AMATOXIN: The Deadly Mushrooms By:Holly Anderson Anna Nease Dalton Meshell
What are Amatoxins? • Of more than 5000 species of mushrooms in the United States, approximately 100 are poisonous, and less than a dozen are deadly. Some of these are classified as amatoxins. • Amatoxins(cyclic octapeptides) represent 1 of 3 major groups of cyclopeptides (in addition to phallotoxins and virotoxins) and are heat-stable, insoluble in water, and not destroyed by drying. • At least 5 subtypes of amatoxins exist; alpha and beta amatoxins are the most significant subtypes. • Alpha amatoxin inactivates RNA polymerase II and inhibits protein synthesis, which ultimately leads to cell death.
Where are they found? • They are commonly found in the Pacific North West and North Eastern States. • Poisonings are most common in Western Europe. • Habitat: During Summer and Autumn under beach or oak trees
What do they look like? The most poisonous amatoxin is the “death cap” • Cap: 5 - 15 cm diameter, flat- topped. Surface color is olive green or yellow-green • Gills: White • Stem: White, height 8 - 15 cm, diameter: 1 - 2.5 cm, filled with a cottony material when young, hollow at maturity. Bulbous base. • Annulus: At a short distance beneath the cap, the stem bears a downward-hanging membranous ring. • Volva: The upper extremity of the bulbous base of the stem is prolonged upward in a free edge or membrane encircling the stem.
Detection and Symptoms of Poisoning First stage 6-12 hours • abdominal cramping • Vomiting • Diarrhea Second stage 2-4 days • Patient appears to be improving but ongoing liver damage is occurring Third stage 3-7 days • hepatic failure & death
Cure/ Lasting Effects • Immediate rehydration • Correction of hypovolaemia • Gastric lavage (or emesis) • Administration of cathartics • Oral activated charcoal • High IV doses of penicillin and IV silibinin • Even if cured, lasting damage to the liver and other organs will remain
Case One Study: The Death of Roman Emperor, Claudius I • Historians agree that he was murdered by the “death cap” amatoxin mushroom, and that his wife Agrippina is the most likely culprit • Agrippina was Claudius' fourth wife. She was Claudius' niece and one of the last descendants of the legendary Augustus. She also had an adult son (Nero), who would be the heir until Claudius' only son Brittanicusgrew older. • His relationship with Agrippina deteriorated, and Claudius spoke of restoring Brittanicus to be the sole heir. • Agrippina had motive to kill Claudius to protect Nero's inheritance. • Claudius died soon after the incident with amatoxin poisoning symptoms.
Case Two Study: “Last Supper with Mushroom Soup” • A 55-year-old woman with the two daughters (23 and 18-year-old) collected jungle mushrooms and had its soup for dinner along with one 20-year-old son and a 9 year-old grand-daughter in July of 2007 (England) • The family began to experience vomitting, nausea, throat burn, diarrhea • The doctor diagnosed them with cholera and treated them with saline • The daughters died within 72 hours from circulatory failure and organ shutdown, and the other members were in a coma state • The neighbors brought them all to the hospital, where the doctors attempted to occur the remaining lives • The mother was the only one to make it
Resources: • http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/fungi/amatox.htm#SectionTitle:3.1%20%20Description%20of%20the%20plant • http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/820108-overview • http://www.squidoo.com/deathbymushroom • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2323489/