Pharmacology and biochemistry of spider venoms

Lachlan D Rash, Wayne Clarence Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

261 Citations (Scopus)


Spider venoms represent an incredible source of biologically active substances which selectively target a variety of vital physiological functions in both insects and mammals. Many toxins isolated from spider venoms have been invaluable in helping to determine the role and diversity of neuronal ion channels and the process of exocytosis. In addition, there is enormous potential for the use of insect specific toxins from animal sources in agriculture. For these reasons, the past 15-20 years has seen a dramatic increase in studies on the venoms of many animals, particularly scorpions and spiders. This review covers the pharmacological and biochemical activities of spider venoms and the nature of the active components. In particular, it focuses on the wide variety of ion channel toxins, novel non-neurotoxic peptide toxins, enzymes and low molecular weight compounds that have been isolated. It also discusses the intraspecific sex differences in given species of spiders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-254
Number of pages30
JournalToxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Enzymes
  • Ion channels
  • Necrotic arachnidism
  • Neurotoxins
  • Sex differences
  • Spider venom

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