Effects of scorpion venom on central and peripheral circulatory response in an open-chest dog model Academic Article uri icon


  • Scorpion venom can induce in dogs severe haemodynamic changes leading to rapid rise in systemic blood pressure and cardiac output, followed by reduction of cardiac output and blood pressure within 1 h. The decrease in cardiac output is not related to myocardial dysfunction (Tarasiuk et al. 1994). We hypothesized that scorpion venom affects cardiac output by reducing venous return to the heart. Venous return was studied by steady-state measurements of cardiac output, the pressure gradient and resistance to venous return, in 16 dogs following injection of 0.05 mg kg -1 venom obtained from the scorpion species Leiurus quinquestriatus. In eight of the 16 dogs, atropine (0.1 mg kg -1 ) was given 15 min prior to venom injection In = 41 or 85 min (n = 41 after venom administration. In five additional dogs, the stability of the preparation over time was evaluated following the same protocol without the injection of the venom. At 15 min, the venom induced an increase in blood pressure (80%) and cardiac output (250%) (P < 0.001) with little effect on heart rate. At 90 min, cardiac output and heart rate declined considerably below baseline (P < 0.001). Atropine prevented the decrease in heart rate, but did not affect the reduction of cardiac output. Five minutes after venom injection, mean circulatory pressure increased by 300% (P < 0.001), which was accompanied by a rightward shift of the venous return curve with no effect on resistance to venous return. At 120 min, mean circulatory pressure recovered and resistance to venous return remained at 40% (P < 0.01) above baseline. This study indicates that, in dogs, scorpion venom affects cardiac output by modifying the determinants of venous return. The initial increase in cardiac output is related to increased mean circulatory pressure since resistance to venous return did not change. The later fall in cardiac output is related to the reduction of mean circulatory pressure and increased resistance to venous return.

publication date

  • January 1, 1997