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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024

2024 Jun 28

Cell Mol Life Sci




Exploring oak processionary caterpillar induced lepidopterism (part 2): ex vivo bio-assays unmask the role of TRPV1.


Seldeslachts A, Undheim EAB, Vriens J, Tytgat J, Peigneur S


As human skin comes into contact with the tiny hairs or setae of the oak processionary caterpillar, Thaumetopoea processionea, a silent yet intense chemical confrontation occurs. The result is a mix of issues: skin rashes and an intense itching that typically lasts days and weeks after the contact. This discomfort poses a significant health threat not only to humans but also to animals. In Western Europe, the alarming increase in outbreaks extends beyond areas near infested trees due to the dispersion of the setae. Predictions indicate a sustained rise in outbreaks, fueled by global changes favoring the caterpillar’s survival and distribution. Currently, the absence of an efficient treatment persists due to significant gaps in our comprehension of the pathophysiology associated with this envenomation. Here, we explored the interaction between the venom extract derived from the setae of T. processionea and voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels and receptors. By conducting electrophysiological analyses, we discovered ex vivo evidence highlighting the significant role of TPTX-Tp1, a peptide toxin from T. processionea, in modulating TRPV1. TPTX-Tp1 is a secapin-like peptide and demonstrates a unique ability to modulate TRPV1 channels in the presence of capsaicin, leading to cell depolarization, itch and inflammatory responses. This discovery opens new avenues for developing a topical medication, suggesting the incorporation of a TRPV1 blocker as a potential solution for the local effects caused by T. processionea.