Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Biological Research]]> vol. 45 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>In vitro assessment of reproductive toxicity of cigarette smoke and deleterious consequences of maternal exposure to its constituents</b>]]> Cigarette smoke is known to be a serious health risk factor and considered reproductively toxic. In the current study, we investigated whether constituents of cigarette smoke, pyrazine, 2-ethylpyridine, and 3-ethylpyridine, adversely affect reproductive functioning such as oocyte maturation and sperm capacitation. Our findings indicated that three smoke components were involved in retardation of oocyte maturation in a dose-dependent manner and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (LOAEL) was determined to be 10-10M. However, individual smoke components administrated at the LOAEL did not attenuate oocyte maturation, demonstrating that all three toxicants were equally required for the observed growth impairment. When exposed to all three components at 10-10M during in vitro capacitation, murine sperm lost forward progression and were unable to show adequate hyperactivation, which is indicative of the incompletion of the capacitation process. Only sperm administrated with 3-ethylpyridine alone showed significant reduction in capacitation status, suggesting the chemical is the one responsible for disrupting sperm capacitation. Taken together, this is the first report that documents the effect of cigarette smoke components on oocyte maturation and sperm capacitation. The present findings demonstrate the adverse effects of smoke constituents of mammalian reproduction and the differences in sensitivity to smoke components between male and female gametes. Since both processes take place in the female reproductive system, our data provide new insights into deleterious consequences of maternal exposure to cigarette smoke. <![CDATA[The cytotoxic and antileishmanial activity of extracts and fractions of leaves and fruits of <i>Azadirachta indica</i> (A Juss.)]]> The leishmaniases are severe parasitic diseases that occur worldwide, caused by protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Studies with medicinal plants can lead to a range of possibilities for treating and improving the patients' quality of life. Research on Azadirachta indica fractions and extracts has shown that they have excellent anti-leishmanial activity based on bioactivity-guided fractionation of ethanolic extracts of leaves and seeds and in vitro activity against promastigotes. In this research the most efficient extracts and fractions were selected for tests on intracellular amastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis. The ethanolic extract of the leaves and dichloromethane and chloroform fractions had IC50 values of 38, 3.9 and 1.2 μg/mL for promastigotes and 9.8, 1.1 and 0.6 μg/mL for amastigotes, respectively, at 72 hours. For the ethanolic extract and dichloromethane fraction from nut tegument, the IC50 was 2.7 and 2.1 μg/mL for promastigotes and 0.4 and 0.6 μg/mL for amastigotes. The cytotoxicity of the fractions presented selectivity that was between 8 to 32 times more toxic to promastigotes and 15 to 72 times to amastigotes than to macrophages. The extracts and fractions from leaves and fruits were more effective against amastigotes, and the fractionation increased activity against both promastigotes and amastigotes, enabling us to obtain potentially active fractions with low toxicity. <![CDATA[<b><i>BRCA1</i> and <i>BRCA2</i>mutations in breast cancer patients from Venezuela</b>]]> A sample of 58 familial breast cancer patients from Venezuela were screened for germline mutations in the coding sequences and exon-intron boundaries of BRCA1 (MIM no. 113705) and BRCA2 (MIM no. 600185) genes by using conformation-sensitive gel electrophoresis. Ashkenazi Jewish founder mutations were not found in any of the samples. We identified 6 (10.3%) and 4 (6.9%) patients carrying germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, respectively. Four pathogenic mutations were found in BRCA1, one is a novel mutation (c.951_952insA), while the other three had been previously reported (c.1129_1135insA, c.4603G>T and IVS20+1G>A). We also found 4 pathogenic mutations in BRCA2, two novel mutations (c.2732_2733insA and c.3870_3873delG) and two that have been already reported (c.3036_3039delACAA and c.6024_6025_delTA). In addition, 17 variants of unknown significance (6 BRCA1 variants and 11 BRCA2 variants), 5 BRCA2 variants with no clinical importance and 22 polymorphisms (12 in BRCA1 and10 in BRCA2) were also identified. This is the first genetic study on BRCA gene mutations conducted in breast cancer patients from Venezuela. The ethnicity of our population, as well as the heterogeneous and broad spectrum of BRCA genes mutations, must be considered to optimize genetic counseling and disease prevention in affected families. <![CDATA[<strong>Rapid <i>in vitro</i> plant regeneration from leaf explants of <i>Launaea sarmentosa</i> (Willd.) Sch. Bip. ex Kuntze</strong>]]> An efficient protocol for organogenesis through leaves has been established for Launaea sarmentosa (Willd.) Sch. Bip. ex Kuntze, a highly valuable medicinal plant. The leaf explants produced microshoots on MS basal medium when fortified with cytokinins and auxins. A combination of 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) at 0.5mg/l and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) at 0.2mg/l resulted in the induction of high frequency microshoots in 30 days. The microshoots were successfully subcultured for shoot elongation and eventually for rooting on MS medium supplemented with indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) at 0.5mg/l. The regenerated plantlets were hardened under greenhouse conditions and transferred to garden, resulting in a 90% survival rate. <![CDATA[<b>Angiogenic potential of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with high-grade gliomas measured with the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay (CAM)</b>]]> High-grade gliomas are highly vascularized tumors. Neo-angiogenesis plays a key role in tumor growth and resistance to therapy. A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample could be a useful way to obtain pro-angiogenic predictive or prognostic markers at different stages of the disease. As a first step we looked for pro-angiogenic activity in the CSF of patients with high-grade gliomas. We performed the chicken embryo chorio-allantoic membrane (CAM) assay to study the angiogenic potential of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), obtained either by lumbar puncture (LP) or craniotomy from six patients with high-grade brain tumors (three glioblastoma (WHO grade IV), one anaplastic oligodendroglioma (WHO grade III), two anaplastic ganglioglioma (WHO grade III)), and four healthy controls. Significantly increased neo-angiogenesis was observed on the surface of the growing CAM in the 6 patients with high-grade gliomas compared to controls (3.69 ± 1.23 versus 2.16 ± 0.97 capillaries per area (mean ± SD), p<0.005). There was no statistical difference related to the hystological grade of the tumor (WHO grade III or IV), previous treatment (radio-chemotherapy plus temozolomide, temozolomide alone or no treatment), or the site of CSF sample (surgery or lumbar puncture). Our results suggest a pro-angiogenic potential in the CSF of patients with high-grade gliomas. <![CDATA[Diversity of foliar endophytic fungi from the medicinal plant <i>Sapindus saponaria</i> L . and their localization by scanning electron microscopy]]> Endophytic fungi inhabit vegetable tissues or organs, without causing them any harm. Endophytes can co-evolve with plant hosts and possess species-specific interactions. They can protect the plant from insect attacks and diseases, and are also able to produce substances of biotechnological interest. In folk medicine, the bark, roots and fruits of Sapindus saponaria is used to produce substances with anxiolytic, astringent, diuretic and expectorant properties, as well as tonics, blood depuratives and cough medicine. This study evaluated the diversity of endophytic fungi present in the leaves of S. saponaria L. and observed the colonization of host plants by endophytes, using light and scanning electron microscopy. We verified that these fungi are found in intercellular and intracellular spaces. The genera of some isolates of S. saponaria were identified mainly by sequencing of ITS region of rDNA and, when possible, also by their microscopic features, as follows: Cochliobolus, Alternaria, Curvularia, Phomopsis, Diaporthe and Phoma. Phylogenetic analysis showed the existence of genetic variability of the genera Phomopsis and Diaporthe and interspecific variation among the Curvularia, Alternaria and Phoma, belonging to family Pleosporaceae. <![CDATA[<b>Modification of fatty acid composition in broiler chickens fed canola oil</b>]]> This article describes the possibility of modifying the composition of fat tissue in broiler chickens fed canola oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids. 128 one-day old broiler chickens, randomly assigned into 4 groups of 32 chicks each, received one of four diets containing 15% oil with different percentages of canola oil (diet 1: 0% canola oil, diet 2: 5% canola oil, diet 3: 10% canola oil and diet 4: 15% canola oil), for 31 days. Each group was divided into 4 subgroups of 8 chicks. The birds were sacrificed at day 45 to obtain tissue samples. The fatty acid composition was measured in meat (legs and breasts), fat (abdominal and subcutaneous) and plasma. An increase in oleic acid (p<0.01) was detected, as well as a decrease in linoleic acid (p<0.01), together with a slight increase in α-linolenic acid (p<0.05) with a higher percentage of canola oil. The composition of fat tissue was more representative of the dietary fatty acids than muscle tissue. In conclusion, canola oil increased the content of omega 9 and omega 3 fatty acids and decreased the content of omega 6 fatty acids in meat, fat and plasma in broiler chickens. <![CDATA[Oscillatory fluid flow elicits changes in morphology, cytoskeleton and integrin-associated molecules in MLO-Y4 cells, but not in MC3T3-E1 cells]]> Interstitial fluid flow stress is one of the most important mechanical stimulations of bone cells under physiological conditions. Osteocytes and osteoblasts act as primary mechanosensors within bones, and in vitro are able to respond to fluid shear stress, both morphologically and functionally. However, there is little information about the response of integrin-associated molecules using both osteoblasts and osteocytes. In this study, we investigated the changes in response to 2 hours of oscillatory fluid flow stress in the MLO-Y4 osteocyte-like cell line and the MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cell line. MLO-Y4 cells exhibited a significant increase in the expression of integrin-associated molecules, including OPN, CD44, vinculin and integrin avp3. However, there was no or limited increase observed in MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells. Cell area and fiber stress formation were also markedly promoted by fluid flow only in MLO-Y4 cells. But the numbers of processes per cell remain unaffected in both cell lines. <![CDATA[<b>Variation in concentrations of major bioactive compounds in <i>Prunella vulgaris</i> L. related to plant parts and phenological stages</b>]]> Prunella vulgaris L. (Labiatae) contains a variety of structurally diverse natural products, primarily rosmarinic acid (RA), ursolic acid (UA) and oleanolic acid (OA), which possess a wide array of biological properties. In the present study, P. vulgaris was harvested at three developmental stages (vegetative, full-flowering and mature-fruiting stages), dissected into stem and leaf tissues and assayed for chemical contents using high performance liquid chromatography. Significant changes in the concentrations of the major secondary metabolites (RA, UA and OA) were observed at the different development stages. The highest concentrations of RA, UA and OA were found at the full-flowering stage (15.83 mg/g dry weight (DW) RA, 1.77 mg/g DW UA and 0.65 mg/g DW OA). Among the different aerial parts of the plant, the concentrations of RA, UA and OA were higher in the leaves than in the stems at the different developmental stages. These results suggest that the full-flowering stage is characterized by the highest concentrations of bioactive compounds. Therefore, this stage may be the optimum point for harvesting P. vulgaris plants. In additional, the leaves of P. vulgaris demonstrated higher RA, UA and OA concentrations than the stems, suggesting higher utilization potential. <![CDATA[<b>Response of the G2-prophase checkpoint to genotoxic drugs in lymphocytes from healthy individuals</b>]]> We analyzed the in vitro effects of the anti-tumoral drugs doxorubicin, cytosine arabinoside and hydroxyurea on the G2-prophase checkpoint in lymphocytes from healthy individuals. At biologically equivalent concentrations, the induced DNA damage activated the corresponding checkpoint. Thus: i) there was a concentration-dependent delay of G2 time and an increase of both the total DNA lesions produced and repaired before metaphase and; ii) G2-checkpoint adaptation took place as chromosome aberrations (CAs) started to appear in the metaphase, indicating the presence of unrepaired double-strand breaks (DSBs) in the previous G2. The checkpoint ATM/ATR kinases are involved in DSB repair, since the recorded frequency of CAs increased when both kinases were caffeine-abrogated. In genotoxic-treated cells about three-fold higher repair activity was observed in relation to the endogenous background level of DNA lesions. The maximum rate of DNA repaired was 3.4 CAs/100 metaphases/hour, this rise being accompanied by a modest 1.3 fold lengthening of late G2 prophase timing. Because of mitotic chromosome condensation, no DSBs repair can take place until the G1 phase of the next cell cycle, when it occurs by DNA non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Chromosomal rearrangements formed as a consequence of these error-prone DSB repairs ensure the development of genome instability through the DNA-fusion-bridge cycle. Hence, adaptation of the G2 checkpoint supports the appearance of secondary neoplasia in patients pretreated with genotoxic drugs. <![CDATA[<b>Structurally conserved C-RFa revealed prolactin releasing activity in vitro and gene expression changes in pituitary of seasonally acclimatized carp</b>]]> Here we show the cloning and characterization of a novel homolog of prepro C-RFa cDNA from Cyprinus carpió. The deduced preprohormone precursor of 115 amino acids leads to a mature bioactive peptide of 20 amino acids with identical sequence to other teleost C-RFa. Modeling of the mature C-RFa peptide highlighted significant similarity to homologous human PrRP20, specifically the conserved amphipathic system defined by the C-terminal alpha-helix. Clearly, the synthetic C-RFa peptide stimulated prolactin release from primary cultured fish pituitary cells. For the first time, significant variation was shown in C-RFa mRNA and protein levels in the hypothalamus and pituitary between summer- and winter-acclimatized carp. Furthermore, C-RFa protein distribution in carp central nervous tissue was visualized by immunodetection in fibers and cells in hypothalamus, olfactory tract, cerebellum and pituitary stalk. In conclusion, we demonstrated the structure conservation of C-RFa in teleosts and mammals and immunopositive cells and fibers for C-RFa in brain areas. Finally, the increase of C-RFa expression suggests the participation of this hypothalamic factor in the mechanism of modulation in PRL expression in carp. <![CDATA[IL-17A levels increase in the infarcted region of the left ventricle in a rat model of myocardial infarction]]> Th17 cells, a recently described subtype of CD4+ effector lymphocytes, have been linked to cell-mediated autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as to cardiovascular diseases. However, the participation of IL-17A in myocardial ischemic injury has not been clearly defined. We therefore conducted the present study to evaluate IL-17A and Th17-related cytokine levels in a rat model of myocardial infarction (MI). MI was induced in male Sprague Dawley rats by coronary artery ligation. Controls were sham-operated (Sh) or non-operated (C). Blood and samples from the left ventricle (LV) were collected at weeks 1 and 4 post-MI. At week 1, MI animals exhibited increased IL-6, IL-23 and TGF-β mRNA levels with no apparent change in IL-17 mRNA or protein levels in whole LV. Only TGF-β mRNA remained elevated at week 4 post-MI. However, further analysis revealed that IL-17A mRNA and protein levels as well as IL-6 and IL-23 mRNA were indeed increased in the infarcted region, though not in the remote non infarcted region of the LV, except for IL-23 mRNA. The increased expression of IL-17A and Th17-related cytokines in the infarcted region of LV, suggests that this proinflammatory pathway might play a role in early stages of post MI cardiac remodelling.