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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


Atropa belladonna, commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, ranks among one of the most poisonous plants in Europe and other parts of the world. The plant contains tropane alkaloids, including atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, which are used as anticholinergics in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs and homeopathic remedies. These alkaloids can be very toxic at high dose. The FDA has recently reported that Hyland’s baby teething tablets contain inconsistent amounts of Atropa belladonna that may have adverse effects on the nervous system and cause death in children, thus recalled the product in 2017. A greater understanding of the neurotoxicity of Atropa belladonna and its modification of genetic polymorphisms in the nervous system is critical in order to develop better treatment strategies, therapies, regulations, education of at-risk populations, and a more cohesive paradigm for future research. This review offers an integrated view of the homeopathy and neurotoxicity of Atropa belladonna in children, adults and animal models, as well as its implications to neurological disorders. Particular attention is dedicated to the pharmaco/toxicodynamics, pharmaco/toxicokinetics, pathophysiology, epidemiological cases, and animal studies associated with the effects of Atropa belladonna on the nervous system. Additionally, we discuss the influence of active tropane alkaloids in Atropa belladonna and other similar plants on FDA-approved therapeutic drugs for treatment of neurological disorders.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Neurology, Solanaceae, Anticholinergic, Atropine, Hyoscyamine, Atropa belladonna, Atropa


To achieve a high yield of tropane alkaloids (TA) and exploit the alpine plant sustainably, an optimized protocol for induction and establishment of hairy roots culture ofPrezwalskia tanguticaMaxim was developed through selection of appropriateAgrobacteriumstrain and the explant type. The hypocotyl is more readily facile to induce the HR than the cotyledon is when infected with the three different agrobacterium strains. MUS440 has an efficiency (of up to 20%), whereas the ATCC10060 (A4) can induce HR on both types of explants with the highest frequency (33.33%), root length (21.17 ± 2.84 cm), and root number (10.83 ± 1.43) per explant than the other strains. The highest HR production resulted from using hypocotyl as explants. Independent transformed HR was able to grow vigorously and to propagate on a no-hormone 1/2MS liquid medium. The presence of pRirolB gene in transformation of HR was confirmed by PCR amplification. In the liquid medium, the HR growth curve appeared to be “S” shaped, and ADB had increased to 4.633 g/l. Moreover, HPLC analysis showed that HR lines have an extraordinary ability to produce atropine (229.88 mg/100 g), anisodine (4.09 mg/100 g), anisodamine (12.85 mg/100 g), and scopolamine (10.69 mg/100 g), which were all more significant than the control roots. In conclusion, our study optimized the culture condition and established a feasible genetics reactor forP. tanguticagreen exploration and biological study in the alpine region.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Agrobacterium, Atropine, Cocaine, Alkaloid, Transformation, Hyoscyamine, Tropane


Scopolia lurida, a medicinal plant native to the Tibetan Plateau, is among the most effective producers of pharmaceutical tropane alkaloids (TAs). The hyoscyamine 6β-hydroxylase genes of Hyoscyamus niger (HnH6H) and S. lurida (SlH6H) were cloned and respectively overexpressed in hairy root cultures of S. lurida, to compare their effects on promoting the production of TAs, especially the high-value scopolamine. Root cultures with SlH6H/HnH6H overexpression were confirmed by PCR and real-time quantitative PCR, suggesting that the enzymatic steps defined by H6H were strongly elevated at the transcriptional level. Tropane alkaloids, including hyoscyamine, anisodamine and scopolamine, were analyzed by HPLC. Scopolamine and anisodamine contents were remarkably elevated in the root cultures overexpressing SlH6H/HnH6H, whereas that of hyoscyamine was more or less reduced, when compared with those of the control. These results also indicated that SlH6H and HnH6H promoted anisodamine production at similar levels in S. lurida root cultures. More importantly, HnH6H-overexpressing root cultures had more scopolamine in them that did SlH6H-overexpressing root cultures. This study not only provides a feasible way of overexpressing H6H to produce high-value scopolamine in engineered root cultures of S. lurida but also found that HnH6H was better than SlH6H for engineering scopolamine production.

Concepts: Gene expression, Molecular biology, Enzyme, Real-time polymerase chain reaction, Solanaceae, Hyoscyamine, Tropane alkaloid, Scopolamine


Tropane alkaloids (TAs), especially hyoscyamine and scopolamine, are important precursors for anticholinergic and antispasmodic drugs. Hyoscyamine and scopolamine are currently obtained at commercial scale from hybrid crosses of Duboisia myoporoides x Duboisia leichhardtii plants. In this study, we present a global investigation of localization and organization of TA biosynthesis in a Duboisia myoporoides R. Br. wildtype line. The tissue-specific spatial distribution of TAs within D. myoporoides is presented, including quantification of the TAs littorine, 6-hydroxy hyoscyamine, hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and additionally, hyoscyamine aldehyde as well as scopolamine glucoside. Scopolamine (14.77 ± 5.03 mg g-1), and to a lesser extend hyoscyamine (3.01 ± 1.54 mg g-1) as well as 6-hydroxy hyoscyamine (4.35 ± 1.18 mg g-1), are accumulated in leaves during plant development with the highest concentration of total TAs detected in six-month old plants. Littorine, an early precursor in TA biosynthesis, was present only in the roots (0.46 ± 0.07 mg g-1). During development, the spatial distribution of all investigated alkaloids changed due to secondary growth in the roots. Gene transcripts involved in early stages of TA biosynthesis, pmt, tr-I, and cyp80f1 were found to be most abundant in the roots. In contrast, the transcript encoding hyoscyamine 6β- hydroxylase (h6h) was highest in the leaves of three-month old plants. This investigation presents the spatial distribution of biochemical components as well as gene expression profiles of genetic factors known to participate in TA biosynthesis in D. myoporoides. The results of this investigation may aid in future breeding or genetic enhancement strategies aimed at increasing the yields of TAs in these medicinally valuable plant species.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Transcription, Solanaceae, Hyoscyamine, Tropane alkaloid, Scopolamine


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