The crude latex of "Crown-of-Thorns" (Euphorbia milii var hislopii, syn E.splendens) is a potent plant molluscicide. For this reason, toxicological studies have been performed to evaluate the health risks posed by its use in schistosomiasis control programs. The present study is part of a more comprehensive immunotoxicological evaluation of this molluscicide. Here, we investigated the effects of E. milii latex on the proliferation of human lymphocytes in vitro. Lyophilized latex of E. milii (0, 0.5, 5, 25 and 50 µg/ml) was incubated with whole blood in the presence of proliferation stimulators, i.e. lectins (phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A and pokeweed mitogen), as well as with human monoclonal antibody against CD3 and tetanus toxoid. Cell proliferation was measured by ³H-thymidine incorporation, and the effects of latex on mitogen-induced cell proliferation were compared to the effects of 10 ng/ml of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). Results showed that mitogen-induced cell proliferation was markedly enhanced by E. milii latex. This synergistic effect of latex on mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation may be due to the presence of TPA-like phorbol esters and/or to mitogenic plant lectins.
Euphorbiaceae; plant molluscicides; phorbol esters; lymphocyte activation