Interspecific variation in venom composition and toxicity of Brazilian snakes fromBothropsgenus

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Abstract

The genus Bothrops spp. is responsible for 90% of envenomation by snakes in Brazil, and the standard treatment for snakebites is the antivenom therapy. The anti-bothropic serum produced by Butantan Institute is prepared by the hyperimmunization of horses with a pool of venoms from Bothrops alternatus, Bothrops jararaca, Bothrops jararacussu, Bothrops moojeni and Bothrops neuwiedi. In this study, the biochemical and biological characteristics of the venoms from nineteen snakes of the genus Bothrops, responsible for human accidents in Brazil, were analysed. Venoms, particularly from Crotalidae and Viperidae snakes, are rich sources of serine proteases and metalloproteases and the ability of the Brazilian anti-bothropic serum to neutralize the proteolytic activity of these venoms were also tested. The results obtained here show the existence of a large range of variation in the composition and activities in Bothrops spp. toxins and demonstrate that the anti-bothropic serum is not able to fully neutralize the toxic activities of all analysed venoms. These suggest that for the preparation of a fully effective therapeutic anti-bothropic serum, other venoms should be included in the immunization mixture.

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