Proteomics analysis to compare the venom composition between Naja naja and Naja kaouthia from the same geographical location of eastern India: Correlation with pathophysiology of envenomation and immunological cross-reactivity towards commercial polyantivenom

Background: Cobra bite is frequently reported across the Indian subcontinent and is associated with a high rate of death and morbidity. In eastern India (EI) Naja naja and Naja kaouthia are reported to be the two most abundant species of cobra.

Research design and methods: The venom proteome composition of N. naja (NnV) and N. kaouthia (NkV) from Burdwan districts of EI were compared by separation of venom proteins by 1D-SDS-PAGE followed by LC-MS/MS analysis of protein bands. The potency of commercial polyantivenom (PAV) was assessed by neutralization, ELISA, immuno-blot and venom-PAV immunoaffinity chromatography studies.

Results: Proteomic analysis identified 52 and 55 proteins for NnV and NkV, respectively, when searched against the Elapidae database. A small quantitative difference in venom composition between these two species of cobra was observed. PAVs exhibited poor cross-reactivity against low molecular mass toxins (<20 kDa) of both cobra venoms, which was substantiated by a meager neutralization of their phospholipase A2 activity. Phospholipase A2 and 3FTx, the two major classes of nonenzymatic and enzymatic proteins, respectively, were partially recognized by PAVs.

Conclusions: Efforts must be made to improve immunization protocols and supplement existing antivenoms with antibodies raised against the major toxins of these venoms.