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Concept: Hyoscyamine


Abstract “Death rattle” is a term used to describe the noisy sound produced by dying patients caused by the oscillatory movements of secretions in the upper airways. Antimuscarinic drugs, including atropine, scopolamine (hyoscine hydrobromide), hyoscine butylbromide, and glycopyrronium, have been used to diminish the noisy sound by reducing airway secretions. We report on the effectiveness of sublingual atropine eyedrops in alleviating death rattle in a terminal cancer patient. We present a 58-year-old man with pancreatic cancer who was admitted to our hospital because of severe dyspnea, cough, and death rattle with excessive bronchial secretion as a result of multiple lung metastases. We administered 1% atropine eyedrops sublingually to obviate the need for subcutaneous infusions and to prevent somnolence. On the basis of our experience, we conclude that atropine eyedrops, administered sublingually for distressing upper respiratory secretions, may be an effective alternative to the injection of antimuscarinic drugs, or as an option when other antimuscarinic formulations are not available.

Concepts: Cancer, Death, Muscarinic antagonists, Respiratory system, Anticholinergic, Hyoscyamine, Scopolamine, Muscarinic antagonist


Datura stramonium is an herbaceous annual plant. All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids such as atropine and scopolamine. We report the case of a 22-year-old man admitted to a general hospital for visual and aural hallucinations. One week after his admission, as the hallucinations remained, the patient was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. Neither blood nor urine was conserved during his hospitalization, so a hair analysis was requested in order to identify a possible consumption of a Datura seed infusion.

Concepts: Hospital, Atropine, Psychiatric hospital, Perennial plant, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium


Atropa belladonna is a poisonous plant that can cause anticholinergic effects when ingested. Roots, leaves, and fruits of the plant contain the alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine, which can lead to an anticholinergic toxidrome; however, not all characteristics of the toxidrome are necessarily present in each case of poisoning. We present an infant who suffered serious seizures after ingestion of a homeopathic agent containing A. belladonna. The 20-day-old infant arrived at the emergency department with fever and generalized seizures for 30 minutes, 2 hours after ingesting the correct dose of a homeopathic medication agent used for infantile colic. The patient was treated with intravenous benzodiazepines and antibiotics after a full sepsis work up; all the laboratory results were normal and the fever resolved after several hours. The infant recovered fully with normal neurological function and a normal electroencephalogram. This infant probably manifested what is known as the central anticholinergic syndrome. We discuss his presentation and review of the literature on this topic.

Concepts: Medicine, Poison, Solanaceae, Anticholinergic, Atropine, Hyoscyamine, Physostigmine, Atropa belladonna


There is an increasing use of herbal remedies and medicines, with a commonly held belief that natural substances are safe. We present the case of a 50-year-old woman who was a trained herbalist and had purchased an ‘Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade) preparation’. Attempting to combat her insomnia, late one evening she deliberately ingested a small portion of this, approximately 50 mL. Unintentionally, this was equivalent to a very large (15 mg) dose of atropine and she presented in an acute anticholinergic syndrome (confused, tachycardic and hypertensive) to our accident and emergency department. She received supportive management in our intensive treatment unit including mechanical ventilation. Fortunately, there were no long-term sequelae from this episode. However, this dramatic clinical presentation does highlight the potential dangers posed by herbal remedies. Furthermore, this case provides clinicians with an important insight into potentially dangerous products available legally within the UK. To help clinicians' understanding of this our discussion explains the manufacture and ‘dosing’ of the A. belladonna preparation.

Concepts: Hospital, Solanaceae, Anticholinergic, Atropine, Hyoscyamine, Physostigmine, Atropa belladonna, Atropa


The pharmacologically important tropane alkaloids have a scattered distribution among angiosperm families, like many other groups of secondary metabolites. To determine whether tropane alkaloids have evolved repeatedly in different lineages or arise from an ancestral pathway that has been lost in most lines, we investigated the tropinone-reduction step of their biosynthesis. In species of the Solanaceae, which produce compounds such as atropine and scopolamine, this reaction is known to be catalyzed by enzymes of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase family. However, in Erythroxylum coca (Erythroxylaceae), which accumulates cocaine and other tropane alkaloids, no proteins of the short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase family were found that could catalyze this reaction. Instead, purification of E. coca tropinone-reduction activity and cloning of the corresponding gene revealed that a protein of the aldo-keto reductase family carries out this reaction in E. coca. This protein, designated methylecgonone reductase, converts methylecgonone to methylecgonine, the penultimate step in cocaine biosynthesis. The protein has highest sequence similarity to other aldo-keto reductases, such as chalcone reductase, an enzyme of flavonoid biosynthesis, and codeinone reductase, an enzyme of morphine alkaloid biosynthesis. Methylecgonone reductase reduces methylecgonone (2-carbomethoxy-3-tropinone) stereospecifically to 2-carbomethoxy-3β-tropine (methylecgonine), and has its highest activity, protein level, and gene transcript level in young, expanding leaves of E. coca. This enzyme is not found at all in root tissues, which are the site of tropane alkaloid biosynthesis in the Solanaceae. This evidence supports the theory that the ability to produce tropane alkaloids has arisen more than once during the evolution of the angiosperms.

Concepts: Metabolism, Morphine, Atropine, Cocaine, Alkaloid, Hyoscyamine, Tropane, Tropane alkaloid


Tropane alkaloids are a wide group of substances that comprises more than 200 compounds occurring especially in the Solanaceae family. The main aim of this study is the development of a method for the analysis of the principal tropane alkaloids as atropine, scopolamine, anisodamine, tropane, tropine, littorine, homatropine, apoatropine, aposcopolamine, scopoline, tropinone, physoperuvine, pseudotropine and cuscohygrine in cereals and related matrices. For that, a simple solid-liquid extraction was optimized and a liquid chromatographic method coupled to a single stage Exactive-Orbitrap was developed. The method was validated obtaining recoveries in the range of 60-109% (except for some compounds in soy), precision values (expressed as relative standard deviation) lower than 20% and detection and quantification limits equal to or lower than 2 and 3μg/kg respectively. Finally, the method was applied to the analysis of different types of samples as buckwheat, linseed, soy and millet, obtaining positives for anisodamine, scopolamine, atropine, littorine and tropinone in a millet flour sample above the quantification limits, whereas atropine and scopolamine were detected in a buckwheat sample, below the quantification limit. Contaminated samples with Solanaceaes seeds (Datura Stramonium and Brugmansia Arborea) were also analysed, detecting concentrations up to 693μg/kg (scopolamine) for contaminated samples with Brugmansia seeds and 1847μg/kg (atropine) when samples were contaminated with Stramonium seeds.

Concepts: Chromatography, Solanaceae, Atropine, Cocaine, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Tropane, Brugmansia


A simple, sensitive, selective, and rapid optical nanobiosensor based on FRET was designed to detect tropane alkaloids as anti-cholinergic agents in natural and transgenic hairy roots extracts of Atropa belladonna. To achieve that, conjugation of tioglycolyic acid capped cadmium telluride quantum Dots, M2 muscarinic receptor (Cd/Te QDs-M2R) and conjugation of scopolamine-rhodamine123 (Sc-Rho123) were performed. More specifically, proportional amounts of M2 muscarinic receptor and quantum dots (QDs) were conjugated while scopolamine (as a tropane alkaloid) and rhodamine123 were also combined and these moieties functioned as donor and acceptor pairs, respectively. The system response was linear over the range of 0.01-4µmolL(-1) of scopolamine hydrochloride concentration with a detection limit of 0.001µmolL(-1). The developed nanobiosensor was successfully used for in vitro recognition of scopolamine as an anti-cholinergic agent in the investigated plant extracts. In addition, Agrobacterium rhizogenesis mediated gene transfer technique was employed to generate hairy roots and to enhance the production of tropane alkaloids in the studied medicinal plant.

Concepts: Solanaceae, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Atropine, Cocaine, Hyoscyamine, Tropane, Tropane alkaloid, Atropa belladonna


A new method has been developed for the enantioselective separation of (-) and (+) hyoscyamine in Solanaceaes seeds and contaminated buckwheat. Chromatographic separation was optimized, evaluating two chiral columns, Chirobiotic V and Chiralpal-AY3. Better resolution was obtained using a Chiralpak-AY3 column, utilizing as mobile phase ethanol (0.1% diethanolamine). An extraction procedure based on a modified QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged and Safe) was applied, using water and acetonitrile containing 1% of acetic acid, and a clean-up step utilizing primary secondary amine (PSA) and graphitized carbon black (GCB) as sorbents. The extract was diluted with ethanol (50/:50, v/v) prior to chromatographic analysis, and the separation was carried out avoiding the racemization during this stage. Enantiomerization process of atropine was studied in samples at different conditions such as temperature (30, 50 and 80°C) and pH (3, 5, 7 and 9), observing that racemization occurs at high pH (9) and temperature (80°C). Stramonium and Brugmansia seeds were analyzed and the concentration of (-)-hyoscyamine was 1500mg/kg and 320mg/kg respectively. Contaminated buckwheat was also determined and (-)-hyoscyamine was detected at 170μg/kg.

Concepts: Acid, Functional group, Chromatography, Chirality, Acetic acid, Atropine, Base, Hyoscyamine


Tropane alkaloids are toxic secondary metabolites produced by Solanaceae plants. Among them, plants from Datura genus produce significant amounts of scopolamine and hyoscyamine; the latter undergoes racemization to atropine during isolation. Because of their biological importance, toxic properties and commonly reported food and animal feed contamination by different Datura sp. organs, there is a constant need for reliable methods for the analysis of tropane alkaloids in many matrices. In the current study, three extraction and sample-clean up procedures for the determination of scopolamine and atropine in plant material were compared in terms of their effectiveness and repeatability. Standard liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) and EXtrelut(®) NT 3 columns were used for the sample clean-up. Combined ultrasound-assisted extraction and 24h static extraction using ethyl acetate, followed by multiple LLE steps was found the most effective separation method among tested. However, absolute extraction recovery was relatively low and reached 45-67% for atropine and 52-73% for scopolamine, depending on the compound concentration. The same method was also the most effective one for the isolation of target compounds from Datura stramonium leaves. EXtrelut(®) columns, on the other hand, displayed relatively low effectiveness in isolating atropine and scopolamine from such a complex matrix and hence could not be recommended. The most effective method was also applied to the extraction of alkaloids from roots and stems of D. stramonium. Quantitative analyses were performed using validated method based on gas chromatography with flame ionization detector (GC-FID). Based on the results, the importance of the proper selection of internal standards in the analysis of tropane alkaloids was stressed out.

Concepts: Solanaceae, Atropine, Hyoscyamine, Datura, Datura stramonium, Tropane, Scopolamine, Brugmansia


Duboisia species, which belong to the family of Solanaceae, are commercially cultivated in large scale, as they are main source of the pharmaceutically-used active compound scopolamine. In this study, (1)H NMR-based metabolite profiling linking primary with secondary metabolism and additional quantification via HPCL-MS with special focus on the tropane alkaloids were applied to compare leaf and root extracts of three wild types and two hybrids of Duboisia myoporoides and D. leichhardtii at different developmental stages grown under controlled conditions in climate chambers and under agricultural field plantation. Based on the leaf extracts, a clear distinction between the Duboisia hybrids and the wild types Duboisia myoporoides and D. leichhardtii using principal component analysis of (1)H NMR data was observed. The average content in scopolamine in the hybrids of Duboisia cultivated in climate chambers increased significantly from month 3-6 after potting of the rooted cuttings, however not so for the examined wild types. The Duboisia hybrids grown in climate chambers showed higher growth and contained more sugars and amino acids than Duboisia hybrids grown in the field, which in contrast showed an enhanced flux towards tropane alkaloids as well as flavonoids. For a more detailed analysis of tropane alkaloids, an appropriate HPLC-MS method was developed and validated. The measurements revealed large differences in the alkaloid pattern within the different genotypes under investigation, especially regarding the last enzymatic step, the conversion from hyoscamine to scopolamine by the hyoscyamine 6β-hydroxylase. Scopolamine was found in highest concentrations in Duboisia hybrids (20.04 ± 4.05 and 17.82 ± 3.52 mg/g dry wt) followed by Duboisia myoporoides (12.71 ± 2.55 mg/g dry wt), both showing a high selectivity for scopolamine in contrast to Duboisia leichhardtii (3.38 ± 0.59 and 5.09 ± 1.24 mg/g dry wt) with hyoscyamine being the predominant alkaloid.

Concepts: Metabolism, Solanaceae, Atropine, Cocaine, Hyoscyamine, Tropane, Tropane alkaloid, Scopolamine