Picrotoxin: picrotoxinin (left) and picrotin (right)
Clinical data
Pregnancy cat.  ?
Legal status  ?
CAS number 124-87-8 YesY
ATC code None
PubChem CID 5360688
DrugBank APRD00269
ChemSpider 16736444 YesY
KEGG C09529 N
Chemical data
Formula C30H34O13 
Mol. mass 602.583 g/mol
SMILES eMolecules & PubChem
 N(what is this?)  (verify)

Picrotoxin, also known as cocculin, is a poisonous crystalline plant compound, first isolated by Pierre Boullay in 1812.[1] The name "picrotoxin" is a combination of the Greek words "picros" (bitter) and "toxicon" (poison).[2]

Found primarily in the fruit of the climbing plant Anamirta cocculus, it has a strong physiological action. It acts as a noncompetitive antagonist for the GABAA receptor chloride channels. It is therefore a channel blocker rather than a receptor antagonist. As GABA itself is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, infusion of picrotoxin has stimulant and convulsant effects. As such, picrotoxin can be used to counter barbiturate poisoning, that can occur during general anesthesia or during a large intake outside of the hospital.[3]


Chemical structure

Picrotoxin (C30H34O13) is an equimolar mixture of two compounds, picrotoxinin (C15H16O6) and picrotin (C15H18O7).[4]

Other uses

Picrotoxin is classified as an illegal performance-enhancing "Class 1 substance" by the American Quarterhorse Association. The recommended penalty for a first offense is a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine.


  1. ^ Pierre F. G. Boullay, "Analyse chimique de la Coque du Levant, Menispermum cocculus," Bulletin de Pharmacie, vol. 4, pages 1-34 (1812). (Note: "Menispermum cocculus" has been renamed "Anamirta cocculus".)
  2. ^ Pierre F. G. Boullay (1812) "Analyse chimique de la Coque du Levant, Menispermum cocculus," Bulletin de Pharmacie, vol. 4, page 31.
  3. ^ On Treatment of Barbiturate Poisoning, Nilson & Eyrich Acta Medica Scandinavica Volume 137 Issue 6, Pages 381-389.
  4. ^ Chemical structure of picrotoxin is available here: http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/ProductDetail.do?N4=P1675%7CSIGMA&N5=SEARCH_CONCAT_PNO%7CBRAND_KEY&F=SPEC.

External links

  • Ehrenberger K, Benkoe E, Felix D (1982). "Suppressive action of picrotoxin, a GABA antagonist, on labyrinthine spontaneous nystagmus and vertigo in man". Acta Otolaryngol. 93 (3–4): 269–73. doi:10.3109/00016488209130882. PMID 7064710. 
  • L. Dupont, O. Dideberg, J. Lamotte-Brasseur et L. Angenot (1976). "Structure cristalline et moléculaire de la picrotoxine, C15H16O6.C15H18O7". Acta Cryst. B32: 2987–2993 (in French). 
  • Basic Neurochemistry: GABA Receptor Physiology and Pharmacology.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Picrotoxin — Pic ro*tox in, n. [Gr. ? bitter + toxic + in.] (Chem.) A bitter white crystalline substance found in the cocculus indicus. It is a peculiar poisonous neurotic and intoxicant, and consists of a mixture of several neutral substances. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • picrotoxin — [pik΄rō täk′sin] n. [ PICRO + TOXIN] a white, bitter, poisonous, crystalline compound, C30H34O13, resembling strychnine in its properties: used as a stimulant in cases of barbiturate poisoning …   English World dictionary

  • Picrotoxin — Strukturformel Picrotin (oben), Picrotoxinin (unten) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • picrotoxin — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary Date: 1815 a poisonous bitter crystalline stimulant and convulsive substance C30H34O13 obtained from the berry of a southeast Asian vine (Anamirta cocculus) and used intravenously as an antidote …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • picrotoxin — picrotoxic, adj. /pik reuh tok sin/, n. Pharm. a white, crystalline, bitter, poisonous, central nervous system stimulant, C30H34O13, obtained from the seeds of Anamirta cocculus: used chiefly in the treatment of barbiturate poisoning. [1865 70; < …   Universalium

  • picrotoxin — noun A poisonous material, extracted from the seeds of the Anamirta cocculus, used as a stimulant; it is a complex of two alkaloids picrotoxinin and picrotin Syn: cocculin …   Wiktionary

  • picrotoxin — A very bitter neutral principle derived from the fruit of Anamirta cocculus (family Menispermaceae); a central nervous system stimulant, used as an antidote for poisoning by barbiturates and certain other CNS depressant drugs; a convulsant and… …   Medical dictionary

  • picrotoxin — n. type of poison found in plant seeds …   English contemporary dictionary

  • picrotoxin — pic·ro·tox·in …   English syllables

  • picrotoxin — pic•ro•tox•in [[t]ˌpɪk rəˈtɒk sɪn[/t]] n. pha a poisonous stimulant, C30H34O13, obtained from the seeds of Anamirta cocculus, used to treat barbiturate poisoning • Etymology: 1865–70; < Gk pikr(ós) bitter + o +toxin …   From formal English to slang

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