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Bell WR Jr., Defibrinogenating enzymes. Drugs. 54 Suppl 3:18-30; discussion 30-1, 1997.
The venoms from 3 snakes have been shown to induce defibrinogenation: ancrod from the venom of Calloselasma rhodostoma (formerly known as Agkistrodon rhodostoma), batroxobin from the venom of Bothrops atrox moojeni, and crotalase from the venom of Crotalus adamanteus. The purified fractions of ancrod, batroxobin, and crotalase possess coagulant, proteolytic and esterolytic properties, although their primary mechanism of action is a proteolytic effect on circulating fibrinogen. Ancrod cleaves only the A-fibrinopeptides, but not the B-fibrinopeptides, from fibrinogen; this contrasts with thrombin, batroxobin and crotalase, which cleave both fibrinopeptides A and B. Within minutes of administration of ancrod or batroxobin, there is a significant reduction in plasma fibrinogen levels, and these remain exceedingly low with repeated administration (once or twice daily). The rapid fall in plasma fibrinogen levels is accompanied by a slightly delayed but marked rise in the level of fibrinogen-fibrin degradation products. Plasminogen levels are decreased and blood viscosity is reduced, but formed elements in the circulating blood remain unaltered. Ancrod and batroxobin have been investigated in patients with stroke, deep-vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, peripheral arterial thrombosis, priapism, and sickle-cell crisis; crotalase has not been administered to humans. However, results have been difficult to interpret, and additional well designed trials are needed to better define the optimum role of ancrod and batroxobin in the management of these conditions. Overall, treatment is well tolerated and serious adverse events are infrequent. In the coagulation laboratory, ancrod, batroxobin and crotalase may be used as reagents to perform coagulation studies on specimens of blood that contain heparin. These venom fractions can be substituted for thrombin in performing the thrombin time and in removing fibrinogen from plasma for accurate determination of fibrinogen-fibrin degradation products.

 

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