Neutrophils play a pivotal role in innate immunity and in the inflammatory response. Neutrophils are very motile cells that are rapidly recruited to the inflammatory site as the body first line of defense. Their bactericidal activity is due to the release into the phagocytic vacuole, called phagosome, of several toxic molecules directed against microbes. Neutrophil stimulation induces release of this arsenal into the phagosome and induces the assembly at the membrane of subunits of the NAPDH oxidase, the enzyme responsible for the production of superoxide anion that gives rise to other reactive oxygen species (ROS), a process called respiratory burst. Altogether, they are responsible for the bactericidal activity of the neutrophils. Excessive activation of neutrophils can lead to extensive release of these toxic agents, inducing tissue injury and the inflammatory reaction. Envenomation, caused by different animal species (bees, wasps, scorpions, snakes etc.), is well known to induce a local and acute inflammatory reaction, characterized by recruitment and activation of leukocytes and the release of several inflammatory mediators, including prostaglandins and cytokines. Venoms contain several molecules such as enzymes (phospholipase A2, L-amino acid oxidase and proteases, among others) and peptides (disintegrins, mastoporan, parabutoporin etc.). These molecules are able to stimulate or inhibit ROS production by neutrophils. The present review article gives a general overview of the main neutrophil functions focusing on ROS production and summarizes how venoms and venom molecules can affect this function.
Keywords: Neutrophils; Venom; Inflammation; ROS; NADPH oxidase; PLA2; L-amino acid oxidase; Mastoporan; Parabutoporin; Disintegrins.