Apitoxin, or honey bee venom, is a bitter colourless liquid; its active portion a mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger. It may have similarities to sea nettle toxin.
- Apamin increases cortisol production in the adrenal gland. Apamin is a mild neurotoxin.
- Adolapin, contributing 2–5% of the peptides, acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic because it blocks cyclooxygenase.
- Phospholipase A2 amounts to 10–12% of peptides and it is the most destructive component of apitoxin. It is a phospholipase enzyme which degrades the phospholipids which cellular membranes are made of. It also causes decreased blood pressure and inhibits blood coagulation. Phospholipase A2 activates arachidonic acid which is metabolized in the cyclooxygenase-cycle to form prostaglandins. Prostaglandins regulate the body's inflammatory response.
- Hyaluronidase contributing 1–3% of peptides dilates the capillaries causing the spread of inflammation.
- Histamine contributing 0.5–2% and is involved in the allergic response.
- Dopamine and noradrenaline which contribute 1–2% increase pulse rate.
- Protease-inhibitors contribute 2% and act as anti-inflammatory agents and stop bleeding.
- Czarnetzki, B. M.; Thiele, T.; Rosenbach, T. (February 1990). "Evidence for leukotrienes in animal venoms". The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 85 (2): 505–509. doi:10.1016/0091-6749(90)90162-W. PMID 1968071.
- Meier J, White J (1995). Clinical toxicology of animal venoms and poisons. CRC Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8493-4489-1.