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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Apr;149(3):307-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2008.08.007. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Venom variation in hemostasis of the southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri): isolation of hellerase.

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Laboratorio de Fisiopatología, Centro de Medicina Experimental, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC), Apartado 20632, Caracas 1020, Venezuela.


Envenomations by the southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) are the most common snakebite accidents in southern California. Intraspecies venom variation may lead to unresponsiveness to antivenom therapy. Even in a known species, venom toxins are recognized as diverse in conformity with interpopulational, seasonal, ontogenetic and individual factors. Five venoms of individual C. oreganus helleri located in Riverside and San Bernardino counties of southern California were studied for their variation in their hemostatic activity. The results demonstrated that Riverside 2 and San Bernardino 1 venoms presented the highest lethal activity without hemorrhagic activity. In contrast, San Bernardino 2 and 3 venoms had the highest hemorrhagic and fibrinolytic activities with low lethal and coagulant activities. Riverside 1, Riverside 2 and San Bernardino 1 venoms presented a significant thrombin-like activity. San Bernardino 2 and 3 venoms presented an insignificant thrombin-like activity. In relation to the fibrinolytic activity, San Bernardino 3 venom was the most active on fibrin plates, which was in turn neutralized by metal chelating inhibitors. These results demonstrate the differences amongst C. oreganus helleri venoms from close localities. A metalloproteinase, hellerase, was purified by anionic and cationic exchange chromatographies from San Bernardino 3 venom. Hellerase exhibited the ability to break fibrin clots in vitro, which can be of biomedically importance in the treatment of heart attacks and strokes.

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