Fire Ant Allergens

fire ant stings

Leg, 3 days after multiple fire ant stings.
Photo: USDA/ARS, Daniel Wojcik

Allergic reactions to fire ant stings are due to proteins present in tiny amounts in the venom. These proteins, Sol i1, Sol i2, Sol i3 and Sol i4 are capable of triggering an allergic response. Sol i1 is about 3% of the total venom protein and it has phospholipase activity that can degrade cells. One half to two thirds of the venom protein is Sol i2. Sol i3 has substantial homology to an antigenic venom protein from a yellow jacket, Vespula vulgaris. People who have allergies to yellow jacket stings are more likely to be allergic to fire ant stings.

People with known allergic reactions to fire ant venom can have immunotherapy based on exposing patients to small doses of fire ant protein. The success of immunotherapy improves with our knowledge of venom toxins and the ability collect or produce them in large enough quantities. The quality of proteins used in immunotherapy is important in making reactions to fire ant stings less severe.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Health. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fire Ant Allergens

  1. Hi, actually there many more other toxic proteins in the fire ant venom, as described in a more comprehensive recent study using whole-nest protein extracts. Those include enzyme toxins and other potential allergens, see details in the references below:

    Proteomic view of the venom from the fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren. J. Proteome Res. J Proteome Res 2012 Sep 22;11(9):4643-53.

    Fox, E.G.P. Venom toxins of fire ants. In Venom genomics and proteomics; Gopalakrishnakone, P., Calvete, J.J.,Eds.; Springer: Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2014; pp. 1–16.

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