Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The Asian wasp Vespa velutina nigrithorax: entomological and allergological characteristics.

Abstract

The yellow-legged or Asian wasp (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) has spread rapidly across Europe since its first introduction in France, in 2004. Originally from South-East Asia, it is considered an invasive species outside its native region. Apart from the ecological and economic implications of its presence, it may cause health problems to humans due to the toxic and allergenic components of its venom. Vespa velutina nigrithorax has become the most prevalent cause of anaphylaxis due to Hymenoptera venom in some regions of Spain. Although sIgE against both antigen 5 (Vesp v 5) and A1-phospholipase (Vesp v 1) has been detected in these patients, only Vesp v 5 may be considered a dominant allergen. Interestingly, Vesp v 1 appears to be a glycosylated allergen different from A1-phospholipases from other species. Inhibition studies suggest that Vespula spp venom could behave as primary sensitizer. Besides, changes in sIgE and sIgG4 during Vespula venom immunotherapy in patients with anaphylaxis due to V. velutina support the use of Vespula venom extracts to treat these patients. The purpose of this review is to explore the biological behaviour of V. velutina and to summarize the current knowledge of the allergic reactions provoked by this wasp.