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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 36 - January 2007


  1. Kim E, Lee S, Kim JS, Yood WD, Lim D, Hart AJ, Hodgson WC. Cardiovascular effects of Nemopilema nomurai (scyphozoan: rhizostomeae) jellyfish venom in rats. Toxicol Lett 2006;167(3):205-11.

    Over the past few years, populations of the giant jellyfish Nemopilema nomurai (Scyphozoa: Rhizostomeae) have increased dramatically in the waters of China, Korea, and Japan without any definitive reason. This has resulted in severe damage to fisheries in the areas. During a pilot study, we observed that the venom of Nemopilema nomurai produced a functional cardiac depression in mice. However, the mechanism of action was not examined. In the present study, we investigated the cardiovascular effects of nematocyst-derived venom from Nemopilema nomurai in anesthetized rats. Venom (0.1-2.4 mg protein/kg, i.v.) produced dose-dependent hypotension (65+/-12% of initial at a cumulative dose of 3 mg/kg) and bradycardia (80+/-5% of initial at a cumulative dose of 3 mg/kg). At the highest dose, this was characterized by a transient decrease in blood pressure (phase 1) followed by a return to basal level and then a slower decrease in blood pressure (phase 2). Venom also produced a decrease in rate and force of contraction in the rat isolated atria. Interestingly, venom induced a contraction of isolated aortic rings which was blocked by felodipine but not by prazosin, suggesting the contraction is mediated by calcium channel activation. These results suggest that the negative inotropic and chronotropic effects of the venom of Nemopilema nomurai may be due to a direct effect on the heart.

  2. Coates, MM, Garm A, Theobald JC, Thompson SH, Nilsson DE. The spectral sensitivity of the lens eyes of a box jellyfish, Tripedalia cystophora (Conant). J Exp Biol 2006; 209:3758-3765.

    Box jellyfish, or cubomedusae (class Cubozoa), are unique among the Cnidaria in possessing lens eyes similar in morphology to those of vertebrates and cephalopods. Although these eyes were described over 100 years ago, there has been no work done on their electrophysiological responses to light. We used an electroretinogram (ERG) technique to measure spectral sensitivity of the lens eyes of the Caribbean species Tripedalia cystophora. The cubomedusae have two kinds of lens eyes, the lower and upper lens eyes. We found that both lens eye types have similar spectral sensitivities, which likely result from the presence of a single receptor type containing a single opsin. The peak sensitivity is to blue-green light. Visual pigment template fits indicate a vitamin A-1 based opsin with peak sensitivity near 500 nm for both eye types.

  3. Kawahara M, Uye S, Burnett J, Mianzan H. Stings of edible jellyfish (Rhopilema hispidum, Rhopilema esculentum and Nemopilema nomurai) in Japanese waters. Toxicon. 2006 Nov;48(6):713-6

    Three edible jellyfish Rhopilema hispidum, Rhopilema esculentum and Nemopilema nomurai are virulent to humans. We monitored one patient that was stung sequentially by these three species of jellyfish. The first species caused a persistent eruption, the second produced significant pruritus and the last induced only cutaneous symptoms rather than severe systemic disorders reported for its Chinese counterpart. The lesions of these jellyfish species are characteristic and common in workers harvesting medusae. There is no significant incidence of symptoms by ingesting these animals.

  4. Cuypers E, Yanagihara A, Karlsson E, Tytgat J. Jellyfish and other cnidarian envenomations cause pain by affecting TRPV1 channels. FEBS Lett 2006;580:5728-5732.

    Cnidarian envenomations cause a burning-pain sensation of which the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Activation of TRPV1, a non-selective cation channel expressed in nociceptive neurons, leads to cell depolarisation and pain. Here, we show in vitro and in vivo evidence for desensitization-dependent TRPV1 activation in cnidarian envenomations. Cnidarian venom induced a nociceptive reactivity, comparable to capsaicin, in laboratory rats, which could be reduced by the selective TRPV1 antagonist, BCTC. These findings are the first to explain at least part of the symptomology of cnidarian envenomations and provide insights into the design of more effective treatments for this global public health problem.

  5. Burnett JW. Prolonged urinary incontinence and biliary dyskinesia following abdominal contact with jellyfish tentacles. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 2006;17:180-186.

    A 16-year-old girl was seriously stung on her abdomen by a jellyfish as she jumped on her small surfboard. She and her mother identified the animal from photographs as Chrysaora fuscescens. Within several minutes the girl developed a massive abdominal cutaneous eruption composed of hundreds of punctuate erythematous papules and macules, which persisted for 5 to 7 days. Persistent urinary incontinence and biliary dyskinesia appeared over the following night. It is theorized that a systemic uptake of venom occurred percutaneously after contact of the jellyfish tentacles with her abdominal skin. The result was an injury to the urinary and biliary bladders. This is the first case report of such sequellae after topical contact with a marine animal. The causal relationship of these abnormalities with the sting is suggested by their temporal association. The gallbladder disorder required surgical intervention, but spontaneous resolution of the urinary bladder dysfunction occurred within 20 months.

  6. Houghton JD, Doyle TK, Wilson MW, Davenport J, Hays GC. Jellyfish aggregations and leatherback turtle foraging patterns in a temperate coastal environment. Ecology 2006;87:1967-1972.

    Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are obligate predators of gelatinous zooplankton. However, the spatial relationship between predator and prey remains poorly understood beyond sporadic and localized reports. To examine how jellyfish (Phylum Cnidaria: Orders Semaeostomeae and Rhizostomeae) might drive the broad-scale distribution of this wide ranging species, we employed aerial surveys to map jellyfish throughout a temperate coastal shelf area bordering the northeast Atlantic. Previously unknown, consistent aggregations of Rhizostoma octopus extending over tens of square kilometers were identified in distinct coastal "hotspots" during consecutive years (2003-2005). Examination of retrospective sightings data (>50 yr) suggested that 22.5% of leatherback distribution could be explained by these hotspots, with the inference that these coastal features may be sufficiently consistent in space and time to drive long-term foraging associations.

  7. Yu H, Liu X, Xing R, Lui S, Li C, Li P. Radical scavenging activity of protein from tentacles of jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2005;15:2659-2664.

    In this study, radical scavenging activity of protein from tentacles of jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum (R. esculentum) was assayed including superoxide anion radical and hydroxyl radical scavenging. The protein samples showed strong scavenging activity on superoxide anion radical and values EC50 of full protein (FP), first fraction (FF), second fraction (SF), and 30% (NH4)2 SO4 precipitate (Fr-1) were 2.65, 7.28, 1.10, and 22.51 microg/mL, respectively, while values EC50 of BHA, BHT, and alpha-tocopherol were 31, 61, and 88 microg/mL, respectively. Also, the protein samples had strong scavenging effect on hydroxyl radical and the values EC50 of FP, FF, SF, Fr-1, and Fr-2 were 48.91, 27.72, 1.82, 16.36, and 160.93 microg/mL, but values EC50 of Vc and mannitol were 1907 and 4536 microg/mL, respectively. Of the five protein samples, SF had the strongest radical scavenging activity and may have a use as a possible supplement in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The radical scavenging activity was stable at high temperature so that R. esculentum may be used as a kind of natural functional food.

  8. Tibballs J. Australian venomous jellyfish, envenomation syndromes, toxins and therapy. Toxicon 2006; 48:830-59.

    The seas and oceans around Australia harbour numerous venomous jellyfish. Chironex fleckeri, the box jellyfish, is the most lethal causing rapid cardiorespiratory depression and although its venom has been characterised, its toxins remain to be identified. A moderately effective antivenom exists which is also partially effective against another chirodropid, Chiropsalmus sp. Numerous carybdeids, some unidentified, cause less severe illness, including Carybdea rastoni whose toxins CrTX-A and CrTX-B are large proteins. Carukia barnesi, another small carybdeid is one cause of the 'Irukandji' syndrome which includes delayed pain from severe muscle cramping, vomiting, anxiety, restlessness, sweating and prostration, and occasionally severe hypertension and acute cardiac failure. The syndrome is in part caused by release of catecholamines but the cause of heart failure is undefined. The venom contains a sodium channel modulator. Two species of Physalia are present and although one is potentially lethal, has not caused death in Australian waters. Other significant genera of jellyfish include Tamoya, Pelagia, Cyanea, Aurelia and Chyrosaora.

  9. Li C, Yu H, Liu S, Xing R, Guo Z, Li P. Factors affecting the protease activity of venom from jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2005;15:5370-5374.

    In this paper, the effects of some chemical and physical factors such as temperature, pH values, glycerol, and divalent metal cations on the protease activity of venom from jellyfish, Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye, were assayed. Protease activity was dependent on temperature and pH values. Zn(2+), Mg(2+), and Mn(2+) in sodium phosphate buffer (0.02M, pH 8.0) could increase protease activity. Mn(2+) had the best effects among the three metal cations and the effect was about 20 times of that of Zn(2+) or Mg(2+) and its maximal protease activity was 2.3x10(5)U/mL. EDTA could increase protease activity. PMSF had hardly affected protease activity. O-Phenanthroline and glycerol played an important part in inhibiting protease activity and their maximal inhibiting rates were 87.5% and 82.1%, respectively.

  10. Yu H, Xing R, Liu S, Li C, Guo Z, Li P. Studies on the hemolytic activity of tentacle extracts of jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye: Application of orthogonal test. Int J Biol Macromol 2006; [Epub ahead of print].

    The present work is first reporting the hemolytic activity of venom from jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye extracted by different phosphate buffer solutions and incubated at different temperature according to the orthogonal test L6(1)x3(6). Of the seven controllable independent variables, incubated temperature and phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) had strongest effect on the hemolytic activity.

  11. dePender AMG, Winkel KD, Ligthelm RJ. A probable case of Irukandji Syndrome in Thailan. J Travel Medicine 2006;13:240-243.

    The Irukandji syndrome is a jellyfish envenomation caused by Carukia barnesi or related jellyfish. In literature, the distribution of "Irukandji-like" syndromes is restricted to Australia. A case of probable Irukandji syndrome in Thailand is reported here.

  12. Ovchinnikova TV, Balandin SV, Aleshina GM, Tagaev AA, Leonova YF, Krasnodembsky ED, Men’shenin AV, Kokryakov VN. Aurelin, a novel antimicrobial peptide from jellyfish Aurelia aurita with structural features of defensins and channel-blocking toxins. Biochem Biphys Res Commun 2006;[Epub ahead of print].

    A novel 40-residue antimicrobial peptide, aurelin, exhibiting activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, was purified from the mesoglea of a scyphoid jellyfish Aurelia aurita by preparative gel electrophoresis and RP-HPLC. Molecular mass (4296.95 Da) and complete amino acid sequence of aurelin (AACSDRAHGHICESFKSFCKDSGRNGVKLRANCKKTCGLC) were determined. Aurelin has six cysteines forming three disulfide bonds. The total RNA was isolated from the jellyfish mesoglea, RT-PCR and cloning were performed, and cDNA was sequenced. A 84-residue preproaurelin contains a putative signal peptide (22 amino acids) and a propiece of the same size (22 amino acids). Aurelin has no structural homology with any previously identified antimicrobial peptides but reveals partial similarity both with defensins and K+ channel-blocking toxins of sea anemones and belongs to ShKT domain family.

  13. Fenner P. Jellyfish stings – first aid and early medical treatments revisited. Australian College of Travel Medicine 2006;1:3-7.

    This review looks at recent developments in the first aid, pre-hospital and hospital treatments of jellyfish stings in view of the number of recent publications challenging older treatments. It assesses the benefits and risks of each treatment, and when and where they are best applied.


  1. Phylochiza punctata with bell diameter up to two feet in diameter have invaded the northern Gulf of Mexico at the Mississippi sound, where they could threaten the shrimp, crab and fish.

  2. A Mr. Howard Phillips has emailed a lot of investigators offering free samples of a topical preparation which when placed on the skin "will instantly and completely eliminate stinging and skin rashes." He offers no evidence for these claims.

  3. A large jellyfish swarm injured the Namibian Atlantic fish population earlier this year.

  4. Lisa Gershwin reports a serious box jellyfish sting on an 8 year old girl at Old Mapoon south of Wapa, Queensland on December 4, 2006. She was stung on the left arm and ill for over two hours. Lisa suspects that she will have significant scarring.

Letter to the Editor 

  1. Little M, Pereira P, Carrette T, Seymour J. Jellyfish responsible for Irukandji syndrome. Q J Med 2006;99:425-427.

  2. Gershwin L. Jellyfish responsible for Irukandji sydrome. Q J Med 2006;99-801-802.

The above two items reflect a disagreement on what species causes Irukandji syndrome.