Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Serotonin in wasp venom and Bufo toads

5-HT is present in the venom of wasp, scorpion, stinging plants, sea anemone and Portugese man-of-war. Poisonous salivary glands of octopus are also known to contain large amounts of 5-HT. Table 8 below shows that scorpion and Bufo marinus contain a high concentration of 5-HT.

Histamine is the other major component in the venom of some wasps. In Table I below, the amount of histamine was quantified relative to the weight in grams (g) of the venom sac. The mean 5-HT concentration in venom was 0.32 mg/g, and the mean histamine concentration was 4.3 mg/g.

Histamine and 5-HT probably contribute to the pain following a wasp sting, since these chemicals cause pain when applied to a blister in human skin.


Jaques R. and M. Schachter (1954). The presence of histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine and a potent, slow contracting substance in wasp venom. British Journal of pharmacology and chemotherapy 9, 53-58.

Collier, H. O. J. 1958. The occurrence of 5-hydroxytryptamine (HT) in nature; In 5-Hydroxytryptamine, Lewis G. P. (Ed.), New York: Pergamon Press, 5-19.

Lyttle T., D. Goldstein and J. Gartz (1996). Bufo toads and bufotenine: fact and fiction surrounding an alleged psychedelic. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 28, 267-290.