Antiprotozoal effect of snake venoms and their fractions: A systematic review

Zainab U. Abdullahi, Salihu S. Musa, Daihai He, Umar M. Bello

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Protozoal infection is a lingering public health issue of great concern, despite efforts to produce drugs and vaccines against it. Recent breakthrough research has discovered alternative antiprotozoal agents encompassing the use of snake venoms and their components to cure these infections. This study collated the existing literature to examine the antiprotozoal effect of snake venoms and their fractions. Methods: We conducted a systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines. The PubMed and Embase databases were searched from their inception until 13 October 2021. Articles were screened at the title, abstract and full-text phases. Some additional studies were obtained through the manual search process. Results: We identified 331 studies via the electronic database and manual searches, of which 55 reporting the antiprotozoal effect of snake venoms and their components were included in the review. Around 38% of studies examined the effect of whole crude venoms, and a similar percentage evaluated the effect of a proportion of enzymatic phospholipase A2 (PLA2). In particular, this review reports around 36 PLA2 activities and 29 snake crude venom activities. We also report the notable phenomenon of synergism with PLA2 isoforms of Bothrops asper. Importantly, limited attention has been given so far to the antiprotozoal efficacies of metalloproteinase, serine protease and three-finger toxins, although these venom components have been identified as significant components of the dominant venom families. Conclusion: This study highlights the impact of snake venoms and their fractions on controlling protozoal infections and suggests the need to examine further the effectiveness of other venom components, such as metalloproteinase, serine protease and three-finger toxins. Future research questions in this field must be redirected toward synergism in snake venom components, based on pharmacological usage and in the context of toxicology. Ascertaining the effects of snake venoms and their components on other protozoal species that have not yet been studied is imperative.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1632
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021


  • Antiprotozoal
  • Snake venoms
  • Systematic review
  • Venom fractions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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