Pathophysiological significance and therapeutic applications of snake venom protease inhibitors
Protease inhibitors are important constituents of snake venom and play important roles in the pathophysiology of snakebite. Recently, research on snake venom protease inhibitors has provided valuable information to decipher the molecular details of various biological processes and offer insight for the development of some therapeutically important molecules from snake venom. The process of blood coagulation and fibrinolysis, in addition to affecting platelet function, are well known as the major targets of several snake venom protease inhibitors. This review summarizes the structure-functional aspects of snake venom protease inhibitors that have been described to date. Because diverse biological functions have been demonstrated by protease inhibitors, a comparative overview of their pharmacological and pathophysiological properties is also highlighted. In addition, since most snake venom protease inhibitors are non-toxic on their own, this review evaluates the different roles of individual protease inhibitors that could lead to the identification of drug candidates and diagnostic molecules.