Stinging caterpillars from the genera Podalia, Leucanella and Lonomia in Misiones, Argentina: a preliminary comparative approach to understand their toxicity
Quintana, M.ía.A.; Sciani, J.M.; Auada, A.V.V.; Martínez, M.ía.M.; Sánchez, M.ía.N.ás.; Santoro, M.L.; Fan, H.W.; Peichoto, M.ía.E.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Toxicology and Pharmacology: Cbp 202: 55-62
Dermal contact with Lepidoptera specimens at their larval stage (caterpillar) may cause systemic and/or local envenomation. There are multiple venomous species of them in Argentina, but their overall venom composition is poorly known. Lately, several cases of envenomation have been reported in the Misiones province, Northeastern Argentina. Thus, this work aimed to compare the protein composition, and the enzymatic properties of bristle extracts from caterpillars belonging to the families Megalopygidae (Podalia ca. fuscescens) and Saturniidae (Leucanella memusae and Lonomia obliqua) - the most common causative agents of accidents in Misiones -, and additionally to test their cross-reactivity with the L. obliqua antivenom produced in Brazil. Saturniidae venoms exhibited striking similarity in both their electrophoretic protein profile, and antigenic cross-reactivity. All venoms degraded azocasein - with the highest proteolytic activity observed in the P. ca. fuscescens bristle extract -, and hyaluronic acid, but the latter at low levels. Lonomia obliqua venom exhibited the highest level of phospholipase A2 activity. Bristle extracts from P. ca. fuscescens and L. obliqua both degraded human fibrin(ogen) and shortened the clotting time triggered by calcium, while L. memusae venom inhibited plasma coagulation. Proteins related to the coagulation disturbance were identified by mass spectrometry in all samples. Altogether, our findings show for the first time a comparative biotoxinological analysis of three genera of caterpillars with medical relevance. Moreover, this study provides relevant information about the pathophysiological mechanisms whereby these caterpillar bristle extracts can induce toxicity on human beings, and gives insight into future directions for research on them.