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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Clinicoepidemiological, toxicological, and safety evaluation studies on argemone oil.

Consumption of oil extracted from accidental or deliberate contamination of argemone seed to mustard seed is known to pose a clinical condition popularly referred to as Epidemic Dropsy. Several outbreaks of Epidemic Dropsy have occurred in the past in India as well as in Mauritius, Fiji Island, and South Africa. Clinico-epidemiological manifestations of argemone oil poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, swelling of limbs, erythema, pitting edema, breathlessness, etc. In extreme cases, glaucoma and even death due to cardiac arrest have been encountered. The toxicity of argemone oil has been attributed to two of its physiologically active benzophenanthridine alkaloids, sanguinarine and dihydrosanguinarine. Histopathological studies suggest that liver, lungs, kidney, and heart are the target sites for argemone oil intoxication. Studies have shown to elucidate the cocarcinogenic potential of argemone oil that can be correlated with the binding of sanguinarine with a DNA template. Pharmacological response in intestine revealed immediate stimulation of tone and peristaltic movements of the gut in the sanguinarine-treated animals. Argemone oil/Sanguinarine caused a decrease in hepatic glycogen levels which may be due to the activation of glycogenolysis leading to an accumulation of pyruvate in the blood of Epidemic Dropsy cases. The increase in pyruvate levels causes uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation leading to breathlessness, as observed in patients. Sanguinarine has been shown to inhibit Na+, K(+)-ATPase activity of different organs such as brain, heart, liver, intestine, and skeletal muscle, which may be due to the interaction with the glycoside receptor site on ATPase enzyme, thereby causing a decrease in the active transport of glucose. Argemone oil/alkaloid showed a Type II binding spectra with hepatic cytochrome P-450 (P-450) protein, thereby causing loss of P-450 content and an impairment of phase I and phase II enzymes. A green fluorescent metabolite of sanguinarine, benzacridine was detected in the milk of grazing animals. The delayed appearance of this metabolite in urine and feces of experimental animals suggests the slow elimination of the alkaloid. Argemone oil enhances hepatic microsomal and mitochondrial lipid peroxidation, indicating that these two organelles are the sites of membrane damage. Furthermore, studies suggest that singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radical are involved in argemone oil toxicity. Several bioantioxidants show protective effect in argemone oil-induced toxicity in experimental animals. The line of treatment in argemone-intoxicated epidemics has so far been only symptomatic, and specific therapeutic measures are still lacking, although it has been suggested that diuretics, bioantioxidants, steroids, vitamins, calcium- and protein-rich diet had some beneficial effects on Epidemic Dropsy cases.[1]


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