Abstract in English:Abstract Maintenance of snakes at Butantan Institute started in the last century, intending to produce a different antivenom serum to reduce death caused by snakebites. Through a successful campaign coordinated by Vital Brazil, farmers sent venomous snakes to Butantan Institute by the railway lines with no cost. From 1908 to 1962, the snakes were kept in an outdoor serpentarium, where venom extraction was performed every 15 days. During this period, the snake average survival was 15 days. In 1963, the snakes were transferred to an adapted building, currently called Laboratory of Herpetology (LH), to be maintained in an intensive system. Although the periodicity of venom extraction remained the same, animal average survival increased to two months. With the severe serum crisis in 1983, the Ministry of Health financed remodeling for the three public antivenom producers, and with this support, the LH could be improved. Air conditioning and exhausting systems were installed in the rooms, besides the settlement of critical hygienic-sanitary managements to increase the welfare of snakes. In the early 1990s, snake survival was ten months. Over the years to the present day, several improvements have been made in the intensive serpentarium, as the establishment of two quarantines, feeding with thawed rodents, an interval of two months between venom extraction routines, and monitoring of snake health through laboratory tests. With these new protocols, average snake survival increased significantly, being eight years for the genus Bothrops, ten years for genus Crotalus and Lachesis, and four years for the genus Micrurus. Aiming the production of venoms of good quality, respect for good management practices is essential for the maintenance of snakes in captivity. New techniques and efficient management must always be sought to improve animal welfare, the quality of the venom produced, and the safety of those working directly with the venomous snakes.
Abstract in English:Abstract Inflammation has accompanied humans since their first ancestors appeared on Earth. Aulus Cornelius Celsus (25 BC-50 AD), a Roman encyclopedist, offered a still valid statement about inflammation: “Notae vero inflammationis sunt quatuor: rubor et tumor cum calore and dolore”, defining the four cardinal signs of inflammation as redness and swelling with heat and pain. While inflammation has long been considered as a morbid phenomenon, John Hunter (18th century) and Elie Metchnikoff (19th century) understood that it was a natural and beneficial event that aims to address a sterile or an infectious insult. Many other famous scientists and some forgotten ones have identified the different cellular and molecular players, and deciphered the different mechanisms of inflammation. This review pays tribute to some of the giants who made major contributions, from Hippocrates to the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. We particularly address the discoveries related to phagocytes, diapedesis, chemotactism, and fever. We also mention the findings of the various inflammatory mediators and the different approaches designed to treat inflammatory disorders.
Abstract in English:Abstract Infection with vector-borne pathogens starts with the inoculation of these pathogens during blood feeding. In endemic regions, the population is regularly bitten by naive vectors, implicating a permanent stimulation of the immune system by the vector saliva itself (pre-immune context). Comparatively, the number of bites received by exposed individuals from non-infected vectors is much higher than the bites from infected ones. Therefore, vector saliva and the immunological response in the skin may play an important role, so far underestimated, in the establishment of anti-pathogen immunity in endemic areas. Hence, the parasite biology and the disease pathogenesis in “saliva-primed” and “saliva-unprimed” individuals must be different. This integrated view on how the pathogen evolves within the host together with vector salivary components, which are known to be endowed with a variety of pharmacological and immunological properties, must remain the focus of any investigational study dealing with vector-borne diseases. Considering this three-way partnership, the host skin (immune system), the pathogen, and the vector saliva, the approach that consists in the validation of vector saliva as a source of molecular entities with anti-disease vaccine potential has been recently a subject of active and fruitful investigation. As an example, the vaccination with maxadilan, a potent vasodilator peptide extracted from the saliva of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis, was able to protect against infection with various leishmanial parasites. More interestingly, a universal mosquito saliva vaccine that may potentially protect against a range of mosquito-borne infections including malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. In this review, we highlight the key role played by the immunobiology of vector saliva in shaping the outcome of vector-borne diseases and discuss the value of studying diseases in the light of intimate cross talk among the pathogen, the vector saliva, and the host immune mechanisms.
Abstract in English:Abstract Neutrophils play a pivotal role in innate immunity and in the inflammatory response. Neutrophils are very motile cells that are rapidly recruited to the inflammatory site as the body first line of defense. Their bactericidal activity is due to the release into the phagocytic vacuole, called phagosome, of several toxic molecules directed against microbes. Neutrophil stimulation induces release of this arsenal into the phagosome and induces the assembly at the membrane of subunits of the NAPDH oxidase, the enzyme responsible for the production of superoxide anion that gives rise to other reactive oxygen species (ROS), a process called respiratory burst. Altogether, they are responsible for the bactericidal activity of the neutrophils. Excessive activation of neutrophils can lead to extensive release of these toxic agents, inducing tissue injury and the inflammatory reaction. Envenomation, caused by different animal species (bees, wasps, scorpions, snakes etc.), is well known to induce a local and acute inflammatory reaction, characterized by recruitment and activation of leukocytes and the release of several inflammatory mediators, including prostaglandins and cytokines. Venoms contain several molecules such as enzymes (phospholipase A2, L-amino acid oxidase and proteases, among others) and peptides (disintegrins, mastoporan, parabutoporin etc.). These molecules are able to stimulate or inhibit ROS production by neutrophils. The present review article gives a general overview of the main neutrophil functions focusing on ROS production and summarizes how venoms and venom molecules can affect this function.
Abstract in English:Abstract Accidents caused by the bites of brown spiders (Loxosceles) generate a clinical condition that often includes a threatening necrotic skin lesion near the bite site along with a remarkable inflammatory response. Systemic disorders such as hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, and acute renal failure may occur, but are much less frequent than the local damage. It is already known that phospholipases D, highly expressed toxins in Loxosceles venom, can induce most of these injuries. However, this spider venom has a great range of toxins that probably act synergistically to enhance toxicity. The other protein classes remain poorly explored due to the difficulty in obtaining sufficient amounts of them for a thorough investigation. They include astacins (metalloproteases), serine proteases, knottins, translationally controlled tumor proteins (TCTP), hyaluronidases, allergens and serpins. It has already been shown that some of them, according to their characteristics, may participate to some extent in the development of loxoscelism. In addition, all of these toxins present potential application in several areas. The present review article summarizes information regarding some functional aspects of the protein classes listed above, discusses the directions that could be taken to materialize a comprehensive investigation on each of these toxins as well as highlights the importance of exploring the full venom repertoire.
Abstract in English:Abstract Inflammation is closely related to renal diseases. This is particularly true for renal diseases caused by infections as in viral diseases. In this review, we highlight the inflammatory mechanisms that underlie kidney dysfunction in SARS-CoV-2, human immunodeficiency (HIV), hepatitis C (HCV), and hepatitis B (HBV) infections. The pathophysiology of renal involvement in COVID-19 is complex, but kidney damage is frequent, and the prognosis is worse when it happens. Virus-like particles were demonstrated mostly in renal tubular epithelial cells and podocytes, which suggest that SARS-CoV-2 directly affects the kidneys. SARS-CoV-2 uses the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor, which is found in endothelial cells, to infect the human host cells. Critical patients with SARS-CoV-2-associated acute kidney injury (AKI) show an increase in inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-8, IFN-γ, TNF-α), known as cytokine storm that favors renal dysfunction by causing intrarenal inflammation, increased vascular permeability, volume depletion, thromboembolic events in microvasculature and persistent local inflammation. Besides AKI, SARS-CoV-2 can also cause glomerular disease, as other viral infections such as in HIV, HBV and HCV. HIV-infected patients present chronic inflammation that can lead to a number of renal diseases. Proinflammatory cytokines and TNF-induced apoptosis are some of the underlying mechanisms that may explain the virus-induced renal diseases that are here reviewed.
Abstract in English:Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic brought attention to studies about viral infections and their impact on the cell machinery. SARS-CoV-2, for example, invades the host cells by ACE2 interaction and possibly hijacks the mitochondria. To better understand the disease and to propose novel treatments, crucial aspects of SARS-CoV-2 enrolment with host mitochondria must be studied. The replicative process of the virus leads to consequences in mitochondrial function, and cell metabolism. The hijacking of mitochondria, on the other hand, can drive the extrusion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to the cytosol. Extracellular mtDNA evoke robust proinflammatory responses once detected, that may act in different pathways, eliciting important immune responses. However, few receptors are validated and are able to detect and respond to mtDNA. In this review, we propose that the mtDNA and its detection might be important in the immune process generated by SARS-CoV-2 and that this mechanism might be important in the lung pathogenesis seen in clinical symptoms. Therefore, investigating the mtDNA receptors and their signaling pathways might provide important clues for therapeutic interventions.
Abstract in English:Abstract Either bites or stings of venomous animals comprise relevant public health problems in tropical countries. Acute kidney injury (AKI) induced by animal toxins is related to worse prognostic and outcomes. Being one the most important pathways to induce AKI following envenoming due to animal toxins, inflammation is an essential biological response that eliminates pathogenic bacteria and repairs tissue after injury. However, direct nephrotoxicity (i.e. apoptotic and necrotic mechanisms of toxins), pigmenturia (i.e. rhabdomyolysis and hemolysis), anaphylactic reactions, and coagulopathies could contribute to the renal injury. All these mechanisms are closely integrated, but inflammation is a distinct process. Hence, it is important to improve our understanding on inflammation mechanisms of these syndromes to provide a promising outlook to reduce morbidity and mortality. This literature review highlights the main scientific evidence of acute kidney injury induced by bites or stings from venomous animals and their inflammatory mechanisms. It included observational, cross-sectional, case-control and cohort human studies available up to December 2019. Descriptors were used according to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), namely: “Acute kidney injury” or “Venom” and “Inflammation” on Medline/Pubmed and Google Scholar; “Kidney disease” or “Acute kidney injury” on Lilacs and SciELO. The present review evidenced that, among the described forms of renal inflammation, it can occur either directly or indirectly on renal cells by means of intravascular, systemic and endothelial hemolysis, activation of inflammatory pathway, as well as direct action of venom cytotoxic components on kidney structures.
Abstract in English:Abstract Scorpions possess two systems of weapons: the pincers (chelae) and the stinger (telson). These are placed on anatomically and developmentally well separated parts of the body, that is, the oral appendages and at the end of the body axis. The otherwise conserved body plan of scorpions varies most in the shape and relative dimensions of these two weapon systems, both across species and in some cases between the sexes. We review the literature on the ecological function of these two weapon systems in each of three contexts of usage: (i) predation, (ii) defense and (iii) sexual contests. In the latter context, we will also discuss their usage in mating. We first provide a comparative background for each of these contexts of usage by giving examples of other weapon systems from across the animal kingdom. Then, we discuss the pertinent aspects of the anatomy of the weapon systems, particularly those aspects relevant to their functioning in their ecological roles. The literature on the functioning and ecological role of both the chelae and the telson is discussed in detail, again organized by context of usage. Particular emphasis is given on the differences in morphology or usage between species or higher taxonomic groups, or between genders, as such cases are most insightful to understand the roles of each of the two distinct weapon systems of the scorpions and their evolutionary interactions. We aimed to synthesize the literature while minimizing conjecture, but also to point out gaps in the literature and potential future research opportunities.
Abstract in English:Abstract Scorpionism is a relevant medical condition in Brazil. It is responsible for most accidents involving venomous animals in the country, which leads to severe symptoms that can evolve to death. In recent years, an increase of almost 50% in the incidence of scorpionism has been observed in the Northern Region, where the highest severity of envenoming has been notified since the beginning of the 21st century. This review aims to provide an in-depth assessment of public data and reports on symptoms and epidemiology of envenoming, ecological aspects of scorpions, and characterization of venoms and toxins to access the gaps that need to be filled in the knowledge of the scorpion species of medical importance from the Brazilian Amazon. A systematic search using the string words “Amazon” and “scorpion” was performed on 11 databases. No restriction on date, language or status of the publication was applied. Reports not related to the Brazilian Amazon were excluded. Therefore, 88 studies remained. It is shown that populations of scorpions of medical importance, even of the same species, may present significant toxic variations peculiar to some regions in the Brazilian Amazon, and commercial scorpion antivenoms were not able to shorten the intensity and duration of neurological manifestations in patients stung by T. silvestris, T. apiacas or T. obscurus. It is also highlighted that the toxins responsible for triggering these alterations have not been elucidated yet and this is a fruitful field for the development of more efficient antivenoms. Furthermore, the geographic distribution of scorpions of the genus Tityus in the Brazilian Amazon was revised and updated. The cumulative and detailed information provided in this review may help physicians and scientists interested in scorpionism in the Brazilian Amazon.
Abstract in English:Abstract Inflammatory processes are believed to play an important role in immune response to maintain tissue homeostasis by activating cellular signaling pathways and releasing inflammatory mediators in the injured tissue. Although acute inflammation can be considered protective, an uncontrolled inflammation may evolve to tissue damage, leading to chronic inflammatory diseases. Inflammation can be considered the major factor involved in the pathological progression of acute and chronic kidney diseases. Functional characteristics of this organ increase its vulnerability to developing various forms of injuries, including acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). In view of translational research, several discoveries should be considered regarding the pathogenesis of the inflammatory process, which results in the validation of biomarkers for early detection of kidney diseases. Biomarkers enable the identification of proinflammatory mediators in kidney affections, based on laboratory research applied to clinical practice. Some inflammatory molecules can be useful biomarkers for the detection and diagnosis of kidney diseases, such as neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, kidney injury molecule-1 and interleukin 18.
Abstract in English:Abstract Peptides obtained from different animal species have gained importance recently due to research that aims to develop biopharmaceuticals with therapeutic potential. In this sense, arthropod venoms have drawn attention, not only because of their toxicity but mainly for the search for molecules with various bioactivities, including anti-inflammatory activity. The purpose of the present study is to gather data available in the literature on new peptides derived from arthropod species with anti-inflammatory potential. This systematic review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Studies on peptides from arthropods that display anti-inflammatory activity were retrieved from PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar databases. The bibliographic research started in 2020 and searched papers without a limit on the publication date. The articles were analyzed using a search string containing the following terms: “Peptides” and “Anti-inflammatory”, in combinations such as “Ant”, “Bee”, “Wasp”, “Crab”, “Shrimp”, “Scorpion”, “Spider”, “Tick” and “Centipedes”. Besides, a search was carried out in the databases with the terms: “Peptides”, “Antitumor”, or “Anticancer”, and “Arthropods”. Articles that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria totalized 171, and these served for data extraction. Additionally, the present review included anti-inflammatory peptides with anticancer properties. Peptides with confirmed anti-inflammatory activity were from insects (ants, bees, and wasps), crustaceans (shrimp and crabs), arachnids (scorpions, spiders, and ticks), and centipedes. These arthropod peptides act mainly by decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines as analyzed in vitro and in vivo. Some showed significant antineoplastic activity, working in essential cellular pathways against malignant neoplasms.
Abstract in English:Abstract Humankind has always been fascinated by venomous animals, as their toxic substances have transformed them into symbols of power and mystery. Over the centuries, researchers have been trying to understand animal venoms, unveiling intricate mixtures of molecules and their biological effects. Among venomous animals, Latrodectus Walckenaer, 1805 (widow spiders) have become feared in many cultures worldwide due to their extremely neurotoxic venom. The Latrodectus genus encompasses 32 species broadly spread around the globe, 14 of which occur in the Americas. Despite the high number of species found in the New World, the knowledge on these spiders is still scarce. This review covers the general knowledge on Latrodectus spp. from the Americas. We address widow spiders’ taxonomy; geographical distribution and epidemiology; symptoms and treatments of envenomation (latrodectism); venom collection, experimental studies, proteome and transcriptome; and biotechnological studies on these Latrodectus spp. Moreover, we discuss the main challenges and limitations faced by researchers when trying to comprehend this neglected group of medically important spiders. We expect this review to help overcome the lack of information regarding widow spiders in the New World.
Abstract in English:Abstract Phα1β is a neurotoxin purified from spider venom that acts as a high-voltage-activated (HVA) calcium channel blocker. This spider peptide has shown a high selectivity for N-type HVA calcium channels (NVACC) and an analgesic effect in several animal models of pain. Its activity was associated with a reduction in calcium transients, glutamate release, and reactive oxygen species production from the spinal cord tissue and dorsal ganglia root (DRG) in rats and mice. It has been reported that intrathecal (i.t.) administration of Phα1β to treat chronic pain reverted opioid tolerance with a safer profile than ω-conotoxin MVIIA, a highly selective NVACC blocker. Following a recent development of recombinant Phα1β (CTK 01512-2), a new molecular target, TRPA1, the structural arrangement of disulphide bridges, and an effect on glial plasticity have been identified. CTK 01512-2 reproduced the antinociceptive effects of the native toxin not only after the intrathecal but also after the intravenous administration. Herein, we review the Phα1β antinociceptive activity in the most relevant pain models and its mechanisms of action, highlighting the impact of CTK 01512-2 synthesis and its potential for multimodal analgesia.
Abstract in English:Abstract The Theraphosidae family includes the largest number of species of the Mygalomorphae infraorder, with hundreds of species currently catalogued. However, there is a huge lack on physiologic and even ecologic information available, especially in Brazil, which is the most biodiverse country in the world. Over the years, spiders have been presented as a source of multiple biologically active compounds with basic roles, such as primary defense against pathogenic microorganisms or modulation of metabolic pathways and as specialized hunters. Spider venoms also evolved in order to enable the capture of prey by interaction with a diversity of molecular targets of interest, raising their pharmaceutical potential for the development of new drugs. Among the activities found in compounds isolated from venoms and hemocytes of Brazilian Theraphosidae there are antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antitumoral, as well as properties related to proteinase action and neuromuscular blockage modulated by ionic voltage-gated channel interaction. These characteristics are present in different species from multiple genera, which is strong evidence of the important role in spider survival. The present review aims to compile the main results of studies from the last decades on Brazilian Theraphosidae with special focus on results obtained with the crude venom or compounds isolated from both venom and hemocytes, and their physiological and chemical characterization.
Abstract in English:Abstract Pain is a common symptom induced during envenomation by spiders and scorpions. Toxins isolated from their venom have become essential tools for studying the functioning and physiopathological role of ion channels, as they modulate their activity. In particular, toxins that induce pain relief effects can serve as a molecular basis for the development of future analgesics in humans. This review provides a summary of the different scorpion and spider toxins that directly interact with pain-related ion channels, with inhibitory or stimulatory effects. Some of these toxins were shown to affect pain modalities in different animal models providing information on the role played by these channels in the pain process. The close interaction of certain gating-modifier toxins with membrane phospholipids close to ion channels is examined along with molecular approaches to improve selectivity, affinity or bioavailability in vivo for therapeutic purposes.
Abstract in English:Abstract Venom from Amazonian scorpions of the genus Tityus contains components capable of eliciting a distinct clinical, mostly neurological, syndrome. This contrasts with the mainly autonomic manifestations produced after envenomation by congeneric southern and northern South American species. Herein, we summarize Pan-Amazonian scorpionism by synthesizing available toxinological, clinical, and molecular data gathered from all affected areas in Amazonia, including Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and French Guiana. We searched multiple databases, as well as our own records, for reports of scorpion envenomations in Amazonia by confirmed Tityus spp., and compared the clinical manifestations. To help uncover clinical and venom relationships among problematic species, we explored phylogenetic relationships with a rate-calibrated analysis of mitochondrial COI data from available species. The possible existence of diversity gradients for venom toxic and immunogenic components despite the predicted strong phylogenetic association among species is underscored by discussed clinical and toxinological findings. A multicentric effort, involving all nations affected by this neglected disease, is urgently needed to offer alternatives for treating and understanding this pathology, including the preparation of neutralizing antibodies with a broad range of efficacy.
Abstract in English:Abstract Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a rapid-spread infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can culminate in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAAS) and kallikrein-kinin (KKS) systems imbalance, and in serious consequences for infected patients. This scoping review of published research exploring the RAAS and KKS was undertaken in order to trace the history of the discovery of both systems and their multiple interactions, discuss some aspects of the viral-cell interaction, including inflammation and the system imbalance triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection, and their consequent disorders. Furthermore, we correlate the effects of continued use of the RAAS blockers in chronic diseases therapies with the virulence and physiopathology of COVID-19. We also approach the RAAS and KKS-related proposed potential therapies for treatment of COVID-19. In this way, we reinforce the importance of exploring both systems and the application of their components or their blockers in the treatment of coronavirus disease.
Abstract in English:Abstract King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) has a significant place in many cultures, and is a medically important venomous snake in the world. Envenomation by this snake is highly lethal, manifested mainly by neurotoxicity and local tissue damage. King Cobra may be part of a larger species complex, and is widely distributed across Southeast Asia, southern China, northern and eastern regions as well as the Western Ghats of India, indicating potential geographical variation in venom composition. There is, however, only one species-specific King Cobra antivenom available worldwide that is produced in Thailand, using venom from the snake of Thai origin. Issues relating to the management of King Cobra envenomation (e.g., variation in the composition and toxicity of the venom, limited availability and efficacy of antivenom), and challenges faced in the research of venom (in particular proteomics), are rarely addressed. This article reviews the natural history and sociocultural importance of King Cobra, cases of snakebite envenomation caused by this species, current practice of management (preclinical and clinical), and major toxinological studies of the venom with a focus on venom proteomics, toxicity and neutralization. Unfortunately, epidemiological data of King Cobra bite is scarce, and venom proteomes reported in various studies revealed marked discrepancies in details. Challenges, such as inconsistency in snake venom sampling, varying methodology of proteomic analysis, lack of mechanistic and antivenomic studies, and controversy surrounding antivenom use in treating King Cobra envenomation are herein discussed. Future directions are proposed, including the effort to establish a standard, comprehensive Pan-Asian proteomic database of King Cobra venom, from which the venom variation can be determined. Research should be undertaken to characterize the toxin antigenicity, and to develop an antivenom with improved efficacy and wider geographical utility. The endeavors are aligned with the WHO´s roadmap that aims to reduce the disease burden of snakebite by 50% before 2030.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The resistance against antimalarial drugs represents a global challenge in the fight and control of malaria. The Brazilian biodiversity can be an important tool for research and development of new medicinal products. In this context, toxinology is a multidisciplinary approach on the development of new drugs, including the isolation, purification, and evaluation of the pharmacological activities of natural toxins. The present study aimed to evaluate the cytotoxicity, as well as the antimalarial activity in silico and in vitro of four compounds isolated from Rhinella marina venom as potential oral drug prototypes. Methods: Four compounds were challenged against 35 target proteins from P. falciparum and screened to evaluate their physicochemical properties using docking assay in Brazilian Malaria Molecular Targets (BraMMT) software and in silico assay in OCTOPUS® software. The in vitro antimalarial activity of the compounds against the 3D7 Plasmodium falciparum clones were assessed using the SYBR Green I based assay (IC50). For the cytotoxic tests, the LD50 was determined in human pulmonary fibroblast cell line using the [3(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] (MTT) assay. Results: All compounds presented a ligand-receptor interaction with ten Plasmodium falciparum-related protein targets, as well as antimalarial activity against chloroquine resistant strain (IC50 = 3.44 μM to 19.11 μM). Three of them (dehydrobufotenine, marinobufagin, and bufalin) showed adequate conditions for oral drug prototypes, with satisfactory prediction of absorption, permeability, and absence of toxicity. In the cell viability assay, only dehydrobufotenin was selective for the parasite. Conclusions: Dehydrobufotenin revealed to be a potential oral drug prototype presenting adequate antimalarial activity and absence of cytotoxicity, therefore should be subjected to further studies.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: In Central and South America, snakebite envenomation is mainly caused by Bothrops spp. snakes, whose venoms feature significant biochemical richness, including serine proteases. The available bothropic antivenoms are efficient in avoiding fatalities, but do not completely neutralize venom serine proteases, which are co-responsible for some disorders observed during envenomation. Methods: In order to search for tools to improve the antivenom’s, 6-mer peptides were designed based on a specific substrate for Bothrops jararaca venom serine proteases, and then synthesized, with the intention to selectively inhibit these enzymes. Results: Using batroxobin as a snake venom serine protease model, two structurally similar inhibitor peptides were identified. When tested on B. jararaca venom, one of the new inhibitors displayed a good potential to inhibit the activity of the venom serine proteases. These inhibitors do not affect human serine proteases as human factor Xa and thrombin, due to their selectivity. Conclusion: Our study identified two small peptides able to inhibit bothropic serine proteases, but not human ones, can be used as tools to enhance knowledge of the venom composition and function. Moreover, one promising peptide (pepC) was identified that can be explored in the search for improving Bothrops spp. envenomation treatment.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) isolated from avian cellulitis lesions produces a toxin, named Escherichia coli vacuolating factor (ECVF), that causes cell vacuolization and induces inflammatory response in broiler chicken. Methods We investigated the intracellular activities of ECVF in avian fibroblasts using fluorescence staining, electron microscopy, MTT and LDH measurements. As ECVF act specifically in avian cells, we performed blotting assay followed by mass spectrometry to better understand its initial intracellular protein recognition. Results ECVF induced actin contraction, mitochondrial damage and membrane permeability alterations. Ultrastructural analysis showed intracellular alterations, as nuclear lobulation and the presence of degraded structures inside the vacuoles. Moreover, ECVF induced cell death in fibroblasts. ECVF-biotin associates to at least two proteins only in avian cell lysates: alpha-actinin 4 and vinculin, both involved in cytoskeleton structure. Conclusion These findings demonstrated that ECVF plays an important role in avian cellulitis, markedly in initial steps of infection. Taken together, the results place this toxin as a target for drug and/or vaccine development, instead of the use of large amounts antibiotics.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Background Triatoma infestans (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) is a hematophagous insect and the main vector of Trypanosoma cruzi (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae). In the present study, the authors investigated whether a serine protease activity from the saliva of T. infestans has a role in vasomotor modulation, and in the insect-blood feeding by cleaving and activating protease-activated receptors (PARs). Methods T. infestans saliva was chromatographed as previously reported for purification of triapsin, a serine protease. The cleavage activity of triapsin on PAR peptides was investigated based on FRET technology. Mass spectrometry was used to analyze the sites of PAR-2 peptide cleaved by triapsin. NO measurements were performed using the DAN assay (2,3-diaminonapthalene). The vasorelaxant activity of triapsin was measured in vessels with or without functional endothelium pre-contracted with phenylephrine (3 µM). Intravital microscopy was used to assess the effect of triapsin on mouse skin microcirculation. Results Triapsin was able to induce hydrolysis of PAR peptides and showed a higher preference for cleavage of the PAR-2 peptide. Analysis by mass spectrometry confirmed a single cleavage site, which corresponds to the activation site of the PAR-2 receptor. Triapsin induced dose-dependent NO release in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), reaching a maximum effect at 17.58 nM. Triapsin purified by gel-filtration chromatography (10-16 to 10-9 M) was applied cumulatively to mouse mesenteric artery rings and showed a potent endothelium-dependent vasodilator effect (EC30 = 10-12 M). Nitric oxide seems to be partially responsible for this vasodilator effect because L-NAME (L-NG-nitroarginine methyl ester 300 µM), a nitric oxide synthetase inhibitor, did not abrogate the vasodilation activated by triapsin. Anti-PAR-2 antibody completely inhibited vasodilation observed in the presence of triapsin activity. Triapsin activity also induced an increase in the mouse ear venular diameter. Conclusion Data from this study suggest a plausible association between triapsin activity mediated PAR-2 activation and vasodilation caused by T. infestans saliva.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Insects can be found in numerous diverse environments, being exposed to pathogenic organisms like fungi and bacteria. Once these pathogens cross insect physical barriers, the innate immune system operates through cellular and humoral responses. Antimicrobial peptides are small molecules produced by immune signaling cascades that develop an important and generalist role in insect defenses against a variety of microorganisms. In the present work, a cecropin B-like peptide (AgCecropB) sequence was identified in the velvetbean caterpillar Anticarsia gemmatalis and cloned in a bacterial plasmid vector for further heterologous expression and antimicrobial tests. Methods AgCecropB sequence (without the signal peptide) was cloned in the plasmid vector pET-M30-MBP and expressed in the Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) expression host. Expression was induced with IPTG and a recombinant peptide was purified using two affinity chromatography steps with Histrap column. The purified peptide was submitted to high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and structural analyses. Antimicrobial tests were performed using gram-positive (Bacillus thuringiensis) and gram-negative (Burkholderia kururiensis and E. coli) bacteria. Results AgCecropB was expressed in E. coli BL21 (DE3) at 28°C with IPTG 0.5 mM. The recombinant peptide was purified and enriched after purification steps. HRMS confirmed AgCrecropB molecular mass (4.6 kDa) and circular dichroism assay showed α-helix structure in the presence of SDS. AgCrecropB inhibited almost 50% of gram-positive B. thuringiensis bacteria growth. Conclusions The first cecropin B-like peptide was described in A. gemmatalis and a recombinant peptide was expressed using a bacterial platform. Data confirmed tertiary structure as predicted for the cecropin peptide family. AgCecropB was capable to inhibit B. thuringiensis growth in vitro.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Amphibians inhabit the terrestrial environment, a conquest achieved after several evolutionary steps, which were still insufficient to make them completely independent of the aquatic environment. These processes gave rise to many morphological and physiological changes, making their skin (and cutaneous secretion) rich in bioactive molecules. Among the tree frogs, the secretion is composed mainly of peptides; but alkaloids, proteins and steroids can also be found depending on the species. The most known class of biologically active molecules is the antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that act against bacteria, fungi and protozoans. Although these molecules are well-studied among the hylids, AMPs ontogeny remains unknown. Therefore, we performed peptidomic and proteomic analyses of Pithecopus nordestinus (formerly Phyllomedusa nordestina) in order to evaluate the peptide content in post-metamorphosed juveniles and adult individuals. Methods: Cutaneous secretion of both life stages of individuals was obtained and analyzed by LC-MS/MS after reduction and alkylation of disulfide bonds or reduction, alkylation and hydrolysis by trypsin. Results: Differences in the TIC profile of juveniles and adults in both treatments were observed. Moreover, the proteomic data revealed known proteins and peptides, with slight differences in the composition, according to the life stage and the treatment. AMPs were identified, and bradykinin-potentiating peptides were observed in trypsin-treated samples, which suggests a protein source of such peptide (cryptide). Conclusion: In general, skin secretion contents were similar between juveniles and adults, varying in quantity, indicating that the different stages of life are reflected in the number of molecules and not on their diversity.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The venom of the krait (Bungarus sindanus), an Elapidae snake, is highly toxic to humans and contains a great amount of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). The enzyme AChE provokes the hydrolysis of substrate acetylcholine (ACh) in the nervous system and terminates nerve impulse. Different inhibitors inactivate AChE and lead to ACh accumulation and disrupted neurotransmission. Methods: The present study was designed to evaluate the effect of palladium(II) complex as antivenom against krait venom AChE using kinetics methods. Results: Statistical analysis showed that krait venom AChE inhibition decreases with the increase of Pd(II) complex (0.025-0.05 µM) and exerted 61% inhibition against the AChE at a fixed concentration (0.5 mM) of ACh. Kinetic analysis using the Lineweaver Burk plot showed that Pd(II) caused a competitive inhibition. The compound Pd(II) complex binds at the active site of the enzyme. It was observed that K m (Michaelis-Menten constant of AChE-ACh into AChE and product) increased from 0.108 to 0.310 mM (45.74 to 318.35%) and V max remained constant with an increase of Pd(II) complex concentrations. In AChE K Iapp was found to increase from 0.0912 to 0.025 µM (29.82-72.58%) and did not affect the V maxapp with an increase of ACh from (0.05-1 mM). K i (inhibitory constant) was estimated to be 0.029 µM for snake venom; while the K m was estimated to be 0.4 mM. The calculated IC50 for Pd(II) complex was found to be 0.043 µM at constant ACh concentration (0.5 mM). Conclusions: The results show that the Pd(II) complex can be deliberated as an inhibitor of AChE.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis are gram-positive bacterial pathogens and the causative agents of leprosy in humans across the world. The elimination of leprosy cannot be achieved by multidrug therapy alone, and highlights the need for new tools and drugs to prevent the emergence of new resistant strains. Methods In this study, our contribution includes the prediction of vaccine targets and new putative drugs against leprosy, using reverse vaccinology and subtractive genomics. Six strains of Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis (4 and 2 strains, respectively) were used for comparison taking Mycobacterium leprae strain TN as the reference genome. Briefly, we used a combined reverse vaccinology and subtractive genomics approach. Results As a result, we identified 12 common putative antigenic proteins as vaccine targets and three common drug targets against Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Furthermore, the docking analysis using 28 natural compounds with three drug targets was done. Conclusions The bis-naphthoquinone compound Diospyrin (CID 308140) obtained from indigenous plant Diospyros spp. showed the most favored binding affinity against predicted drug targets, which can be a candidate therapeutic target in the future against leprosy.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The western Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) is widely distributed in South Asia, and geographical venom variation is anticipated among distant populations. Antivenoms used for Russell’s viper envenomation are, however, raised typically against snakes from Southern India. The present study investigated and compared the venom proteomes of D. russelii from Sri Lanka (DrSL) and India (DrI), the immunorecognition of Indian VINS Polyvalent Antivenom (VPAV) and its efficacy in neutralizing the venom toxicity. Methods: The venoms of DrSL and DrI were decomplexed with C18 high-performance liquid chromatography and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under reducing conditions. The proteins fractionated were identified through nano-ESI-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LCMS/MS). The immunological studies were conducted with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The neutralization of the venom procoagulant effect was evaluated in citrated human plasma. The neutralization of the venom lethality was assessed in vivo in mice adopting the WHO protocol. Results: DrSL and DrI venom proteomes showed comparable major protein families, with phospholipases A2 (PLA2) being the most abundant (> 60% of total venom proteins) and diverse (six protein forms identified). Both venoms were highly procoagulant and lethal (intravenous median lethal dose in mice, LD50 = 0.24 and 0.32 µg/g, for DrSL and DrI, respectively), while lacking hemorrhagic and anticoagulant activities. VPAV was immunoreactive toward DrSL and DrI venoms, indicating conserved protein antigenicity in the venoms. The high molecular weight venom proteins were, however, more effectively immunorecognized than small ones. VPAV was able to neutralize the coagulopathic and lethal effects of the venoms moderately. Conclusion: Considering that a large amount of venom can be injected by Russell’s viper during envenomation, the potency of antivenom can be further improved for optimal neutralization and effective treatment. Region-specific venoms and key toxins may be incorporated into the immunization procedure during antivenom production.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Tetanus toxin blocks the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system and causes tetanus and its main form of prevention is through vaccination. The vaccine is produced by inactivation of tetanus toxin with formaldehyde, which may cause side effects. An alternative way is the use of ionizing radiation for inactivation of the toxin and also to improve the potential immunogenic response and to reduce the post-vaccination side effects. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize the tetanus toxin structure after different doses of ionizing radiation of 60Co. Methods Irradiated and native tetanus toxin was characterized by SDS PAGE in reducing and non-reducing conditions and MALD-TOF. Enzymatic activity was measured by FRET substrate. Also, antigenic properties were assessed by ELISA and Western Blot data. Results Characterization analysis revealed gradual modification on the tetanus toxin structure according to doses increase. Also, fragmentation and possible aggregations of the protein fragments were observed in higher doses. In the analysis of peptide preservation by enzymatic digestion and mass spectrometry, there was a slight modification in the identification up to the dose of 4 kGy. At subsequent doses, peptide identification was minimal. The analysis of the enzymatic activity by fluorescence showed 35 % attenuation in the activity even at higher doses. In the antigenic evaluation, anti-tetanus toxin antibodies were detected against the irradiated toxins at the different doses, with a gradual decrease as the dose increased, but remaining at satisfactory levels. Conclusion Ionizing radiation promoted structural changes in the tetanus toxin such as fragmentation and/or aggregation and attenuation of enzymatic activity as the dose increased, but antigenic recognition of the toxin remained at good levels indicating its possible use as an immunogen. However, studies of enzymatic activity of tetanus toxin irradiated with doses above 8 kGy should be further analyzed.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Conotoxins have become a research hotspot in the neuropharmacology field for their high activity and specificity in targeting ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors. There have been reports of a conotoxin acting on two ion channels, but rare reports of a conotoxin acting on three ion channels. Methods Vr3a, a proline-rich M-superfamily conotoxin from a worm-hunting Conus varius, was obtained by solid-phase synthesis and identified by mass spectrometry. The effects of synthesized Vr3a on sodium, potassium and calcium currents were tested on rat DRG cells by patch clamp experiments. The further effects of Vr3a on human Cav1.2 and Cav2.2 currents were tested on HEK293 cells. Results About 10 μM Vr3a has no effects on the peak sodium currents, but can induce a ~10 mV shift in a polarizing direction in the current-voltage relationship. In addition, 10 μM Vr3a can increase 19.61 ± 5.12% of the peak potassium currents and do not induce a shift in the current-voltage relationship. An amount of 10 μM Vr3a can inhibit 31.26% ± 4.53% of the peak calcium currents and do not induce a shift in the current-voltage relationship. The IC50 value of Vr3a on calcium channel currents in rat DRG neurons is 19.28 ± 4.32 μM. Moreover, 10 μM Vr3a can inhibit 15.32% ± 5.41% of the human Cav1.2 currents and 12.86% ± 4.93% of the human Cav2.2 currents. Conclusions Vr3a can simultaneously affect sodium, potassium and calcium currents. This novel triple-target conotoxin Vr3a expands understanding of conotoxin functions.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The accessory β1 subunits, regulating the pharmacological and biophysical properties of BK channels, always undergo post-translational modifications, especially glycosylation. To date, it remains elusive whether the glycosylation contributes to the regulation of BK channels by β1 subunits. Methods: Herein, we combined the electrophysiological approach with molecular mutations and biochemical manipulation to investigate the function roles of N-glycosylation in β1 subunits. Results: The results show that deglycosylation of β1 subunits through double-site mutations (β1 N80A/N142A or β1 N80Q/N142Q) could significantly increase the inhibitory potency of iberiotoxin, a specific BK channel blocker. The deglycosylated channels also have a different sensitivity to martentoxin, another BK channel modulator with some remarkable effects as reported before. On the contrary to enhancing effects of martentoxin on glycosylated BK channels under the presence of cytoplasmic Ca2+, deglycosylated channels were not affected by the toxin. However, the deglycosylated channels were surprisingly inhibited by martentoxin under the absence of cytoplasmic Ca2+, while the glycosylated channels were not inhibited under this same condition. In addition, wild type BK (α+β1) channels treated with PNGase F also showed the same trend of pharmacological results to the mutants. Similar to this modulation of glycosylation on BK channel pharmacology, the deglycosylated forms of the channels were activated at a faster speed than the glycosylated ones. However, the V1/2 and slope were not changed by the glycosylation. Conclusion: The present study reveals that glycosylation is an indispensable determinant of the modulation of β1-subunit on BK channel pharmacology and its activation. The loss of glycosylation of β1 subunits could lead to the dysfunction of BK channel, resulting in a pathological state.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Solitary wasp venoms may be a rich source of neuroactive substances, since their venoms are used for paralyzing preys. We have been exploring bioactive constituents of solitary wasp venoms and, in this study, the component profile of the venom from a solitary scoliid wasp, Scolia decorata ventralis, was investigated through a comprehensive analysis using LC-MS. Two peptides were synthesized, and their neuroprotective properties were evaluated. Methods A reverse-phase HPLC connected to ESI-MS was used for LC-MS analyses. Online mass fingerprinting was performed from TIC, and data-dependent tandem mass spectrometry gave the MS/MS spectra. The sequences of two major peptide components were determined by MALDI-TOF/TOF MS analysis, confirmed by solid phase synthesis. Using the synthetic peptides, biological activities were assessed. Cell integrity tests and neuroprotection analyzes using H2O2 as an oxidative stress inducer were performed for both peptides. Results Online mass fingerprinting revealed that the venom contains 123 components, and the MS/MS analysis resulted in 33 full sequences of peptide components. The two main peptides, α-scoliidine (DYVTVKGFSPLR) and β-scoliidine (DYVTVKGFSPLRKA), present homology with the bradykinin C-terminal. Despite this, both peptides did not behave as substrates or inhibitors of ACE, indicating that they do not interact with this metallopeptidase. In further studies, β-scoliidine, but not α -scoliidine, showed protective effects against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells through integrity and metabolism cell assays. Interestingly, β-scoliidine has the extension of the KA dipeptide at the C-terminal in comparison with α-scoliidine. Conclusion Comprehensive LC-MS and MS/MS analyses from the Scolia decorata ventralis venom displayed the component profile of this venom. β-scoliidine showed an effective cytoprotective effect, probably due to the observed increase in the number of cells. This is the first report of solitary wasp venom peptides showing neuroprotective activity.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Spider venom is a rich cocktail of neuroactive compounds designed to prey capture and defense against predators that act on neuronal membrane proteins, in particular, acetylcholinesterases (AChE) that regulate synaptic transmission through acetylcholine (ACh) hydrolysis - an excitatory neurotransmitter - and beta-secretases (BACE) that primarily cleave amyloid precursor proteins (APP), which are, in turn, relevant in the structural integrity of neurons. The present study provides preliminary evidence on the therapeutic potential of Phlogiellus bundokalbo venom against neurodegenerative diseases. Methods Spider venom was extracted by electrostimulation and fractionated by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) and characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS). Neuroactivity of the whole venom was observed by a neurobehavioral response from Terebrio molitor larvae in vivo and fractions were screened for their inhibitory activities against AChE and BACE in vitro. Results The whole venom from P. bundokalbo demonstrated neuroactivity by inducing excitatory movements from T. molitor for 15 min. Sixteen fractions collected produced diverse mass fragments from MALDI-TOF-MS ranging from 900-4500 Da. Eleven of sixteen fractions demonstrated AChE inhibitory activities with 14.34% (± 2.60e-4) to 62.05% (± 6.40e-5) compared with donepezil which has 86.34% (± 3.90e-5) inhibition (p > 0.05), while none of the fractions were observed to exhibit BACE inhibition. Furthermore, three potent fractions against AChE, F1, F3, and F16 displayed competitive and uncompetitive inhibitions compared to donepezil as the positive control. Conclusion The venom of P. bundokalbo contains compounds that demonstrate neuroactivity and anti-AChE activities in vitro, which could comprise possible therapeutic leads for the development of cholinergic compounds against neurological diseases.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Although scorpionism is recorded worldwide, some regions such as Iran present a higher incidence. Due to the great prevalence of scorpion stings in Khuzestan province, southwestern Iran, the present study examined the relationship between different climate parameters and the scorpion sting rate in this area from April 2010 to March 2015. Methods: In this cross-sectional descriptive-analytical study, we considered all scorpion sting cases recorded in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences. Data were analyzed using statistics, frequency distribution and Pearson’s correlation coefficient. Results: A total of 104,197 cases of scorpion stings was recorded from 2010 to 2015. The cumulative incidence of scorpion sting was 2.23%. The spatial distribution of scorpion stings showed that most cases occurred in the Dehdez district (4,504 scorpion stings/100,000 inhabitants) and the Masjed Soleyman county (4,069 scorpion stings/100,000 inhabitants). A significant association was found between climate factors (temperature, evaporation rate, sunshine duration, humidity, and precipitation) and the scorpion sting rate. An increase in rainfall and humidity coincided with a reduction in scorpion stings whereas an increase in temperature, evaporation, and sunshine duration was accompanied by a growth of scorpion stings. No significant correlation was found between wind velocity/direction and the incidence rate of stings. Moreover, the seasonal peak incidence of scorpion stings was recorded in summer (an average of 8,838 cases) and the lowest incidence was recorded during winter (an average of 1,286 cases). The annual trend of scorpion sting cases decreased during the period from 2010 to 2015. Conclusion: Climate variables can be a good index for predicting the incidence of scorpion stings in endemic regions. Since they occur mostly in the hot season, designing preventive measures in the counties and districts with a high incidence of scorpion stings such as Dehdez and Masjed Soleyman can minimize mortality and other burdens.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Scorpions are widely known for the neurotoxic effects of their venoms, which contain peptides affecting ionic channels. Although Colombia is recognized for its scorpion diversity, only a few studies are available describing the venom content. Methods: In this descriptive study, we analyzed the MS/MS sequence, electrophoretic and chromatographic profile linked to a bioinformatics analysis of the scorpions Chactas reticulatus (Chactidae), Opisthacanthus elatus (Hormuridae), Centruroides edwardsii (Buthidae) and Tityus asthenes (Buthidae) from Colombia. Results: Each scorpion showed a specific electrophoretic and chromatographic profile. The electrophoretic profiles indicate the presence of high molecular mass compounds in all venoms, with a predominance of low molecular mass compounds in the Buthidae species. Chromatographic profiles showed a similar pattern as the electrophoretic profiles. From the MS/MS analysis of the chromatographic collected fractions, we obtained internal peptide sequences corresponding to proteins reported in scorpions from the respective family of the analyzed samples. Some of these proteins correspond to neurotoxins affecting ionic channels, antimicrobial peptides and metalloproteinase-like fragments. In the venom of Tityus asthenes, the MSn analysis allowed the detection of two toxins affecting sodium channels covering 50% and 84% of the sequence respectively, showing 100% sequence similarity. Two sequences from Tityus asthenes showed sequence similarity with a phospholipase from Opisthacanthus cayaporum indicating the presence of this type of toxin in this species for the first time. One sequence matching a hypothetical secreted protein from Hottentotta judaicus was found in three of the studied venoms. We found that this protein is common in the Buthidae family whereas it has been reported in other families - such as Scorpionidae - and may be part of the evolutionary puzzle of venoms in these arachnids. Conclusion: Buthidae venoms from Colombia can be considered an important source of peptides similar to toxins affecting ionic channels. An interesting predicted antimicrobial peptide was detected in three of the analyzed venoms.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Naja mandalayensis is a spitting cobra from Myanmar. To the best of our knowledge, no studies on this venom composition have been conducted so far. On the other hand, few envenomation descriptions state that it elicits mainly local inflammation in the victims’ eyes, the preferred target of this spiting cobra. Symptoms would typically include burning and painful sensation, conjunctivitis, edema and temporary loss of vision. Methods We have performed a liquid-chromatography (C18-RP-HPLC) mass spectrometry (ESI-IT-TOF/MS) based approach in order to biochemically characterize N. mandalayensis venom. Results A wide variety of three-finger toxins (cardiotoxins) and metallopeptidases were detected. Less abundant, but still representative, were cysteine-rich secretory proteins, L-amino-acid oxidases, phospholipases A2, venom 5'-nucleotidase and a serine peptidase inhibitor. Other proteins were present, but were detected in a relatively small concentration. Conclusion The present study set the basis for a better comprehension of the envenomation from a molecular perspective and, by increasing the interest and information available for this species, allows future venom comparisons among cobras and their diverse venom proteins.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Snake venoms are composed of pharmacologically active proteins that are evolutionarily diverse, stable and specific to targets. Hence, venoms have been explored as a source of bioactive molecules in treating numerous diseases. Recent evidences suggest that snake venom proteins may affect the formation of new blood vessels. Excessive angiogenesis has been implicated in several pathologies including tumours, diabetic retinopathy, arthritis, inter alia. In the present study, we have examined the effects of P-I metalloproteinases isolated from Bothrops moojeni (BmMP-1) and Bothrops atrox (BaMP-1) and L-amino acid oxidases (LAAO) isolated from B. moojeni (BmLAAO) and B. atrox (BaLAAO) on biochemical and functional aspects of angiogenesis. Methods: P-I metalloproteinases and LAAO were purified from venom by molecular size exclusion and ion-exchange chromatography and subsequently confirmed using mass spectrometry. The P-I metalloproteinases were characterized by azocaseinolytic, fibrinogenolytic and gelatinase activity and LAAO activity was assessed by enzyme activity on L-amino acids. Influence of these proteins on apoptosis and cell cycle in endothelial cells was analysed by flow cytometry. The angiogenic activity was determined by in vitro 3D spheroid assay, Matrigel tube forming assay, and in vivo agarose plug transformation in mice. Results: P-I metalloproteinases exhibited azocaseinolytic activity, cleaved α and partially β chain of fibrinogen, and displayed catalytic activity on gelatin. LAAO showed differential activity on L-amino acids. Flow cytometry analysis indicated that both P-I metalloproteinases and LAAO arrested the cells in G0/G1 phase and further induced both necrosis and apoptosis in endothelial cells. In vitro, P-I metalloproteinases and LAAO exhibited significant anti-angiogenic properties in 3D spheroid and Matrigel models by reducing sprout outgrowth and tube formation. Using agarose plug transplants in mice harbouring P-I metalloproteinases and LAAO we demonstrated a marked disruption of vasculature at the periphery. Conclusion: Our research suggests that P-I metalloproteinases and LAAO exhibit anti-angiogenic properties in vitro and in vivo.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Phoneutria nigriventer venom contains Phα1β. This toxin and its recombinant form have a remarkable analgesic potential that is associated with blockage of voltage-gated calcium channels and TRPA1 receptors. Although morphine is a mainstay drug to treat moderate and severe pain related to cancer, it has serious and dose-limiting side effects. Combining recombinant Phα1β and morphine to treat pain is an interesting approach that has been gaining attention. Therefore, a quantitative and reliable method to establish the strength of the antinociceptive interaction between these two substances is necessary. The present study was designed to investigate the nature of the functional antinociceptive (analgesic) interaction between Phα1β recombinant toxin and morphine in a model of cancer pain. Methods: Melanoma was produced by intraplantar inoculation of B16-F10 cells into the right paw of C57BL/6J mice. Von Frey filaments measured the paw-withdrawal threshold after intrathecal administration of morphine, recombinant Phα1β, and their combination. Thermal hyperalgesia was assessed using Hargreaves apparatus. The degree of interaction was evaluated using isobolographic analysis. Spontaneous and forced motor performance was assessed with the open-field and rotarod tests, respectively. Results: Co-administration of recombinant Phα1β and morphine synergistically reverses the melanoma-induced mechanical hyperalgesia. The potency of the mixture, measured as the effective dose to reach 50% of maximum possible effect (MPE) in ameliorating mechanical hyperalgesia, was about twice fold higher than expected if the interaction between morphine and recombinant Phα1β was merely additive. Treatment with the combination at doses necessary to reach 50% of MPE caused no spontaneous nor forced motor alterations. Conclusion: The combinatorial use of recombinant Phα1β and morphine allows significant and effective dose reduction of both agents, which has translational potential for opioid-sparing approaches in pain management related to cancer.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The Malayan blue coral snake, Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps, is a medically important venomous snake in Southeast Asia. However, the complexity and diversity of its venom genes remain little explored. Methods: To address this, we applied high-throughput next-generation sequencing to profile the venom gland cDNA libraries of C. bivirgata flaviceps. The transcriptome was de novo assembled, followed by gene annotation, multiple sequence alignment and analyses of the transcripts. Results: A total of 74 non-redundant toxin-encoding genes from 16 protein families were identified, with 31 full-length toxin transcripts. Three-finger toxins (3FTx), primarily delta-neurotoxins and cardiotoxin-like/cytotoxin-like proteins, were the most diverse and abundantly expressed. The major 3FTx (Cb_FTX01 and Cb_FTX02) are highly similar to calliotoxin, a delta-neurotoxin previously reported in the venom of C. bivirgata. This study also revealed a conserved tyrosine residue at position 4 of the cardiotoxin-like/cytotoxin-like protein genes in the species. These variants, proposed as Y-type CTX-like proteins, are similar to the H-type CTX from cobras. The substitution is conservative though, preserving a less toxic form of elapid CTX-like protein, as indicated by the lack of venom cytotoxicity in previous laboratory and clinical findings. The ecological role of these toxins, however, remains unclear. The study also uncovered unique transcripts that belong to phospholipase A2 of Groups IA and IB, and snake venom metalloproteinases of PIII subclass, which show sequence variations from those of Asiatic elapids. Conclusion: The venom gland transcriptome of C. bivirgata flaviceps from Malaysia was de novo assembled and annotated. The diversity and expression profile of toxin genes provide insights into the biological and medical importance of the species.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Diverse and unique bioactive neurotoxins known as conopeptides or conotoxins are produced by venomous marine cone snails. Currently, these small and stable molecules are of great importance as research tools and platforms for discovering new drugs and therapeutics. Therefore, the characterization of Conus venom is of great significance, especially for poorly studied species. Methods: In this study, we used bioanalytical techniques to determine the venom profile and emphasize the functional composition of conopeptides in Conus taeniatus, a neglected worm-hunting cone snail. Results: The proteomic analysis revealed that 84.0% of the venom proteins were between 500 and 4,000 Da, and 16.0% were > 4,000 Da. In C. taeniatus venom, 234 peptide fragments were identified and classified as conotoxin precursors or non-conotoxin proteins. In this process, 153 conotoxin precursors were identified and matched to 23 conotoxin precursors and hormone superfamilies. Notably, the four conotoxin superfamilies T (22.87%), O1 (17.65%), M (13.1%) and O2 (9.8%) were the most abundant peptides in C. taeniatus venom, accounting for 63.40% of the total conotoxin diversity. On the other hand, 48 non-conotoxin proteins were identified in the venom of C. taeniatus. Moreover, several possibly biologically active peptide matches were identified, and putative applications of the peptides were assigned. Conclusion: Our study showed that the composition of the C. taeniatus-derived proteome is comparable to that of other Conus species and contains an effective mix of toxins, ionic channel inhibitors and antimicrobials. Additionally, it provides a guidepost for identifying novel conopeptides from the venom of C. taeniatus and discovering conopeptides of potential pharmaceutical importance.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Snake venoms are complex mixtures of toxic proteins or peptides encoded by various gene families that function synergistically to incapacitate prey. In the present study, in order to unravel the proteomic repertoire of Deinagkistrodon acutus venom, some trace abundance components were analyzed. Methods Shotgun proteomic approach combined with shotgun nano-LC-ESI-MS/MS were employed to characterize the medically important D. acutus venom, after collected samples were enriched with the combinatorial peptide ligand library (CPLL). Results This avenue helped us find some trace components, undetected before, in D. acutus venom. The results indicated that D. acutus venom comprised 84 distinct proteins from 10 toxin families and 12 other proteins. These results are more than twice the number of venom components obtained from previous studies, which were only 29 distinct proteins obtained through RP-HPLC for the venom of the same species. The present results indicated that in D. acutus venom, the most abundant components (66.9%) included metalloproteinases, serine proteinases, and C-type lectin proteins; the medium abundant components (13%) comprised phospholipases A2 (PLA2) and 5’-nucleotidases and nucleases; whereas least abundant components (6%) were aminopeptidases, L-amino acid oxidases (LAAO), neurotoxins and disintegrins; and the trace components. The last were undetected before the use of conventional shotgun proteomics combined with shotgun nano-LC-ESI-MS/MS, such as cysteine-rich secretory proteins Da-CRPa, phospholipases B-like 1, phospholipases B (PLB), nerve growth factors (NGF), glutaminyl-peptide cyclortransferases (QC), and vascular non-inflammatory molecules 2 (VNN2). Conclusion These findings demonstrated that the CPLL enrichment method worked well in finding the trace toxin proteins in D. acutus venom, in contrast with the previous venomic characterization of D. acutus by conventional LC-MS/MS. In conclusion, this approach combined with the CPLL enrichment was effective for allowing us to explore the hidden D. acutus venomic profile and extended the list of potential venom toxins.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major worldwide health problem that can cause liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The clinical treatment of HCV infection mainly relies on the use of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) that are usually expensive and have side effects. Therefore, achieving the discovery of more successful agents is always urgent. In this context, antiviral compounds that inhibit viral infections and disease progression with important therapeutic activities have been identified in animal venoms including arthropod toxins. This indicates that arthropod venoms represent a good natural source of promising candidates for new antivirals. Methods The antiviral activity of the wasp venom (WV), isolated from the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis), was assessed using cell culture technique with human hepatocellular carcinoma-derived cell line (Huh7it-1) and the recombinant strain of HCV genotype 2a (JFH1). Results The results revealed that WV inhibited HCV infectivity with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 10 ng/mL, while the 50% cytotoxic concentration (CC50) was 11,000 ng/mL. Time of addition experiment showed that the WV blocked HCV attachment/entry to the cells probably through virucidal effect. On the other hand, the venom showed no inhibitory effect on HCV replication. Conclusion WV can inhibit the entry stage of HCV infection at non-cytotoxic concentrations. Therefore, it could be considered a potential candidate for characterization of natural anti-HCV agents targeting the entry step.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The efficacy of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSC) and its extracellular vesicles has been demonstrated for a broad spectrum of indications, including kidney diseases. However, BM-MSC donor characteristics and their potential are not usually considered. Therefore, the present work aims to evaluate the nephroprotective capacity of sEV secreted by BM-MSC from trained rats inunilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) model. Methods: BM-MSC was characterized by their differentiation potential and immunophenotypic markers. The sEV were isolated by ultracentrifugation and characterized by nanoparticle tracking analysis and western blot. Its miRNA cargo was examined by quantitative PCR analysis for miR-26a, 126a, and 296. Wistar rats were submitted to UUO procedure and concomitantly treated with sEV secreted by BM-MSC from the untrained andtrained rats. The kidney tissue from all groups was evaluated for fibrosis mediators (transforming growth factor beta1 and collagen), CD34-angiogenesis marker, and hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α). Results: Treadmill training stimulated in BM-MSC the production of sEV loaded with pro-angiogenic miR-296. The treatment with this sEVin UUO-rats was able to attenuate collagen accumulation and increase CD34 and HIF-1α in the kidney tissue when compared to untrained ones. Tubular proximal cells under hypoxia and exposed to BM-MSC sEV demonstrate accumulation in HIF-1α and NFR-2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2), possibly to mediate the response to hypoxia and oxidative stress, under these conditions. Conclusion: The BM-MSC sEV from trained animals presented an increased nephroprotective potential compared to untrained vesicles by carrying 296-angiomiR and contributing to angiogenesis in UUO model.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: In the present study, we have tested whether specimens of the medically relevant scorpion Tityus pachyurus, collected from two climatically and ecologically different regions, differ in the biological activities of the venom. Methods: Scorpions were collected in Tolima and Huila, Colombia. Chemical profiles of the crude venom were obtained from 80 scorpions for each region, using SDS-PAGE and RP-HPLC. Assays for phospholipase A2, direct and indirect hemolytic, proteolytic, neuromuscular, antibacterial, and insecticidal activities were carried out. Results: The electrophoretic profiles of venom from the two regions showed similar bands of 6-14 kDa, 36-45 kDa, 65 kDa and 97 kDa. However, bands between 36 kDa and 65 kDa were observed with more intensity in venoms from Tolima, and a 95 kDa band occurred only in venoms from Huila. The chromatographic profile of the venoms showed differences in the intensity of some peaks, which could be associated with changes in the abundance of some components between both populations. Phospholipase A2 and hemolytic activities were not observable, whereas both venoms showed proteolytic activity towards casein. Insecticidal activity of the venoms from both regions showed significant variation in potency, the bactericidal activity was variable and low for both venoms. Moreover, no differences were observed in the neuromuscular activity assay. Conclusion: Our results reveal some variation in the activity of the venom between both populations, which could be explained by the ecological adaptations like differences in feeding, altitude and/or diverse predator exposure. However more in-depth studies are necessary to determine the drivers behind the differences in venom composition and activities.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: Almost all Tityus characterized toxins are from subgenera Atreus and Tityus, there are only a few data about toxins produced by Archaeotityus, an ancient group in Tityus genus. Methods: Tityus (Archaeotityus) mattogrossensis crude venom was fractionated by high performance liquid chromatography, the major fractions were tested in a frog sciatic nerve single sucrose-gap technique. Two fractions (Tm1 and Tm2) were isolated, partially sequenced by MALDI-TOF/MS and electrophysiological assayed on HEK293 Nav 1.3, HEK293 Nav 1.6, DUM and DRG cells. Results: The sucrose-gap technique showed neurotoxicity in four fractions. One fraction caused a delay of action potential repolarization and other three caused a reduction in amplitude. An electrophysiological assay showed that Tm1 is active on HEK293 Nav 1.3, HEK293 Nav 1.6, DUM and DRG cells, and Tm2 on HEK293 Nav 1.3 and DRG cells, but not in HEK293 Nav 1.6. In addition, Tm1 and Tm2 did promote a shift to more negative potentials strongly suggesting that both are α-NaScTx. Conclusion: Although Tityus (Archaeotityus) mattogrossensis is considered an ancient group in Tityus genus, the primary structure of Tm1 and Tm2 is more related to Tityus subgenus. The patch clamp electrophysiological tests suggest that Tm1 and Tm2 are NaScTx, and also promoted no shift to more negative potentials, strongly suggesting that both are α-NaScTx. This paper aimed to explore and characterize for the first time toxins from the ancient scorpion Tityus (Archaeotityus) mattogrossensis.
Abstract in English:Abstract A new concept of multisystem disease has emerged as a long-term condition following mild-severe COVID-19 infection. The main symptoms of this affection are breathlessness, chest pain, and fatigue. We present here the clinical case of four COVID-19 patients during hospitalization and 60 days after hospital discharge. Physiological impairment of all patients was assessed by spirometry, dyspnea score, arterial blood gas, and 6-minute walk test 60 days after hospital discharge, and computed tomographic scan 90 days after discharge. All patients had fatigue, which was not related to hypoxemia or impaired spirometry values, and interstitial lung alterations, which occurred in both mechanically ventilated and non-mechanically ventilated patients. In conclusion, identifying the prevalence and patterns of permanent lung damage is paramount in preventing and treating COVID-19-induced fibrotic lung disease. Additionally, and based on our preliminary results, it will be also relevant to establish long-term outpatient programs for these individuals.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background Skin lesions of patients affected by non-ulcerated cutaneous leishmaniasis (NUCL) caused by L. (L.) infantum chagasi are characterized by lymphohistiocytic inflammatory infiltrate associated with epithelioid granuloma and scarce parasitism. However, the in situ cellular immune response of these patients is unclear. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to characterize the cellular immune response in the skin lesions of patients affected by NUCL. Methods Twenty biopsies were processed by immunohistochemistry using primary antibodies to T lymphocytes (CD4, CD8), NK cells, B lymphocytes, macrophages, nitric oxide synthase and interferon-gamma. Results Immunohistochemistry revealed higher expression of all cellular types and molecules (IFN-γ, iNOS) in the dermis of diseased skin compared to the skin of healthy individuals (p < 0.05). Morphometric analysis performed in the skin lesions sections showed the predominance of CD8+ T lymphocytes in the mononuclear infiltrate, followed by macrophages, mostly iNOS+, a response that could be mediated by IFN-γ. Conclusion Our study improves knowledge of the cellular immune response in non-ulcerated or atypical cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by L. (L.) infantum chagasi in Central America and pointed to the pivotal participation of CD8+ T lymphocytes in the host defense mechanisms against the parasite in patients with NUCL.
Abstract in English:Abstract Background: The early symptoms of leptospirosis and dengue fever are difficult to distinguish and can cause diagnostic confusion. Due to the large dengue epidemics that has occurred in Brazil in recent years, it is possible that cases of leptospirosis were unreported. Therefore, we performed a retrospective study to detect leptospirosis in patients who were tested for dengue, but whose laboratory diagnoses were negative. Methods: Sera samples from 2,017 patients from 48 cities located in the central region of São Paulo state, Brazil, were studied. All samples were subjected to the microscopic agglutination test (MAT), 305 of which were taken from patients five days or less since the onset of symptoms, and were additionally subjected to real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Results: The overall prevalence of leptospirosis cases was 21 (1.04%), with 20 through MAT (18 for Icterohaemorrhagiae and two for the Cynopteri serogroup) and one through PCR (amplicon sequencing compatible with Leptospira interrogans). According to previously established criteria, eight cases of leptospirosis were classified as “confirmed” and 13 as “probable”. The Brazilian notification system for health surveillance had no records for 16 patients positive for leptospirosis and, thus, they were considered unreported cases. Statistical analyses revealed that the prevalence of leptospirosis was higher in men (1.56%) than in women (0.56%), and the mean age was higher in positive patients (43.7 years) than in negative ones (32.3 years). Conclusion: The results indicated that patients suspected of dengue fever had evidence of leptospirosis or Leptospira infection, and most of these cases were unreported in the Brazilian notification system. The high burden of dengue may contribute to the misdiagnosis of leptospirosis, and health professionals should increase their awareness of leptospirosis as an important differential diagnosis of patients with suspicion of dengue.