Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research]]> vol. 30 num. 3 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Useful Web sites for researchers studying proteins</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Animal models of anxiety</b>: <b>an ethological perspective</b>]]> In the field of anxiety research, animal models are used as screening tools in the search for compounds with therapeutic potential and as simulations for research on mechanisms underlying emotional behaviour. However, a solely pharmacological approach to the validation of such tests has resulted in distinct problems with their applicability to systems other than those involving the benzodiazepine/GABAA receptor complex. In this context, recent developments in our understanding of mammalian defensive behaviour have not only prompted the development of new models but also attempts to refine existing ones. The present review focuses on the application of ethological techniques to one of the most widely used animal models of anxiety, the elevated plus-maze paradigm. This fresh approach to an established test has revealed a hitherto unrecognized multidimensionality to plus-maze behaviour and, as it yields comprehensive behavioural profiles, has many advantages over conventional methodology. This assertion is supported by reference to recent work on the effects of diverse manipulations including psychosocial stress, benzodiazepines, GABA receptor ligands, neurosteroids, 5-HT1A receptor ligands, and panicolytic/panicogenic agents. On the basis of this review, it is suggested that other models of anxiety may well benefit from greater attention to behavioural detail <![CDATA[<b>Evolution of circadian organization in vertebrates</b>]]> Circadian organization means the way in which the entire circadian system above the cellular level is put together physically and the principles and rules that determine the interactions among its component parts which produce overt rhythms of physiology and behavior. Understanding this organization and its evolution is of practical importance as well as of basic interest. The first major problem that we face is the difficulty of making sense of the apparently great diversity that we observe in circadian organization of diverse vertebrates. Some of this diversity falls neatly into place along phylogenetic lines leading to firm generalizations: i) in all vertebrates there is a "circadian axis" consisting of the retinas, the pineal gland and the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), ii) in many non-mammalian vertebrates of all classes (but not in any mammals) the pineal gland is both a photoreceptor and a circadian oscillator, and iii) in all non-mammalian vertebrates (but not in any mammals) there are extraretinal (and extrapineal) circadian photoreceptors. An interesting explanation of some of these facts, especially the differences between mammals and other vertebrates, can be constructed on the assumption that early in their evolution mammals passed through a "nocturnal bottleneck". On the other hand, a good deal of the diversity among the circadian systems of vertebrates does not fall neatly into place along phylogenetic lines. In the present review we will consider how we might better understand such "phylogenetically incoherent" diversity and what sorts of new information may help to further our understanding of the evolution of circadian organization in vertebrates <![CDATA[<b>Calcium handling by vascular myocytes in hypertension</b>]]> Calcium ions (Ca2+) trigger the contraction of vascular myocytes and the level of free intracellular Ca2+ within the myocyte is precisely regulated by sequestration and extrusion mechanisms. Extensive evidence indicates that a defect in the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ plays a role in the augmented vascular reactivity characteristic of clinical and experimental hypertension. For example, arteries from spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have an increased contractile sensitivity to extracellular Ca2+ and intracellular Ca2+ levels are elevated in aortic smooth muscle cells of SHR. We hypothesize that these changes are due to an increase in membrane Ca2+ channel density and possibly function in vascular myocytes from hypertensive animals. Several observations using various experimental approaches support this hypothesis: 1) the contractile activity in response to depolarizing stimuli is increased in arteries from hypertensive animals demonstrating increased voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel activity in hypertension; 2) Ca2+ channel agonists such as Bay K 8644 produce contractions in isolated arterial segments from hypertensive rats and minimal contraction in those from normotensive rats; 3) intracellular Ca2+ concentration is abnormally increased in vascular myocytes from hypertensive animals following treatment with Ca2+ channel agonists and depolarizing interventions, and 4) using the voltage-clamp technique, the inward Ca2+ current in arterial myocytes from hypertensive rats is nearly twice as large as that from myocytes of normotensive rats. We suggest that an alteration in Ca2+ channel function and/or an increase in Ca2+ channel density, resulting from increased channel synthesis or reduced turnover, underlies the increased vascular reactivity characteristic of hypertension <![CDATA[<b>Control of the phosphorylation of the astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the immature rat hippocampus by glutamate and calcium ions</b>: <b> possible key factor in astrocytic plasticity</b>]]> The present review describes recent research on the regulation by glutamate and Ca2+ of the phosphorylation state of the intermediate filament protein of the astrocytic cytoskeleton, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), in immature hippocampal slices. The results of this research are discussed against a background of modern knowledge of the functional importance of astrocytes in the brain and of the structure and dynamic properties of intermediate filament proteins. Astrocytes are now recognized as partners with neurons in many aspects of brain function with important roles in neural plasticity. Site-specific phosphorylation of intermediate filament proteins, including GFAP, has been shown to regulate the dynamic equilibrium between the polymerized and depolymerized state of the filaments and to play a fundamental role in mitosis. Glutamate was found to increase the phosphorylation state of GFAP in hippocampal slices from rats in the post-natal age range of 12-16 days in a reaction that was dependent on external Ca2+. The lack of external Ca2+ in the absence of glutamate also increased GFAP phosphorylation to the same extent. These effects of glutamate and Ca2+ were absent in adult hippocampal slices, where the phosphorylation of GFAP was completely Ca2+-dependent. Studies using specific agonists of glutamate receptors showed that the glutamate response was mediated by a G protein-linked group II metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR). Since group II mGluRs do not act by liberating Ca2+ from internal stores, it is proposed that activation of the receptor by glutamate inhibits Ca2+ entry into the astrocytes and consequently down-regulates a Ca2+-dependent dephosphorylation cascade regulating the phosphorylation state of GFAP. The functional significance of these results may be related to the narrow developmental window when the glutamate response is present. In the rat brain this window corresponds to the period of massive synaptogenesis during which astrocytes are known to proliferate. Possibly, glutamate liberated from developing synapses during this period may signal an increase in the phosphorylation <![CDATA[<b>Genomic characterization of Brazilian hepatitis C virus genotypes 1a and 1b</b>]]> Parts of 5' non-coding (5' NC) and of E1 envelope regions of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome were amplified from sera of 26 Brazilian anti-HCV antibody-positive patients using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Fourteen samples were PCR positive with primers from the 5' NC region and 8 of them were also positive with primers from the E1 region. A genomic segment of 176 bp from the E1 region of 7 isolates was directly sequenced from PCR products. The sequences were compared with those of HCV strains isolated in other countries and the Brazilian isolates were classified by phylogenetic analysis into genotypes 1a and 1b. This could have a clinical importance since it has been shown that individuals infected with type 1 viruses are less likely to respond to treatment with interferon than individuals infected with types 2 and 3 viruses. Two quasispecies isolated from the same patient with an interval of 13 months differed by two base substitutions (1.1%). The sequence of another isolate presented a three-nucleotide deletion at codon 329 <![CDATA[<b>Assessment of the degree of contamination of rat germ cell preparations using specific cDNA probes</b>]]> Recent reports showing a decrease in sperm count in men have brought new concerns about male infertility. Animal models have been widely used to provide some relevant information about the human male gamete, and extrapolations are made to men and to the clinical context. The present study assesses one of the methods used for separation of germ cells of the adult rat testis, namely centrifugal elutriation followed by density gradients (Percoll®). This method was chosen since it presents the best results for cell purity in separating germ cells from the rat testis. A comparison between continuous and discontinuous Percoll® gradients was performed in order to identify the best type of gradient to separate the cells. Maximal cell purity was obtained for spermatocytes (81 ± 8.2%, mean ± SEM) and spermatids (84 ± 2.6%) using centrifugal elutriation followed by continuous Percoll® gradients. A significant difference in purity was observed between elongating spermatids harvested from continuous Percoll® gradients and from discontinuous gradients. Molecular analysis was used to assess cell contamination by employing specific probes, namely transition protein 2 (TP2), mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase II (COX II), and sulfated glycoprotein 1 (SGP1). Molecular analysis of the samples demonstrated that morphological criteria are efficient in characterizing the main composition of the cell suspension, but are not reliable for identifying minimal contamination from other cells. Reliable cell purity data should be established using molecular analysis <![CDATA[<b>Synergistic effect of glucose and prolactin on GLUT2 expression in cultured neonatal rat islets</b>]]> We studied the synergistic effect of glucose and prolactin (PRL) on insulin secretion and GLUT2 expression in cultured neonatal rat islets. After 7 days in culture, basal insulin secretion (2.8 mM glucose) was similar in control and PRL-treated islets (1.84 ± 0.06% and 2.08 ± 0.07% of the islet insulin content, respectively). At 5.6 and 22 mM glucose, insulin secretion was significantly higher in PRL-treated than in control islets, achieving 1.38 ± 0.15% and 3.09 ± 0.21% of the islet insulin content in control and 2.43 ± 0.16% and 4.31 ± 0.24% of the islet insulin content in PRL-treated islets, respectively. The expression of the glucose transporter GLUT2 in B-cell membranes was dose-dependently increased by exposure of the islet to increasing glucose concentrations. This effect was potentiated in islets cultured for 7 days in the presence of 2 µg/ml PRL. At 5.6 and 10 mM glucose, the increase in GLUT2 expression in PRL-treated islets was 75% and 150% higher than that registered in the respective control. The data presented here indicate that insulin secretion, induced by different concentrations of glucose, correlates well with the expression of the B-cell-specific glucose transporter GLUT2 in pancreatic islets <![CDATA[<b>Mini-Mu insertions in the tetracycline resistance determinant from <i>Proteus mirabilis</i></b>]]> The inducible tetracycline resistance determinant isolated from Proteus mirabilis cloned into the plasmid pACYC177 was mutagenized by insertion of a mini-Mu-lac phage in order to define the regions in the cloned sequences encoding the structural and regulatory proteins. Three different types of mutants were obtained: one lost the resistance phenotype and became Lac+; another expressed the resistance at lower levels and constitutively; the third was still dependent on induction but showed a lower minimal inhibitory concentration. The mutant phenotypes and the locations of the insertions indicate that the determinant is composed of a repressor gene and a structural gene which are not transcribed divergently as are other known tetracycline determinants isolated from Gram-negative bacteria <![CDATA[<b>Diclofenac plasma protein binding</b>: <b>PK-PD modelling in cardiac patients submitted to cardiopulmonary bypass</b>]]> Twenty-four surgical patients of both sexes without cardiac, hepatic, renal or endocrine dysfunctions were divided into two groups: 10 cardiac surgical patients submitted to myocardial revascularization and cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), 3 females and 7 males aged 65 ± 11 years, 74 ± 16 kg body weight, 166 ± 9 cm height and 1.80 ± 0.21 m2 body surface area (BSA), and control, 14 surgical patients not submitted to CPB, 11 female and 3 males aged 41 ± 14 years, 66 ± 14 kg body weight, 159 ± 9 cm height and 1.65 ± 0.16 m2 BSA (mean ± SD). Sodium diclofenac (1 mg/kg, im Voltaren 75® twice a day) was administered to patients in the Recovery Unit 48 h after surgery. Venous blood samples were collected during a period of 0-12 h and analgesia was measured by the visual analogue scale (VAS) during the same period. Plasma diclofenac levels were measured by high performance liquid chromatography. A two-compartment open model was applied to obtain the plasma decay curve and to estimate kinetic parameters. Plasma diclofenac protein binding decreased whereas free plasma diclofenac levels were increased five-fold in CPB patients. Data obtained for analgesia reported as the maximum effect (EMAX) were: 25% VAS (CPB) vs 10% VAS (control), P&lt;0.05, median measured by the visual analogue scale where 100% is equivalent to the highest level of pain. To correlate the effect versus plasma diclofenac levels, the EMAX sigmoid model was applied. A prolongation of the mean residence time for maximum effect (MRTEMAX) was observed without any change in lag-time in CPB in spite of the reduced analgesia reported for these patients, during the time-dose interval. In conclusion, the extent of plasma diclofenac protein binding was influenced by CPB with clinically relevant kinetic-dynamic consequences <![CDATA[<b>Neutralizing capacity of a new monovalent anti-<i>Bothrops atrox</i> antivenom</b>: <b> comparison with two commercial antivenoms</b>]]> Three horse-derived antivenoms were tested for their ability to neutralize lethal, hemorrhagic, edema-forming, defibrinating and myotoxic activities induced by the venom of Bothrops atrox from Antioquia and Chocó (Colombia). The following antivenoms were used: a) polyvalent (crotaline) antivenom produced by Instituto Clodomiro Picado (Costa Rica), b) monovalent antibothropic antivenom produced by Instituto Nacional de Salud-INS (Bogotá), and c) a new monovalent anti-B. atrox antivenom produced with the venom of B. atrox from Antioquia and Chocó. The three antivenoms neutralized all toxic activities tested albeit with different potencies. The new monovalent anti-B. atrox antivenom showed the highest neutralizing ability against edema-forming and defibrinating effects of B. atrox venom (41 ± 2 and 100 ± 32 µl antivenom/mg venom, respectively), suggesting that it should be useful in the treatment of B. atrox envenomation in Antioquia and Chocó <![CDATA[<b>Modification of pyruvate kinase and lactate dehydrogenase in foot muscle of the sea mussel <i>Mytilus galloprovincialis</i> under anaerobiosis and recovery</b>]]> The modification of pyruvate kinase (PK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity in foot muscle of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis during exposure to air and recovery in water was investigated. In the course of exposure to air, the activity of these enzymes measured at high and low substrate concentrations showed successive increases and decreases. Returning the mussels to water after exposure to air affected enzyme activity in a manner similar to anaerobiosis. When measuring at saturated concentrations of substrates and substrate and coenzyme for PK and LDH, respectively, the maximum activation of PK (37%) was observed at 4 h of animal exposure to air, and for LDH (67%) at 6 h exposure to air. During 24 h of exposure of animals to air, PK activity practically reached the stock level, while LDH was still activated (148%). The change in lactate dehydrogenase activity in mussel muscle during anoxia and recovery is described here for the first time. Variation in pyruvate kinase activity during exposure to air and recovery is linked to the alteration of half-maximal saturation constants and maximal velocity for both substrates. The possible role of reversible phosphorylation in the regulation of pyruvate kinase and lactate dehydrogenase properties is discussed <![CDATA[<b>Proteolytic release and partial characterization of human sperm-surface glycopeptides</b>]]> Sperm-surface glycopeptides were obtained from intact sperm membranes after proteolytic release by different enzymatic treatments such as autoproteolysis, trypsin, papain and pronase. Glycopeptides were isolated, their properties and composition were examined, and their monosaccharide and amino acid constituents were characterized. The monosaccharides identified were fucose, mannose, galactose, N-acetylglucosamine, and N-acetylgalactosamine, which form part of more than one type of oligosaccharide units. Autoproteolytic treatment mainly provided O-glycosidic type oligosaccharides, while a mixture of O- and N-glycosidic oligosaccharides was obtained in variable proportions when treated with trypsin, papain or pronase. The highest degree of peptide cleavage was obtained with pronase. Despite the higher yields reached with trypsin, these glycopeptides contain the lowest percentage of oligosaccharide chains. Proteolytic treatment provides a simple, rapid procedure for the isolation of glycopeptides from the sperm surface <![CDATA[<b>Glycosphingolipid antigens from <i>Leishmania </i>(<i>L</i>.) <i>amazonensis </i>amastigotes</b>: <b>Binding of anti-glycosphingolipid monoclonal antibodies <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i></b>]]> Specific glycosphingolipid antigens of Leishmania (L.) amazonensis amastigotes reactive with the monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) ST-3, ST-4 and ST-5 were isolated, and their structure was partially elucidated by negative ion fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry. The glycan moieties of five antigens presented linear sequences of hexoses and N-acetylhexosamines ranging from four to six sugar residues, and the ceramide moieties were found to be composed by a sphingosine d18:1 and fatty acids 24:1 or 16:0. Affinities of the three monoclonal antibodies to amastigote glycosphingolipid antigens were also analyzed by ELISA. MoAb ST-3 reacted equally well with all glycosphingolipid antigens tested, whereas ST-4 and ST-5 presented higher affinities to glycosphingolipids with longer carbohydrate chains, with five or more sugar units (slow migrating bands on HPTLC). Macrophages isolated from footpad lesions of BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania (L.) amazonensis were incubated with MoAb ST-3 and, by indirect immunofluorescence, labeling was only detected on the parasite, whereas no fluorescence was observed on the surface of the infected macrophages, indicating that these glycosphingolipid antigens are not acquired from the host cell but synthesized by the amastigote. Intravenous administration of 125I-labeled ST-3 antibody to infected BALB/c mice showed that MoAb ST-3 accumulated significantly in the footpad lesions in comparison to blood and other tissues <![CDATA[<b>Association between polyclonal B cell activation and the presence of autoantibodies in mice infected with <i>Yersinia enterocolitica</i> O:3</b>]]> Eight-week old conventional female Swiss mice were inoculated intravenously with Yersinia enterocolitica O:3. A second group of normal mice was used as control. Five mice from each group were bled by heart puncture and their spleens were removed for spleen cell collection on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 14th and 21st day after infection. Immunoglobulin-secreting spleen cells were detected by the isotype-specific protein A plaque assay. Total immunoglobulin levels were determined in mouse serum by single radial immunodiffusion and the presence of autoantibodies was determined by ELISA. We observed a marked increase in the total number of cells secreting immunoglobulins of all isotypes as early as on the 3rd day post-infection and the peak of secretion occurred on the 7th day. At the peak of the immunoglobulin response, the total number of secreting cells was 19 times higher than that of control mice and most immunoglobulin-secreting cells were of the IgG2a isotype. On the 10th day post-infection, total serum immunoglobulin values were 2 times higher in infected animals when compared to the control group, and continued at this level up to the 21st day post-infection. Serum absorption with viable Y. enterocolitica cells had little effect on antibody levels detected by single radial immunodiffusion. Analysis of serum autoantibody levels revealed that Y. enterocolitica infection induced an increase of anti-myosin and anti-myelin immunoglobulins. The sera did not react with collagen. The present study demonstrates that Y. enterocolitica O:3 infection induces polyclonal activation of murine B cells which is correlated with the activation of some autoreactive lymphocyte clones <![CDATA[<b>Response threshold to aversive stimuli in stimulated early protein-malnourished rats</b>]]> Two animal models of pain were used to study the effects of short-term protein malnutrition and environmental stimulation on the response threshold to aversive stimuli. Eighty male Wistar rats were used. Half of the pups were submitted to malnutrition by feeding their mothers a 6% protein diet from 0 to 21 days of age while the mothers of the other half (controls) were well nourished, receiving 16% protein. From 22 to 70 days all rats were fed commercial lab chow. Half of the animals in the malnourished and control groups were maintained under stimulating conditions, including a 3-min daily handling from 0 to 70 days and an enriched living cage after weaning. The other half was reared in a standard living cage. At 70 days, independent groups of rats were exposed to the shock threshold or to the tail-flick test. The results showed lower body and brain weights in malnourished rats when compared with controls at weaning and testing. In the shock threshold test the malnourished animals were more sensitive to electric shock and environmental stimulation increased the shock threshold. No differences due to diet or environmental stimulation were found in the tail-flick procedure. These results demonstrate that protein malnutrition imposed only during the lactation period is efficient in inducing hyperreactivity to electric shock and that environmental stimulation attenuates the differences in shock threshold produced by protein malnutrition <![CDATA[<b>Atherosclerosis and acute arterial thrombosis in rabbits</b>: <b>a model using balloon desendothelization without dietary intervention</b>]]> Acute thrombosis can be induced in rabbits by a triggering protocol using Russell's viper venom and histamine given after 8 months of a 1% cholesterol diet and balloon desendothelization. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that aortic desendothelization performed 4 months before the triggering protocol without a high cholesterol diet is a highly effective and less expensive way of producing arterial atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Nineteen male New Zealand white rabbits on a normal diet were studied. The control group (N = 9) received no intervention during the 4-month observation period, while the other group (N = 10) was submitted to aortic balloon desendothelization using a 4F Fogarty catheter. At the end of this period, all animals were killed 48 h after receiving the first dose of the triggering treatment. Eight of 10 rabbits (80%) in the balloon-trauma group presented platelet-rich arterial thrombosis while none of the animals in the control group had thrombus formation (P&lt;0.01). Thus, this model, using balloon desendothelization without dietary manipulation, induces arterial atherosclerosis and thrombosis and may provide possibilities to test new therapeutic approaches <![CDATA[<b> Lead (Pb</b><b><sup>2+</sup>) and cadmium (Cd<sup>2+</sup>) inhibit the dipsogenic action of central beta-adrenergic stimulation by isoproterenol</b>]]> We have previously demonstrated that acute third ventricle injections of both Pb2+ and Cd2+ impair the dipsogenic response elicited by three different situations: dehydration and central cholinergic or angiotensinergic stimulation. ß-Adrenergic activation is part of the multifactorial integrated systems operating in drinking behavior control in the central nervous system. In the present study acute third ventricle injections of Pb2+ (3, 30 and 300 pmol/rat) or Cd2+ (0.3, 3 and 30 pmol/rat) blocked the dipsogenic response induced by third ventricle injections of isoproterenol (ISO; 160 nmol/rat) in a dose-dependent manner. Normohydrated animals receiving ISO + NaAc (sodium acetate) or saline (controls) displayed a high water intake after 120 min (ISO + saline = 5.78 &plusmn; 0.54 ml/100 g; ISO + NaAc = 6.00 &plusmn; 0.6 ml/100 g). After the same period, animals receiving ISO but pretreated with PbAc at the highest dose employed (300 pmol/rat) drank 0.78 &plusmn; 0.23 ml/100 g while those receiving ISO and pretreated with the highest dose of CdCl2 (30 pmol/rat) presented a water intake of 0.7 &plusmn; 0.30 ml/100 g. Third ventricle injections of CdCl2 (3 nmol/rat) or PbAc (3 nmol/rat) did not modify food intake in rats deprived of food for 24 h. Thus, general central nervous system depression explaining the antidipsogenic action of the metals can be safely excluded. It is concluded that both Pb2+ and Cd2+ inhibit water intake induced by central ß-adrenergic stimulation