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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003 Dec;81(12):1110-7.

Evaluation of the effect of gamma rays on the venom of Vipera lebetina by biochemical study.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, Faculté des Sciences Biologiques, Alger, Algérie.


Snake bites represent a serious public health problem in many areas of the world. In Algeria, two widespread snakes are Vipera lebetina and Cerastes cerastes. Vipera lebetina venom causes local hemorrhage and necrosis, and it may lead to permanent limb loss. The principal causes of mortality after snakebites are acute renal failure and hemorrhage, which occur not only locally, at the site of the bite, but also systemically, contributing to the cardiovascular shock characteristic of severe envenomation. Gamma radiation has been shown to be effective for attenuating venom toxicity. Vipera lebetina venom was irradiated with two doses of gamma rays (1 and 2 kGy) from a 60Co source, and the venom's toxic, enzymatic, and structural properties were analyzed. Intraperitoneal injection of the irradiated venoms (100-500 microg/20 g mouse body mass) revealed a significant decrease of the toxicity. Irradiated venoms with 1 and 2 kGy doses were four and nine times less toxic, respectively, than the native venom. A biochemical characterization of in vitro enzymatic activities was performed. Vipera lebetina displayed in vitro caseinolytic, amidolytic, esterasic, coagulant, and phospholipase A2 activities. Caseinolytic, amidolytic, esterasic, and coagulative activities were reduced for the irradiated venoms; only phospholipase A2 activity was abolished in the irradiated venom with a dose of 2 kGy. The native and irradiated venoms were separated by gel filtration and electrophoresis. Chromatographic and electrophoretic profiles were drastically changed as compared with the native venom. Vipera lebetina venom detoxified by gamma rays was used for active immunization, and the presence of antibody in the immune sera was detected by ELISA. The immunogenic properties were preserved and the antisera obtained with the irradiated venoms could cross-react. Antisera were able to neutralize the toxic effect of V. lebetina native venom. These results indicate that irradiation of V. lebetina venom with a dose of 2 kGy can promote a significant detoxification, keeping the immunological properties intact.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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