Did You Know: Brazilian Wandering Spider

Did you know? — By on 2011/10/23 5:10 AM

Did you know that there is a spider whose bite can cause an erection that lasts for hours?

The Brazilian wandering spiders (Phoneutria spp.) are a genus of aggressive and highly venomous spiders found in tropical South and Central America.

Its venom contains a potent neurotoxin, known as PhTx3, which acts as a broad-spectrum calcium channel blocker that inhibits glutamate release, calcium uptake and also glutamate uptake in neural synapses.

At deadly concentrations, this neurotoxin causes loss of muscle control and breathing problems, resulting in paralysis and eventual asphyxiation.

In addition, the venom causes intense pain and inflammation following a bite due to an excitatory effect the venom has on the serotonin 5-HT4 receptors of sensory nerves.

This sensory nerve stimulation causes a release of neuropeptides such as substance P which triggers inflammation and pain.

Aside from causing intense pain, the venom of the spider can also cause priapism in humans. Erections resulting from the bite are uncomfortable, can last for many hours and can lead to impotence. A component of the venom (Tx2-6) is being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments.

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