A great number of studies on scorpion venoms associate their effects to the autonomic nervous system, and few data are available about their action on the central nervous system (CNS). The aim of this work was to evaluate some central effects after intraperitoneal injection of Tityus serrulatus or T. bahiensis scorpion venoms. The hippocampal concentration of some neurotransmitters and their metabolites were determined. Electroencephalographic and behavioral observations were performed, and all brains were removed for histopathological analysis of hippocampal areas. Both venoms induced electrographic and behavioral alterations despite T. bahiensis venom affects less the electrographic activity than T. serrulatus venom. Neurochemical analysis demonstrated no alteration in the extracellular levels of almost all the neurotransmitters evaluated, at least in the hippocampus, and no neuronal loss in this area was observed. Meanwhile, extracellular concentration of HVA increased up to 10 times in approximately 1/3 of the animals of both groups. Scorpion venoms seem to exert a small but important central effect. More studies in this field are necessary because they may be useful in developing new strategies to reduce the damage caused by scorpion stings.
In Brazil, the scorpion species responsible for most severe incidents belong to the Tityus genus and, among this group, T. serrulatus, T. bahiensis, T. stigmurus and T. obscurus are the most dangerous ones. Other species such as T. metuendus, T. silvestres, T. brazilae, T. confluens, T. costatus, T. fasciolatus and T. neglectus are also found in the country, but the incidence and severity of accidents caused by them are lower. The main effects caused by scorpion venoms – such as myocardial damage, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema and shock – are mainly due to the release of mediators from the autonomic nervous system. On the other hand, some evidence show the participation of the central nervous system and inflammatory response in the process. The participation of the central nervous system in envenoming has always been questioned. Some authors claim that the central effects would be a consequence of peripheral stimulation and would be the result, not the cause, of the envenoming process. Because, they say, at least in adult individuals, the venom would be unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. In contrast, there is some evidence showing the direct participation of the central nervous system in the envenoming process. This review summarizes the major findings on the effects of Brazilian scorpion venoms on the central nervous system, both clinically and experimentally. Most of the studies have been performed with T. serrulatus and T. bahiensis. Little information is available regarding the other Brazilian Tityus species.
Although purinergic receptor activity has lately been associated with epilepsy, little is known about the exact role of purines in epileptogenesis. We have used a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy induced by pilocarpine to study the dynamics of purine metabolism in the hippocampus during different times of status epilepticus (SE) and the chronic phase. Concentrations of adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP), adenosine diphosphate (ADP), adenosine monophosphate (AMP), and adenosine in normal and epileptic rat hippocampus were determined by microdialysis in combination with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Extracellular ATP concentrations did not vary along 4 h of SE onset. However, AMP concentration was elevated during the second hour, whereas ADP and adenosine concentrations augmented during the third and fourth hour following SE. During chronic phase, extracellular ATP, ADP, AMP, and adenosine concentrations decreased, although these levels again increased significantly during spontaneous seizures. These results suggest that the increased turnover of ATP during the acute period is a compensatory mechanism able to reduce the excitatory role of ATP. Increased adenosine levels following 4 h of SE may contribute to block seizures. On the other hand, the reduction of purine levels in the hippocampus of chronic epileptic rats may result from metabolic changes and be part of the mechanisms involved in the onset of spontaneous seizures. This work provides further insights into purinergic signaling during establishment and chronic phase of epilepsy.
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