Volume 67, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The venom of Bothrops moojeni has potent proteolytic and phospholipase A2 activities. In previous work, we showed that intravenous injection of this venom in rats decreased creatinine clearance and caused tubular dysfunction and histopathological changes with no alterations in blood pressure. The current study used scanning and transmission electron microscopy to assess the ultrastructural changes caused by B. moojeni venom (0.4 mg/kg i.v.) in rat renal glomeruli and correlated these alterations with the severity of proteinuria 5 hours, 16 hours, and 48 hours after venom injection. The changes included mesangiolysis, glomerular microaneurysms, and glomerular basement membrane (GBM) abnormalities. In addition, there was a reduction in the number and width of podocyte pedicels, which caused a reduction in the number of filtration slits. Electron-dense amorphous material, which may be proteinaceous in origin, was found in the pedicels. The severity of the ultrastructural abnormalities correlated with the level of proteinuria. These morphophysiological changes were attributed to biochemical and physiological disturbances in the components of the GBM and mesangial matrix as well as in cytoskeleton-associated proteins of podocytic processes, and could account for the breakdown of optimal glomerular filtration barrier functioning. These results, together with the absence of appreciable glomerular fibrin deposits, support the hypothesis of a direct activity of B. moojeni venom on rat kidneys. Proteolytic activity of the venom on renal glomeruli could then contribute to the onset of acute renal failure, and would explain the clinical manifestations of renal injury after bites by this and other Bothrops species.


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