Inactivation of Complement by Loxosceles Reclusa Spider Venom

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  • Departments of Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65212

Zymosan depletion of serum complement in guinea pigs rendered them highly resistant to lesion induction by Loxosceles reclusa spider venom. Guinea pigs deficient in C4 of the complement system are as sensitive to the venom as normal guinea pigs. The injection of 35 µg of whole recluse venom intradermally into guinea pigs lowered their complement level by 35.7%. Brown recluse spider venom in concentrations as slight as 0.02 µg protein/ml can totally inactivate one CH50 of guinea pig complement in vitro. Bee, scorpion, and other spider venoms had no influence on the hemolytic titer of complement. Fractionation of recluse spider venom by Sephadex G-200 filtration separated the complement-inactivating property of the venom into three major regions which could be distinguished on the basis of heat stability as well as size. None was neutralized by antivenom. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of venom resolved the complement inactivators into five fractions. Complement inactivated by whole venom or the Sephadex fractions could be restored to hemolytic activity by supplements of fresh serum but not by heat-inactivated serum, pure C3, pure C5, or C3 and C5 in combination.

Author Notes

Present address: Department of Pathology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.

Present address: Department of Immunology, Research Division, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.

Present address: Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061.