Haemostatic alterations caused by the venom of Lansberg's hognosed pitviper (Porthidium lansbergii hutmanni) in Venezuelan patients

María E. Pineda, Alba M. Vargas, Alexis Rodriguez-Acosta

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Resumen

Objective: to describe the haemostatic characteristics of the venom as well as the potency appraisal of the polyvalent antiophidic serum against haemotoxicity from Porthidium lansbergii hutmani experimental envenomation.
Methods: Evaluation was performed of the venom's lethality, haemorrhagic activity, effects on coagulation and platelet aggregation, proteolytic activity, and neutralization by the commercial antivenom available in the country.
Results: Several components with haemostatic activities were found in Porthidium l. hutmanni venom when a study of fibrinogenolytic, haemorrhagic and proteolytic activities was conducted of a pool of P.l.h venom. Porthidium l. hutmanni venom lacked the coagulant and defibrinating activities that are characteristic of bothropic venoms. Porthidium l. hutmanni venom showed very high haemorrhagic and anticoagulant activities. These findings could be related to the presence of multiple metalloproteases, which was evidenced in this study, and also the possible presence of phospholipases or other anticoagulant activity proteins that were not defined here. They inhibited platelet aggregation, suggesting that the venom had some proteins with marked effects on haemostasis. The commercial antivenom proved to be of little effectiveness in neutralizing the crude venom haemorrhagic activity.
Conclusions: These toxins cause many physiopathological alterations in bitten patients, creating a clinical picture characterized by oedema, local and systemic haemorrhages, and even necrosis, comparable to that seen in bothropic envenomation. Porthidium l. hutmanni venom has no in vitro procoagulant activity, typical of bothropic venoms, suggesting there are variances in its protein conformation. Porthidium l. hutmanni venom is used for horse immunization. However, in order to preserve the patient's life, it is necessary to improve the immunization process to produce antivenom containing high avidity and specificity antibodies against the major toxins present in this venom. Porthidium l. hutmanni venom has demonstrated being a venom with high lethal, haemorrhagic, proteolytic and procoagulant activities, whose description will have enormous utility among clinicians who deal with these accidents in its geographical distribution areas.

Palabras clave

anticoagulant; antivenom; coagulation; haemorrhage; haemostasis; Porthidium lansbergii hutmanni; snake venom.

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