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Neurotox Res. 2014 Apr;25(3):305-10. doi: 10.1007/s12640-013-9426-z. Epub 2013 Oct 16.

Inhibition of presynaptic neurotoxins in taipan venom by suramin.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Monash University, Building 77, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia,


Taipans are amongst the most venomous snakes in the world, and neurotoxicity is a major life-threatening symptom of envenoming by these snakes. Three species of taipans exist, and the venom from each species contains a presynaptic neurotoxin which accounts for much of the neurotoxicity observed following human envenoming. The high cost of antivenom used to treat neurotoxicity has resulted in the need to develop alternative but effective therapies. Therefore, in this study, we examined the ability of the P2Y receptor antagonist suramin to prevent the in vitro neurotoxic effects of the three presynaptic neurotoxins in taipan venoms: taipoxin, paradoxin and cannitoxin. Toxins were purchased from commercial sources or purified in house, using multiple steps of gel filtration chromatography. All three toxins (11 nM) inhibited nerve-mediated twitches in the chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation within 300 min. The presence of suramin (0.3 mM) completely blocked the taipoxin and cannitoxin-mediated inhibition of nerve-mediated twitches within the course of the experiment (P < 0.0001). However, paradoxin induced a 32 % decrease in twitch height even in the presence of suramin within 360 min. This was significantly different compared to toxin alone (P < 0.0001). We also examined the effect of suramin on the neurotoxic effects of textilotoxin and the products of phospholipase A2 action. Each toxin alone or in the presence of suramin failed to inhibit the responses to exogenous agonists ACh, CCh or KCl. Our results warrant clinical studies aimed determining the efficacy of suramin in preventing the onset of neurotoxicity following taipan envenoming.

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