Anticancer Activity a of Caspian Cobra (Naja naja oxiana) snake Venom in Human Cancer Cell Lines Via Induction of Apoptosis

Document Type: Research article


1 Department of Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences

2 Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute

3 Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences


Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Current anticancer drugs involve various toxic side effects; efforts are ongoing to develop new anticancer agents especially from the screening of natural compounds. Present study investigated cytotoxic effects and mode of cell death induced by the Caspian cobra venom in some human cancer cell lines.
Cytotoxic effects of snake venom toxins (SVT) were investigated via monitoring of morphological changes, MTT, trypan blue exclusion and LDH release assays. Mechanism of cell death was determined by AO/EtBr double staining, caspase-3 activity assay, flow cytometric analysis of apoptosis and mitochondrial membrane potential measurement.
In morphological analysis, apoptotic alterations related to apoptosis such as cytoplasmic blebbing, chromatin condensation and irregularity in shape were seen. IC50 of SVT in HepG2, MCF7and DU145 cell lines were 26.59, 28.85 and 21.17µg/ml, respectively and significantly different from the MDCK normal cell line (IC50=47.1 µg/ml). AO/EtBr double staining showed the best apoptotic/necrotic ratio at 15 µg/ml after 48 h. LDH release showed no significant differences between 10 µg/ml SVT and cisplatin. Flowcytometric analysis confirms mitochondrial membrane potential loss and more than 95% apoptotic cell death at 15 µg/ml. Caspase-3 was significantly activated at doses higher than 2.5 μg/ml with a maximal activity at 10 μg/ml.
Results from this study demonstrate that SVT induces mitochondrial and caspase-3 dependent apoptosis in cancer cell lines with minimum effects on studied normal cell. This potential might candidate this venom as a suitable choice for cancer treatment


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