Patients bitten by Naja atra who are treated with bivalent freeze-dried neurotoxic antivenom in Taiwan have an improved survival rate but develop necrotic wound changes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested using the minimum necrotizing dose (MND) of venom as a method of evaluating the neutralization effect of antivenom. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of antivenom for the prevention of necrosis based on the MND and clarify which component of the venom of N. atra induces necrosis. The neurotoxins (NTXs) were removed from the crude venom (deNTXs), and different concentrations of deNTXs were injected intradermally into the dorsal skin of mice. After three days, the necrotic lesion diameter was found to be approximately 5 mm, and the MND was calculated. A reduction in the necrotic diameter of 50% was used to identify the MND50. Furthermore, both phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and cytotoxins (CTXs) were separately removed from the deNTXs to identify the major necrosis-inducing factor, and the necrotic lesions were scored. All mice injected with deNTXs survived for three days and developed necrotic wounds. The MND of the deNTXs for mice was 0.494 ± 0.029 µg/g, that of the deNTXsdePLA2 (major component retained: CTXs) was 0.294 ± 0.05 µg/g, and that of the deNTX-deCTX (major component retained: PLA2) venom was greater than 1.25 µg/g. These values show that CTX is the major factor inducing necrosis. These results suggest that the use of the deNTXs is necessary to enable the mice to survive long enough to develop venom-induced cytolytic effects. CTXs play a major role in N. atra-related necrosis. However, the MND50 could not be identified in this study, which meant that the antivenom did not neutralize venom-induced necrosis.
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