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Study on the obtaining of Tityus trivittatus venom in Argentina

de Roodt, Adolfo Rafael, Lanari, Laura Cecilia, Laskowicz, Rodrigo Daniel, Costa de Oliveira, Vanessa, Litwin, Silvana, Calderon, Leandro, Damin, Carlos Fabián, Dokmetjian, José Christian, Dolab, Jorge Adrián, Lago, Néstor Rubén, Lértora, Emiliano
Toxicon 2019 v.159 pp. 5-13
Tityus, antigens, antivenoms, bites and stings, electrical treatment, horses, hospitals, immunization, latitude, lethal dose 50, milking, neutralization, protein content, scorpion venoms, Argentina
Envenomation by scorpions of the genus Tityus is an important public health problem in Argentina, involving near 8000 stings and 2 deaths each year. Treatment for envenomation is the use of specific antivenom and intensive hospital care. Antivenom is produced by the Ministry of Health and freely distributed throughout the country. For antivenom production it is necessary to collect scorpion venom, which is a difficult task because although scorpions can be found in Argentina, they are less abundant than in warmer latitudes. For this reason venom collection constitutes a bottleneck for antivenom production. Although in Argentina several species of Tityus can be found, most of the accidents are caused by Tityus trivittatus, and the venom of this scorpion has historically been the venom used for antivenom production. We analyzed retrospectively 26 pools of telson homogenates (6964 telsons) and 37 pools of milked venom obtained by electrical stimulation (equivalent to 6841 milkings). Lethal potencies of samples from different provinces were very similar, although venom from scorpions of Buenos Aires city showed the lowest potency. The venom obtained by milking (median LD50 12.3 μg), provided batches containing LD50s more potent when compared with the venom obtained from telson homogenates (p < 0.0001). Many batches of telson homogenates (30%) showed lower potencies than acceptable for antivenom production and control. In addition to the study of the venom yield, the records of immunization of horses, the potency of the batches and the protein content of each batch of anti-scorpion antivenom produced were analyzed, comparing those produced using milked venom with those using telson homogenates as immunogens. Batches produced using milked venom required a shorter period of immunization (p < 0.0001), rendered higher neutralizing titers (p 0.0350) and possessed lower protein content (p 0.0092). Results clearly showed that the milking of scorpions is a more efficient tool to obtain venom for antivenom production in comparison to the use of telson homogenates.