Several in vitro investigations have demonstrated that anticoagulant effects of fibrinogenolytic snake venom metalloproteinases have been abrogated in human plasma by modifying fibrinogen with iron (Fe) and carbon monoxide (CO) to prevent catalysis or by directly inhibiting these enzymes with CO. To translate these findings, we chose to assess the rabbit as a model of envenomation with Crotalus atrox venom. It was determined with thrombelastography that 15 times the concentration of venom noted to compromise coagulation in plasma in vitro was required to cause coagulopathy in vivo, likely secondary to venom binding to blood cells and being cleared from the circulation rapidly. Unlike human plasma, rabbit plasma pre-treated with Fe/CO was not protected from fibrinogenolysis by venom. Consequently, the administration of purified human fibrinogen (with or without Fe/CO) would be required before venom administration to rabbits. Of greater interest, venom exposed to CO had complete loss of fibrinogenolytic effect in rabbit plasma and partial loss of activity in whole blood, indicative of unbinding of CO from venom and binding to haemoglobin. Thus, venom exposed to CO could remain partially or completely inhibited in whole blood long enough for clearance from the circulation, allowing rabbits to be a useful model to test the efficacy of regional CO administration to the bite site. Future investigations are planned to test these novel approaches to attenuate venom-mediated coagulopathy in the rabbit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas