Biogenic amines

Biogenic amines are important neuroactive compounds in the central nervous system of both, vertebrates and invertebrates. They can have an effect as neurotransmitters, neuromodulators or neurohormones. There are several theories as to why these substances occur in spider venom. They are believed to be defensive substances because some of them cause pain. Further, they can stimulate blood flow, which improves the spreading of the toxins in the tissue of vertebrate predators or prey. Still, most spiders feed exclusively on insects, which is why these effects are probably not predominant. It was shown that biogenic amines synergistically enhance the effect of specific arachnotoxins.

For a more detailed discussion of biogenic amines in spider venom we recommend having a look at the outstanding article “Venom composition and strategies in spiders: Is everything possible?” (Kuhn-Nentwig, 2011).