmaniasis in the Northeast Region of Brazil RESEARCH

    Brito, Flávio Gonçalves; Langoni, Helio; Silva, Rodrigo Costa da; Rotondano, Tereza Emmanuelle de Farias; Melo, Marcia Almeida de; Paz, Giselle Souza da

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a zoonosis that affects dogs and other mammals, including humans. Contact with dogs is a major risk factor for humans. This disease is endemic in several regions of Brazil. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of Leishmania spp. infection in dogs and to correlate it with possible risk factors. Methods Blood samples were collected from 391 dogs of different ages, breeds, and both genders, coming from Campina Grande, Paraíba state, Brazil. An epidemiological questionnaire was employed in order to identify risk factors associated with the disease. Serological tests were performed using indirect immunofluorescence, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA S7®) and polymerase chain reaction. Results Leishmania spp. antibodies were detected in 33 (8.4 %) and 17 (4.3 %) dogs according to the indirect immunofluorescence test (IFAT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA S7®), respectively. PCR results indicated the presence of L. chagasi DNA in only eight (2 %) blood samples. There was a significant association between reactive animals and contact with animals from different houses (OR = 4.1; p= 0.02). Conclusions It is suggested that CVL may occur in urban areas. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the association among different diagnostic tests may lead to a more accurate identification of positive animals, which might help to improve the disease control and prevent euthanasia in false-positive results.
  • Synthesis and antimicrobial evaluation of two peptide LyeTx I derivatives modified with the chelating agent HYNIC for radiolabeling with technetium-99m RESEARCH

    Fuscaldi, Leonardo Lima; Santos, Daniel Moreira dos; Pinheiro, Natália Gabriela Silva; Araújo, Raquel Silva; Barros, André Luís Branco de; Resende, Jarbas Magalhães; Fernandes, Simone Odília Antunes; Lima, Maria Elena de; Cardoso, Valbert Nascimento

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Current diagnostic methods and imaging techniques are not able to differentiate septic and aseptic inflammation. Thus, reliable methods are sought to provide this distinction and scintigraphic imaging is an interesting option, since it is based on physiological changes. In this context, radiolabeled antimicrobial peptides have been investigated as they accumulate in infectious sites instead of aseptic inflammation. The peptide LyeTx I, from the venom of Lycosa erythrognatha, has potent antimicrobial activity. Therefore, this study aimed to synthesize LyeTx I derivatives with the chelating compound HYNIC, to evaluate their antimicrobial activity and to radiolabel them with 99mTc. Methods Two LyeTx I derivatives, HYNIC-LyeTx I (N-terminal modification) and LyeTx I-K-HYNIC (C-terminal modification), were synthesized by Fmoc strategy and purified by RP-HPLC. The purified products were assessed by RP-HPLC and MALDI-ToF-MS analysis. Microbiological assays were performed against S. aureus (ATCC® 6538) and E. coli (ATCC® 10536) in liquid medium to calculate the MIC. The radiolabeling procedure of LyeTx I-K-HYNIC with 99mTc was performed in the presence of co-ligands (tricine and EDDA) and reducing agent (SnCl2. 2H2O), and standardized taking into account the amount of peptide, reducing agent, pH and heating. Radiochemical purity analysis was performed by thin-layer chromatography on silica gel strips and the radiolabeled compound was assessed by RP-HPLC and radioactivity measurement of the collected fractions. Data were analyzed by ANOVA, followed by Tukey test (p-values < 0.05). Results Both LyeTx I derivatives were suitably synthesized and purified, as shown by RP-HPLC and MALDI-ToF-MS analysis. The microbiological test showed that HYNIC-LyeTx I (N-terminal modification) did not inhibit bacterial growth, whereas LyeTx I-K-HYNIC (C-terminal modification) showed a MIC of 5.05 μmol.L−1 (S. aureus) and 10.10 μmol.L−1 (E. coli). Thus, only the latter was radiolabeled with 99mTc. The radiochemical purity analysis of LyeTx I-K-HYNIC-99mTc showed that the optimal radiolabeling conditions (10 μg of LyeTx I-K-HYNIC; 250 μg of SnCl2. 2H2O; pH = 7; heating for 15 min) yielded a radiochemical purity of 87 ± 1 % (n= 3). However, RP-HPLC data suggested 99mTc transchelation from LyeTx I-K-HYNIC to the co-ligands (tricine and EDDA). Conclusions The binding of HYNIC to the N-terminal portion of LyeTx I seems to affect its activity against bacteria. Nevertheless, the radiolabeling of the C-terminal derivative, LyeTx I-K-HYNIC, must be better investigated to optimize the radiolabeled compound, in order to use it as a specific imaging agent to distinguish septic and aseptic inflammation.
  • Initial peptidomic profiling of Brazilian sea urchins: Arbacia lixula, Lytechinus variegatus and Echinometra lucunter RESEARCH

    Sciani, Juliana Mozer; Emerenciano, Andrews Krupinski; Silva, José Roberto Machado Cunha da; Pimenta, Daniel Carvalho

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Sea urchins can be found throughout the Brazilian coast and are reported to be one of the major causes of marine accidents on the shoreline. Although not lethal, these accidents are reported to be extremely painful. In order to understand the toxinology of the Brazilian urchins, a peptidomic approach was performed aiming to characterize the naturally occurring peptides in both the coelomic fluid and the spine. Methods Animals were collected without gender distinction and samples of the coelomic fluid and spines extracted were analyzed by RP-HPLC and mass spectrometry for peptide de novo sequencing. Results Several peptides were identified either in the coelomic fluid or the spine extract (except for E. lucunter). The peptide sequences were aligned with public deposited sequences and possible functions were inferred. Moreover, some peptides can be cryptides, since their sequences were identified within functional proteins, for example thymosin from Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Conclusions Although preliminary, the peptidomic approach presented here reports, for the first time, the abundance of novel biological molecules derived from these animals. The discovery of such molecules may be of potential biotechnological application, as described for other organisms; nevertheless, further studies are required.
  • Behavioral alterations induced by repeated saxitoxin exposure in drinking water RESEARCH

    Diehl, Felipe; Ramos, Patricia Baptista; Santos, Juliane Marques dos; Barros, Daniela Martí; Yunes, João Sarkis

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Blooms of the saxitoxin-producing cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii have been contaminating drinking water reservoirs in Brazil for many years. Although acute effects of saxitoxin intoxication are well known, chronic deleterious outcomes caused by repeated saxitoxin exposure still require further investigation. The aim of the present work is to investigate the effects of consumption of drinking water contaminated with C. raciborskii for 30 days on learning and memory processes in rats. Methods The effects of saxitoxin (3 or 9 μg/L STX equivalents) or cyanobacteria on behavior was determined using the open field habituation task, elevated plus maze anxiety model task, inhibitory avoidance task, and referential Morris water maze task. Results No effects of saxitoxin consumption was observed on anxiety and motor exploratory parameters in the elevated plus maze and open field habituation tasks, respectively. However, groups treated with 9 μg/L STX equivalents displayed a decreased memory performance in the inhibitory avoidance and Morris water maze tasks. Conclusions These results suggest an amnesic effect of saxitoxin on aversive and spatial memories.
  • An update on the epidemiological situation of spotted fever in Brazil Research

    Oliveira, Stefan Vilges de; Guimarães, Jessica Noronha; Reckziegel, Guilherme Carneiro; Neves, Bidiah Mariano da Costa; Araújo-Vilges, Keline Medeiros de; Fonseca, Lidsy Ximenes; Pinna, Fernanda Voietta; Pereira, Simone Valéria Costa; Caldas, Eduardo Pacheco de; Gazeta, Gilberto Salles; Gurgel-Gonçalves, Rodrigo

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Spotted fever is a tick-borne rickettsial disease. In Brazil, its notification to the Ministry of Health is compulsory. Since 2007, cases of spotted fever have been integrated to the Notifiable Diseases Information System, and epidemiological analyzes are part of the routines on surveillance programs. Methods This descriptive study updates epidemiological information on cases of spotted fever registered in Brazil between 2007 and 2015. Results In Brazil, 17,117 suspected cases of the disease were reported and 1,245 were confirmed in 12 states, mainly in São Paulo (550, 44.2 %) and Santa Catarina (276, 22.2 %). No geographic information was registered for 132 cases (10.6 %). Most of the infected people were men (70.9 %), mainly in rural areas (539, 43.3 %), who had contact with ticks (72.7 %). A higher number of suspected cases were registered between 2011 and 2015, but the number of confirmed cases and the incidence were relatively low. Moreover, 411 deaths were registered between 2007 and 2015, mainly in the southeastern region of the country, where the case-fatality rate was 55 %. Lack of proper filling of important fields of notification forms was also observed. Conclusions The results showed expansion of suspected cases of spotted fever and high case-fatality rates, which could be related to diagnostic difficulties and lack of prompt treatment. These factors may comprise limitations to the epidemiological surveillance system in Brazil, hence improvement of notification and investigation are crucial to reduce morbidity and mortality due to spotted fever in Brazil.
  • Anti-Trimeresurus albolabris venom IgY antibodies: preparation, purification and neutralization efficacy Research

    Duan, Hai-long; He, Qi-yi; Zhou, Bin; Wang, Wen-wen; Li, Bo; Zhang, Ying-zheng; Deng, Qiu-ping; Zhang, Ying-feng; Yu, Xiao-dong

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Snakebite incidence in southwestern China is mainly attributed to one of the several venomous snakes found in the country, the white-lipped green pit viper Trimeresurus albolabris. Since antivenom produced from horses may cause numerous clinical side effects, the present study was conducted aiming to develop an alternative antivenom antibody (immunoglobulin Y - IgY) from leghorn chickens. Methods IgY in egg yolk from white leghorn chicken previously injected with T. albolabris venom was extracted by water, precipitated by ammonium sulfate and purified by affinity chromatographic system. IgY was identified by SDS-PAGE, ELISA and Western blot, and its neutralizing assay was conducted on mice. Results Chickens injected multiple times with T. albolabris venom elicited strong antibody responses, and from their egg yolk IgY was isolated and purified, which exhibited a single protein band on SDS-PAGE and two bands (about 65 and 35 kDa, respectively) under reduced conditions. Immunoblot analysis revealed that these IgY are polyclonal antibodies since they bind with most venom components. In the neutralizing assay, all mice survived while the ratios of IgY/venom reached up to 3.79 (50.0 mg/13.2 mg). Conclusions IgY antibody response was successfully conducted in white leghorn chicken injected with T. albolabrisvenom. IgY against T. albolabris venom was obtained for the first time, and it exhibited strong neutralizing potency on mice. These results may lay a foundation for the development of IgY antivenom with clinical applications in the future.
  • Scorpionism by Tityus silvestris in eastern Brazilian Amazon Research

    Coelho, Johne Souza; Ishikawa, Edna Aoba Yassui; Santos, Paulo Roberto Silva Garcez dos; Pardal, Pedro Pereira de Oliveira

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Scorpionism is a serious public health problem in Brazil. Although cases of envenomation by scorpions are frequent in Brazil, Tityus silvestris – found throughout the Amazon region – is considered of minor medical significance and with only a few descriptions in the literature. This article aims to describe for the first time the epidemiological characteristics and clinical manifestations of scorpion stings by T. silvestris that occurred in eastern Brazilian Amazon. Methods A prospective and observational study was carried out on 13 confirmed cases of T. silvestris envenomation registered from 2007 to 2011 in the cities of Belém and Ananindeua, Pará state, Brazil. Results The stings occurred mainly during daytime, at domiciliary environment, and the scorpions were found in clothing, fruits or vegetables. Envenomation was more frequent in the age group between 21 and 30 years old, upper limbs were more affected and medical aid was usually provided within two hours. Men and women were equally affected. Regarding severity, ten patients were classified as Class I and three patients as Class II according to the Scorpion Consensus Expert Group. Local manifestations were present in all patients, being pain the most common symptom. Mild systemic manifestations including nausea, vomiting, somnolence, malaise and prostration were observed in three victims. Symptomatic treatment of pain was offered to all patients, and only one received specific antivenom. All victims had a favorable outcome. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report the systemic symptomatology of envenomation by T. silvestris in the Brazilian Amazon, highlighting the medical relevance of the species in this region. Further research on the venom and clinical manifestations of envenomation by T. silvestris should be conducted in order to verify the relevance of this species to public health.
  • Heterologous expression, protein folding and antibody recognition of a neurotoxin from the Mexican coral snake Micrurus laticorallis RESEARCH

    Clement, Herlinda; Flores, Vianey; la Rosa, Guillermo De; Zamudio, Fernando; Alagon, Alejandro; Corzo, Gerardo

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background The cysteine-rich neurotoxins from elapid venoms are primarily responsible for human and animal envenomation; however, their low concentration in the venom may hamper the production of efficient elapid antivenoms. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to produce fully active elapid neurotoxic immunogens for elapid antivenom production. Method Cysteine-rich neurotoxins showed recombinant expression in two strains of E. coli, and were purified using affinity chromatography and reverse-phase HPLC (rpHPLC). Results The cDNA of the four disulfide-bridged peptide neurotoxin Mlat1 was cloned into a modified expression vector, pQE30, which was transfected into two different E. coli strains. The recombinant toxin (HisrMlat1) was found only in inclusion bodies in M15 strain cells, and in both inclusion bodies and cytoplasm in Origami strain cells. The HisrMlat1 from inclusion bodies from M15 cells was solubilized using guanidine hydrochloride, and then purified by rpHPLC. It showed various contiguous fractions having the same molecular mass, indicating that HisrMlat1 was oxidized after cell extraction forming different misfolded disulfide bridge arrangements without biological activity. In vitro folding conditions of the misfolded HisrMlat1 generated a biologically active HisrMlat1. On the other hand, the HisrMlat1 from the cytoplasm from Origami cells was already soluble, and then purified by HPLC. It showed a single fraction with neurotoxic activity; so, no folding steps were needed. The in vitro folded HisrMlat1 from M15 cells and the cytoplasmic soluble HisrMlat1from Origami cells were indistinguishable in their structure and neurotoxicity. Rabbit polyclonal antibodies raised up against biologically active HisrMlat1 recognized the native Mlat1 (nMlat1) from the whole venom of M. laticorallis. In addition, HisrMlat1 was recognized by horse polyclonal antibodies obtained from the immunization of elapid species from sub-Saharan Africa. Conclusion HisrMlat1 shows increased biological activities compared to the native peptide, and may be used as an immunizing agent in combination with other toxic components such phospholipases type A2 for elapid antivenom production.
  • Tityus serrulatus envenoming in non-obese diabetic mice: a risk factor for severity RESEARCH

    Oliveira, Guilherme Honda de; Cerni, Felipe Augusto; Cardoso, Iara Aimê; Arantes, Eliane Candiani; Pucca, Manuela Berto

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background In Brazil, accidents with venomous animals are considered a public health problem. Tityus serrulatus (Ts), popularly known as the yellow scorpion, is most frequently responsible for the severe accidents in the country. Ts envenoming can cause several signs and symptoms classified according to their clinical manifestations as mild, moderate or severe. Furthermore, the victims usually present biochemical alterations, including hyperglycemia. Nevertheless, Ts envenoming and its induced hyperglycemia were never studied or documented in a patient with diabetes mellitus (DM). Therefore, this is the first study to evaluate the glycemia during Ts envenoming using a diabetic animal model (NOD, non-obese diabetic). Methods Female mice (BALB/c or NOD) were challenged with a non-lethal dose of Ts venom. Blood glucose level was measured (tail blood using a glucose meter) over a 24-h period. The total glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were measured 30 days after Ts venom injection. Moreover, the insulin levels were analyzed at the glycemia peak. Results The results demonstrated that the envenomed NOD animals presented a significant increase of glycemia, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and insulin levels compared to the envenomed BALB/c control group, corroborating that DM victims present great risk of developing severe envenoming. Moreover, the envenomed NOD animals presented highest risk of death and sequelae. Conclusions This study demonstrated that the diabetic victims stung by Ts scorpion should be always considered a risk group for scorpion envenoming severity.
  • Mycobacterium genavense infection in two species of captive snakes Research

    Ullmann, Leila Sabrina; Dias, Ramiro das Neves; Cagnini, Didier Quevedo; Yamatogi, Ricardo Seiti; Oliveira, Jose Paes; Nemer, Viviane; Teixeira, Rodrigo Hidalgo Friciello; Biondo, Alexander Welker; Araújo, João Pessoa

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background: Mycobacterium is an important zoonotic agent with companion, livestock and wildlife animals reportedly playing a role as reservoirs. Although its association with reptiles has been described, the disease cycle remains to be fully established, particularly in snakes. Accordingly, this study aimed to report the occurrence of mycobacteriosis with clinical pneumonia in one exotic python snake (Python molurus) and one native green snake (Philodryas olfersii) from the Sorocaba Zoo, São Paulo state, Brazil. Methods: Diagnosis was based on necropsy, histopathological examination, Ziehl-Neelsen stain and immunohistochemistry. Results: Using a nested PCR followed by DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis, the causative Mycobacterium species was identified as Mycobacterium genavense. Conclusion: Mycobacterium genavense is an infectious zoonotic agent of animal and public health concerns.
  • Cloning, structural modelling and characterization of VesT2s, a wasp venom hyaluronidase (HAase) from Vespa tropica Research

    Rungsa, Prapenpuksiri; Incamnoi, Paroonkorn; Sukprasert, Sophida; Uawonggul, Nunthawun; Klaynongsruang, Sompong; Daduang, Jureerut; Patramanon, Rina; Roytrakul, Sittiruk; Daduang, Sakda

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background: Wasp venom is a complex mixture containing proteins, enzymes and small molecules, including some of the most dangerous allergens. The greater banded wasp (Vespa tropica) is well-known for its lethal venom, whose one of the major components is a hyaluronidase (HAase). It is believed that the high protein proportion and activity of this enzyme is responsible for the venom potency. Methods: In the present study, cDNA cloning, sequencing and 3D-structure of Vespa tropica venom HAase were described. Anti-native HAase antibody was used for neutralization assay. Results: Two isoforms, VesT2a and VesT2b, were classified as members of the glycosidase hydrolase 56 family with high similarity (42–97 %) to the allergen venom HAase. VesT2a gene contained 1486 nucleotide residues encoding 357 amino acids whereas the VesT2b isoform consisted of 1411 residues encoding 356 amino acids. The mature VesT2a and VesT2b are similar in mass and pI after prediction. They are 39119.73 Da/pI 8.91 and 39571.5 Da/pI 9.38, respectively. Two catalytic residues in VesT2a, Asp107 and Glu109 were substituted in VesT2b by Asn, thus impeding enzymatic activity. The 3D-structure of the VesT2s isoform consisted of a central core (α/β)7 barrel and two disulfide bridges. The five putative glycosylation sites (Asn79, Asn99, Asn127, Asn187 and Asn325) of VesT2a and the three glycosylation sites (Asn1, Asn66 and Asn81) in VesT2b were predicted. An allergenic property significantly depends on the number of putative N-glycosylation sites. The anti-native HAase serum specifically recognized to venom HAase was able to neutralize toxicity of V. tropica venom. The ratio of venom antiserum was 1:12. Conclusions: The wasp venom allergy is known to cause life-threatening and fatal IgE-mediated anaphylactic reactions in allergic individuals. Structural analysis was a helpful tool for prediction of allergenic properties including their cross reactivity among the vespid HAase.
  • Cytotoxic activity of Androctonus australis hector venom and its toxic fractions on human lung cancer cell line Research

    Béchohra, Louisa; Laraba-Djebari, Fatima; Hammoudi-Triki, Djelila

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background: Several studies have showed that animal venoms are a source of bioactive compounds that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, which makes them useful agents for therapeutic applications. Recently, it was established that venom toxins from scorpions induced cytotoxic, antiproliferative and apoptogenic effects on cancer cells. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the cytotoxic activity of Androctonus australis hector (Aah) scorpion venom and its toxic fractions (FtoxG-50 and F3) on NCI-H358 human lung cancer cells. Methods: The cytotoxic and antiproliferative activities were estimated using MTT assay, lactate dehydrogenase release and clonogenic assays. Apoptosis was evaluated by Hoechst 33258 staining, DNA fragmentation assay and caspase-3 activity. Oxidative stress was analyzed by reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide, malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels along with assessment of antioxidant status. In addition, alteration of mitochondrial membrane potential was analyzed by JC1 fluorescent dye. Results: The present findings showed that F3 fraction was more cytotoxic towards NCI-H358 lung cancer cells with an IC50 of 27.05 ± 0.70 μg/mL than venom alone (396.60 ± 1.33 μg/mL) and its toxic fraction FtoxG-50 (45.86 ± 0.91 μg/mL). Nevertheless, F3 fraction was not cytotoxic at these concentrations on normal human lung fibroblast MRC-5 cells. Inhibition of NCI-H358 cell proliferation after F3 fraction exposure occurred mainly by apoptosis as evidenced by damaged nuclei, significant DNA fragmentation level and caspase-3 activation in a dose dependent manner. Moreover, F3 fraction enhanced oxidative and nitrosative stress biomarkers and dissipated mitochondrial membrane potential in lung cancer cells along with significant depletion in cellular enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Further, the apoptosis induced by F3 fraction was markedly prevented by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) suggesting the potential mechanism of oxidative stress. Conclusion: These findings suggest that F3 fraction could induce apoptosis in lung cancer cells through involvement of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Hence, these properties make F3 fraction a promising candidate for development of new anticancer agents.
  • Composition and biological activities of the aqueous extracts of three scleractinian corals from the Mexican Caribbean: Pseudodiploria strigosa, Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea Research

    García-Arredondo, Alejandro; Rojas-Molina, Alejandra; Ibarra-Alvarado, César; Lazcano-Pérez, Fernando; Arreguín-Espinosa, Roberto; Sánchez-Rodríguez, Judith

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background: Scleractinian corals (stony corals) are the most abundant reef-forming cnidarians found in coral reefs throughout the world. Despite their abundance and ecological importance, information about the diversity of their toxins and their biological activities is very scarce. In this study, the chemical composition and the biological activities of the aqueous extracts of Pseudodiploria strigosa, Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea, three scleractinian corals from the Mexican Caribbean, have been assessed for the first time. Methods: Toxicity of the extracts was assessed in crickets; the presence of cytolysins was detected by the hemolysis assay; the vasoconstrictor activity was determined by the isolated rat aortic ring assay; the nociceptive activity was evaluated by the formalin test. The presence of phospholipases A2 (PLA2), serine proteases, and hyaluronidases was determined by enzymatic methods. Low-molecular-weight fractions were obtained by gel filtration chromatography and ultrafiltration. Results: Extracts from the three species were toxic to crickets, induced hemolysis in human and rat erythrocytes, produced vasoconstriction on isolated rat aortic rings, and presented phospholipase A2 and serine-protease activity. Despite the fact that these corals are not considered to be harmless to humans, the extracts generated significant nociceptive responses. The matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry analysis of the low-molecular-weight fractions revealed the presence of peptides within a mass range of 3000 to 6000 Da. These fractions were toxic to crickets and two of them induced a transitory vasoconstrictor effect on isolated rat aortic rings. Conclusion: This study suggests that scleractinian corals produce low-molecular-weight peptides that are lethal to crickets and induce vasoconstriction.
  • Exploring the in vivo wound healing effects of a recombinant hemolin from the caterpillar Lonomia obliqua RESEARCH

    Sato, Ana Claudia; Bosch, Rosemary Viola; Will, Sonia Elisabete Alves; Alvarez-Flores, Miryam Paola; Goldfeder, Mauricio Barbugiani; Pasqualoto, Kerly Fernanda Mesquita; Silva, Bárbara Athayde Vaz Galvão da; Andrade, Sonia Aparecida de; Chudzinski-Tavassi, Ana Marisa

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Hemolin proteins are cell adhesion molecules from lepidopterans involved in a wide range of cell interactions concerning their adhesion properties. However, hemolin’s roles in cell proliferation and wound healing are not fully elucidated. It has been recently reported that rLosac, a recombinant hemolin from the caterpillar Lonomia obliqua, presents antiapoptotic activity and is capable of improving in vitro wound healing. Therefore, this study aimed to explore rLosac’s in vivo effects using a skin wound healing model in rats. Methods Circular full-thickness wounds in the rat dorsum skin were treated either with rLosac, or with saline (control), allowing healing by keeping the wounds occluded and moist. During the wound healing, the following tissue regeneration parameters were evaluated: wound closure and collagen content. Furthermore, tissue sections were subjected to histological and immunohistochemical analyses. Results The rLosac treatment has demonstrated its capacity to improve wound healing, as reflected in findings of a larger number of activated fibroblasts, proliferation of epithelial cells, increase of collagen type 1, and decrease of inflammatory infiltrate. Conclusion The findings have indicated the rLosac protein as a very promising molecule for the development of new wound-healing formulations.
  • A spider derived peptide, PnPP-19, induces central antinociception mediated by opioid and cannabinoid systems RESEARCH

    Pacheco, Daniela da Fonseca; Freitas, Ana Cristina Nogueira; Pimenta, Adriano Monteiro C.; Duarte, Igor Dimitri Gama; Lima, Maria Elena de

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Some peptides purified from the venom of the spider Phoneutria nigriventer have been identified as potential sources of drugs for pain treatment. In this study, we characterized the antinociceptive effect of the peptide PnPP-19 on the central nervous system and investigated the possible involvement of opioid and cannabinoid systems in its action mechanism. Methods Nociceptive threshold to thermal stimulation was measured according to the tail-flick test in Swiss mice. All drugs were administered by the intracerebroventricular route. Results PnPP-19 induced central antinociception in mice in the doses of 0.5 and 1 μg. The non-selective opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (2.5 and 5 μg), μ-opioid receptor antagonist clocinnamox (2 and 4 μg), δ-opioid receptor antagonist naltrindole (6 and 12 μg) and CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (2 and 4 μg) partially inhibited the antinociceptive effect of PnPP-19 (1 μg). Additionally, the anandamide amidase inhibitor MAFP (0.2 μg), the anandamide uptake inhibitor VDM11 (4 μg) and the aminopeptidase inhibitor bestatin (20 μg) significantly enhanced the antinociception induced by a low dose of PnPP-19 (0.5 μg). In contrast, the κ-opioid receptor antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (10 μg and 20 μg) and the CB2 receptor antagonist AM630 (2 and 4 μg) do not appear to be involved in this effect. Conclusions PnPP-19-induced central antinociception involves the activation of CB1 cannabinoid, μ- and δ-opioid receptors. Mobilization of endogenous opioids and cannabinoids might be required for the activation of those receptors, since inhibitors of endogenous substances potentiate the effect of PnPP-19. Our results contribute to elucidating the action of the peptide PnPP-19 in the antinociceptive pathway.
  • On frogs, toxins and true friendship: an atypical case report CASE REPORT

    Daniel-Ribeiro, Cláudio Tadeu; Roussilhon, Christian

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract The authors report a series of events including the scientific interest for poisonous dendrobates of French Guiana, the human confrontation with the immensity of the evergreen rainforest, the fragility of the best-prepared individuals to a rough life, and the unique and very special manifestation of a solid friendship between two experts and enthusiasts of outdoor life. In the evergreen forest of South America, as in many other scientific field expeditions, everything may suddenly go wrong, and nothing can prepare researchers to accidents that may occur in a succession of uncontrollable errors once the first mistake is done. This is what happened during an expedition in search for dendrobates by an experienced forest guide and naturalist. The authors decided to report the story, considering that it deserved to be brought to the attention of those interested in venomous animals and toxins, in order to illustrate the potential danger of dealing with these organisms.
  • Survival of a newborn from a pregnant woman with rabies infection CASE REPORT

    Zhen-Yu, Qu; Guo-Wei, Li; Qiao-Ge, Chen; Peng, Jiang; Chang, Liu; Alfred, Lam

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Rabies is very common in People’s Republic of China. Each year thousands of people die because of this disease, but rabies diagnosed in pregnancy is very rare. Case Presentation In this study, we report the case of a pregnant woman who was infected with the rabies virus after a dog bite. The symptoms of rabies appeared in labor and she died after pregnancy. Her baby and husband did not develop the disease. Conclusion The phenomenon that the newborn infant was healthy may be related to the protective role of placenta in resisting the invasion of the rabies virus or the absence of systemic viremia. The prompt administration of vaccines and anti-rabies immunoglobulin to the infant may have also contributed to his survival.
  • Fatal neurotoxic envenomation following the bite of a greater black krait (Bungarus niger) in Nepal: a case report CASE REPORT

    Pandey, Deb Prasad; Sharma, Sanjib Kumar; Alirol, Emilie; Chappuis, François; Kuch, Ulrich

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background Neurotoxic envenomation following bites by kraits (Bungarus species) is a leading cause of snakebite mortality in South Asia. Over a long time, this had been attributed only to one species, the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus). However, recent research has provided increasing evidence of the involvement of several krait species. Here, we report a fatal case of neurotoxic envenomation following the bite of a greater black krait (Bungarus niger) in Nepal. Case presentation A 33-year-old man was bitten in the outdoor corridor of his home in the eastern hills of Ilam district while handling a snake he thought to be non-venomous. He subsequently developed severe abdominal pain, frequent vomiting, and signs of neurotoxic envenomation leading to respiratory paralysis. The patient did not respond to Indian polyvalent antivenom given 4 h after the bite and died under treatment 8 h after the bite. This is the second time that a B. niger was observed in Nepal, the first documented case of envenomation by this species in the country and the sixth reported case worldwide. Conclusions Previous distribution records – from eastern India and western Nepal, from western hills in Nepal, and from lowland localities in India and Bangladesh – indicate risk of envenomation by B. niger throughout the low and intermediate elevations of Nepal up to at least 1,500 m above sea level. As very few people in Nepal bring killed snakes to healthcare centers and because there is a general belief among local people that there are no kraits in the hills, bites by B. niger are likely to be misdiagnosed and underreported.
  • Pediatric suppurative parotitis caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei Case Report

    Fu, Zengzhen; Lin, Yingzi; Wu, Qiang; Xia, Qianfeng

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract Background: Suppurative parotitis caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei has been rarely found outside endemic areas. Case presentation: Herein, we report the recovery of Burkholderia pseudomallei from the pus of a suppurative parotitis observed in a 12-year-old boy who lived in Hainan province, China. Specimens of necrotic tissue were collected and sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Pus sample was also collected for bacteriological examination. The suppurative inflammation was observed in the necrotic tissue section and Burkholderia pseudomallei were detected in the sample. Conclusion: In this adolescent, Burkholderia pseudomallei infection was present in the parotid, which consists of the first report of this bacterium in a parotitis case acquired in China.
  • Reviewer acknowledgement 2015 REVIEWER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    Barraviera, Benedito
  • Melioidosis parotitis in children LETTER TO THE EDITOR

    Dance, David

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract A recent paper published in JVATiTD reporting a child in Hainan with parotitis caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei misleadingly described parotitis as a rare manifestation of melioidosis. In fact, it is one of the commonest forms of paediatric melioidosis seen in other parts of Southeast Asia, although interestingly not in Australia.
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