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Hemotoxins, haemotoxins or hematotoxins are toxins that destroy red blood cells (that is, cause hemolysis), disrupt blood clotting, and/or cause organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. The term hemotoxin is to some degree a misnomer since toxins that damage the blood also damage other tissues. An injury due to a hemotoxic agent is often very painful, and permanent damage, such as loss of an affected limb, is possible even with prompt treatment.
Additional recommended knowledge
Hemotoxins are frequently employed by venomous animals, including pit vipers. Animal venoms contain enzymes and other proteins that are hemotoxic or neurotoxic or occasionally both (as in the Mojave Rattlesnake and similar species). In addition to killing the prey, part of the function of a hemotoxic venom for some animals is to aid digestion. The venom breaks down protein in the region of the bite, making prey easier to digest.
The process by which a hemotoxin causes death is much slower than that of a neurotoxin. Snakes which envenomate a prey animal may have to track the prey as it runs (or otherwise moves) away. Typically, a mammalian prey item will stop fleeing not because it is dead but because shock sets in due to trauma from the poison bite. Dependent upon species, size, location of bite and the amount of venom injected, symptoms in humans such as nausea, disorientation, and headaches may be delayed for several hours.
Hemotoxins are used in diagnostic studies of the coagulation system. Lupus anticoagulans is detected by changes in the dilute Russell's viper venom time (DRVVT), which is a laboratory assay based on—as its name indicates—venom of the Russell's viper.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hemotoxin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|