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Am J Pathol. 1972 Apr;67(1):127-40.

Myonecrosis induced by rattlesnake venom. An electron microscopic study.


The myonecrotic effect of rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) venom on mouse skeletal muscle was studied. The biceps femoris muscle was examined with the electron microscope after one-fourth the LD(50) of the crude venom was injected into the gracilis and semimembranosus muscles. Focal areas of myonecrosis were abundant. Injured fibers contained dilated sarcoplasmic reticulum, disoriented, coagulated myofilamentous components and condensed, rounded and enlarged mitochondria. The external lamina and sarcolemma remained intact in many fibers. Hemorrhage was apparent in the endomysial connective tissue, and hemolysis was discernible. In areas where the erythrocytes were tightly packed between the muscle fibers, there was disruption of the external lamina and sarcolemma. Degeneration of the fibers in these areas was pronounced. These findings correlate well with the breakdown of muscle fibers by various methods described in the literature. Myonecrosis induced by snake venom may serve as a useful model for studying muscle necrosis because of its rapid onset and relative ease of induction.

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