Cardiovascular effects of Sp-CTx, a cytolysin from the scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri) venom

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Fish venom cytolysins are multifunctional proteins that in addition to their cytolytic/hemolytic effects display neurotoxic, cardiotoxic and inflammatory activities, being described as “protein lethal factors”. A pore-forming cytolysin called Sp-CTx (ScorpaenaplumieriCytolytic Toxin) has been recently purified from the venom of the scorpionfish Scorpaena plumieri. It is a glycoprotein with dimeric constitution, comprising subunits of approximately 65 kDa. Previous studies have revealed that this toxin has a vasorelaxant activity that appears to involve the L-arginine–nitric oxide synthase pathway; however its cardiovascular effects have not been fully comprehended. The present study examined the cardiovascular effects of Sp-CTx in vivo and in vitro. In anesthetized rats Sp-CTx (70 μg/kg i.v) produced a biphasic response which consisted of an initial systolic and diastolic pressure increase followed by a sustained decrease of these parameters and the heart rate. In isolated rats hearts Sp-CTx (10−9 to 5 × 10−6 M) produced concentration-dependent and transient ventricular positive inotropic effect and vasoconstriction response on coronary bed. In papillary muscle, Sp-CTx (10−7 M) also produced an increase in contractile isometric force, which was attenuated by the catecholamine releasing agent tyramine (100 μM) and the β-adrenergic antagonist propranolol (10 μM). On isolated ventricular cardiomyocytes Sp-CTx (1 nM) increased the L-type Ca2+ current density. The results show that Sp-CTx induces disorders in the cardiovascular system through increase of sarcolemmal calcium influx, which in turn is partially caused by the release of endogenous noradrenaline.

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