Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases]]> vol. 26 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[São Paulo School of Advanced Sciences on Vaccines: an overview]]> Abstract Two years ago, we held an exciting event entitled the São Paulo School of Advanced Sciences on Vaccines (SPSASV). Sixty-eight Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows and independent researchers from 37 different countries met at the Mendes Plaza Hotel located in the city of Santos, SP - Brazil to discuss the challenges and the new frontiers of vaccinology. The SPSASV provided a critical and comprehensive view of vaccine research from basics to the current state-of-the-art techniques performed worldwide. For 10 days, we discussed all the aspects of vaccine development in 36 lectures, 53 oral presentations and 2 poster sessions. At the end of the course, participants were further encouraged to present a model of a grant proposal related to vaccine development against individual pathogens. Among the targeted pathogens were viruses (Chikungunya, HIV, RSV, and Influenza), bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Streptococcus pyogenes), parasites (Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax), and the worm Strongyloides stercoralis. This report highlights some of the knowledge shared at the SPSASV. <![CDATA[Why does the number of dangerous species of scorpions increase? The particular case of the genus <em>Leiurus</em> Ehrenberg (Buthidae) in Africa]]> Abstract The aim of this contribution is to bring some precise information on the reasons why the number of noxious scorpion species is constantly growing. This fact is directly associated with the zoological research on the domains generally defined as systematics and taxonomy. The classification of any zoological group is in most cases a source of problem for most biologists not directly involved with this almost confidential aspect of the zoological research. Much information has been gathered and published over two centuries on the classification but it is remains poorly accessible and too technical for non-experts. The exposed example could be taken from several groups of scorpions possessing infamous species, but the choice went to the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 distributed from North Africa to the Middle East. Maybe this contribution will help to explain why so numerous cases of species misidentification are regularly present in the general literature devoted to scorpion venoms and incidents. <![CDATA[Chronic venous ulcers: a review on treatment with fibrin sealant and prognostic advances using proteomic strategies]]> Abstract Venous ulcers are the main causes of chronic lower-limb ulcers. The healing difficulties encourage the research and development of new products in order to achieve better therapeutic results. Fibrin sealant is one of these alternatives. Besides being a validated scaffold and drug delivery system, it possesses excellent healing properties. This review covered the last 25 years of the literature and showed that the fibrin sealant is used in various clinical situations to promote the healing of different types of ulcers, especially chronic ones. These are mostly venous in origin and usually does not respond to conventional treatment. Commercially, only the homologous fibrin sealants obtained from human blood are available, which are highly efficient but very expensive. The heterologous fibrin sealant is a non-commercial experimental low-cost product and easily produced due to the abundance of raw material. The phase I/II clinical trial is already completed and showed that the product is safe and promisingly efficacious for the treatment of chronic venous ulcers. In addition, clinical proteomic strategies to assess disease prognosis have been increasingly used. By analyzing liquid samples from the wounds through proteomic strategies, it is possible to predict before treatment which ulcers will evolve favorably and which ones will be difficult to heal. This prognosis is only possible by evaluating the expression of isolated proteins in exudates and analysis using label-free strategies for shotgun. Multicentric clinical trials will be required to evaluate the efficacy of fibrin sealant to treat chronic ulcers, as well as to validate the proteomic strategies to assess prognosis. <![CDATA[Effects of Mlx-8, a phospholipase A<sub>2</sub> from Brazilian coralsnake <em>Micrurus lemniscatus</em> venom, on muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in rat hippocampus]]> Abstract Background: Here, we described the presence of a neurotoxin with phospholipase A2 activity isolated from Micrurus lemniscatus venom (Mlx-8) with affinity for muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs). Methods: The purification, molecular mass determination, partial amino acid sequencing, phospholipase A2 activity determination, inhibition of the binding of the selective muscarinic ligand [3H]QNB and inhibition of the total [3H]inositol phosphate accumulation in rat hippocampus of the Mlx-8 were determined. Results: Thirty-one fractions were collected from HPLC chromatography, and the Mlx-8 toxin was used in this work. The molecular mass of Mlx-8 is 13.628 Da. Edman degradation yielded the following sequence: NLYQFKNMIQCTNTRSWL-DFADYG-CYCGRGGSGT. The Mlx-8 had phospholipase A2 enzymatic activity. The pKi values were determined for Mlx-8 toxin and the M1 selective muscarinic antagonist pirenzepine in hippocampus membranes via [3H]QNB competition binding assays. The pKi values obtained from the analysis of Mlx-8 and pirenzepine displacement curves were 7.32 ± 0.15, n = 4 and 5.84 ± 0.18, n = 4, respectively. These results indicate that Mlx-8 has affinity for mAChRs. There was no effect on the inhibition ability of the [3H]QNB binding in hippocampus membranes when 1 µM Mlx-8 was incubated with 200 µM DEDA, an inhibitor of phospholipase A2. This suggests that the inhibition of the phospholipase A2 activity of the venom did not alter its ability to bind to displace [3H]QNB binding. In addition, the Mlx-8 toxin caused a blockade of 43.31 ± 8.86%, n = 3 and 97.42 ± 2.02%, n = 3 for 0.1 and 1 µM Mlx-8, respectively, on the total [3H]inositol phosphate content induced by 10 µM carbachol. This suggests that Mlx-8 inhibits the intracellular signaling pathway linked to activation of mAChRs in hippocampus. Conclusion: The results of the present work show, for the first time, that muscarinic receptors are also affected by the Mlx-8 toxin, a muscarinic ligand with phospholipase A2 characteristics, obtained from the venom of the Elapidae snake Micrurus lemniscatus, since this toxin was able to compete with muscarinic ligand [3H]QNB in hippocampus of rats. In addition, Mlx-8 also blocked the accumulation of total [3H]inositol phosphate induced by muscarinic agonist carbachol. Thus, Mlx-8 may be a new pharmacological tool for examining muscarinic cholinergic function. <![CDATA[Proteomics and antivenom immunoprofiling of Russell’s viper (<em>Daboia siamensis</em>) venoms from Thailand and Indonesia]]> Background The Eastern Russell’s viper, Daboia siamensis, is a WHO Category 1 medically important venomous snake. It has a wide but disjunct distribution in Southeast Asia. The specific antivenom, D. siamensis Monovalent Antivenom (DsMAV-Thailand) is produced in Thailand but not available in Indonesia, where a heterologous trivalent antivenom, Serum Anti Bisa Ular (SABU), is used instead. This study aimed to investigate the geographical venom variation of D. siamensis from Thailand (Ds-Thailand) and Indonesia (Ds-Indonesia), and the immunorecognition of the venom proteins by antivenoms. Methods: The venom proteins were decomplexed with reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, followed by in-solution tryptic digestion, nano-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and protein identification. The efficacies of DsMAV-Thailand and SABU in binding the various venom fractions were assessed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay optimized for immunorecognition profiling. Results: The two most abundant protein families in Ds-Thailand venom are phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor (KSPI). Those abundant in Ds-Indonesia venom are PLA2 and serine protease. KSPI and vascular endothelial growth factor were detected in Ds-Thailand venom, whereas L-amino acid oxidase and disintegrin were present in Ds-Indonesia venom. Common proteins shared between the two included snaclecs, serine proteases, metalloproteinases, phosphodiesterases, 5’nucleotidases and nerve growth factors at varying abundances. DsMAV-Thailand exhibited strong immunorecognition of the major protein fractions in both venoms, but low immunoreactivity toward the low molecular weight proteins e.g. KSPI and disintegrins. On the other hand, SABU was virtually ineffective in binding all fractionated venom proteins. Conclusion: D. siamensis venoms from Thailand and Indonesia varied geographically in the protein subtypes and abundances. The venoms, nevertheless, shared conserved antigenicity that allowed effective immunorecognition by DsMAV-Thailand but not by SABU, consistent with the neutralization efficacy of the antivenoms. A specific, appropriate antivenom is needed in Indonesia to treat Russell’s viper envenomation. <![CDATA[Bufotenine, a tryptophan-derived alkaloid, suppresses the symptoms and increases the survival rate of rabies-infected mice: the development of a pharmacological approach for rabies treatment]]> Abstract Background: Between 40,000-70,000 people die yearly of rabies, an incurable disease. Besides post-bite vaccination, no treatment is available for it. Methods: First, virus dilution for antiviral effects in mice was determined. Then, animals were treated as follows: control (NaCl 250 µL/animal/day); bufotenine (0.63, 1.05 and 2.1 mg in 250 µL of NaCl/animal/day); rabies (10-6,82CVS dilution); and test (10-6,82 CVS dilution and bufotenine, in the above-mentioned doses). Animals were observed daily for 21 days or until the 3rd stage of rabies infection. Twitch-tension and liposome studies were applied to understand the possible interaction of bufotenine with receptors, particularly acetylcholine. Results: Bufotenine was able to increase the survival rate of intracerebrally virus-infected mice from 15 to 40%. Bufotenine did not seem to interfere with the acetylcholine response in the skeletal muscle, indicating that its mechanism of action is not blocking the virus entrance due to nAChR antagonism. By analyzing liposomes, we could observe that bufotenine did not passively penetrates cell membranes, indicating the necessity of complementary structures to cell penetration. Conclusions: Bufotenine is a promising candidate for drug development. After further chemical modification, it might be possible to dissociate minor side effects, increase efficiency, efficacy and pharmacokinetics, yielding a true anti-rabies drug. <![CDATA[Anticancer potential of nanogold conjugated toxin GNP-NN-32 from <em>Naja naja</em> venom]]> Abstract Background: Cancer is the second most common fatal disease in the world, behind cardiovascular disorders in the first place. It accounts for around 0.3 million deaths per year in India due to the lack of proper diagnostic facilities, prevention and treatment. Current therapeutic methods do not provide adequate protection and affect normal cells along with cancerous ones. Thus, there is a need for some alternative therapeutic strategy, preferably from natural products, which have been traditionally used for treatment of various diseases in the country. Methods: In this study, we have conjugated purified NN-32 toxin from Naja naja venom with gold nanoparticles and its anticancer potential was evaluated against human breast cancer cell lines. UV-Vis spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and zeta potential analysis were the techniques used for characterization of GNP-NN-32. Results: GNP-NN-32 showed dose- and time-dependent cytotoxicity against breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231). NN-32 and GNP-NN-32 induced apoptosis in both breast cancer cell lines. The results of CFSE cell proliferation study revealed that NN-32 and GNP-NN-32 arrested cell division in both MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines resulting in inhibition of proliferation of these cancer cells. Conclusion: GNP-NN-32 showed an anticancer potential against human breast cancer cell lines. Analysis of detailed chemical characterization along with its cytotoxic property might help to perceive a new dimension of the anti-cancer potential of GNP-NN-32 that will enhance its biomedical function in near future. <![CDATA[Identification and characterization of the first endogenous phospholipase A<sub>2</sub> inhibitor from a non-venomous tropical snake, <em>Boa constrictor</em> (Serpentes: Boidae)]]> Abstract Background: Endogenous phospholipase A2 inhibitors from snake blood (sbPLIs) have been isolated from several species around the world, with the primary function of self-protection against the action of toxic phospholipases A2. In American snakes, sbPLIs were solely described in pit vipers, in which the natural protection role is justified. In this study, we described a sbPLI in Boa constrictor (popularly known as jiboia), a non-venomous snake species from America. Methods: PLA2 inhibitory activity was tested in the blood plasma of B. constrictor using C. d. terrificus venom as the enzyme source. Antibodies developed against CNF, a sbγPLI from Crotalus durissus terrificus, were used to investigate the presence of homologues in the blood plasma of B. constrictor. A CNF-like molecule with a PLA2 inhibitory activity was purified by column chromatography. The encoding gene for the inhibitor was cloned from B. constrictor liver tissue. The DNA fragment was cloned, purified and sequenced. The deduced primary sequence of interest was aligned with known sbγPLIs from the literature. Results: The blood plasma of B. constrictor displayed PLA2 inhibitory activity. A CNF-like molecule (named BcNF) was identified and purified from the blood plasma of B. constrictor. Basic properties such as molecular mass, composing amino acids, and pI were comparable, but BcNF displayed reduced specific activity in PLA2 inhibition. BcNF showed highest identity scores (ISs) with sbγPLIs from pit vipers from Latin America (90-100%), followed by gamma inhibitors from Asian viperid (80-90%). ISs below 70% were obtained for BcNF and non-venomous species from Asia. Conclusion: A functional sbγPLI (BcNF) was described in the blood plasma of B. constrictor. BcNF displayed higher primary identity with sbγPLIs from Viperidae than to sbγPLIs from non-venomous species from Asia. The physiological role played by sbγPLIs in non-venomous snake species remains to be understood. Further investigation is needed. <![CDATA[Biochemical characterization and cytotoxic effect of the skin secretion from the red-spotted Argentina frog <em>Argenteohyla siemersi</em> (Anura: Hylidae)]]> Abstract Background: Argenteohyla siemersi (red-spotted Argentina frog) is a casque-headed tree frog species belonging to the Hylidae family. This species has a complex combination of anti-predator defense mechanisms that include a highly lethal skin secretion. However, biochemical composition and biological effects of this secretion have not yet been studied. Methods: The A. siemersi skin secretion samples were analyzed by mass spectrometry and chromatographic analysis (MALDI-TOF/MS, RP-HPLC and GC-MS). Proteins were also studied by SDS-PAGE. Among the biological activities evaluated, several enzymatic activities (hemolytic, phospholipase A2, clotting, proteolytic and amidolytic) were assessed. Furthermore, the cytotoxic activity (cytolysis and fluorescence staining) was evaluated on myoblasts of the C2C12 cell line. Results: The MALDI-TOF/MS analysis identified polypeptides and proteins in the aqueous solution of A. siemersi skin secretion. SDS-PAGE revealed the presence of proteins with molecular masses from 15 to 55 kDa. Steroids, but no alkaloids or peptides (less than 5 KDa), were detected using mass spectrometry. Skin secretion revealed the presence of lipids in methanolic extract, as analyzed by CG-MS. This secretion showed hemolytic and phospholipase A2 activities, but was devoid of amidolytic, proteolytic or clotting activities. Moreover, dose-dependent cytotoxicity in cultured C2C12 myoblasts of the skin secretion was demonstrated. Morphological analysis, quantification of lactate dehydrogenase release and fluorescence staining indicated that the cell death triggered by this secretion involved necrosis. Conclusions: Results presented herein evidence the biochemical composition and biological effects of A. siemersi skin secretion and contribute to the knowledge on the defense mechanisms of casque-headed frogs. <![CDATA[Crotamine in <em>Crotalus durissus</em>: distribution according to subspecies and geographic origin, in captivity or nature]]> Abstract Background: Crotalus durissus is considered one of the most important species of venomous snakes in Brazil, due to the high mortality of its snakebites. The venom of Crotalus durissus contains four main toxins: crotoxin, convulxin, gyroxin and crotamine. Venoms can vary in their crotamine content, being crotamine-negative or -positive. This heterogeneity is of great importance for producing antivenom, due to their different mechanisms of action. The possibility that antivenom produced by Butantan Institute might have a different immunorecognition capacity between crotamine-negative and crotamine-positive C. durissus venoms instigated us to investigate the differences between these two venom groups. Methods: The presence of crotamine was analyzed by SDS-PAGE, western blotting and ELISA, whereas comparison between the two types of venoms was carried out through HPLC, mass spectrometry analysis as well as assessment of antivenom lethality and efficacy. Results: The results showed a variation in the presence of crotamine among the subspecies and the geographic origin of snakes from nature, but not in captive snakes. Regarding differences between crotamine-positive and -negative venoms, some exclusive proteins are found in each pool and the crotamine-negative pool presented more phospholipase A2 than crotamine-positive pool. This variation could affect the time to death, but the lethal and effective dose were not affected. Conclusion: These differences between venom pools indicate the importance of using both, crotamine-positive and crotamine-negative venoms, to produce the antivenom. <![CDATA[Venomics and antivenomics of the poorly studied Brazil’s lancehead, <em>Bothrops brazili</em> (Hoge, 1954), from the Brazilian State of Pará]]> ABSTRACT Background: The Brazil’s lancehead, Bothrops brazili, is a poorly studied pit viper distributed in lowlands of the equatorial rainforests of southern Colombia, northeastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, southern and southeastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, and northern Bolivia. Few studies have been reported on toxins isolated from venom of Ecuadorian and Brazilian B. brazili. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the qualitative and quantitative protein composition of B. brazili venom from Pará (Brazil), and to carry out a comparative antivenomics assessment of the immunoreactivity of the Brazilian antibothropic pentavalent antivenom [soro antibotrópico (SAB) in Portuguese] against the venoms of B. brazili and reference species, B. jararaca. Methods: We have applied a quantitative snake venomics approach, including reverse-phase and two-dimensional electrophoretic decomplexation of the venom toxin arsenal, LC-ESI-MS mass profiling and peptide-centric MS/MS proteomic analysis, to unveil the overall protein composition of B. brazili venom from Pará (Brazil). Using third-generation antivenomics, the specific and paraspecific immunoreactivity of the Brazilian SAB against homologous (B. jararaca) and heterologous (B. brazili) venoms was investigated. Results: The venom proteome of the Brazil’s lancehead (Pará) is predominantly composed of two major and three minor acidic (19%) and two major and five minor basic (14%) phospholipase A2 molecules; 7-11 snake venom metalloproteinases of classes PI (21%) and PIII (6%); 10-12 serine proteinases (14%), and 1-2 L-amino acid oxidases (6%). Other toxins, including two cysteine-rich secretory proteins, one C-type lectin-like molecule, one nerve growth factor, one 5'-nucleotidase, one phosphodiesterase, one phospholipase B, and one glutaminyl cyclase molecule, represent together less than 2.7% of the venom proteome. Third generation antivenomics profile of the Brazilian pentabothropic antivenom showed paraspecific immunoreactivity against all the toxin classes of B. brazili venom, with maximal binding capacity of 132.2 mg venom/g antivenom. This figure indicates that 19% of antivenom's F(ab')2 antibodies bind B. brazili venom toxins. Conclusion: The proteomics outcome contribute to a deeper insight into the spectrum of toxins present in the venom of the Brazil’s lancehead, and rationalize the pathophysiology underlying this snake bite envenomings. The comparative qualitative and quantitative immunorecognition profile of the Brazilian pentabothropic antivenom toward the venom toxins of B. brazili and B. jararaca (the reference venom for assessing the bothropic antivenom's potency in Brazil), provides clues about the proper use of the Brazilian antibothropic polyvalent antivenom in the treatment of bites by the Brazil’s lancehead. <![CDATA[Analgesic and side effects of intravenous recombinant Phα1β]]> ABSTRACT Background: Intrathecal injection of voltage-sensitive calcium channel blocker peptide toxins exerts analgesic effect in several animal models of pain. Upon intrathecal administration, recombinant Phα1β exerts the same analgesic effects as the those of the native toxin. However, from a clinical perspective, the intrathecal administration limits the use of anesthetic drugs in patients. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the possible antinociceptive effect of intravenous recombinant Phα1β in rat models of neuropathic pain, as well as its side effects on motor, cardiac (heart rate and blood pressure), and biochemical parameters. Methods: Male Wistar rats and male Balb-C mice were used in this study. Giotto Biotech® synthesized the recombinant version of Phα1β using Escherichia coli expression. In rats, neuropathic pain was induced by chronic constriction of the sciatic nerve and paclitaxel-induced acute and chronic pain. Mechanical sensitivity was evaluated using von Frey filaments. A radiotelemeter transmitter (TA11PA-C10; Data Sciences, St. Paul, MN, USA) was placed on the left carotid of mice for investigation of cardiovascular side effects. Locomotor activity data were evaluated using the open-field paradigm, and serum CKMB, TGO, TGP, LDH, lactate, creatinine, and urea levels were examined. Results: Intravenous administration of recombinant Phα1β toxin induced analgesia for up to 4 h, with ED50 of 0.02 (0.01-0.03) mg/kg, and reached the maximal effect (Emax = 100% antinociception) at a dose of 0.2 mg/kg. No significant changes were observed in any of the evaluated motor, cardiac or biochemical parameters. Conclusion: Our data suggest that intravenous administration of recombinant Phα1β may be feasible for drug-induced analgesia, without causing any severe side effects. <![CDATA[Scorpion stings in pregnancy: an analysis of outcomes in 66 envenomed pregnant patients in Iran]]> Abstract Background: Scorpionism is one of the most important health problems in tropical regions, which unfortunately results in thousands of deaths annually. Pregnant women are potential victims in areas with high scorpion-sting prevalence. Limited medical data are available on the effects of scorpion envenomation in pregnant women. This study aimed to examine the effect of scorpion envenomation on pregnancy outcomes in 66 cases. Methods: The present descriptive/analytical cross-sectional study was performed on 66 scorpion-envenomed pregnant women referred to the clinical toxicology unit of Ahvaz Razi Hospital in Iran during 2015-2017. The variables assessed in all cases, via questionnaire and hospital medical records, were: age, patient residency, gestational week, status of the fetus, laboratory anomalies, clinical severity of envenomation, sting site and scorpion species. Pregnancy outcome (miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, normal delivery) and status of the newborns were also evaluated. Data were analyzed using SPSS ® software (version 24.0). Results: The following pregnancy outcomes were recorded from envenomed pregnant women: miscarriage = 1.5% (n = 1), stillbirth = 4.5% (n = 3), preterm birth = 10.6% (n = 7), normal birth = 83% (n = 55). Among participants whose pregnancy led to birth, 11(17.7%) cases had prenatal-neonatal complications. Neonatal complications, including Apgar score less than 8 points at 5 min, were found in 7 (11.3%) preterm birth cases and in 4 (6.4%) normal birth cases, along with birth weight below 2500 g in normal births. A significant relationship was found between adverse pregnancy outcomes and bite location, as well as scorpion species, but no relationship was found with other variables. Conclusion: Envenomation significantly contributes to preterm birth. Moreover, the location of bites and the type of scorpion species have a decisive role in the pregnancy outcome of scorpion-envenomed pregnant women. <![CDATA[Isolation and structural identification of a new T1-conotoxin with unique disulfide connectivities derived from <em>Conus bandanus</em>]]> Abstract Background: Conopeptides are neuropharmacological peptides derived from the venomous salivary glands of cone snails. Among 29 superfamilies based on conserved signal sequences, T-superfamily conotoxins, which belong to the smallest group, include four different frameworks that contain four cysteines denominated I, V, X and XVI. In this work, the primary structure and the cysteine connectivity of novel conotoxin of Conus bandanus were determined by tandem mass spectrometry using collision-induced dissociation. Methods: The venom glands of C. bandanus snails were dissected, pooled, and extracted with 0.1% trifluoroacetic acid in three steps and lyophilized. The venom was fractionated and purified in an HPLC system with an analytical reversed-phase C18 column. The primary peptide structure was analyzed by MALDI TOF MS/MS using collision-induced dissociation and confirmed by Edman's degradation. The peptide’s cysteine connectivity was determined by rapid partial reduction-alkylation technique. Results: The novel conotoxin, NGC1C2(I/L)VREC3C4, was firstly derived from de novo sequencing by MS/MS. The presence of isoleucine residues in this conotoxin was confirmed by the Edman degradation method. The conotoxin, denominated Bn5a, belongs to the T1-subfamily of conotoxins. However, the disulfide bonds (C1-C4/C2-C3) of Bn5a were not the same as found in other T1-subfamily conopeptides but shared common connectivities with T2-subfamily conotoxins. The T1-conotoxin of C. bandanus proved the complexity of the disulfide bond pattern of conopeptides. The homological analysis revealed that the novel conotoxin could serve as a valuable probe compound for the human-nervous-system norepinephrine transporter. Conclusion: We identified the first T1-conotoxin, denominated Bn5a, isolated from C. bandanus venom. However, Bn5a conotoxin exhibited unique C1-C4/C2-C3 disulfide connectivity, unlike other T1-conotoxins (C1-C3/C2-C4). The structural and homological analyses herein have evidenced novel conotoxin Bn5a that may require further investigation. <![CDATA[Energetic supplementation for maintenance or development of <em>Apis mellifera</em> L. colonies]]> Abstract Background: The nutritional requirements of honeybees (Apis mellifera) for their complete development need to be supplied through food sources available in the environment, since honeybees are insects that depend directly on blossoming food sources. However, at certain times a food-supply reduction can promote nutritional stress, thus necessitating food supplementation for maintenance or production stimulus of the colonies. Thus, the determination of optimal energy supplementation can assist in the maintenance and production of colonies. Methods: Twenty Apis mellifera beehives were used (with five beehives per treatment): CTL, control (without feeding); SJ, sugarcane juice; SS, sugar syrup; and IS, inverted sucrose. We evaluated the food consumption, population development, and physiological state (expression of vitellogenin and hexamerin 70a genes) of each colony. Results: The results showed that the supplementation of colonies with sugar syrup resulted in an intermediate consumption level (894.6 ± 291 mL) and better development (384.9 ± 237.3 and 158.3 ± 171.6 cm2, sealed and open brood, respectively). Furthermore, this diet ensured that the colonies were in a good physiological state, as bees fed this diet presented the highest relative expression levels of vitellogenin and hexamerin 70a among all the diets tested. Conclusions: Therefore, sugar syrup is concluded to be the best artificial energetic food for use in the supplementation of honeybee colonies. <![CDATA[Neuroprotection and immunomodulation by dimethyl fumarate and a heterologous fibrin biopolymer after ventral root avulsion and reimplantation]]> Abstract Background: Ventral root avulsion (VRA) is an experimental approach in which there is an abrupt separation of the motor roots from the surface of the spinal cord. As a result, most of the axotomized motoneurons degenerate by the second week after injury, and the significant loss of synapses and increased glial reaction triggers a chronic inflammatory state. Pharmacological treatment associated with root reimplantation is thought to overcome the degenerative effects of VRA. Therefore, treatment with dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a drug with neuroprotective and immunomodulatory effects, in combination with a heterologous fibrin sealant/biopolymer (FS), a biological glue, may improve the regenerative response. Methods: Adult female Lewis rats were subjected to VRA of L4-L6 roots followed by reimplantation and daily treatment with DMF for four weeks. Survival times were evaluated 1, 4 or 12 weeks after surgery. Neuronal survival assessed by Nissl staining, glial reactivity (anti-GFAP for astrocytes and anti-Iba-1 for microglia) and synapse preservation (anti-VGLUT1 for glutamatergic inputs and anti-GAD65 for GABAergic inputs) evaluated by immunofluorescence, gene expression (pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules) and motor function recovery were measured. Results: Treatment with DMF at a dose of 15 mg/kg was found to be neuroprotective and immunomodulatory because it preserved motoneurons and synapses and decreased astrogliosis and microglial reactions, as well as downregulated the expression of pro-inflammatory gene transcripts. Conclusion: The pharmacological benefit was further enhanced when associated with root reimplantation with FS, in which animals recovered at least 50% of motor function, showing the efficacy of employing multiple regenerative approaches following spinal cord root injury. <![CDATA[Extracellular vesicles in infectious diseases caused by protozoan parasites in buffaloes]]> Abstract Background: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membrane-bound vesicles of growing interest in vetetinary parasitology. The aim of the present report was to provide the first isolation, quantification and protein characterization of EVs from buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) sera infected with Theileria spp. Methods: Infected animals were identified through optical microscopy and PCR. EVs were isolated from buffalo sera by size-exclusion chromatography and characterized using western blotting analysis, nanoparticle tracking analysis and transmission electron microscopy. Subsequently, the proteins from isolated vesicles were characterized by mass spectrometry. Results: EVs from buffalo sera have shown sizes in the 124-140 nm range and 306 proteins were characterized. The protein-protein interaction analysis has evidenced biological processes and molecular function associated with signal transduction, binding, regulation of metabolic processes, transport, catalytic activity and response to acute stress. Five proteins have been shown to be differentially expressed between the control group and that infected with Theileria spp., all acting in the oxidative stress pathway. Conclusions: EVs from buffaloes infected with Theileria spp. were successfully isolated and characterized. This is an advance in the knowledge of host-parasite relationship that contributes to the understanding of host immune response and theileriosis evasion mechanisms. These findings may pave the way for searching new EVs candidate-markers for a better production of safe biological products derived from buffaloes. <![CDATA[Jingzhaotoxin-X, a gating modifier of Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 potassium channels purified from the venom of the Chinese tarantula <em>Chilobrachys jingzhao</em>]]> Abstract Background: The tarantula Chilobrachys jingzhao is one of the largest venomous spiders in China. In previous studies, we purified and characterized at least eight peptides from C. jingzhao venom. In this report, we describe the purification and characterization of Jingzhaotoxin-X (JZTX-X), which selectively blocks Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 potassium channels. Methods: JZTX-X was purified using a combination of cation-exchange HPLC and reverse-phase HPLC. The amino-acid sequence was determined by automated Edman degradation and confirmed by mass spectrometry (MS). Voltage-gated ion channel currents were recorded in HEK293t cells transiently transfected with a variety of ion channel constructs. In addition, the hyperalgesic activity of JZTX-X and the toxin´s effect on motor function were assessed in mice. Results: JZTX-X contained 31 amino acids, with six cysteine residues that formed three disulfide bonds within an inhibitory cysteine knot (ICK) topology. In whole-cell voltage-clamp experiments, JZTX-X inhibited Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 potassium channels in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner, without affecting other ion channels (Kv1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, delayed rectifier potassium channels, high- and low-voltage-activated Ca2+ channels, and voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.5 and 1.7). JZTX-X also shifted the voltage-dependent channel activation to more depolarized potentials, whereas extreme depolarization caused reversible toxin binding to Kv4.2 channels. JZTX-X shifted the Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 activities towards a resting state, since at the resting potential the toxin completely inhibited the channels, even in the absence of an applied physical stimulus. Intrathecal or intraplantar injection of JZTX-X caused a long-lasting decrease in the mechanical nociceptive threshold (hyperalgesia) but had no effect on motor function as assessed in the rotarod test. Conclusions: JZTX-X selectively suppresses Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 potassium channel activity in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner and causes long-lasting mechanical hyperalgesia. <![CDATA[Mitochondrial activity disruption and local muscle damage induced in mice by <em>Scolopendra polymorpha</em> venom]]> Abstract Background: Scolopendra polymorpha (S. polymorpha) is a predatory centipede whose venom contains a multiplicity of biochemical effectors that can cause muscle damage and cumulative cell destruction in its prey. Despite previous investigations of S. polymorpha and other centipede venoms, there is a lack of information on the morphological and biochemical patterns elicited by their myotoxic effects. To elucidate these processes, this paper presents evidence of skeletal muscle damage, and alterations in key biochemical mediators that appear only after exposure to centipede venom. Methods: Venom was collected and fractionated using RP-HPLC; mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle was exposed to whole venom and venom fractions to evaluate myotoxicity by means of creatine kinase (CK) - a muscle damage marker - activity measurements and histochemical analysis. Results: CK activity was higher in EDL muscle exposed to venom than in unexposed muscle. This increase was observed after 15 min of venom incubation, and remained stable up to 45 min. Venom-exposed EDL muscle showed signs of muscle damage including necrosis, loss of fascicular structure as well as mitochondrial accumulations and ragged red fibers (RRF), suggesting an impairment in the normal mitochondrial arrangement. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and cytochrome oxidase (COX) tests also indicate that respiratory complexes might be affected. Conclusion: Our results suggest a different biochemical composition of S. polymorpha venom, based on the different effects of four venom fractions on the cells tested, according to statistical evidence. Fractions F6 and F7 caused the most important alterations. <![CDATA[Recombinant antibodies against Iranian cobra venom as a new emerging therapy by phage display technology]]> Abstract Background: The production of antivenom from immunized animals is an established treatment for snakebites; however, antibody phage display technology may have the capacity to delivery results more quickly and with a better match to local need. Naja oxiana, the Iranian cobra, is a medically important species, responsible for a significant number of deaths annually. This study was designed as proof of principle to determine whether recombinant antibodies with the capacity to neutralize cobra venom could be isolated by phage display. Methods: Toxic fractions from cobra venom were prepared by chromatography and used as targets in phage display to isolate recombinant antibodies from a human scFv library. Candidate antibodies were expressed in E. coli HB2151 and purified by IMAC chromatography. The selected clones were analyzed in in vivo and in vitro experiments. Results: Venom toxicity was contained in two fractions. Around a hundred phage clones were isolated against each fraction, those showing the best promise were G12F3 and G1F4. While all chosen clones showed low but detectable neutralizing effect against Naja oxiana venom, clone G12F3 could inhibit PLA2 activity. Conclusion: Therefore, phage display is believed to have a good potential as an approach to the development of snake antivenom. <![CDATA[Toxicological effects of bioactive peptide fractions obtained from <em>Bothrops jararaca</em> snake venom on the structure and function of mouse seminiferous epithelium]]> Abstract Background: Pathogenesis of Bothrops envenomations is complex and despite numerous studies on the effects of this snake venom on various biological systems, relatively little is known about such effects on the male reproductive system. In the present study, the toxicological outcomes of the low molecular weight fraction (LMWF) of B. jararaca snake venom - containing a range of bioactive peptides - were investigated on the dynamics and structure of the seminiferous epithelium and 15P-1 Sertoli cells viability. Methods: LMWF (5 µg/dose per testis) venom was administered in male Swiss mice by intratesticular (i.t.) injection. Seven days after this procedure, the testes were collected for morphological and morphometric evaluation, distribution of claudin-1 in the seminiferous epithelium by immunohistochemical analyses of testes, and the nitric oxide (NO) levels were evaluated in the total extract of the testis protein. In addition, the toxicological effects of LMWF and crude venom (CV) were analyzed on the 15P-1 Sertoli cell culture. Results: LMWF induced changes in the structure and function of the seminiferous epithelium without altering claudin-1 distribution. LMWF effects were characterized especially by lost cells in the adluminal compartment of epithelium (spermatocytes in pachytene, preleptotene spermatocytes, zygotene spermatocytes, and round spermatid) and different stages of the seminiferous epithelium cycle. LMWF also increased the NO levels in the total extract of the testis protein and was not cytotoxic in concentrations and time tested in the present study. However, CV showed cytotoxicity at 10 μg/mL from 6 to 48 h of treatment. Conclusions: The major finding of the present study was that the LMWF inhibited spermatozoa production; principally in the spermiogenesis stage without altering claudin-1 distribution in the basal compartment. Moreover, NO increased by LMWF induce open of complexes junctions and release the germ cells of the adluminal compartment to the seminiferous tubule. <![CDATA[Antibiotic therapy for snakebite envenoming]]> Abstract There are numerous conflicting recommendations available on the use of antibiotics following snakebite. The present letter to the editor presents some recommendations based on recent studies, and aims to stimulate debate on this topic. <![CDATA[Gene sequence analysis of toxins from the spider <em>Phoneutria nigriventer</em> revealed an intronless feature]]> Abstract Background: Phoneutria nigriventer spider venom contains several cysteine-rich peptide toxins that act on different ion channels. Despite extensive studies on its venom and description of cDNA sequences of several of its toxin precursors, the gene structure of these toxins remains unknown. Methods: Genomic regions encoding the precursors of three previously characterized P. nigriventer toxins - PnTx1, PnTx2-5 and PnTx4(5-5) - were amplified by PCR using specific primers. PCR fragments were cloned and sequenced. Obtained sequences were compared with their corresponding cDNA sequences. Results: The size of PCR fragments obtained and sequences corresponding to genomic regions encoding for the toxin precursors matched their cDNA sequences. Conclusions: Despite a few nucleotide substitutions in the genomic regions encoding for the toxin precursors when compared with cDNA sequences, the results of the present work indicate that P. nigriventer toxins do not contain introns in their genes sequences. <![CDATA[Neutrophils activated by BJcuL, a C-type lectin isolated from <em>Bothrops jararacussu</em> venom, decrease the invasion potential of neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells <em>in vitro</em>]]> ABSTRACT Background: Neuroblastoma is a pediatric tumor with a mortality rate of 40% in the most aggressive cases. Tumor microenvironment components as immune cells contribute to the tumor progression; thereby, the modulation of immune cells to a pro-inflammatory and antitumoral profile could potentialize the immunotherapy, a suggested approach for high-risk patients. Preview studies showed the antitumoral potential of BJcuL, a C- type lectin isolated from Bothrops jararacussu venom. It was able to induce immunomodulatory responses, promoting the rolling and adhesion of leukocytes and the activation of neutrophils. Methods: SK-N-SH cells were incubated with conditioned media (CM) obtained during the treatment of neutrophils with BJcuL and fMLP, a bacteria-derived peptide highly effective for activating neutrophil functions. Then we evaluated the effect of the same stimulation on the co-cultivation of neutrophils and SK-N-SH cells. Tumor cells were tested for viability, migration, and invasion potential. Results: In the viability assay, only neutrophils treated with BJcuL (24 h) and cultivated with SK-N-SH were cytotoxic. Migration of tumor cells decreased when incubated directly (p &lt; 0.001) or indirectly (p &lt; 0.005) with untreated neutrophils. When invasion potential was evaluated, neutrophils incubated with BJcuL reduced the total number of colonies of SK-N-SH cells following co-cultivation for 24 h (p &lt; 0.005). Treatment with CM resulted in decreased anchorage-free survival following 24 h of treatment (p &lt; 0.001). Conclusion: Data demonstrated that SK-N-SH cells maintain their migratory potential in the face of neutrophil modulation by BJcuL, but their invasive capacity was significantly reduced.