Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Understanding and Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Poisonous Plants on Livestock Production Systems

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Plant toxins that affect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: A review

Authors
item Green, Benedict
item Welch, Kevin
item Panter, Kip
item Lee, Stephen

Submitted to: Chemical Research in Toxicology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 28, 2013
Publication Date: June 28, 2013
Citation: Green, B.T., Welch, K.D., Panter, K.E., Lee, S.T. 2013. Plant toxins that affect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: A review. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 26(8): 1129-38.

Interpretive Summary: Plants produce wide variety of chemical compounds metabolism, photosynthesis or reproduction. These compounds are used as flavors, fragrances, insecticides, dyes, hallucinogens, nutritional supplements, poisons, and pharmaceutical agents. If grazing livestock consume toxins from poisonous plants this results in large economic losses to the livestock industry. The chemical structures of these compounds are diverse and range from simple, low molecular weight toxins to the highly complex alkaloids in larkspurs. While the negative effects of plant toxins on people and the impact of plant toxins on livestock producers have been widely publicized, the diversity of these toxins and their potential as new pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of diseases in people and animals has also received widespread interest. Scientists are actively screening plants from all regions of the world for bioactivity and potential pharmaceuticals for the treatment or prevention of many diseases. In this review, we focus the discussion on those plant toxins extensively studied at the USDA Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory that affect the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors including species of Delphinium (Larkspurs), Lupinus (Lupines), Conium (poison hemlock) and Nicotiana (tobaccos).

Technical Abstract: Plants produce wide variety of chemical compounds termed secondary metabolites that are not involved in basic metabolism, photosynthesis or reproduction. These compounds are used as flavors, fragrances, insecticides, dyes, hallucinogens, nutritional supplements, poisons, and pharmaceutical agents. However, in some cases these secondary metabolites perturb biological systems such as those found in poisonous plants. Ingestion of toxins from poisonous plants by grazing livestock often results in large economic losses to the livestock industry. The chemical structures of these compounds are diverse and range from simple, low molecular weight toxins such as oxalate in halogeton to the highly complex norditerpene alkaloids in larkspurs. While the negative effects of plant toxins on people and the impact of plant toxins on livestock producers have been widely publicized, the diversity of these toxins and their potential as new pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of diseases in people and animals has also received widespread interest. Scientists are actively screening plants from all regions of the world for bioactivity and potential pharmaceuticals for the treatment or prevention of many diseases. In this review, we focus the discussion on those plant toxins extensively studied at the USDA Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory that affect the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors including species of Delphinium (Larkspurs), Lupinus (Lupines), Conium (poison hemlock) and Nicotiana (tobaccos).

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page