Abstract

A monovalent antivenom was produced by immunizing two horses with venom of the pit viper Bothrops asper (Ophidia: VipeIidae). Although development of the immune response against four toxic and enzymatic activities of the venom was similar in both horses during the the two thirds of the immunization schedule, antibody response in one of the horses reached much higher levels in the last part of the immunization. Immunoelectrophoretic analysis indicates that there were precipitating antibodies in the sera of these horses during all the stages of immunization. However, immunoprecipitation did not correlate with the ability of sera to neutralize toxic activities of B. asper venom. Monovalent antivenom was more effective than the commercially available polyvalent antivenom in the neutralization of Bothrops asper venom. On the other hand, despite the fact that it neutralizes lethal and hemorrhagic activities of the venoms of Lachesia muta and Crotalus durissus durissus, it was less effective than polyvalent antivenom in these neutralizations. Moreover, it does not neutralize defibrinating activity induced by these two venoms, whereas it neutralizes this effect in the case of B. asper venom. It is proposed that monovalent antivenom may be highly effective in the case of envenomations induced by Bothrops asper venom; its use in treating accidents by L. muta and C. durissus would be indicated only if polyvalent antivenom is not available. Results also demonstrate that it is important to monitor antibody response individually in horses being immunized for antivenom production, due to the conspicuous variability in the response of different animals.