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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE TOXICITY OF PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOID-CONTAINING PLANTS AND OTHER HEPATOTOXIC AND NEUROTOXIC PLANTS

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Tremetone and structurally related compounds in white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima): A plant associated with trembles and milk sickness

Authors
item Lee, Stephen
item Davis, Thomas
item Gardner, Dale
item Colegate, Steven
item Cook, Daniel
item Green, Benedict
item Meyerholtz, Kimberly -
item Wilson, Christina -
item Stegelmeier, Bryan
item Evans, Tim -

Submitted to: Journal of Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 2, 2010
Publication Date: July 20, 2010
Citation: Lee, S.T., Davis, T.Z., Gardner, D.R., Colegate, S.M., Cook, D., Green, B.T., Meyerholtz, K.A., Wilson, C.R., Stegelmeier, B.L., Evans, T.J. 2010. Tremetone and structurally related compounds in white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima): A plant associated with trembles and milk sickness. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58(15):8560-65. DOI: 10.1021/jf1012456.

Interpretive Summary: Ingestion of white snakeroot can cause trembles in livestock and milk sickness in humans. In this study, 11 different compounds were isolated from white snakeroot-derived. Six of the isolated compounds have not been previously reported to be found in white snakeroot. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis indicated that there are three different types of white snakeroot from the plant samples based on chemical analysis. Different types of white snakeroot that have different chemical compounds may explain the sporadic and unpredictable toxicity of white snakeroot to livestock and humans.

Technical Abstract: Ingestion of white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) can cause trembles in livestock and milk sickness in humans. The toxicity has been associated with tremetol, a relatively crude, multi-component lipophilic extract of the plant. In this study, 11 different compounds were isolated from white snakeroot-derived lipophilic extracts from 18 collections. Six of the isolated compounds have not been previously reported to be found in white snakeroot. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis indicated that there are three different chemotypes of white snakeroot from the plant samples analyzed. Elucidation of these chemotypes may explain the sporadic and unpredictable toxicity of white snakeroot to livestock and humans.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014