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Talukdar, Amit; Maddhesiya, Priya; Namsa, Nima Dondu and Doley, Robin (2022): Snake venom toxins targeting the central nervous system. In: Toxin Reviews, Vol. 42, No. 1: pp. 382-406

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Snake venom is a blend of bioactive proteins, polypeptides, and various other substances with toxic and lethal properties that are known to modulate varied physiological and biological systems. During envenomation, venom toxins primarily target the hemostatic and nervous system for effective immobilization or death of the prey. The central (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are targeted through neuroreceptors, synaptic membranes, and critical ion channels, and some of these toxins also penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Despite its vital role and influence on the central nervous system, there exist limited information on the role of venom proteins and peptides associated with the manifestations of neurotoxicity. This review attempts to update the reader on the mechanism of direct and indirect interactions of snake venom protein (s) in the central nervous system as well as its effects on the physiology and behavior of the envenomated prey. Further, the role of these snake venom peptides in the field of neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative diseases has been reviewed for their therapeutic potential. Future investigations may provide valuable information to study the detailed mechanisms of such interactions to identify novel targets for the development of therapeutic interventions.

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