Toxins2014, 6(4), 1453-1470; doi:10.3390/toxins6041453 (doi registration under processing) - published online 24 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Neuronal and vascular brain components are interrelated morphologically, physiologically and developmentally. Due to this close interrelationship, it is often difficult to understand the cause and effect relationship between neuronal vs. vascular dysfunction and pathology. This review will discuss four of the more promising recent developments for detecting vascular pathology, and will compare them with the labeling pattern seen with markers of glial and neuronal pathology; following exposure to well characterized neurotoxicants. To detect the vascular dysfunction in the brain, we recently developed a Fluoro-Turquoise gelatin conjugate (FT-gel), a fluorescent probe that helps to delineate between healthy vs. sclerotic vessels. Similarly, we have investigated the potential for Fluoro-Gold to label in vivo all the endothelial cells in the brain as they co-localize with RECA, an endothelial cell marker. We have also developed Amylo-Glo, a fluorescent tracer that can detect neurotoxic A-beta aggregates in the brain. In this article, we will discuss the potential use of these novel histochemical markers to study the neurotoxicant induced brain. We will also discuss neurovascular strategies that may offer novel therapeutic opportunities for neurodegenerative disorders.
Toxins2014, 6(4), 1434-1452; doi:10.3390/toxins6041434 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Deaths by venomous animals are medical emergencies that can lead to death and thus constitute sanitary problems in some regions of the world. In the South of America, the accidents by these animals are a common sanitary problem especially in warm, tropical or subtropical regions, related with rural work in several countries. Argentina is located in the extreme South of South America and a minor part of the continental surface is in tropical or subtropical regions, where most of the accidents by venomous animals happen. However, in the big cities in the center and South of the country, with no relation to rural work, scorpionism, mostly due to the synanthropic and facultative parthenogenetic scorpion Tityus trivittatus, has become a sanitary problem in the last few decades. This scorpion is present in the biggest cities of Argentina and in the last decades has killed over 20 children in provinces of the center and north of the country, mostly in big cities. In addition, it seems that this species is growing and spreading in new regions of the cities. In this revision, some characteristics of this scorpion regarding its habitat, spreading in Buenos Aires city, combat measures and available treatments are discussed.
Toxins2014, 6(4), 1419-1433; doi:10.3390/toxins6041419 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Martentoxin (MarTX), a 37-residue peptide purified from the venom of East-Asian scorpion (Buthus martensi Karsch), was capable of blocking large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels. Here, we report an effective expression and purification approach for this toxin. The cDNA encoding martentoxin was expressed by the prokaryotic expression system pGEX-4T-3 which was added an enterokinase cleavage site by PCR. The fusion protein (GST-rMarTX) was digested by enterokinase to release hetero-expressed toxin and further purified via reverse-phase HPLC. The molecular weight of the hetero-expressed rMarTX was 4059.06 Da, which is identical to that of the natural peptide isolated from scorpion venom. Functional characterization through whole-cell patch clamp showed that rMarTX selectively and potently inhibited the currents of neuronal BK channels (α + β4) (IC50 = 186 nM), partly inhibited mKv1.3, but hardly having any significant effect on hKv4.2 and hKv3.1a even at 10 μM. Successful expression of martentoxin lays basis for further studies of structure-function relationship underlying martentoxin or other potassium-channel specific blockers.
Toxins2014, 6(4), 1397-1418; doi:10.3390/toxins6041397 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: West Nile virus (WNV) causes potentially fatal neuroinvasive disease and persists at endemic levels in many parts of the world. Despite advances in our understanding of WNV pathogenesis, there remains a significant need for a human vaccine. The domain III (DIII) region of the WNV envelope protein contains epitopes that are the target of neutralizing antibodies. We have constructed a chimeric fusion of the non-toxic cholera toxin (CT) CTA2/B domains to DIII for investigation as a novel mucosally-delivered WNV vaccine. Purification and assembly of the chimera, as well as receptor-binding and antigen delivery, were verified by western blot, GM1 ELISA and confocal microscopy. Groups of BALB/c mice were immunized intranasally with DIII-CTA2/B, DIII, DIII mixed with CTA2/B, or CTA2/B control, and boosted at 10 days. Analysis of serum IgG after 14 and 45 days revealed that mucosal immunization with DIII-CTA2/B induced significant DIII-specific humoral immunity and drove isotype switching to IgG2a. The DIII-CTA2/B chimera also induced antigen-specific IgM and IgA responses. Bactericidal assays indicate that the DIII-CTA2/B immunized mice produced DIII-specific antibodies that can trigger complement-mediated killing. A dose escalation resulted in increased DIII-specific serum IgG titers on day 45. DIII antigen alone, in the absence of adjuvant, also induced significant systemic responses after intranasal delivery. Our results indicate that the DIII-CTA2/B chimera is immunogenic after intranasal delivery and merits further investigation as a novel WNV vaccine candidate.
Toxins2014, 6(4), 1385-1396; doi:10.3390/toxins6041385 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Clostridium difficile is a Gram-positive bacterium and is the most commonly diagnosed cause of hospital-associated and antimicrobial-associated diarrhea. Despite the emergence of epidemic C. difficile strains having led to an increase in the incidence of the disease, a vaccine against this pathogen is not currently available. C. difficile strains produce two main toxins (TcdA and TcdB) and express three highly complex cell-surface polysaccharides (PSI, PSII and PSIII). PSII is the more abundantly expressed by most C. difficile ribotypes offering the opportunity of the development of a carbohydrate-based vaccine. In this paper, we evaluate the efficacy, in naive mice model, of PSII glycoconjugates where recombinant toxins A and B fragments (TcdA_B2 and TcdB_GT respectively) have been used as carriers. Both glycoconjugates elicited IgG titers anti-PSII although only the TcdB_GT conjugate induced a response comparable to that obtained with CRM197. Moreover, TcdA_B2 and TcdB_GT conjugated to PSII retained the ability to elicit IgG with neutralizing activity against the respective toxins. These results are a crucial proof of concept for the development of glycoconjugate vaccines against C. difficile infection (CDI) that combine different C. difficile antigens to potentially prevent bacterial colonization of the gut and neutralize toxin activity.
Toxins2014, 6(4), 1366-1384; doi:10.3390/toxins6041366 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The definition of a synthetic index for classifying the quality of water bodies is a key aspect in integrated planning and management of water resource systems. In previous works [1,2], a water system optimization modeling approach that requires a single quality index for stored water in reservoirs has been applied to a complex multi-reservoir system. Considering the same modeling field, this paper presents an improved quality index estimated both on the basis of the overall trophic state of the water body and on the basis of the density values of the most potentially toxic Cyanobacteria. The implementation of the index into the optimization model makes it possible to reproduce the conditions limiting water use due to excessive nutrient enrichment in the water body and to the health hazard linked to toxic blooms. The analysis of an extended limnological database (1996–2012) in four reservoirs of the Flumendosa-Campidano system (Sardinia, Italy) provides useful insights into the strengths and limitations of the proposed synthetic index.