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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 24 - January 2001

Significant Papers Published 

  1. Masasahi Mizuno, Kazuhiro Nishikawa, Yukio Yuzawa, Tami Kanie, Hijiro Mori, Yasutetsu Araki, Nigishi Hotta, and Seiichi Matsuo, Acute renal failure after a sea anemone sting. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 36, 2000: pE10

    A 27-year old man suffering from severe swelling and pain in his right arm was examined. He showed signs of acute renal failure (ARF) with severe dermatitis of his right arm. Three days before being admitted, he accidentally touched some kind of marine organism with his right hand while snorkeling in the Sulu Sea around Cebu Island. Within a few minutes, he was experiencing severe pain in his right hand which gradually became swollen. The marine creature responsible for this injury was thought to have been a sea anemone. Histologic findings of a renal biopsy indicated that acute tubular necrosis (ATN) had caused ARF in this patient’s case. Supportive therapies improved renal function of this patient, and steroid pulse therapy attenuated the severe skin discoloration. The ATN was thought to have been caused by the poison from a sea anemone. This is the first time that a marine envenomation case has been reported in which the sting of a sea anemone has caused ATN organ failure.

  2. Faisal F. Y. Radwan, Joseph W. Burnett, David A. Bloom, Tracy Coliano, Mohyee E. Eldefrawi, Holly Erdely, Laure Aurelian, Monica Torres, Edgar P. Heimer-de la Cotera. A comparison of the toxinological characteristics of two Cassiopea and Aurelia species. Toxicon 39: 2001; 245-257

    A comparison of the toxinological properties of nematocyst venom from Old and New World Cassiopea and Aurelia species was undertaken. The cnidom of venomous Cassiopea andromeda (Ca) and Aurelia(AaRS) from the Red Sea was identical to that of nonvenomous Bahamian Cassiopea xamancha (Cx) and Chesapeake Bay Aurelia aurita (AaCB), respectively. A clean nematocyst preparation of Ca and both Aurelias could be obtained but algal particles could not be separated completely from the Cx nematocysts. Further purification of all four nematocyst preparations showed significant differences in the action of the protein. Only the Cassiopea had coexisting dermonecrotic and vasopermeability producing properties and Ca’s hemolytic activity was associated with mouse lethality. The protein, hemolysin and phospholipase gel filtration eluant curves of Ca venom were similar. Venomous AaRS actively stung lips and contained more potent mouse lethal, demonecrotic, vasopermeability plus hemolytic factors than AaCB. Cross reactivity of convalescent human serum obtained from patients stung by Ca and venomous Cx collected in Central America occurred. This was also observed between sera of bathers stung by AaRS and stinging Aurelia, which appeared in Florida during the recent El Niño year. IgG was stimulated by several nematocyst proteins since many venom subfractions tested positive at high titers against convalescent sera. T-cell proliferation of mice primed with either Aurelia venom was positive against the homologous preparation with cross reactivity to the heterologous venom. Crude venoms of both Red Sea jellyfish metabolically stimulated cultured human hepatocytes more than their New World counterparts. This data shows that considerable similarities and differences exist in the venoms of these Old and New World Cassiopea and Aurelia medusae with the eastern species being more potent.

  3. Gershwin L. Clonal and population variation in jellyfish symmetry. Journal of Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 1999: 79; 993-1000.

    While it is generally assumed that jellyfish (Cnidaria Scyphozoa) are stably tetramerous, variation in symmetry (i.e. unimerous to octamerous) can be observed in most populations at a rate of approximately 2%, but sometimes as high as 10%. This type of variation has been observed among clonemates during strobilation in five taxa, namely Aurelia aurita, A. labiata, Chrysaora fuscescens, Pelagia colorata, and Phacellophora camtschatica. It is currently unclear whether the symmetry variation is caused by genetic, environmental, or developmental factors, or some combination. Although hexamerous lineages were not bred successfully, lineages were raised with rates of variation higher than normal. Thus, there may not be some genetic component to the variation. In one lineage observed over 4.5 months, the rate of non-tetramery declined substantially from an initial high of 88.9% to a final cumulative low of 29%. Apparently this lineage was able to stabilize tetramery over time, possibly indicating some self-correcting developmental mechanism. Furthermore, no difference was found in variation rates between stressed and unstressed polyps, indicating that environmental factors may not play an important role in symmetry determination in these animals. These results indicate stabilizing selection in controlling the expression of variable symmetry.

  4. Mianzan H., Sorarrain D., Burnett J.W., Lutz L., Mucocutaneous junctional and flexural paresthesias caused by the Holoplanktonic Trachymedusa Liriope tetraphylla. Karger; 201: 46-48; 2000.

    Multiple stages of Liriope tetraphylla caused paresthesias leading to the chafing and excoriations in swimmers along the Southern Uruguayan and Northern Argentinean Atlantic coasts. These episodes appear seasonally in the summer and affect groups of bathers in shallow water (1-3m).

  5. Nagai H., Takuwa K., Nakao M., Sakamoto B., Crow G., Nakajima T. Isolation and characterization of a novel protein toxin from the Hawaiian box jellyfish (Sea Wasp) Carybdea alata. Biomedical & Biophysical Research Communications; 275; 589-594; 2000.

    The box jellyfish (sea wasp) Carybdea alata Reynaud, 1830 (Cubozoa) is distributed widely in the tropics. The sting of C. alata causes severe pain and cutaneous inflammation in humans. C. alata toxin-A (CaTX-A, 43 kDa) and –B (CaTX-B, 45 kDa) was isolated for the first time from the Hawaiian shore. The experimental results showed that CaTX-A but not CaTX-B, is present in the nematocyst, the organ responsible for stinging. Both CaTX-A and –B showed potent hemolytic activity, with CaTX-A being lethally toxic to crayfishes when administered via intraperitoneal injection. Furthermore, the sequenced cDNA encoding was CaTX-A. The deduced amino acid sequence of CaTX-A (463 amino acids) showed 43.7% homology to Carybdea rastoni toxins (CrTXs) but not with any other known proteins. Therefore, these jellyfish toxins potentially represent a novel class of bioactive proteins. Secondary structure analysis of CaTX-A and CrTXs suggested the presence of amphiphilic a-helices, which are also seen in several known hemolytic or cytolytic protein toxins, including peptide toxins.

  6. Nagai H., Takuwa K., Nakao M., Ito E., Miyake M., Noda M., Nakajima T. Novel proteinaceous toxins from the box jellyfish (Sea Wasp) Carybdea rastoni. Biomedical & Biophysical Research Communications; 275; 582-588; 2000.

    During summer and autumn, the box jellyfish (sea wasp) Carybdea rastoni is one of the most bothersome stinging pests to swimmers and bathers on the Japanese coast. Two labile but potent hemolytic toxins from the tentacles of Carybdea rastoni were isolated in their active forms using newly developed purification methods. The molecular masses of the isolated C. rastoni toxin-A and toxin-B (CrTX-A and CrTX-B) are 43 and 46 kDa, respectively, as calculated from SDSPAGE. In the represent study, we sequenced the full-length cDNA (1600 bp), which encodes both CrTX-A and CrTX-B. The deduced 450 amino acid sequence of the CrTXs, showed no significant homology with any known protein. This report presents the first complete sequence of a proteinaceous jellyfish toxin. Furthermore it was revealed that CrTX-A was primarily localized in the nematocyst, whereas CrTX-B was detected only in the tentacle. Because the nematocyst is the organ responsible for the cnidarian sting, the remainder of the study focused on the toxicity to mice at 20 mg/kg (i.v.) and crayfish at 5 mg/ kg (i.p.). Subcutaneously injected CrTX-A (0.1 mg) caused inflammation of mouse skin. These results showed that CrTX-A is responsible for cutaneous inflammation observed in humans stung by C. rastoni.

  7. Peter L Pereira, Teresa Carrette, Paul Cullen, Richard F. Mulcahy, Mark Little and Jamie Seymour. Pressure immobilisation bandages in first-aid treatment of jellyfish envenomation. Medical Journal of Australia 2000; 173: 650-652

    Venom beads were released from electrically activated Chiropsalmus sp. nematocysts, which had already been subjected to 40mmHg pressure. Therefore the force same as that within a pressure immobilisation bandage had previously “ fired” the organelle. The released beads were cardioactive illustrating that microscopically discharged nematocyst still contained active venom. Since the authors tested only normal rather than vinegar treated nematocysts we do not know with certainty whether pressure immobilisation bandages could fire vinegar treated nematocyst and thus are not to be used in severe stings.

  8. M. Germain, K.J. Smith, H. Skelton. The cutaneous cellular infiltrate to stingray envenomazation contains increased TIA + cells. British Journal of Dermatology 2000: 143; 1074-1077

    After envenomation, there is immediate, intense pain with subsequent oedema, cyanosis followed by local erythema and petechiae. Progressive local necrosis and ulceration is variable, sometimes leading to gangrene. To characterize the inflammatory infiltrate at the site of a stingray injury, we examined tissue obtained approximately four days after stingray envenomization. Routine histology and immunohistochemical stains for lymphoid markers, including CD3, CD4, CD8, CD20, Kp-1 and TIA were performed, and demonstrated a central area of haemorrhagic necrosis with a surrounding infiltrate of lymphoid cells and eosinophils. Approximately one-third of the mononuclear cells were TIA+, and these cells appeared mainly to correspond to the cells which where CD3+ and CD4+. The inflammatory cells, including the lymphoid populations, suggest that an immunological reaction may contribute to the delayed healing of stingray injuries.


  1. Professor Lopat in Israel has worked with a company to release a sunscreen containing jellyfish nematocyst repellent in Israel. The product “Safe Seas” is one of a large number of compounds that have been designed for this purpose. So far none have been efficacious and this substance has only been tested on limited numbers of people. Its action is based on the fact that nematocysts do not fire through certain mucous substances. None of the literature concerning its effectiveness is available and we would have to know whether the promoters demonstrated that its pain prevention or relief is independent of the placebo and counter irritation possibilities. An earlier newsletter showed a method by which substances may be evaluated as effective nematocyst inhibition and it’s not an easy protocol to complete. (Contact Dermatitis 1/99; vol. 40: 56-57.)

  2. Mr. John Higgins, III working in Monty Graham’s laboratory in Dauphin Island, AL. had a significant reaction to Drymonema, which lasted for several days. He had some post inflammatory hyperpigmentation but the main complaint was a severe local eruption.

  3. Dr. Shin-ichi Uye organized a meeting entitled Environmental Changes in Marine Costal Waters and Jellyfish Blooms which was held on Oct. 29,2000 in Japan. Several Japanese societies sponsored the meeting. Dr. Uye can be reached by e-mail at

  4. Dr. Michael N. Dawson of UCLA reports that some Mastigias medusae are venomous to man.

  5. Dr. Angel Yanagahira of Honolulu has a paper which is soon to be published showing a very unique nematocyst firing structure for Physalia.

  6. Jo Sadler from Mornington, Tasmania wrote there has been an increase in Aurelia and Cyanea jellyfish there this year. Local salmonid farms suffered fish loses due to these animals.

  7. An article from the New York Times (Jan. 23, 2001) mentions that a unique species of jellyfish in the Aurelia family was discovered living only in an isolated seawater lake on the Adriatic island of Mljet. Its closest relative can be found near the Philippines, also in an island lake.