The Theraphosidae family includes the largest number of species of the Mygalomorphae infraorder, with hundreds of species currently catalogued. However, there is a huge lack on physiologic and even ecologic information available, especially in Brazil, which is the most biodiverse country in the world. Over the years, spiders have been presented as a source of multiple biologically active compounds with basic roles, such as primary defense against pathogenic microorganisms or modulation of metabolic pathways and as specialized hunters. Spider venoms also evolved in order to enable the capture of prey by interaction with a diversity of molecular targets of interest, raising their pharmaceutical potential for the development of new drugs. Among the activities found in compounds isolated from venoms and hemocytes of Brazilian Theraphosidae there are antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antitumoral, as well as properties related to proteinase action and neuromuscular blockage modulated by ionic voltage-gated channel interaction. These characteristics are present in different species from multiple genera, which is strong evidence of the important role in spider survival. The present review aims to compile the main results of studies from the last decades on Brazilian Theraphosidae with special focus on results obtained with the crude venom or compounds isolated from both venom and hemocytes, and their physiological and chemical characterization.
Keywords: Brazilian Theraphosidae; Crude venom; Hemocytes; Biological active compounds; Spiders.