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Toxicon. 1989;27(12):1351-66.

Diamphidia toxin, the bushmen's arrow poison: possible mechanism of prey-killing.

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Department of Pharmacology, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn 11203.


The effects of a 60,000 mol. wt protein from the pupae of the beetle, Diamphidia nigro-ornata have been studied. In concentrations as high as 50 micrograms/ml, the toxin has little effect on the propagated compound action potential of isolated nerve trunks, or on the voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels of voltage-clamped single skeletal muscle fibers. In the anesthetized cat, the toxin has no specific effect on the neuro-muscular or the cardiovascular systems. It has a markedly hemolytic effect, and could reduce hemoglobin levels by as much as 75%. Plasma hemoglobin is increased, with resultant extensive hemoglobinuria and associated histopathological changes in the kidneys. Blood pressure, heart rate, PO2, PCO2, and oxygen-saturation remain essentially normal until the terminal stages of intoxication. Contrary to previous conclusions, we find no support for any particular neurotoxicity of the poison. The complex systemic effects, and possibly the prey-killing, can probably be attributed to the extensive hemolysis, reduced oxygen-carrying capacity, and generalized tissue hypoxia.

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