Venom effects on monoaminergic systems

Aviva Weisel-Eichler, Frederic Libersat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The monoamines, dopamine, epinephrine, histamine, norepinephrine, octopamine, serotonin and tyramine serve many functions in animals. Many different venoms have evolved to manipulate monoaminergic systems via a variety of cellular mechanisms, for both offensive and defensive purposes. One common function of monoamines present in venoms is to produce pain. Some monoamines in venoms cause immobilizing hyperexcitation which precedes venom-induced paralysis or hypokinesia. A common function of venom components that affect monoaminergic systems is to facilitate distribution of other venom components by causing vasodilation at the site of injection or by increasing heart rate. Venoms of some scorpions, spiders, fish and jellyfish contain adrenergic agonists or cause massive release of catecholamines with serious effects on the cardiovascular system, including increased heart rate. Other venom components act as agonists, antagonists or modulators at monoaminergic receptors, or affect release, reuptake or synthesis of monoamines. Most arthropod venoms have insect targets, yet, little attention has been paid to possible effects of these venoms on monoaminergic systems in insects. Further research into this area may reveal novel effects of venom components on monoaminergic systems at the cellular, systems and behavioral levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-690
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2004


  • Biogenic amines
  • Catecholamine storm
  • Dopamine
  • Monoamines
  • Venom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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