The banded krait, Bungarus fasciatus is a medically important venomous snake in Asia. The wide distribution of this species in Southeast Asia and southern China indicates potential geographical variation of the venom which may impact the clinical management of snakebite envenomation. This study investigated the intraspecific venom variation of B. fasciatus from five geographical locales through a venom decomplexing proteomic approach, followed by toxinological and immunological studies. The venom proteomes composed of a total of 9 toxin families, comprising 22 to 31 proteoforms at varying abundances. The predominant proteins were phospholipase A2 (including beta-bungarotoxin), Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor (KSPI) and three-finger toxins (3FTx), which are toxins that cause neurotoxicity and lethality. The venom lethality varied with geographical origins of the snake, with intravenous median lethal doses (LD50) ranging from 0.45-2.55 µg/g in mice. The Thai Bungarus fasciatus monovalent antivenom (BFMAV) demonstrated a dose-dependent increasing immunological binding activity toward all venoms; however, its in vivo neutralization efficacy varied vastly with normalized potency values ranging from 3 to 28 mg/g, presumably due to the compositional differences of dominant proteins in the different venoms. The findings support that antivenom use should be optimized in different geographical areas. The development of a pan-regional antivenom may be a more sustainable solution for the treatment of snakebite envenomation.
Keywords: Bungarotoxin; Pre-synaptic neurotoxins; Snakebite envenomation; Venom variation; Venomics.
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