Suramin inhibits the early effects of PLA(2) neurotoxins at mouse neuromuscular junctions: a twitch tension study

Behrooz Fathi, Alan L Harvey, Edward G Rowan

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Several phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)) neurotoxins from snake venoms can affect acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction. In isolated nerve-muscle preparations three distinct phases have been described for this phenomenon: An initial transient decrease in twitch tension; a second facilitatory phase during which twitch height is greater than control twitch height; and the last phase which causes a reduction in twitch height that finally results in paralysis. Suramin has been reported to inhibit the toxic effects of β-bungarotoxin and another PLA(2) neurotoxin, crotoxin in vitro and in vivo. We have further examined the effects of suramin on the three phases of the effects of the presynaptic PLA(2) neurotoxins β-bungarotoxin, taipoxin and ammodytoxin on mouse phrenic nerve-hemidiaphragm preparations. When preparations were pre-treated with suramin (0.3mM), the early biphasic effects (depression followed by facilitation) were abolished, and the time taken for final blockade induced by β-bungarotoxin, taipoxin and ammodytoxin A was significantly prolonged. In contrast, suramin did not significantly affect the facilitation induced by the potassium channel blocking toxin dendrotoxin I when applied under the same conditions. In addition, application of 0.3mM suramin did not prevent the facilitatory actions of 3,4-diaminopyridine (3,4-DAP) and tetraethylammonium chloride (TEA). Overall, the mechanism whereby suramin reduces the effects of PLA(2) neurotoxins remains elusive. Since suramin reduces both enzyme-dependent and enzyme-independent effects of the toxins, suramin is not acting as a simple enzyme inhibitor. Furthermore, the observation that suramin does not affect actions of standard K(+) channel blockers suggests that suramin does not stabilise nerve terminals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Venom Research
Early online date2 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • PLA2
  • neurotoxins
  • β-bungarotoxin
  • mouse phrenic nerve hemidiaphragm preparations
  • taipoxin,
  • ammodytoxin,
  • suramin


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