ISSN 2415-3060 (print), ISSN 2522-4972 (online)
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JMBS 2018, 3(2): 200–207
Medicine. Reviews

Diseases Caused by Coleopteran Toxins (Coleoptera, Insecta): Literature Review

Рolstyanoj A. A., Krasilnikov V. A. 2, Zaporozhskaya V. V.

The Coleoptera is the largest insect group, numbering more than 400 thousand species. Some of them are passively-poisonous species, which produce or contain toxic substances used by themselves as a chemical protection against enemies. These toxins can damage the skin, mucous membranes and eyes of humans. The increased risk group includes agricultural workers, fishermen, military, tourists, children and local people in endemic foci. In tropical countries, human injuries of these insects sometimes take an epidemic. Materials and methods. The affection of the population in the ex-USSR countries, Europe and the United States is relatively rare. It is much more often registered in countries with tropical climate and among tourists visiting these regions. The most important clinical significance is found in beetles from the families: Meloidae, Staphylinidae Oedemeridae, less frequent – Carabidae and Tenebrionidae. Results and discussion. The members of the Meloidae family possess a toxin of non-protein nature – cantharidin. Representatives of the genera Lytta, Mylabris, Epicauta and Meloe have the biggest medical significance. The infection of people occurs when beetles hit the skin, for example, accidental crushing. It can also happen when using alternative medicines prepared from dried beetles. In contact with the skin, cantharidin has a blistering effect. Under its influence, there develop local inflammatory reactions, accompanied by a specific form of acute contact dermatitis. When ingested, it acts on the organs of the urinary system – causes inflammation of the mucosa of the renal tubules and the urethra, dysuria, oliguria, hematuria, proteinuria, uterine and rectal bleeding, kidney failure, etc. The greatest danger is intoxication, when cantharidinum (or whole beetles) enter the gastrointestinal tract. The extreme toxicity of cantharidin makes any use of it as an aphrodisiac highly dangerous, because its therapeutic and toxic doses are close to each other. In alternative medicine, some species of the genus Lytta are used as aphrodisiacs. But this usage is accompanied by numerous complications, like priapism, ulcer dermatitis and balanoposthitis. Beetles from the genus Paederus are the most important from the Staphylinidae family due to their clinical significance. Their hemolymph contains the toxin – pederin and its derivatives. First, the toxin blocks the synthesis of the protein, then the DNA. Moreover, it inhibits the division of chromosomes in the cells. Pederin has a blistering effect: pederus-dermatitis with the defeat of deep skin layers, endemic ophthalmites, conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis. Food poisoning with pederin leads to the development of alimentary poisoning manifested by acute enteritis. The Oedemeridae family members also produce cantharidin. The clinical picture of lesions with contact dermatitis is similar. Many species of the Carabidae family exude a protective secret (oily liquid, containing formic acid) with a pungent smell and strongly pronounced irritant effect. Medical significance can have the genus Carabus and Harpalus, which may cause contact dermatitis and conjunctivitis. The protective liquid of the Tenebrionidae beetles contains quinones. It causes contact dermatitis and skin pigmentation. Conclusion. The problem of diseases caused by coleopteran toxins is now becoming increasingly important because of the growing number of people who contacted beetles, which are the etiopathogenic factor of these nosologies.

Keywords: zootoxins, Coleoptera, cantharidin, pederin

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