Jellyfishes and Paralysis

r norman rsnorman_ at _comcast.net
Tue Jun 3 19:46:11 EST 2003

On 3 Jun 2003 16:54:19 -0700, shock-trauma at excite.com (Paranormal)

>> Why
>> do you think that neurotoxins could not cause painful irritation to
>> the skin and mucous membranes?  The symptoms depend on what tissue is
>> exposed most strongly.  
>What if the poison from a Portuguese Man-of-War's tentacles was
>extracted, purified and then injected into the ventral root ganglion
>of my spinal cord?

This isn't really a jellyfish -- it is a colonial animal made up of
several different kinds of organisms living together as one unit.
Also, I don't think the toxin is particularly neurotoxic.  Here are
some references.

Portuguese Man-of-war (Physalia physalis) venom induces calcium influx
into cells by permeabilizing plasma membranes.
Edwards L, Hessinger DA.
Toxicon 2000 Aug;38(8):1015-28

Effect of Portuguese man-of-war venom on isolated vascular segments.
Loredo JS, Gonzalez RR Jr, Hessinger DA.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1986 Jan;236(1):140-3

Vascular effects of Physalia physalis venom in the skeletal muscle of
the dog.
Loredo JS, Gonzalez RR Jr, Hessinger DA.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1985 Feb;232(2):301-4

Physalia venom mediates histamine release from mast cells.
Cormier SM.
J Exp Zool 1981 Nov;218(2):117-20

Sorry, probably not a neurotoxin, although there is a report that one
component of the venom does block glutamate receptors

Effects of a high molecular weight toxin from Physalia physalis on
glutamate responses.
Mas R, Menendez R, Garateix A, Garcia M, Chavez M.
Neuroscience 1989;33(2):269-73

Also, there isn't a "ventral root ganglion".  Do you mean dorsal root?
If so, that is simply a collection of sensory cell bodies without any
synapses.  There is no reason to think that that site would have any
special sensitivity at all to a neurotoxin.  

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