Abstract in English:Abstract This editorial provides a brief overview of the importance of pilot or feasibility trials or studies, the challenges with current practices in their conduct and reporting, an introduction to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) extension to pilot trials aimed at improving their reporting, along with some key resources on aspects related to pilot and feasibility studies.
Abstract in English:Abstract This contribution attempts to bring some general information on the evolution and, in particular, on the geographic distribution of scorpion species noxious to humans. Since 95% of the scorpions incidents are generated by specimens of the family Buthidae C. L. Koch, the analysis will be limited to this familial group. As in previous similar contributions, the content of this work is mostly addressed to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. Only in recent years, efforts have been made to create better links between ‘academic scorpion experts’ and other academic non-specialists who use scorpions in their research. Even if a larger progress can yet be expected from such exchanges, crossed information proved to be useful in most fields of scorpion studies. Since the taxonomy of scorpions is complex, misidentifications and even more serious errors concerning scorpion classification/ identification are often present in the general literature. Consequently, a precise knowledge of the distribution patterns presented by many scorpion groups and, in particular, those of infamous species, proves to be a key point in the interpretation of final results, leading to a better treatment of the problems caused by infamous scorpion species.
Abstract in English:Abstract In Brazil, the scorpion species responsible for most severe incidents belong to the Tityus genus and, among this group, T. serrulatus, T. bahiensis, T. stigmurus and T. obscurus are the most dangerous ones. Other species such as T. metuendus, T. silvestres, T. brazilae, T. confluens, T. costatus, T. fasciolatus and T. neglectus are also found in the country, but the incidence and severity of accidents caused by them are lower. The main effects caused by scorpion venoms - such as myocardial damage, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema and shock - are mainly due to the release of mediators from the autonomic nervous system. On the other hand, some evidence show the participation of the central nervous system and inflammatory response in the process. The participation of the central nervous system in envenoming has always been questioned. Some authors claim that the central effects would be a consequence of peripheral stimulation and would be the result, not the cause, of the envenoming process. Because, they say, at least in adult individuals, the venom would be unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. In contrast, there is some evidence showing the direct participation of the central nervous system in the envenoming process. This review summarizes the major findings on the effects of Brazilian scorpion venoms on the central nervous system, both clinically and experimentally. Most of the studies have been performed with T. serrulatus and T. bahiensis. Little information is available regarding the other Brazilian Tityus species.
Abstract in English:Abstract: Antivenoms or antitoxins have been effectively used for more than a century. During this time, these products have always proven to be highly effective in the treatment of infections and envenomations. However, antivenoms did not exhibit good safety results in their initial applications. After many improvements, antivenoms have substantially better safety profiles but still have some side effects. Due to the occurrence of adverse reactions, the practice of using premedication with the intent to decrease side effects has become accepted or mandatory in many countries. The drugs used for premedication belong to the histamine H1 antagonist, glucocorticoid and catecholamine groups. Currently, this practice is being questioned due to low or controversial efficacies in clinical assays. In this article, we discuss the causes of adverse reactions, the mechanisms of drugs that block the undesired effects and the results obtained in clinical trials. Although these three families of drugs could have positive effects on reducing adverse reactions, only adrenaline has demonstrated positive results in clinical assays.
Abstract in English:Abstract Scorpions are distributed throughout Iran and the genus Hemiscorpius is particularly important in this region. Hemiscorpius lepturus is the most significant species within the genus in the country. Since scorpionism provoked by Hemiscorpius comprises a medical emergency, the present study is focused on this important issue. In order to perform the present work, a review of the medical and health-related literature was carried out in several databases. The current findings indicate that six species of Hemiscorpius are found in 15 states of Iran, mainly in the south and southwest. Deaths caused by stings were reported only for two species. The morphological characteristics and geographical distribution of H. lepturus in Iran, its venom and the toxic compounds, epidemiologic data and clinical manifestations of envenomation as well as treatment for affected people are herein reviewed and described. H. lepturus venom toxicity differs from other Iranian scorpions regarding duration and severity. Scorpionism is an important public health problem in Iran, especially in southwest and south regions and in urban areas. It is more prevalent in children and young people. H. lepturus venom is primarily a cytotoxic agent and has hemolytic, nephrotoxic and to some extent hepatotoxic activity. The use of polyvalent antivenom to prevent scorpion sting symptoms is recommended. A well-planned health education program might be useful in preventing scorpionism.
Abstract in English:Abstract In general, clinical research network capacity building refers to programs aimed at enhancing networks of researchers to conduct clinical research. Although in the literature there is a large body of research on how to develop and build capacity in clinical research networks, the conceptualizations and implementations remain controversial and challenging. Moreover, the experiences learnt from the past accomplishments and failures can assist in the future capacity building efforts to be more practical, effective and efficient. In this paper, we aim to provide an overview of capacity building in clinical research network by (1) identifying the key barriers to clinical research network capacity building, (2) providing insights into how to overcome those obstacles, and (3) sharing our experiences in collaborating with national and international partners to build capacity in clinical research networks. In conclusion, we have provided some insight into how to address the key factors of clinical research network capacity building and shared some empirical experiences. A successful capacity building practice requires a joint endeavor to procure sufficient resources and support from the relevant stakeholders, to ensure its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.
Abstract in English:Abstract This work aims to contribute to the general information on scorpion reproductive patterns in general including species that can be noxious to humans. Scorpions are unusual among terrestrial arthropods in several of their life-history traits since in many aspects their reproductive strategies are more similar to those of superior vertebrates than to those of arthropods in general. This communication focuses mainly on the aspects concerning embryonic and post-embryonic developments since these are quite peculiar in scorpions and can be directly connected to the scorpionism problem. As in previous similar contributions, the content of this communication is addressed mainly to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. A precise knowledge of reproductive strategies presented by several scorpion groups and, in particular, those of dangerous species may prove to be a useful tool in the interpretation of results dealing with scorpionism, and also lead to a better treatment of the problems caused by infamous scorpions.
Abstract in English:Abstract Yellow fever was transported during the slave trade in the 15th and 16th centuries from Africa to the Americas where the virus encountered favorable ecological conditions that allowed creation of a sustainable sylvatic cycle. Despite effective vector control and immunization programs for nearly a century, yellow fever epidemics reemerged in many Latin American countries, particularly Brazil. The emergence or reemergence of vector-borne diseases encompasses many intricate factors. Yellow fever outbreaks occur if at least three conditions are fulfilled: the introduction of the virus into a non-immune human community, presence of competent and anthropophilic vectors and insufficiency of prevention and/or adequate management of the growing outbreak. On the other hand, two weapons are available to constrain yellow fever: vector control and immunization. In contrast, yellow fever is absent from Asia and the Pacific despite the presence of the vector and the susceptibility of human populations to the virus. Based on a review of the global history of yellow fever and its epidemiology, the authors deliver some recommendations for improving the prevention of epidemics.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Sperm contains a wealth of cell surface receptors and ion channels that are required for most of its basic functions such as motility and acrosome reaction. Conversely, animal venoms are enriched in bioactive compounds that primarily target those ion channels and cell surface receptors. We hypothesized, therefore, that animal venoms should be rich enough in sperm-modulating compounds for a drug discovery program. Our objective was to demonstrate this fact by using a sperm-based phenotypic screening to identify positive modulators from the venom of Walterinnesia aegyptia. Methods Herein, as proof of concept that venoms contain interesting compounds for sperm physiology, we fractionated Walterinnesia aegyptia snake venom by RP-HPLC and screened for bioactive fractions capable of accelerating mouse sperm motility (primary screening). Next, we purified each compound from the positive fraction by cation exchange and identified the bioactive peptide by secondary screening. The peptide sequence was established by Edman sequencing of the reduced/alkylated compound combined to LC-ESI-QTOF MS/MS analyses of reduced/alkylated fragment peptides following trypsin or V8 protease digestion. Results Using this two-step purification protocol combined to cell phenotypic screening, we identified a new toxin of 7329.38 Da (actiflagelin) that activates sperm motility in vitro from OF1 male mice. Actiflagelin is 63 amino acids in length and contains five disulfide bridges along the proposed pattern of disulfide connectivity C1-C5, C2-C3, C4- C6, C7-C8 and C9-C10. Modeling of its structure suggests that it belongs to the family of three finger toxins with a noticeable homology with bucandin, a peptide from Bungarus candidus venom. Conclusions This report demonstrates the feasibility of identifying profertility compounds that may be of therapeutic potential for infertility cases where motility is an issue.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Wasp venoms constitute a molecular reservoir of new pharmacological substances such as peptides and proteins, biological property holders, many of which are yet to be identified. Exploring these sources may lead to the discovery of molecules hitherto unknown. This study describes, for the first time in hymenopteran venoms, the identification of an enzymatically inactive phospholipase A2 (PLA2) from the venom of the social wasp Polybia occidentalis. Methods: P. occidentalis venom was fractioned by molecular exclusion and reverse phase chromatography. For the biochemical characterization of the protein, 1D and 2D SDS-PAGE were performed, along with phospholipase activity assays on synthetic substrates, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and sequencing by Edman degradation. Results: The protein, called PocTX, was isolated using two chromatographic steps. Based on the phospholipase activity assay, electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, the protein presented a high degree of purity, with a mass of 13,896. 47 Da and a basic pI. After sequencing by the Edman degradation method, it was found that the protein showed a high identity with snake venom PLA2 homologues. Conclusion: This is the first report of an enzymatically inactive PLA2 isolated from wasp venom, similar to snake PLA2 homologues.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Advancements in proteomics, including the technological improvement in instrumentation, have turned mass spectrometry into an indispensable tool in the study of venoms and toxins. In addition, the advance of nanoscale liquid chromatography coupled to nanoelectrospray mass spectrometry allows, due to its high sensitivity, the study of venoms from species previously left aside, such as ants. Ant venoms are a complex mixture of compounds used for defense, predation or communication purposes. The venom from Neoponera ants, a genus restricted to Neotropical regions, is known to have cytolytic, hemolytic, antimicrobial and insecticidal activities. Moreover, venoms from several Neoponera species have been compared and differences in their toxicity related to nesting habitat variation were reported. Therefore, the present study aimed to perform a deep peptidomic analysis of Neoponera villosa venom and a comparison of seasonal and nesting habitat variations using high-resolution mass spectrometry. Methods: Specimens of N. villosa ants were captured in Panga Natural Reserve (Uberlândia, MG, Brazil) from arboreal and ground-dwelling nests during summer and winter time. The venom glands were dissected, pooled and disrupted by ultra-sonic waves. The venom collected from different habitats (arboreal and ground-dwelling) and different seasons (summer and winter) was injected into a nanoACQUITY ULPC hyphened to a Q-Exactive Orbitrap mass spectrometer. The raw data were analyzed using PEAKS 7. Results: The results showed a molecular diversity of more than 500 peptides among these venoms, mostly in the mass range of 800–4000 Da. Mutations and post-translational modifications were described and differences among the venoms were observed. Part of the peptides matched with ponericins, a well-known antimicrobial peptide family. In addition, smaller fragments related to ponericins were also identified, suggesting that this class of antimicrobial peptide might undergo enzymatic cleavages. Conclusion: There are substantial differences among the venom of N. villosa ants collected in different seasons and from different nest habitats. The venom composition is affected by climate changes that influence prey availability and predator presence. Clearly, nano-LC-MS boosted the knowledge about ant venom, a rich source of unexplored and promising bioactive compounds.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Envenoming by kraits (genus Bungarus) is a medically significant issue in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Malayan krait (Bungarus candidus) venom is known to contain highly potent neurotoxins. In recent years, there have been reports on the non-neurotoxic activities of krait venom that include myotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. However, research on such non-neurotoxicity activities of Malayan krait venom is extremely limited. Thus, the aim of the present study was to determine the myotoxic, cytotoxic and nephrotoxic activities of B. candidus venoms from northeastern (BC-NE) and southern (BC-S) Thailand in experimentally envenomed rats. Methods: Rats were administered Malayan krait (BC-NE or BC-S) venom (50 μg/kg, i.m.) or 0.9% NaCl solution (50 μL, i.m.) into the right hind limb. The animals were sacrificed 3, 6 and 24 h after venom administration. The right gastrocnemius muscle and both kidneys were collected for histopathological analysis. Blood samples were also taken for determination of creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels. The human embryonic kidney cell line (HEK-293) was used in a cell proliferation assay to determine cytotoxic activity. Results: Administration of BC-NE or BC-S venom (50 μg/kg, i.m.) caused time-dependent myotoxicity, characterized by an elevation of CK and LDH levels. Histopathological examination of skeletal muscle displayed marked muscle necrosis and myofiber disintegration 24 h following venom administration. Both Malayan krait venoms also induced extensive renal tubular injury with glomerular and interstitial congestion in rats. BC-NE and BC-S venoms (100–0.2 μg/ mL) caused concentration-dependent cytotoxicity on the HEK-293 cell line. However, BC-NE venom (IC50 =8 ± 1 μg/mL; at 24 h incubation; n = 4) was found to be significantly more cytotoxic than BC-S venom (IC50 =15 ± 2 μg/mL; at 24 h incubation; n = 4). In addition, the PLA2 activity of BC-NE venom was significantly higher than that of BC-S venom. Conclusions: This study found that Malayan krait venoms from both populations possess myotoxic, cytotoxic and nephrotoxic activities. These findings may aid in clinical diagnosis and treatment of envenomed patients in the future.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Peripheral nerve injury is a worldwide clinical problem, and the preferred surgical method for treating it is the end-to-end neurorrhaphy. When it is not possible due to a large nerve gap, autologous nerve grafting is used. However, these surgical techniques result in nerve regeneration at highly variable degrees. It is thus very important to seek complementary techniques to improve motor and sensory recovery. One promising approach could be cell therapy. Transplantation therapy with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is appealing because these cells are pluripotent and can differentiate into specialized cell types and have self-renewal ability. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to find conditions under which functional recovery is improved after sciatic nerve neurorrhaphy. We assumed that hESC, either alone or in combination with heterologous fibrin sealant scaffold, could be used to support regeneration in a mouse model of sciatic nerve injury and repair via autografting with end-to-end neurorrhaphy. Methods Five millimeters of the sciatic nerve of C57BL/6 J mice were transected off and rotated 180 degrees to simulate an injury, and then stumps were sutured. Next, we applied heterologous fibrin sealant and/or human embryonic stem cells genetically altered to overexpress fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) at the site of the injury. The study was designed to include six experimental groups comprising neurorrhaphy (N), neurorrhaphy + heterologous fibrin sealant (N + F), neurorrhaphy + heterologous fibrin sealant + doxycycline (N + F + D), neurorrhaphy + heterologous fibrin sealant + wild-type hESC (N + F + W), neurorrhaphy + heterologous fibrin sealant + hESC off (N + F +T), and neurorrhaphy + heterologous fibrin sealant + hESC on via doxycycline (N + F + D + T). We evaluated the recovery rate using Catwalk and von Frey functional recovery tests, as well as immunohistochemistry analysis. Results The experiments indicated that sensory function improved when transgenic hESCs were used. The regeneration of sensory fibers indeed led to increased reflexes, upon stimulation of the paw ipsilateral to the lesion, as seen by von-Frey evaluation, which was supported by immunohistochemistry. Conclusions Overall, the present data demonstrated that transgenic embryonic stem cells, engineered to overexpress FGF-2 in an inducible fashion, could be employed to support regeneration aiming at the recovery of both motor and sensory functions.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Cnidarian venoms and extracts have shown a broad variety of biological activities including cytotoxic, antibacterial and antitumoral effects. Most of these studied extracts were obtained from sea anemones or jellyfish. The present study aimed to determine the toxic activity and assess the antitumor and antiparasitic potential of Palythoa caribaeorum venom by evaluating its in vitro toxicity on several models including human tumor cell lines and against the parasite Giardia intestinalis. Methods The presence of cytolysins and vasoconstrictor activity of P. caribaeorum venom were determined by hemolysis, PLA2 and isolated rat aortic ring assays, respectively. The cytotoxic effect was tested on HCT-15 (human colorectal adenocarcinoma), MCF-7 (human mammary adenocarcinoma), K562 (human chronic myelogenous leukemia), U251 (human glyoblastoma), PC-3 (human prostatic adenocarcinoma) and SKLU-1 (human lung adenocarcinoma). An in vivo toxicity assay was performed with crickets and the antiparasitic assay was performed against G. intestinalis at 24 h of incubation. Results P. caribaeorum venom produced hemolytic and PLA2 activity and showed specific cytotoxicity against U251 and SKLU-1 cell lines, with approximately 50% growing inhibition. The venom was toxic to insects and showed activity against G. intestinalis in a dose-dependent manner by possibly altering its membrane osmotic equilibrium. Conclusion These results suggest that P. caribaeorum venom contains compounds with potential therapeutic value against microorganisms and cancer.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are key players in tumor progression, helping tumor cells to modify their microenvironment, which allows cell migration to secondary sites. The role of integrins, adhesion receptors that connect cells to the extracellular matrix, in MMP expression and activity has been previously suggested. However, the mechanisms by which integrins control MMP expression are not completely understood. Particularly, the role of α2β1 integrin, one of the major collagen I receptors, in MMP activity and expression has not been studied. Alternagin-C (ALT-C), a glutamate-cysteine-aspartate-disintegrin from Bothrops alternatus venom, has high affinity for an α2β1 integrin. Herein, we used ALT-C as a α2β1 integrin ligand to study the effect of ALT-C on MMP-9 and MMP-2 expression as well as on tumor cells, fibroblats and endothelial cell migration. Methods ALT-C was purified by two steps of gel filtration followed by anion exchange chromatography. The α2β1, integrin binding properties of ALT-C, its dissociation constant (Kd) relative to this integrin and to collagen I (Col I) were determined by surface plasmon resonance. The effects of ALT-C (10, 40, 100 and 1000 nM) in migration assays were studied using three human cell lines: human fibroblasts, breast tumor cell line MDA-MB-231, and microvascular endothelial cells HMEC-1, considering cells found in the tumor microenvironment. ALT-C effects on MMP-9 and MMP-2 expression and activity were analyzed by quantitative PCR and gelatin zymography, respectively. Focal adhesion kinase activation was determined by western blotting. Results Our data demonstrate that ALT-C, after binding to α2β1 integrin, acts by two distinct mechanisms against tumor progression, depending on the cell type: in tumor cells, ALT-C decreases MMP-9 and MMP-2 contents and activity, but increases focal adhesion kinase phosphorylation and transmigration; and in endothelial cells, ALT-C inhibits MMP-2, which is necessary for tumor angiogenesis. ALT-C also upregulates c-Myc mRNA level, which is related to tumor suppression. Conclusion These results demonstrate that α2β1 integrin controls MMP expression and reveal this integrin as a target for the development of antiangiogenic and antimetastatic therapies.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background The whole blood clotting test (WBCT) is a simple test of coagulation that is often used in the assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutic monitoring of snakebite patients in sub-Saharan Africa. WBCT requires only a clean glass tube and several milliliters of venous blood and is ideal for use in poorly equipped health centers throughout the rural areas where 95% of snakebites occur. However, questions surrounding the accuracy and reliability of the test remain unanswered due to variations in testing conditions and a lack of comparative research with which to validate them. This is the first study to evaluate WBCT results at both 20-min (WBCT20) and 30-min (WBCT30) reading times in the same group of snakebite patients. Methods In order to define the best reading time, the authors compared the results of serial WBCT evaluation at both 20 and 30 min after collection in 23 patients treated for snake envenomation in Bembèrèkè, northern Benin. Results WBCT results were identical at both reading times in patients without coagulopathy or when coagulation was restored permanently following a single dose of antivenom. Out of 17 patients with coagulopathy, 14 showed discrepancies between WBCT20 and WBCT30 results in at least one pair of serial evaluations. These could be completely contradictory results (e.g. normal clot at WBCT20 and no clot at WBCT30) or a marked difference in the quality of the clot (e.g. no clotting activity at WBCT20 and an unstable partial clot at WBCT30). WBCT discrepancies were encountered most frequently in three situations: initial normalization of hemostasis following antivenom therapy, detection of a secondary resumption of coagulopathy, or final restoration of hemostasis after a secondary resumption had occurred. Conclusions This study suggests that the WBCT is robust and that a sequential reading should improve the diagnosis and monitoring of venom-induced coagulopathies. It also indicates the possibility of discrepancies in the sensitivity of WBCT20 and WBCT30 for detecting the resolution or reoccurrence of coagulopathy and identifies how these findings, if confirmed, may be used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of antivenom treatment in the field.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Among other applications, immunotherapy is used for the post-exposure treatment and/or prophylaxis of important infectious diseases, such as botulism, diphtheria, tetanus and rabies. The effectiveness of serum therapy is widely proven, but improvements on the immunoglobulin purification process and on the quality control are necessary to reduce the amount of protein aggregates. These may trigger adverse reactions in patients by activating the complement system and inducing the generation of anaphylatoxins. Herein, we used immunochemical methods to predict the quality of horse F(ab′)2 anti-botulinum AB, anti-diphtheric, antitetanic and anti-rabies immunoglobulins, in terms of amount of proteins and protein aggregates. Methods Samples were submitted to protein quantification, SDS-PAGE, Western blot analysis and molecular exclusion chromatography. The anticomplementary activity was determined in vitro by detecting the production of C5a/C5a desArg, the most potent anaphylatoxin. Data were analyzed by one-way ANOVA followed by Tukey's post-test, and differences were considered statistically significant when p < 0.05. Results Horse F(ab′)2 antitoxins and anti-rabies immunoglobulin preparations presented different amounts of protein. SDS-PAGE and Western blot analyses revealed the presence of protein aggregates, non-immunoglobulin contaminants and, unexpectedly, IgG whole molecules in the samples, indicating the non-complete digestion of immunoglobulins. The chromatographic profiles of antitoxins and anti-rabies immunoglobulins allowed to estimate the percentage of contaminants and aggregates in the samples. Although protein aggregates were present, the samples were not able to induce the generation of C5a/C5a desArg in vitro, indicating that they probably contain acceptable levels of aggregates. Conclusions Anti-botulinum AB (bivalent), anti-diphtheric, antitetanic and anti-rabies horse F(ab′)2 immunoglobulins probably contain acceptable levels of aggregates, although other improvements on the preparations must be carried out. Protein profile analysis and in vitro anticomplementary activity of F(ab′)2 immunoglobulin preparations should be included as quality control steps, to ensure acceptable levels of aggregates, contaminants and whole IgG molecules on final products, reducing the chances of adverse reactions in patients.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Centruroides hirsutipalpus, of the family Buthidae, is a scorpion endemic to the Western Pacific region of Mexico. Although medically important, its venom has not yet been studied. Therefore, this communication aims to identify their venom components and possible functions. Methods Fingerprinting mass analysis of the soluble venom from this scorpion was achieved by high-performance liquid chromatography and electrospray mass spectrometry. Furthermore, the soluble venom and its toxic effects were evaluated extensively via electrophysiological assays in HEK cells expressing human voltage-gated Na+ channels (hNav 1.1 to Nav1.6), CHO cells expressing hNav 1.7, potassium channel hERG 1 (Ether-à-go-go-related-gene) and the human K+-channel hKv1.1. Results The separation of soluble venom produced 60 fractions from which 83 distinct components were identified. The molecular mass distribution of these components varies from 340 to 21,120 Da. Most of the peptides have a molecular weight between 7001 and 8000 Da (46% components), a range that usually corresponds to peptides known to affect Na+ channels. Peptides with molecular masses from 3000 to 5000 Da (28% of the components) were identified within the range corresponding to K+-channel blocking toxins. Two peptides were obtained in pure format and completely sequenced: one with 29 amino acids, showing sequence similarity to an "orphan peptide" of C. limpidus, and the other with 65 amino acid residues shown to be an arthropod toxin (lethal to crustaceans and toxic to crickets). The electrophysiological results of the whole soluble venom show a beta type modification of the currents of channels Nav1.1, Nav1.2 and Nav1.6. The main effect observed in channels hERG and hKv 1.1 was a reduction of the currents. Conclusion The venom contains more than 83 distinct components, among which are peptides that affect the function of human Na+-channels and K+-channels. Two new complete amino acid sequences were determined: one an arthropod toxin, the other a peptide of unknown function.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Loxoscelism is a severe human envenomation caused by Loxosceles spider venom. To the best of our knowledge, no study has evaluated the presence of antibodies against Loxosceles venom in loxoscelism patients without treatment with antivenom immunotherapy. We perform a comparative analysis for the presence of antibodies capable of recognizing Loxosceles venom in a group of patients diagnosed with loxoscelism and in a group of people without loxoscelism. Methods The detection of L. laeta venom, Sicarius venom and recombinant phospholipases D from Loxosceles (PLDs) in sera from people with loxoscelism (Group 1) and from healthy people with no history of loxoscelism (Group 2) was evaluated using immuno-dot blot, indirect ELISA, and Western blot. Results We found naturally heterophilic antibodies (IgG-type) in people without contact with Loxosceles spiders or any clinical history of loxoscelism. Either serum pools or single sera from Group 1 and Group 2 analyzed by dot blot tested positive for L. laeta venom. Indirect ELISA for venom recognition showed titles of 1:320 for Group 1 sera and 1:160 for Group 2 sera. Total IgG quantification showed no difference in sera from both groups. Pooled sera and purified IgG from sera of both groups revealed venom proteins between 25 and 32 kDa and the recombinant phospholipase D isoform 1 (rLlPLD1), specifically. Moreover, heterophile antibodies cross-react with PLDs from other Loxosceles species and the venom of Sicarius spider. Conclusions People without contact with the spider venom produced heterophilic antibodies capable of generating a cross-reaction against the venom of L. laeta and Sicarius spiders. Their presence and possible interference should be considered in the development of immunoassays for Loxosceles venom detection.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Lipid metabolites play an important role in parasite differentiation and virulence. Studies have revealed that Leishmania sp. uses prostaglandins to evade innate barriers, thus enabling the parasites to survive inside immune cells. Despite the role of the enzyme Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) in prostaglandins production, few studies have investigated the role of parasite PLA2 during the interaction between L. (L.) amazonensis and the host (in vitro and in vivo) immune cells. Methods: In the present work, the leishmanicidal effect of PLA2 inhibitors, methyl arachidonyl fluorophosphonate (MAFP), bromoenol lactone (BEL) and aristolochic acid (AA) were investigated in vitro (promastigote and intracellular amastigote forms of L. (L.) amazonensis) and during in vivo infection using BALB/c mice. Results: The aforementioned inhibitors were deleterious to promastigote and amastigote forms of the L. (L.) amazonensis and were non-toxic to peritoneal macrophages from BALB/c mice. L. (L.) amazonensis-infected BALB/c mice treated with the inhibitor BEL presented decreased lesion size and skin parasitism; however, BEL treatment induced hepatotoxicity in BALB/c mice. Conclusions: Results presented herein suggested that PLA2 inhibitors altered L. (L.) amazonensis viability. In spite of liver toxicity, treatment with BEL was the most selective compound in vitro, as well in vivo, resulting in lower skin parasitism in the infected mice. These findings corroborate the role of PLA2 in parasite virulence and maintenance in vertebrate hosts, and suggest that molecules structurally related to BEL should be considered when planning compounds against Leishmania sp.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Cnidarians produce toxins, which are composed of different polypeptides that induce pharmacological effects of biotechnological interest, such as antitumor, antiophidic and anti-clotting activities. This study aimed to evaluate toxicological activities and potential as antitumor and antiophidic agents contained in total extracts from five cnidarians: Millepora alcicornis, Stichodactyla helianthus, Plexaura homomalla, Bartholomea annulata and Condylactis gigantea (total and body wall). Methods: The cnidarian extracts were evaluated by electrophoresis and for their phospholipase, proteolytic, hemorrhagic, coagulant, fibrinogenolytic, neuromuscular blocking, muscle-damaging, edema-inducing and cytotoxic activities. Results: All cnidarian extracts showed indirect hemolytic activity, but only S. helianthus induced direct hemolysis and neurotoxic effect. However, the hydrolysis of NBD-PC, a PLA2 substrate, was presented only by the C gigantea (body wall) and S. helianthus. The extracts from P. homomalla and S. helianthus induced edema, while only C gigantea and S. helianthus showed intensified myotoxic activity. The proteolytic activity upon casein and fibrinogen was presented mainly by B. annulata extract and all were unable to induce hemorrhage or fibrinogen coagulation. Cnidarian extracts were able to neutralize clotting induced by Bothrops jararacussu snake venom, except M. alcicornis. All cnidarian extracts were able to inhibit hemorrhagic activity induced by Bothrops moojeni venom. Only the C. gigantea (body wall) inhibited thrombin-induced coagulation. All cnidarian extracts showed antitumor effect against Jurkat cells, of which C. gigantea (body wall) and S. helianthus were the most active; however, only C. gigantea (body wall) and M. alcicornis were active against B16F10 cells. Conclusion: The cnidarian extracts analyzed showed relevant in vitro inhibitory potential over the activities induced by Bothrops venoms; these results may contribute to elucidate the possible mechanisms of interaction between cnidarian extracts and snake venoms.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Fire ant venom is a complex mixture consisting of basic piperidine alkaloids, various biologically active peptides and protein components, including a variety of major allergenic proteins. Tropical fire ant Solenopsis geminata is an important stinging ant species that causes anaphylaxis and serious medical problems. Although the biological activities of allergenic venom proteins that are unique to ant venom, particularly Solenopsis 2 and 4, are still unknown, these proteins are believed to play important roles in mediating the effects of the piperidine derivatives in the venom. Methods: In the present study, the cDNA cloning, sequencing and three-dimensional structure of Sol g 4.1 venom protein are described. The recombinant Sol g 4.1 protein (rSol g 4.1) was produced in E. coli , and its possible function as a hydrophobic binding protein was characterized by paralyzing crickets using the 50% piperidine dose (PD50). Moreover, an antiserum was produced in mice to determine the allergenic properties of Sol g 4.1, and the antiserum was capable of binding to Sol g 4.1, as determined by Western blotting. Results: The molecular weight of Sol g 4.1 protein is 16 kDa, as determined by SDS-PAGE. The complete cDNA is 414 bp in length and contains a leader sequence of 19 amino acids. The protein consists of six cysteines that presumably form three disulfide bonds, based on a predicted three-dimensional model, creating the interior hydrophobic pocket and stabilizing the structure. The rSol g 4.1 protein was expressed in inclusion bodies, as determined by SDS-PAGE. Dialysis techniques were used to refold the recombinant protein into the native form. Its secondary structure, which primarily consists of α-helices, was confirmed by circular dichroism analysis, and the three-dimensional model was also verified. The results of allergenic analysis performed on mice showed that the obtained protein was predicted to be allergenically active. Moreover, we report on the possible role of the Sol g 4.1 venom protein, which significantly reduced the PD50 from 0.027 to 0.013% in paralyzed crickets via synergistic effects after interactions with piperidine alkaloids. Conclusions: The primary structure of Sol g 4.1 showed high similarity to that of venom proteins in the Solenopsis 2 and 4 family. Those proteins are life-threatening and produce IgE-mediated anaphylactic reactions in allergic individuals. The possible function of this protein is the binding of the interior hydrophobic pockets with piperidine alkaloids, as determined by the analysis of the structural model and PD50 test.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Lethal factors are multifunctional oligomeric proteins found in the venomous apparatus of Scorpaeniformes fish. These toxins elicit not only an array of biological responses in vitro but also cardiovascular disorders and strong hemolytic, nociceptive and edematogenic activities in vivo. This work describes the cloning and molecular identification of two toxin subunits, denominated Sp-CTx-α and Sp-CTx-β, from scorpionfish venom ( Scorpaena plumieri ). Methods: The primary structures were deduced after cDNA amplification by PCR with primers from conserved sequences described in Scorpaeniformes toxins. Following DNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis, the tridimensional structures of both subunits were modeled. Results: The translated sequences (702 amino acids, each subunit) show homology with other lethal factors, while alignment between Sp-CTx-α and Sp-CTx-β shows 54% identity. The subunits lack N-terminal signal sequences and display masses of approximately 80 kDa each. Both Sp-CTx subunits display a B30.2/SPRY domain at the C-terminal region with typically conserved motifs as described in these toxins. Secondary structure prediction identified six α-helices 18 residues long in both α and β subunits, some of them amphiphilic with their N-terminal flanked by many basic residues, creating a cationic site associated with the cytolytic activity of these toxins. Antimicrobial potential sites were identified in Sp-CTx and share some features with other peptides presenting variable and broad-spectrum activity. A phylogenetic tree built to represent these toxins supports the proximity between scorpionfish, lionfish and stonefish. Conclusion: The study identified a putative toxin protein whose primary structure is similar to other fish toxins and with potential for production of antivenom against scorpionfish envenomation in Brazil. As a prelude to structure-function studies, we propose that the toxin is structurally related to pore-forming marine toxins.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Autologous whole blood (AWB) administration is described as alternative/complementary medical practice widely employed in medical and veterinary therapy against infections, chronic pathologies and neoplasias. Our aim is to investigate in vivo biological effect of AWB using healthy murine models under the course of Trypanosoma cruzi acute infection. Methods: The first set of studies consisted of injecting different volumes of AWB and saline (SAL) into the posterior region of quadriceps muscle of healthy male Swiss mice under distinct therapeutic schemes evaluating: animal behavior, body and organ weight, hemogram, plasmatic biochemical markers for tissue damage and inflammatory cytokine levels and profile. To assess the impact on the experimental T. cruzi infection, different schemes (prior and post infection) and periods of AWB administration (from one up to 10 days) were conducted, also employing heterologous whole blood (HWB) and evaluating plasma cytokine profile. Results: No major adverse events were observed in healthy AWB-treated mice, except gait impairment in animals that received three doses of 20 μL AWB in the same hind limb. AWB and SAL triggered an immediate polymorphonuclear response followed by mononuclear infiltrate. Although SAL triggered an inflammatory response, the kinetics and intensity of the histological profile and humoral mediator levels were different from AWB, the latter occurring earlier and more intensely with concomitant elevation of plasma IL-6. Inflammatory peak response of SAL, mainly composed of mononuclear cells with IL-10, was increased at 24 h. According to the mouse model of acute T. cruzi infection, only minor decreases (< 30%) in the parasitemia levels were produced by AWB and HWB given before and after infection, without protecting against mortality. Rises in IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL-6 were detected at 9 dpi in all infected animals as compared to uninfected mice but only Bz displayed a statistically significant diminution (p= 0.02) in TNF-alpha levels than infected and untreated mice. Conclusions: This study revealed that the use of autologous whole blood (AWB) in the acute model employed was unable to reduce the parasitic load of infected mice, providing only a minor decrease in parasitemia levels (up to 30%) but without protecting against animal mortality. Further in vivo studies will be necessary to elucidate the effective impact of this procedure.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: There is still a need for new alternatives in pharmacological therapy for neglected diseases, as the drugs available show high toxicity and parenteral administration. That is the case for the treatment of leishmaniasis, particularly to the cutaneous clinical form of the disease. In this study, we present the synthesis and biological screening of eight 4-phenyl-1,3-thiazol-2-amines assayed against Leishmania amazonensis. Herein we propose that these compounds are good starting points for the search of new antileishmanial drugs by demonstrating some of the structural aspects which could interfere with the observed activity, as well as suggesting potential macromolecular targets. Methods: The compounds were easily synthesized by the methodology of Hantzsch and Weber, had their purities determined by Gas Chromatography-Mass spectrometry and assayed against the promastigote forms of Leishmania amazonensis as well as against two white cell lines (L929 and THP-1) and the monkey's kidney Vero cells. PrestoBlue® and MTT viability assays were the methodologies applied to measure the antileishmanial and cytotoxic activities, respectively. A molecular modeling target fishing study was performed aiming to propose potential macromolecular targets which could explain the observed biological behavior. Results: Four out of the eight compounds tested exhibited important anti-promastigote activity associated with good selectivity indexes when considering Vero cells. For the most promising compound, compound 6, IC50 against promastigotes was 20.78 while SI was 5.69. Compounds 3 (IC50: 46.63 μM; SI: 26.11) and 4 (IC50: 53.12 μM; SI: 4.80) also presented important biological behavior. A target fishing study suggested that S-methyl-5-thioadenosine phosphorylase is a potential target to these compounds, which could be explored to enhance activity and decrease the potential toxic side effects. Conclusions: This study shows that 4-phenyl-1,3-thiazol-2-amines could be good scaffolds to the development of new antileishmanial agents. The S-methyl-5-thioadenosine phosphorylase could be one of the macromolecular targets involved in the action.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The therapeutic arsenal for the treatment of Leishmaniasis is limited and includes toxic compounds (antimonials, amphotericin B, pentamidine and miltefosine). Given these aspects, the search for new compounds based on floristic biodiversity is crucial. In the present work, we report the isolation, characterization and antileishmanial activity of six related neolignans (1–6) of bioactive extract from Nectandra leucantha (Lauraceae) twigs. Methods: Dried and powdered twigs of N. leucantha were exhaustively extracted using n-hexane. The crude extract was dereplicated by HPLC/HRESIMS and subjected to column chromatography to yield pure compounds 1–6. Their chemical structures were identified via NMR and comparison of obtained data with those previously published in the literature. Biological assays of compounds 1–6 and their respective monomers (eugenol and methyleugenol) were performed using promastigote and amastigote forms of Leishmania (L.) infantum. Results: Dereplication procedures followed by chemical characterization of isolated compounds by NMR enabled the identification of related neolignans 1–6. Neolignans 2, 4 and 6 showed potential against amastigote forms of L. (L.) infantum (EC50 values of 57.9, 67.7 and 13.7 μM, respectively), while compounds 1 and 3 were inactive. As neolignans 2–4 are chemically related, it may be suggested that the presence of the methoxyl group at C4 constitutes an important structural aspect to increase antileishmanial potential against amastigote forms. Compound 6, which consists of a methylated derivative of compound 5 (inactive) showed antileishmanial activity similar to that of the standard drug miltefosine (EC50 =16.9 μM) but with reduced toxicity (SI = 14.6 and 7.2, respectively). Finally, two related monomers, eugenol and methyleugenol, were also tested and did not display activity, suggesting that the formation of dimeric compounds by oxidative coupling is crucial for antiparasitic activity of dimeric compounds 2, 4 and 6. Conclusion: This study highlights compound 6 against L. (L.) infantum amastigotes as a scaffold for future design of new compounds for drug treatment of visceral leishmaniasis.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: In recent decades, snake venom disintegrins have received special attention due to their potential use in anticancer therapy. Disintegrins are small and cysteine-rich proteins present in snake venoms and can interact with specific integrins to inhibit their activities in cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions. These molecules, known to inhibit platelet aggregation, are also capable of interacting with certain cancer-related integrins, and may interfere in important processes involved in carcinogenesis. Therefore, disintegrin from Crotalus durissus collilineatus venom was isolated, structurally characterized and evaluated for its toxicity and ability to interfere with cell proliferation and migration in MDA-MB-231, a human breast cancer cell line. Methods: Based on previous studies, disintegrin was isolated by FPLC, through two chromatographic steps, both on reversed phase C-18 columns. The isolated disintegrin was structurally characterized by Tris-Tricine-SDS-PAGE, mass spectrometry and N-terminal sequencing. For the functional assays, MTT and wound-healing assays were performed in order to investigate cytotoxicity and effect on cell migration in vitro, respectively. Results: Disintegrin presented a molecular mass of 7287.4 Da and its amino acid sequence shared similarity with the disintegrin domain of P-II metalloproteases. Using functional assays, the disintegrin showed low cytotoxicity (15% and 17%, at 3 and 6 μg/mL, respectively) after 24 h of incubation and in the wound-healing assay, the disintegrin (3 μg/mL) was able to significantly inhibit cell migration (24%, p < 0.05), compared to negative control. Conclusion: Thus, our results demonstrate that non-RGD disintegrin from C. d. collilineatus induces low cytotoxicity and inhibits migration of human breast cancer cells. Therefore, it may be a very useful molecular tool for understanding ECM-cell interaction cancer-related mechanisms involved in an important integrin family that highlights molecular aspects of tumorigenesis. Also, non-RGD disintegrin has potential to serve as an agent in anticancer therapy or adjuvant component combined with other anticancer drugs.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Considering the high toxicity and limited therapies available for treating visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the drug repositioning approach represents a faster way to deliver new therapies to the market. Methods: In this study, we described for the first time the activity of a potent antiarrhythmic, amiodarone (AMD), against L. (L.)infantum and its in vitro and in vivo activity. Results: The evaluation against promastigotes has shown that amiodarone presents leishmanicidal effect against the extracellular form, with an IC50 value of 10 μM. The activity was even greater against amastigotes in comparison with promastigotes with an IC50 value of 0.5 μM. The selectivity index in relation to the intracellular form demonstrated that the antiparasitic activity was approximately 56 times higher than its toxicity to mammalian cells. Investigation of the in vivo AMD activity in the L. infantum-infected hamster model showed that 51 days after the initial infection, amiodarone was unable to reduce the parasite burden in the spleen and liver when treated for 10 consecutive days, intraperitoneally, at 50 mg/kg/day, as determined by qPCR. Although not statistically significant, AMD was able to reduce the parasite burden by 20% in the liver when treated for 10 consecutive days, orally, at 100 mg/kg/day; no reduction in the spleen was found by qPCR. Conclusions: Our findings may help further drug design studies seeking new AMD derivatives that may provide new candidates with an in vitro selectivity close to or even greater than that observed in the prototype delivering effectiveness in the experimental model of VL.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Drug repurposing has been an interesting and cost-effective approach, especially for neglected diseases, such as Chagas disease. Methods: In this work, we studied the activity of the antidepressant drug sertraline against Trypanosoma cruzi trypomastigotes and intracellular amastigotes of the Y and Tulahuen strains, and investigated its action mode using cell biology and in silico approaches. Results: Sertraline demonstrated in vitro efficacy against intracellular amastigotes of both T. cruzi strains inside different host cells, including cardiomyocytes, with IC50 values between 1 to 10 μM, and activity against bloodstream trypomastigotes, with IC50 of 14 μM. Considering the mammalian cytotoxicity, the drug resulted in a selectivity index of 17.8. Sertraline induced a change in the mitochondrial integrity of T. cruzi, resulting in a decrease in ATP levels, but not affecting reactive oxygen levels or plasma membrane permeability. In silico approaches using chemogenomic target fishing, homology modeling and molecular docking suggested the enzyme isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 of T. cruzi (TcIDH2) as a potential target for sertraline. Conclusions: The present study demonstrated that sertraline had a lethal effect on different forms and strains of T. cruzi, by affecting the bioenergetic metabolism of the parasite. These findings provide a starting point for future experimental assays and may contribute to the development of new compounds.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The great diversity of molecules found in spider venoms include amino acids, polyamines, proteins and peptides, among others. Some of these compounds can interact with different neuronal receptors and ion channels including those present in the ocular system. To study potential toxicity and safety of intravitreal injection in rabbits of LyeTx I b, a synthetic peptide derived from the toxin LyeTx I found in venom from the spider Lycosa eritrognatha and to evaluate the angiogenic activity on a CAM model. Methods: ARPE-19 cells were treated with LyeTx I b (0.36; 0.54; 0.72; 2.89; 4.34 or 9.06 μM). In this study, New Zealand rabbits were used. LyeTx I b (2.89 μM) labeled with FITC dissolved in PBS, or only PBS, were injected into vitreous humor. Electroretinogram (ERG) was recorded 1 day before injection and at 7,14 and 28 days post-injection. Clinical examination of the retina was conducted through tonometer and eye fundus after ERG. Eyes were enucleated and retinas were prepared for histology in order to assess retinal structure. CAMs were exposed to LyeTx I b (0.54; 0.72; 2.17 or 2.89 μM). Results: ARPE-19 cells exposed to LyeTx I b showed cell viability at the same levels of the control. The fluorescence of LyeTx I b labeled with FITC indicated its retinal localization. Our findings indicate ERG responses from rats injected in the eye with LyeTx I b were very similar to the corresponding responses of those animals injected only with vehicle. Clinical examination found no alterations of intraocular pressure or retinal integrity. No histological damage in retinal layers was observed. CAM presented reduced neovascularization when exposed to LyeTx I b. Conclusions: Intravitreal injection of LyeTx I b is safe for use in the rabbit eye and prevents neovascularization in the CAM model, at Bevacizumab levels. These findings support intravitreal LyeTx l b as a good candidate to develop future alternative treatment for the retina in neovascularization diseases.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Lachesis muta rhombeata (Lmr) is the largest venomous snake in Latin America and its venom contains mainly enzymatic components, such as serine and metalloproteases, L-amino acid oxidase and phospholipases A2. Metalloproteases comprise a large group of zinc-dependent proteases that cleave basement membrane components such as fibronectin, laminin and collagen type IV. These enzymes are responsible for local and systemic changes, including haemorrhage, myonecrosis and inflammation. This study aimed the isolation and enzymatic characterization of the first metalloprotease (Lmr-MP) from Lmr venom (LmrV). Methods and results: Lmr-MP was purified through two chromatographic steps and submitted to enzymatic characterization. It showed proteolytic activity on azocasein with maximum activity at pH 7.0-9.0. It was inhibited by EDTA (a metal chelator that removes zinc, which is essential for enzymatic activity) and no effect was observed with PMSF, iodoacetic acid or pepstatin (inhibitors of serine, cysteine and aspartyl proteases, respectively). Ca2+, Mg2+ and Ba2+ ions increased its activity, while Al3+, Cu2+, Ni2+ and Zn2+ inhibited it. Additionally, ZnCl2 showed a dose dependent inhibition of the enzyme. Lmr-MP activity was also evaluated upon chromogenic substrates for plasma kallikrein (S-2302), plasmin and streptokinase-activated plasminogen (S-2251) and Factor Xa (S-2222) showing the highest activity on S-2302. The activity in different solutions (5 mM or 50 mM ammonium bicarbonate, pH 7.8; 0.1% trifluoroacetic acid + 50% acetonitrile; phosphate buffer saline, pH 7.4; 50 mM sodium acetate, pH 4.0 or ammonium acetate pH 4.5) was also evaluated and the results showed that its activity was abolished at acidic pHs. Its molecular mass (22,858 Da) was determined by MALDI-TOF and about 90% of its primary structure was verified by high-resolution mass spectrometry using HCD and ETD fragmentations and database search against the sequence of closely related species. It is a novel enzyme which shared high identity with other snake venom metalloproteases (svMPs) belonging to the P-I group. Conclusion: The purification procedure achieved a novel pure highly active metalloprotease from LmrV. This new molecule can help to understand the metalloproteases mechanisms of action, the Lachesis envenoming, as well as to open new perspectives for its use as therapeutic tools.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Snake venom phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) have been reported to induce myotoxic, neurotoxic, hemolytic, edematogenic, cytotoxic and proinflammatory effects. This work aimed at the isolation and functional characterization of a PLA2 isolated from Bothrops jararaca venom, named BJ-PLA2-I. Methods and Results: For its purification, three consecutive chromatographic steps were used (Sephacryl S-200, Source 15Q and Mono Q 5/50 GL). BJ-PLA2-I showed acidic characteristics, with pI~4.4 and molecular mass of 14. 2 kDa. Sequencing resulted in 60 amino acid residues that showed high similarity to other Bothrops PLA2s, including 100% identity with BJ-PLA2, an Asp49 PLA2 previously isolated from B. jararaca venom. Being an Asp49 PLA2, BJ-PLA2-I showed high catalytic activity, and also inhibitory effects on the ADP-induced platelet aggregation. Its inflammatory characterization showed that BJ-PLA2-I was able to promote leukocyte migration in mice at different concentrations (5, 10 and 20 μg/mL) and also at different response periods (2, 4 and 24 h), mainly by stimulating neutrophil infiltration. Furthermore, increased levels of total proteins, IL-6, IL-1 β and PGE2 were observed in the inflammatory exudate induced by BJ-PLA2-I, while nitric oxide, TNF-α, IL-10 and LTB4 levels were not significantly altered. This toxin was also evaluated for its cytotoxic potential on normal (PBMC) and tumor cell lines (HL-60 and HepG2). Overall, BJ-PLA2-I (2.5-160 μg/mL) promoted low cytotoxicity, with cell viabilities mostly varying between 70 and 80% and significant values obtained for HL-60 and PBMC only at the highest concentrations of the toxin evaluated. Conclusions: BJ-PLA2-I was characterized as an acidic Asp49 PLA2 that induces acute local inflammation and low cytotoxicity. These results should contribute to elucidate the action mechanisms of snake venom PLA2s.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Despite the development of new therapies for leishmaniasis, among the 200 countries or territories reporting to the WHO, 87 were identified as endemic for Tegumentary Leishmaniasis and 75 as endemic for Visceral Leishmaniasis. The identification of antileishmanial drug candidates is essential to fill the drug discovery pipeline for leishmaniasis. In the hit molecule LQB-118 selected, the first generation of pterocarpanquinones was effective and safe against experimental visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis via oral delivery. In this paper, we report the synthesis and antileishmanial activity of the second generation of pterocarpanoquinones. Methods: The second generation of pterocarpanquinones 2a-f was prepared through a palladium-catalyzed oxyarylation of dihydronaphtalen and chromens with iodolawsone, easily prepared by iodination of lawsone. The spectrum of antileishmanial activity was evaluated in promastigotes and intracellular amastigotes of L. amazonensis, L. braziliensis, and L. infantum. Toxicity was assessed in peritoneal macrophages and selective index calculated by CC50/IC50. Oxidative stress was measured by intracellular ROS levels and mitochondrial membrane potential in treated cells. Results: In this work, we answered two pertinent questions about the structure of the first-generation pterocarpanquinones: the configuration and positions of rings B (pyran) and C (furan) and the presence of oxygen in the B ring. When rings B and C are exchanged, we noted an improvement of the activity against promastigotes and amastigotes of L. amazonensis and promastigotes of L. infantum. As to the oxygen in ring B of the new generation, we observed that the oxygenated compound 2b is approximately twice as active against L. braziliensis promastigotes than its deoxy derivative 2a. Another modification that improved the activity was the addition of the methylenedioxy group. A variation in the susceptibility among species was evident in the clinically relevant form of the parasite, the intracellular amastigote. L. amazonensis was the species most susceptible to novel derivatives, whilst L. infantum was resistant to most of them. The pterocarpanoquinones (2b and 2c) that possess the oxygen atom in ring B showed induction of increased ROS production. Conclusions: The data presented indicate that the pterocarpanoquinones are promising compounds for the development of new leishmanicidal agents.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Animal poisons and venoms are sources of biomolecules naturally selected. Rhinella schneideri toads are widespread in the whole Brazilian territory and they have poison glands and mucous gland. Recently, protein from toads’ secretion has gaining attention. Frog skin is widely known to present great number of host defense peptides and we hypothesize toads present them as well. In this study, we used a RNA-seq analysis from R. schneideri skin and biochemical tests with the gland secretion to unravel its protein molecules. Methods: Total RNA from the toad skin was extracted using TRizol reagent, sequenced in duplicate using Illumina Hiseq2500 in paired end analysis. The raw reads were trimmed and de novo assembled using Trinity. The resulting sequences were submitted to functional annotation against non-redundant NCBI database and Database of Anuran Defense Peptide. Furthermore, we performed caseinolytic activity test to assess the presence of serine and metalloproteases in skin secretion and it was fractionated by fast liquid protein chromatography using a reverse-phase column. The fractions were partially sequenced by Edman's degradation. Results: We were able to identify several classes of antimicrobial peptides, such as buforins, peroniins and brevinins, as well as PLA2, lectins and galectins, combining protein sequencing and RNA-seq analysis for the first time. In addition, we could isolate a PLA2 from the skin secretion and infer the presence of serine proteases in cutaneous secretion. Conclusions: We identified novel toxins and proteins from R. schneideri mucous glands. Besides, this is a pioneer study that presented the in depth characterization of protein molecules richness from this toad secretion. The results obtained herein showed evidence of novel AMP and enzymes that need to be further explored.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: L-amino acid oxidases isolated from snake venoms (SV-LAAOs) are enzymes that have great therapeutic potential and are currently being investigated as tools for developing new strategies to treat various diseases, including cancer and bacterial infections. The main objective of this study was to make a brief evaluation of the enzymatic stability of two Bothrops LAAOs, one isolated from Bothrops jararacussu (BjussuLAAO-II) and the other from Bothrops moojeni (BmooLAAO-I) venoms. Methods and results: The enzymatic activity and stability of both LAAOs were evaluated by microplate colorimetric assays, for which BjussuLAAO-II and BmooLAAO-I were incubated with different L-amino acid substrates, in the presence of different ions, and at different pH ranges and temperatures. BjussuLAAO-II and BmooLAAO-I demonstrated higher affinity for hydrophobic amino acids, such as Phe and Leu. The two enzymes showed high enzymatic activity in a wide temperature range, from 25 to 75 °C, and presented optimum pH around 7.0. Additionally, Zn2+, Al3+, Cu2+ and Ni2+ ions negatively modulated the enzymatic activity of both LAAOs. As to stability, BjussuLAAO-II and BmooLAAO-I showed high enzymatic activity for 42 days stored at 4°C in neutral pH solution. Moreover, the glycan portions of both LAAOs were analyzed by capillary electrophoresis, which revealed that BjussuLAAO-II presented two main glycan portions with relative masses of 7.78 and 8.13 CGU, while BmooLAAO-I showed three portions of 7.58, 7.94 and 8.37 CGU. Conclusions: Our results showed that, when stored properly, BjussuLAAO-II and BmooLAAO-I present enzymatic stability over a long time period, which is very important to allow the use of these enzymes in pharmacological studies of great impact in the medical field.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Bitis arietans is a venomous snake found in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The envenomation is characterized by local and systemic reactions including pain, blistering, edema and tissue damage, besides hemostatic and cardiovascular disturbances, which can cause death or permanent disabilities in its victims. However, the action mechanisms that provoke these effects remain poorly understood, especially the activities of purified venom components. Therefore, in order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that make the Bitis arietans venom so potent and harmful to human beings, this study reports the isolation and biochemical characterization of a snake venom serine protease (SVSP). Methods: Solubilized venom was fractionated by molecular exclusion chromatography and the proteolytic activity was determined using fluorescent substrates. The peaks that showed serine protease activity were determined by blocking the proteolytic activity with site-directed inhibitors. In sequence, the fraction of interest was submitted to another cycle of molecular exclusion chromatography. The purified serine protease was identified by mass spectrometry and characterized biochemically and immunochemically. Results: A serine protease of 33 kDa with fibrinogen-degrading and kinin-releasing activities was isolated, described, and designated herein as Kn-Ba. The experimental Butantan Institute antivenom produced against Bitis arietans venom inhibited the Kn-Ba activity. Conclusions: The in vitro activities of Kn-Ba can be correlated with the capacity of the venom to provoke bleeding and clotting disorders as well as hypotension, which are common symptoms presented by envenomed victims. Obtaining satisfactory Kn-Ba inhibition through the experimental antivenom is important, given the WHO's recommendation of immunotherapy in cases of human accidents with venomous snakes.
Abstract in English:Abstract For the past 80 years, Crotoxin has become one of the most investigated isolated toxins from snake venoms, partially due to its major role as the main toxic component in the venom of the South American rattlesnake Crotalus durissus terrificus. However, in the past decades, progressive studies have led researchers to shift their focus on Crotoxin, opening novel perspectives and applications as a therapeutic approach. Although this toxin acts on a wide variety of biological events, the modulation of immune responses is considered as one of its most relevant behaviors. Therefore, the present review describes the scientific investigations on the capacity of Crotoxin to modulate anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive responses, and its application as a medicinal immunopharmacological approach. In addition, this review will also discuss its mechanisms, involving cellular and molecular pathways, capable of improving pathological alterations related to immune-associated disorders.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a BCR-ABL1+ myeloproliferative neoplasm marked by increased myeloproliferation and presence of leukemic cells resistant to apoptosis. The current first-line therapy for CML is administration of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors imatinib mesylate, dasatinib or nilotinib. Although effective to treat CML, some patients have become resistant to this therapy, leading to disease progression and death. Thus, the discovery of new compounds to improve CML therapy is still challenging. Here we addressed whether MjTX-I, a phospholipase A2 isolated from Bothrops moojeni snake venom, affects the viability of imatinib mesylate-resistant Bcr-Abl+ cell lines. Methods: We examined the cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic effect of MjTX-I in K562-S and K562-R Bcr-Abl+ cells and in the non-tumor HEK-293 cell line and peripheral blood mononuclear cells, using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl) −2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and the hypotonic fluorescent solution methods, associated with detection of caspases 3, 8, and 9 activation and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage. We also analyzed the MjTX-I potential to modulate the expression of apoptosis-related genes in K562-S and K562-R cells. Results: MjTX-I decreased the viability of K562-S and K562-R cells by 60 to 65%, without affecting the viability of the non-tumor cells, i.e. it exerted selective cytotoxicity towards Bcr-Abl+ cell lines. In leukemic cell lines, the toxin induced apoptosis, activated caspases 3, 8, and 9, cleaved PARP, downregulated expression of the anti-apoptotic gene BCL-2, and upregulated expression of the pro-apoptotic gene BAD. Conclusion: The antitumor effect of MjTX-I is associated with its potential to induce apoptosis and cytotoxicity in Bcr-Abl positive cell lines sensitive and resistant to imatinib mesylate, indicating that MjTX-I is a promising candidate drug to upgrade the CML therapy.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The oral cavities of snakes are replete with various types of bacterial flora. Culture-dependent studies suggest that some of the bacterial species are responsible for secondary bacterial infection associated with snakebite. A complete profile of the ophidian oral bacterial community has been unreported until now. Therefore, in the present study, we determined the complete bacterial compositions in the oral cavity of some snakes from India. Methods: Total DNA was isolated from oral swabs collected from three wild snake species (Indian Cobra, King Cobra and Indian Python). Next, the DNA was subjected to PCR amplification of microbial 16S rRNA gene using V3-region-specific primers. The amplicons were used for preparation of DNA libraries that were sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq platform. Results: The cluster-based taxonomy analysis revealed that Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria were the most predominant phyla present in the oral cavities of snakes. This result indicates that snakes show more similarities to birds than mammals as to their oral bacterial communities. Furthermore, our study reports all the unique and common bacterial species (total: 147) found among the oral microbes of snakes studied, while the majority of commonly abundant species were pathogens or opportunistic pathogens to humans. A wide difference in ophidian oral bacterial flora suggests variation by individual, species and geographical region. Conclusion: The present study would provide a foundation for further research on snakes to recognize the potential drugs/antibiotics for the different infectious diseases.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The blunt-nosed viper Macrovipera lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) is a medically important snake species in the Middle East. Its nominate subspecies Macrovipera l. lebetina is confined to Cyprus, where it is the only dangerously venomous snake species and heavily pursued. Despite the viper's large size, data on its body mass and sex-specific morphological differences are scarce. It is commonly believed that M. l. lebetina prefers freshwater proximity during summer. Hence, we aimed at investigating M. l. lebetina sex-specific morphological differences and its possible attraction to freshwater bodies in late summer. Methods: Morphometric characteristics, proximity to water and conservation status of M. l. lebetina were investigated in Paphos district (Cyprus) in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Vipers were caught in different habitats, examined morphologically for metric and meristic characters, and released back into their habitat. Additionally, local people were interviewed about the conservation situation of the species. Results: Of 38 recorded blunt-nosed vipers, morphological characteristics were collected from 34 (10 adult males, 16 adult females, eight unsexed juveniles). Rounded total length (ToL) ranged from 23.5 cm to 133.0 cm and weight between 10 g and 1456 g. Adult males significantly exceeded adult females in tail length (TaL), ToL and head length (HL). No significant sex-specific differences were found in snout-vent length (SVL), head width (HW), weight or body condition index (BCI), nor for the ratios TaL / SVL, TaL / ToL, HL / SVL or HL / HW. Adult females from late summer (2015) had a significantly lower mean BCI than those from spring (2014). Distances of blunt-nosed vipers to the nearest water bodies (natural and artificial, respectively) did not differ significantly between spring (2014) and late summer (2015). There was also no significant difference between the distances of vipers to natural and to artificial water bodies in spring (and late summer). Conclusions: Adult male blunt-nosed vipers exceed adult females in TaL, ToL and HL. Adult females are likely in a more vulnerable body condition in late summer than in spring. Periodic drying out of freshwater bodies in summer probably does not affect the species’ occurrence. Educational workshops and habitat conservation are recommended for reducing human-viper conflict.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: There are 6 species of venomous snakes in Taiwan. Two of them, Deinagkistrodon acutus (D. acutus) and Daboia siamensis (D. siamensis), can cause significant coagulopathy. However, a significant proportion of patients with snakebites cannot identify the correct snake species after envenomation, which hampers the application of antivenom. Hence, the differential diagnosis between the two snakebites by clinical presentations is important. This study aims to compare their clinical and laboratory features for the purpose of differential diagnosis between the two snakebites. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients who arrived at the emergency department due to D. acutus or D. siamensis envenomation, between 2003 and 2016, in one medical center in eastern Taiwan. Since these snakebites are rare, we also included 3 cases reported from another hospital in central Taiwan. Results: In total, 15 patients bitten by D. acutus and 12 patients by D. siamensis were analyzed. Hemorrhagic bulla formation and the need for surgical intervention only presented for D. acutus envenomation cases (Both 53.3% vs. 0.0%, P= 0.003). As to laboratory features, lower platelet counts (20.0 × 103/μL [interquartile range, 14-66 × 103/μL] vs. 149.0 × 103/μL [102.3-274.3 × 103/μL], P = 0.001), lower D-dimer level (1423.4 μg/L [713.4-4212.3 μg/L] vs. 12,500.0 μg/L [2351.4-200,000 μg/L], P = 0.008), higher proportion of patients with moderate-to-severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 100 × 103/μL) (80% vs. 16.7%, odds ratio (OR) = 20.0, 95% CI, 2.77-144.31; P = 0.002), and lower proportion of patients with extremely high D-dimer (> 5000 ng/mL) (16.7% vs. 66.7%, adjusted OR = 0.1 (95% CI, 0.01-0.69; P = 0.036) were found among cases of D. acutus envenomation compared to D. siamensis envenomation. The combination of hemorrhagic bulla, thrombocytopenia, and a lack of extremely high D-dimer had good discriminatory power (area under the curve (AUC) = 0.965; 95% CI, 0.904-1.00) for distinguishing D. acutus from D. siamensis envenomation. Conclusions: The presentation of moderate to severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 100 × 103/μL) and hemorrhagic bulla formation may indicate D. acutus envenomation. However, the envenomed patient with extremely high D-dimer levels may indicate a D. siamensis envenomation. These findings may help diagnose and select the right antivenom in patients with unknown snakebites who present significant coagulopathy.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Bites provoked by the genus Micrurus represent less than 1% of snakebite cases notified in Brazil, a tiny fraction compared with other genus such as Bothrops and Crotalus, which together represent almost 80% of accidents. In addition to their less aggressive behavior, habits and morphology of coral snakes are determinant factors for such low incidence of accidents. Although Micrurus bites are rare, victims must be rescued and hospitalized in a short period of time, because this type of envenoming may evolve to a progressive muscle weakness and acute respiratory failure. Case Presentation We report an accident caused by Micrurus corallinus involving a 28-year-old Caucasian sailor man bitten on the hand. The accident occurred in a recreational camp because people believed the snake was not venomous. The victim presented neurological symptoms 2 h after the accident and was taken to the hospital, where he received antielapidic serum 10 h after the bite. After the antivenom treatment, the patient presented clinical evolution without complications and was discharged 4 days later. Conclusions We reinforce that it is essential to have a health care structure suitable for the treatment of snakebite. Besides, the manipulation of these animals should only be carried out by a team of well-equipped and trained professionals, and even so with special attention.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Our group has previously performed a proteomic study verifying that individual variations can occur among Crotalus durissus collilineatus venoms. These variations may lead to differences in venom toxicity and may result in lack of neutralization of some components by antivenom. In this way, this study aimed to evaluate the Brazilian anticrotalic serum capacity in recognizing twenty-two Crotalus durissus collilineatus venoms, as well as their fractions. Methods: The indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was chosen to evaluate the efficacy of heterologous anticrotalic serum produced by Instituto Butantan (Brazil) in recognizing the twenty-two Crotalus durissus collilineatus venoms and the pool of them. Moreover, the venom pool was fractionated using reversed-phase fast protein liquid chromatography (RP-FPLC) and the obtained fractions were analyzed concerning antivenom recognition. Results: Evaluation of venom variability by ELISA showed that all venom samples were recognized by the Brazilian anticrotalic antivenom. However, some particular venom fractions were poorly recognized. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that the Brazilian anticrotalic serum recognizes all the different twenty-two venoms of C. d. collilineatus and their fractions, although in a quantitatively different way, which may impact the effectiveness of the antivenom therapy. These results confirm the need to use a pool of venoms with the greatest possible variability in the preparation of antivenoms, in order to improve their effectiveness.