Biochemical and toxicological profiles of venoms from an adult female South American bushmaster (Lachesis muta rhombeata) and her offspring

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In this work, we compared the biochemical and toxicological profiles of venoms from an adult female specimen of Lachesis muta rhombeata (South American bushmaster) and her seven offspring born in captivity, based on SDS-PAGE, RP-HPLC, enzymatic, coagulant, and hemorrhagic assays. Although adult and juvenile venoms showed comparable SDS-PAGE profiles, juveniles lacked some chromatographic peaks compared with adult venom. Adult venom had higher proteolytic (caseinolytic) activity than juvenile venoms (p < 0.05), but there were no significant inter-venom variations in the esterase, PLA2, phosphodiesterase and L-amino acid oxidase (LAAO) activities, although the latter activity was highly variable among the venoms. Juveniles displayed higher coagulant activity on human plasma, with a minimum coagulant dose ∼42% lower than the adult venom (p < 0.05), but there were no age-related differences in thrombin-like activity. Adult venom was more fibrinogenolytic (based on the rate of fibrinogen chain degradation) and hemorrhagic than juvenile venoms (p < 0.05). The effective dose of Bothrops/Lachesis antivenom (produced by the Instituto Butantan) needed to neutralize the coagulant activity was ∼57% greater for juvenile venoms (p < 0.05), whereas antivenom did not attenuate the thrombin-like activity of juvenile and adult venoms. Antivenom significantly reduced the hemorrhagic activity of adult venom (400 μg/kg, i. d.), but not that of juvenile venoms. Overall, these data indicate a compositional and functional ontogenetic shift in L. m. rhombeata venom.
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