Lonomia genus caterpillar toxins: biochemical aspects

Biochimie. 2000 Sep-Oct;82(9-10):937-42. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9084(00)01164-0.


In 1967 we reported for the first time five cases of an acquired bleeding disorder in humans which developed after contact with saturnidae caterpillars. Since that time, other cases have been reported in Brazil, French Guyana, Peru, Paraguay and Argentina. The caterpillars have been identified as Lonomia achelous (LA) in Venezuela and northern Brazil and as Lonomia obliqua (LO) in southern Brazil. All patients present pain and a burning sensation at the site of contact. Within a few hours hematomas and hematuria are seen in combination with intracerebral and intraperitoneal hemorrhage (in some cases also renal failure). Hematological tests show: mild anemia with leucocytosis; prolonged PT, PTT and ThT; decreased fibrinogen, factor V, factor XIII, plasminogen and alpha2-antiplasmin levels; increased factor VIII:c, von Willebrand factor, and FDPs/D-dimers levels with normal ATIII and platelets. Factor VII, factor II and PC levels varied. Several activities similar to or directed against blood clotting factors have been identified in LA: fibrinolytic enzymes, which degrade fibrinogen producing abnormal FDPs; prothrombin activators: one direct and one factor Xa-like; a thermostable factor V activator; a thermolabile factor V inhibitor; a factor XIII proteolytic/urokinase-like activity; and a kallikrein-like activitiy. In LO three activities have been described: a prothrombin activator called 'Lonomia obliqua prothrombin activator protease' (LOPAP); a factor X activator; and a phospholipase A(2)-like activity called Lonomiatoxin. No fibrinolytic activity has been described in LO. Subcutaneous injection of crude hemolymph and some chromatographic fractions of LA induce a decrease in fibrinogen, plasminogen and factor XIII. Intravenous injection of factor XIII proteolytic/urokinase-like activity induce a dose-dependent thrombolysis with a decrease in plasmatic factor XIII without hemorrhagic manifestations. Intradermal injection of LO bristle extracts in rats and rabbits produce incoagulability whereas intravenous injection of LOPAP induced DIC in mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticoagulants / pharmacology*
  • Arthropod Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • Factor XIII / metabolism*
  • Fibrinolysis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Lepidoptera*
  • Models, Animal
  • Rabbits
  • Toxins, Biological / pharmacology*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Arthropod Venoms
  • Toxins, Biological
  • lonomin V
  • Factor XIII