Dermatitis caused by Molluscs

  • Gianni Angelini
  • Domenico Bonamonte


The phylum of Molluscs (from the Latin mollusca = a variety of nut with a soft shell) includes about 45,000 species with a wealth of disparate shapes and functions, living in different habitats. Molluscs are present in waters all over the globe; they can be static or mobile, nude (Fig. 5.1) or covered with a protective shell, herbivores or carnivores, microphages or macrophages. The biotoxins isolated from Molluscs up to now have various chemical and pharmacological structures; some are only urticant or have a repellent smell or taste, others are highly toxic and paralyse their prey. In some Molluscs, the filtrating bivalves, the toxins are exogenous and come from phytoplankton. Of the five classes belonging to this phylum, three have the greatest toxicity: Lamellibranchia, Gasteropodia and Cephalopodia (Table 5.1) [1, 2].

Table 5.1. The phylum of Molluscs. The toxic species are indicated

1. Class: Lamellibranchs (bivalves)


Mytilus galloprovincialis

Ostrea spp.

Anomia spp.

2. Class: Gasteropods (shells)

A. Subclass: Opisthobranchs

B. Subclass: Prosobranchs

Species: Muricidae (jagged shells)

Species: Conidae (cone shells)

Conus aulicus

Comis geographus

Conus gloria maris

Conus marmoreus

Conus striatus

Con us textile

Conns tulipa

3. Class: Cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish)


Octopus vulgaris

Octopus macropus

Eledone moschata

Eledone aldrovandi

Sepia officinalis

Hapalochlaena maculosa


Salivary Gland Cone Shell Protective Shell Hard Shell Soft Shell 


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    . Halstead BW (1992) Dangerous aquatic animals of the world: a color atlas. The Darwin Press Inc, Princeton, 41Google Scholar
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    . Erspamer V, Ghiretti F (1951) The action of enteramine on the heart of molluscs. J Physiol 115:470PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    . Rosco D (1976) Treatment of venomous and poisonous marine animal injuries. Int Soc Aquatic Med Newsletter 2:2Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianni Angelini
    • 1
  • Domenico Bonamonte
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Diseases Unit of DermatologyUniversity of BariItaly
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Diseases Unit of DermatologyUniversity of BariItaly

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