Serotherapy against Hemiscorpius (H.) lepturus scorpion sting is based on the administration of equine polyvalent antivenom prepared against a mixture of six venoms. In a previous study, we reported the identification of Heminecrolysin, a 33 kDa H. lepturus venom protein endowed with a sphingomyelinase D, hemolytic and dermonecrotic activities. We aimed herein to investigate the capacity of Heminecrolysin to generate antibodies able to neutralize the major physiopathological properties of H. lepturus envenomation, e.g. hemolysis and dermonecrosis. The efficiency of anti-Heminecrolysin antibodies was compared to that of anti-whole venom. Our results demonstrated that Heminecrolysin elicits high levels of specific IgGs. Anti-Heminecrolysin, similarly to anti-whole venom antibodies, totally inhibited H. lepturus hemolytic effect when up to 5 times the half maximal effective concentration of venom were used. Phosphatidylserine exposure on the external lipid monolayer of human red blood cells treated with whole venom was also fully blocked by both anti-sera. Experimental envenomation of rabbits showed that anti-Heminecrolysin antibodies were as potent as anti-H. lepturus antibodies to neutralize dermonecrotic effects when up to 4 times the minimal necrotic dose of venom were injected. However, inflammatory reaction was better controlled with anti-whole venom sera.
In conclusion, Heminecrolysin elicits protective antibodies of comparable potency to those elicited by immunization with whole venom.