Qualitative and Quantitative Ultrastructural Analysis of the Mitochondria from Adrenal Gland Cortex Under the Action of Viperidae family Snake Venoms

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Héctor J. Finol; Estefanie García; Roschman González; Elda E. Sanchez & Alexis Rodríguez-Acosta


The Viperidae venoms are composed of a mixture of constituents with enzymatic and non-enzymatic actions, which act on ultrastructural components of cells and tissues. Here, the number of mitochondria, mitochondrial area and the number of mitochondrial cristae from adrenal glands cortex treated with snake venoms were tested after 3, 6 and 24 hours of venom injections. The mitochondria quantitative changes showed a statistically significant decrease, in the number of mitochondria past 3, 6 and 24 h. There was an increase in the mitochondrial area after 6 h, where Crotalus vegrandis venom did not present significant differences with Crotalus pifanorum or Bothrops venezuelensis venoms. After 24 h, there was an escalation of mitochondrial area in all tested venoms. The number of mitochondrial cristae after 3 h did not present important differences with the control treatment. After 6 h, the number of mitochondrial cristae initiated to decrease under the activities of the 3 venoms action, until 24 h of observation. In the qualitative observations it was possible to witness an intense damage of the mitochondria, with loss and swelling of membranes, disappearance of cristae and the appearance of myelin figures, which started at 3 h after the Crotalus and Bothrops venoms injections. These damages probably were due to cytotoxic effects of phospholipases, metalloproteases and/or other proteolytic activities present in Viperidae snake venoms, being more evident in Crotalus venoms. As far as we know, these results define a novel finding that suggest that Viperidae snake venoms are extremely toxic to mammalian mitochondria.

KEY WORDS: Adrenal gland; Bothrops venezuelensis; Cristae; Crotalus pifanorum; Crotalus vegrandis; Mitochondria; Venom.

How to cite this article

FINOL, H. J.; GARCÍA, E.; GONZÁLEZ, R.; SANCHEZ, E. E. & RODRÍGUEZ-ACOSTA, A. Qualitative and quantitative ultrastructural analysis of the mitochondria from adrenal gland cortex under the action of Viperidae family snake venoms. Int. J. Morphol., 38(5):1271-1280, 2020.