Stress exposure during perinatal period may lead to maternal cortisol increase that negatively affects the offspring development. In recent years, the interest on non-invasive sampling methods to measure cortisol as a marker of stress is increasing in both humans and animals. Indeed, discomfort due to blood collection may compromise the diagnostic outcome, mainly in uncooperative patients.
So far, some alternative matrices but not milk have been explored in adult dogs, while no data are available on the neonate and paediatric live pups. This study aimed to measure cortisol concentration in different biological substrates in both dams (blood, saliva, hair and milk) and pups (saliva and hair) at established times from proestrus up to two months after parturition.
For this purpose, five female German shepherd bitches and their 22 pups were enrolled. Cortisol concentration was assessed using the enzyme immunoassay kit (Salivary Cortisol ELISA kit, Salimetrics) after matrices appropriate preparation if required. Cortisol was measurable in all the substrates, except some milk samples below the detection limit.
Maternal cortisol concentrations differed among the matrices (P <0.0001) with the highest values recorded in plasma (median 0.596 μg/dL) compared to saliva (median 0.159 μg/dL), hair (median 0.083 μg/dL) and milk (median 0.045 μg/dL). Cortisol in dams did not vary within the same matrix over time.
In pups, salivary (median 0.295 μg/dL) cortisol was always higher than hair (median 0.049 μg/dL; P <0.0001). At birth (P = 0.01) and two months later (P = 0.05), neonatal salivary cortisol was higher compared to other samplings. The present study demonstrates the suitability of these innovative substrates for cortisol measurement, suggesting them as potential diagnostic support in canine neonatology and welfare.
An optimal non-viral gene transfer method for genetically modifying porcine bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells for experimental therapeutics
No currently available treatment is able to generate new contractile tissue or significantly improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI), a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although gene transfer-enhanced endothelial progenitor cells (GTE-EPCs) show effectiveness in MI treatment in small animal models, no clinical trials using GTE-EPCs have been documented.
Before the introduction of GTE-EPCs into human trials, gene-transfer-mediated augmentation of EPC function in animal models that reflect the human MI scenario should be tested. In this regard, a porcine model is the best choice since pigs have cardiac size, hemodynamics and coronary anatomy similar to that of humans.
To examine GTE-EPC therapeutic efficacy in pig MI models, an efficient method for gene transfer into pig EPCs is required, which however, has been poorly documented. Pig bone marrow mononuclear cells were isolated and cultured in EGM-2 medium to obtain bone marrow-derived EPCs (BM-EPCs) that were characterized by immunostaining and the tube formation assay.
Gene transfer was optimized in 6-well plates using a GFP and a VEGF plasmid, and scaled up in T75 flasks. Gene transfer efficiency was determined by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. VEGF levels were measured by ELISA.
Cell proliferation was assayed by the CCK-8 kit. (1) BM-EPCs expressed VEGFR2 and eNOS but not CD45 protein, and formed tube structures on Matrigel; (2) several chemical compounds were explored with the highest transfection efficiency of 41.4% ± 5.8% achieved using Lipofectamine 3000; (3) the VEGF level in culture medium after VEGF transfection was 378 ± 48 ng/106 cells; and (4) BM-EPCs overexpressing VEGF had significantly enhanced proliferation than GFP-transfected EPCs. A simple, easy and cheap method that can be applied to produce a large number of genetically-modified BM-EPCs was established, which will facilitate the study of GTE-EPC therapeutic efficacy in pig MI model.
Development of double antibody sandwich ELISA as potential diagnostic tool for rapid detection of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus, a highly pathogenic viral agent is responsible for severe fatal hemorrhagic infections in many parts of the world. The early diagnosis of CCHF infection is important for successful clinical management and epidemiological control.
The nucleoprotein (NP) of CCHFV being highly conserved and immunogenic is used as early diagnostic marker. In this study, we report a rapid and sensitive double antibody based antigen capture ELISA to detect Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV).
Highly specific polyclonal and monoclonal antibody against NP has been generated and used as capture and detector antibody respectively. The assay was able to detect viral nucleoprotein in different matrices including human serum, ticks and culture supernatant. The detection limit of the developed sandwich ELISA assay was 25 ng of purified antigen.
Comparison with a real time RT-PCR revealed its detection limit to be 1000 genome equivalents of CCHFV. Further the assay was comparatively evaluated with a commercial kit employing gamma irradiated CCHFV, revealing a sensitivity and specificity of 100%.
This newly developed sandwich ELISA (sELISA) with high sensitivity and specificity could be used as an efficient method for the detection of CCHF virus in humans, ticks and culture supernatant. The assay will be useful as alternate tool for diagnosis of acute infection and is amenable for screening of large scale samples in resource limited settings.
Tacrolimus inhibits insulin release and promotes apoptosis of Min6 cells through the inhibition of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway
As a calcineurin inhibitor, tacrolimus is commonly used as a first‑line immunosuppressant in organ transplant recipients. Post‑transplantation diabetes mellitus (PTDM) is a common complication following kidney transplantation and is associated with immunosuppressant drugs, such as tacrolimus.
PTDM caused by tacrolimus may be related to its influence on insulin secretion and insulin resistance. However, the specific mechanism has not been fully elucidated. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway served an important role in the pathogenesis of PTDM induced by tacrolimus.
In the present study, the Cell Counting Kit‑8 assay was used to measure the effect of tacrolimus on the viability of Min6 mouse insulinoma cells. The effects of tacrolimus on the insulin secretion and the activity of caspase‑3 of Min6 cells stimulated by glucose exposure were measured by ELISA.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured using WST‑8 and thiobarbituric acid assays, respectively. The effects of tacrolimus on the mRNA expression levels of PI3K, Akt and mTOR were detected by reverse transcription‑quantitative PCR (RT‑qPCR), whereas the protein expression levels of PI3K, Akt, mTOR, phosphorylated (p)‑AKT and p‑mTOR in Min6 cells were assessed using western blotting.
The present data indicated that, compared with the control group, 5, 25 and 50 ng/ml tacrolimus treatment could inhibit the insulin secretion of Min6 cells stimulated by glucose solution, and 50 ng/ml tacrolimus could notably decrease the stimulation index (P<0.05). Moreover, 50 ng/ml tacrolimus markedly increased the activity of caspase‑3 by 175.1% (P<0.05), it also decreased the SOD activity (P<0.01) and increased MDA levels (P<0.05).
The RT‑qPCR results demonstrated that the mRNA expression levels of PI3K, Akt and mTOR were downregulated by 25 and 50 ng/ml tacrolimus (P<0.01). Furthermore, the western blotting results suggested that tacrolimus had no significant effects on the expression levels of total PI3K, Akt and mTOR proteins (P>0.05), but 25 and 50 ng/ml tacrolimus could significantly inhibit the expression levels of p‑Akt and p‑mTOR (P<0.01).
In conclusion, tacrolimus decreased the activity and insulin secretion of pancreatic β cells and induced the apoptosis of islet β cells by inhibiting the mRNA expression levels of PI3K, Akt and mTOR and reducing the phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR proteins in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, which may ultimately lead to the occurrence of diabetes mellitus, and may be considered as one of the specific mechanisms of PTDM caused by tacrolimus.