Some studies of the oedematogenic action of the venom of funnel-web spiders (Atrax species)

Aust J Exp Biol Med Sci. 1986 Oct;64 ( Pt 5):453-64. doi: 10.1038/icb.1986.48.


The ability of the venoms of Atrax infensus and two other funnel-web spider species to induce oedema in rats was investigated and it was found that all Atrax venoms tested caused strong Evans blue leakage from adjacent blood vessels when injected subcutaneously. This dye leakage did not diminish significantly either when the neurotoxin in the venom was first neutralized by pre-mixing with a rat serum protein preparation or when the sensory nerves supplying an area of skin were severed 4 days prior to its envenomation. The pattern and speed of Evans blue extravasation caused by female A. infensus venom resembled that for histamine and for 5-hydroxytryptamine, and pretreatment with an antihistamine-antiserotonin mixture caused essentially complete blockade of the oedematogenic action of this venom, although neither inhibitory drug was very effective when used individually. It was concluded that this venom induces local oedema in rats mainly by causing mast cell degranulation. In confirmation of this, the mast cells in the rat skull periosteal membranes were found to be extensively degranulated by exposure to the venom. Surprisingly, whole-rat envenomation, using very large doses of venom, produced little dye leakage even though obvious symptoms of neurotoxic action were observed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropod Venoms / toxicity*
  • Capillary Permeability / drug effects
  • Edema / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Histamine / toxicity
  • Histamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Neurotoxins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Serotonin / toxicity
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / innervation
  • Spider Venoms / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Spider Venoms / toxicity*


  • Arthropod Venoms
  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Neurotoxins
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Spider Venoms
  • Serotonin
  • Histamine