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Abstract

Study of the Toxin from the Poison Hairs of Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni Caterpillars.

Abstract

Caterpillars, but not other stages, of Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni in Israel, produced a skin dermatitis by means of poison hairs. These hairs maintain their toxic action, even when the hair has been shed 2 or 3 weeks earlier. The poisonous action is due to a toxin, which is soluble in water, diluted glycerin, and ether. 1, 000 tests on more than 220 volunteers were carried out; skins with deeper pigmentation were found to be more resistant to the toxin than paler skins. The toxin was also soluble in petroleum ether, carbon tetrachloride, turpentine, benzene, 5% saponin, acetone, absolute alcohol and olive oil. From 100 mgm. dry poison hairs, the authors could abstract 22 mgm. toxic substances. The toxin itself was labile to heat and was destroyed by heating to 430C for 1 hour; but poison hairs were more stable and resisted 8O0C for 1 hour. The toxic extract contained albumin and a, β and y globulins. Carbohydrate (polysaccharides) were also present, together with phospholipids, aliphatic and aromatic amines lipids. The proteins contain sulphydryl groups.
[See also this Bulletin, 1959, v. 56, 881; 1960, v. 57, 752.] F. Hawking.