Proteomic analysis and antivenomics study of Western India Naja naja venom: correlation between venom composition and clinical manifestations of cobra bite in this region

Background: Snakebite is a severe problem in the tropical countries including Indian subcontinent. Premier cases of cobra bites are being reported from western India (WI).

Research design and methods: The proteome of WI N. naja venom (NnV) was deciphered by high resolution mass spectrometry analysis of venom, further fractionated by gel filtration (GF) or RP-HPLC followed by SDS-PAGE and then tandem mass spectrometric analysis of protein bands. The efficacy of commercial polyantivenom (PAV) towards WINnV was assessed by ELISA, immuno-blot, neutralization, and venom-PAV immunoaffinity chromatography studies.

Results: Proteomic analysis of WINnV, GF fractions, and SDS-PAGE protein bands of RP-HPLC and GF peaks identified 14, 34, 40, and 54, distinct proteins, respectively, when searched against Elapidae database. The biochemical properties of WINnV correlated well with its proteome composition and pathophysiology of cobra envenomation, including neuroparalysis. This study also highlighted the differences in proteome composition between WINnV and previously reported Eastern India NnV. The tested antivenoms exhibited poor immuno-recognition and neutralization of low molecular mass proteins (<20 kDa), such as three-finger toxins, the major class of protein in WINnV.

Conclusion: Improvements in production protocols of antivenoms is the necessity of the hour, supplemented with antibodies raised against the poorly recognized toxins.