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Concept: Deliriants

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Although some findings have reported the medicinal properties of Jimson weed (Datura stramonium L.), there exist some serious neurological effects such as hallucination, loss of memory and anxiety, which has been reported in folklore. Consequently, the modulatory effect of alkaloid extracts from leaf and fruit of Jimson weed on critical enzymes of the purinergic [ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase (E-NTPDase), ecto-5'-nucleotidase (E-NTDase), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and Na(+)/K(+) ATPase] system of neurotransmission (in vitro and in vivo) was the focus of this study. Alkaloid extracts were prepared by solvent extraction method and their interaction with the activities of these enzymes were assessed (in vitro) in rat brain tissue homogenate and in vivo in rats administered 100 and 200mg/kg body weight (p.o) of the extracts for thirty days, while administration of single dose (1mg/kg body weight; i.p.) of scopolamine served as the positive control. The extracts were also investigated for their Fe(2+) and Cu(2+) chelating abilities and GC-MS characterization of the extracts was also carried out. The results revealed that the extracts inhibited activates of E-NTPDase, E-NTDase and ALP in a concentration dependent manner, while stimulating the activity of Na(+)/K(+) ATPase (in vitro). Both extracts also exhibited Fe(2+) and Cu(2+) chelating abilities. Considering the EC50 values, the fruit extract had significantly higher (P<0.05) modulatory effect on the enzymes' activities as well as metal chelating abilities, compared to the leaf extract; however, there was no significant difference (P>0.05) in both extracts' inhibitory effects on E-NTDase. The in vivo study revealed reduction in the activities of ENTPDase, E-NTDase, and Na(+)/K(+) ATPase in the extract-administered rat groups compared to the control group, while an elevation in ALP activity was observed in the extract-administered rat groups compared to the control group. GC-MS characterization revealed the presence of atropine, scopolamine, amphetamine, 3-methyoxyamphetamine, 3-ethoxyamhetamine cathine, spermine, phenlyephirine and 3-piperidinemethanol, among others in the extracts. Hence, alterations of activities of critical enzymes of purinergic signaling (in vitro and in vivo) by alkaloid extracts from leaf and fruit of Jimson weed suggest one of the mechanisms behind its neurological effects as reported in folklore.

Concepts: In vivo, Atropine, Extract, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium, Deliriants

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Defensive traits exhibited by plants vary widely across populations. Heritable phenotypic differentiation is likely to be produced by genetic drift and spatially restricted gene flow between populations. However, spatially variable selection exerted by herbivores may also give rise to differences among populations. To explore to what extent these factors promote the among-population differentiation of plant resistance of 13 populations of Datura stramonium, we compared the degree of phenotypic differentiation (P ST) of leaf resistance traits (trichome density, atropine and scopolamine concentration) against neutral genetic differentiation (F ST) at microsatellite loci. Results showed that phenotypic differentiation in defensive traits among-population is not consistent with divergence promoted by genetic drift and restricted gene flow alone. Phenotypic differentiation in scopolamine concentration was significantly higher than F ST across the range of trait heritability values. In contrast, genetic differentiation in trichome density was different from F ST only when heritability was very low. On the other hand, differentiation in atropine concentration differed from the neutral expectation when heritability was less than or equal to 0.3. In addition, we did not find a significant correlation between pair-wise neutral genetic distances and distances of phenotypic resistance traits. Our findings reinforce previous evidence that divergent natural selection exerted by herbivores has promoted the among-population phenotypic differentiation of defensive traits in D. stramonium.

Concepts: Genetics, Natural selection, Evolution, Heredity, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium, Deliriants

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In recent years, scopolamine has become a drug of common use for recreational and predatory purposes and several ways of administration have been devised. A method for the rapid analysis of suspicious samples was developed, using a portable capillary electrophoresis with contactless conductivity detection. The method allows the separation of scopolamine from atropine which has a similar structure and is present along with scopolamine in some samples. The method was demonstrated to be useful for the fast analysis of several types of evidential items which have recently been reported to have been abused with fatal consequences or employed for criminal purposes. An infusion of Datura stramonium L., in which scopolamine and atropine naturally coexist, was analyzed for being frequently consumed for recreational purposes. A spiked moisturizing cream and six spiked alcoholic beverages were also analyzed. In spite of the complexity of the specimens, the sample pre-treatment methods developed were simple and fast.

Concepts: Sample, Atropine, Recreational drug use, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium, Deliriants

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In Slovenia, a mass poisoning incident involving 73 consumers with symptoms such as dry mouth, hot red skin, blurred vision, tachycardia, urinary retention, ataxia, speech disturbance, disorientation and visual hallucinations occurred in 2003. In all cases, consumers had eaten buckwheat flour food products within the last few hours. Investigations by responsible authorities identified the contamination of a range of buckwheat food products with thorn-apple (Datura stramonium L.) seeds containing toxic alkaloids, atropine and scopolamine. To ensure the safe consumption of buckwheat food products, we carried out risk characterisation and proposed provisional maximum residue levels (MRLs) of atropine and scopolamine mixture in buckwheat flour. In the absence of critical “no observed adverse effect levels” for atropine and scopolamine, we based our estimation of the acute reference doses on the lowest recommended therapeutic doses. Taking into account the additive effect of the two alkaloids, we calculated acute reference doses of the mixture, that is 0.05 µg/kg of body mass for atropine and 0.03 µg/kg of body mass for scopolamine. MRLs for atropine and scopolamine mixture in buckwheat flour were estimated in a worst-case scenario, that is consumption of 100 g of flour by a child weighing 10 kg and taking into account a range of atropine/scopolamine ratio in implicated food products, that is 0.85-3.3. We proposed the national MRLs for atropine/scopolamine mixture in buckwheat food products: 4.0 µg/kg (atropine) and 2.0 µg/kg(scopolamine). However, in view of the large variability in the alkaloid content, depending on the origin of the Datura, we propose that risk assessment should be carried out on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the ratio between atropine and scopolamine content in a particular sample.

Concepts: Atropine, Alkaloid, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium, Deliriants, Physostigmine