Comparative study of the cytolytic activity of snake venoms from African spitting cobras (Naja spp., Elapidae) and its neutralization by a polyspecific antivenom.Toxicon. 2011 Nov; 58(6-7):558-64.T
Venoms of several Naja species found in Sub-Saharan Africa, and commonly known as "spitting cobras", induce a predominantly cytotoxic pattern of envenomings that may evolve into tissue necrosis and gangrene. Cytotoxic components of their venoms have been identified as members of the three-finger toxin and phospholipase A(2) protein families. In this study, an in vitro assay using the myogenic cell line C2C12, was utilized to compare the cytolytic activities of venoms from five species of spitting cobras: Naja nigricollis, Naja katiensis, Naja pallida, Naja nubiae, and Naja mossambica. These venoms were strongly cytotoxic, causing a 50% effect at ~1.5 μg/well (15 μg/ml), except for N. katiensis venom, which required nearly twice this amount. Using the cell-based assay, the ability of an equine polyspecific antivenom (EchiTab-Plus-ICP) to neutralize cytotoxicity was assessed. The antivenom completely inhibited the cytotoxic activity of all five venoms, although high antivenom/venom ratios were needed. Neutralization curves displayed the following decreasing order of efficiency: N. nubiae > N. pallida > N. mossambica > N. nigricollis > N. katiensis. Results indicate that neutralizing antibodies toward toxins responsible for this particular effect are present in the antivenom, albeit in low titers. Fucoidan, a natural sulfated polysaccharide known to inhibit the toxic effects of some basic snake venom components, was unable to reduce cytotoxicity of Naja venoms. Results emphasize the need of enhancing the immunogenicity of low molecular mass toxins during antivenom production, as well as to search for useful toxin inhibitors which could complement antivenom therapy.