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Potato Poisoning. By Kimberly Blackhorse, Debra Grymko , Arthur Sedore , and Joni Linae Wood. Nightshade Family. Nightshade family includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant There are 2500 species of potatoes spread all over the world, but mainly in tropical America.

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potato poisoning
Potato Poisoning
  • By Kimberly Blackhorse,

Debra Grymko,

Arthur Sedore,

and Joni Linae Wood.

nightshade family
Nightshade Family
  • Nightshade family includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant
  • There are 2500 species of potatoes spread all over the world, but mainly in tropical America


source of toxin
Source of Toxin
  • Toxin is found throughout the plant
  • Higher levels in green areas of potatoes and in sprouts (eyes of potato)
  • Greening is strongly affected by light, age, and damage



light exposure
Light Exposure
  • In potato tubers, the greening is a sign that there may be an increase in the presence of glycoalkaloids, especially the substance solanine
  • Light is not needed for solanine formation
  • With light exposure, glycoalkaloid formation is increased
  • Light-exposure may cause an increase of ten-fold

Green Potatoes: the Problem and the Solution. Alexander D. Pavlista. Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. G01-1437-A.

  • sugar [solanose] + alkaloid [solanidine] = Solanine, a glucoalkaloid
  • Cultivated potatoes contain 10 mg of glycoalkaloid per 100 g of potato, wild potatoes in the Andes can be more than double that.


Fully refined solanine appears in the form of a gray-green liquid

normal function
Normal Function
  • Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system (nerve-muscle connections) that is sent across the synaptic cleft
  • After attaching to the receptor, acetylcholine is released back into the synaptic cleft
  • Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that hydrolyzes acetylcholine into choline and acetate
  • Choline is recycled by the synaptic bulb to be reused and reformed into acetylcholine
  • http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/a/a_06/a_06_m/a_06_m_mou/a_06_m_mou_2a.jpg&imgrefurl=http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/a/a_06/a_06_m/a_06_m_mou/a_06_m_mou.html&h=514&w=300&sz=25&hl=en&start=16&um=1&tbnid=dJPHcexeLkty9M:&tbnh=131&tbnw=76&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dacetylcholinesterase%2Band%2Bsynaptic%2Btransmission%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN
toxin mechanism
Toxin Mechanism
  • Solanine is an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase that blocks the breakdown of acetylcholine.
  • Accumulation of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft leads to excitotoxicity of the post-synaptic receptors.
  • Excitotoxicity is the over-stimulation of neuron receptors
effect of inhibition
Effect of Inhibition
  • Initial neurons death leads to damage of neighboring neurons
  • Muscles are continuously stimulated by a domino effect of action potentials.
  • Muscle spasms and continuous contraction result without relaxation
  • Solanine is very poisonous even in very small quantities.
  • The LD50 in mice is 42mg/kg when injected into the abdomen.
  • A 200-pound person would have to eat two pounds of fully green domesticated potatoes in a single day to observe any adverse effects
  • It is much more toxic when injected since solanine is poorly absorbed through the gut wall
  • Potatoes containing more than 0.1 percent solanine (.01 oz / 10 oz potato) are considered unfit for eating
  • Potentially high levels for a 100-lb person would be 16 ounces of a fully green potato
signs symptoms
Signs & Symptoms
  • Solanine directly irritates the mucosal membranes of the gastrointestinal tract
  • If solanine is absorbed into the bloodstream, causes hemolysis of red blood cells
  • Signs of solanine poisoning are excessive salivation, diarrhea, slowed pulse, reduced blood pressure and respirations which can lead to cardiac arrest
  • Common symptoms of solanine poisoning occur 2 to 24 hours after introduction into body.
  • Others may include:


Paralysis Shock


Dilated pupils



Loss of sensation





  • Monitor patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure
  • Fluid levels are monitored and maintained
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Vomiting is induced
  • A nasogastric tube through the nose to empty the stomach (gastric lavage)  
work cited
Work Cited
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato
  • http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=28
  • www.safespectrum.com/applications produce.html
  • Green Potatoes: the Problem and the Solution. Alexander D. Pavlista.
  • Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln. G01-1437-A.
  • www.erie.gov/health/services/health_pros_alert48.asp
  • http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://health.act.gov.au/gfx/pubs
  • www.uwm.edu/~mroffers/glycoalkaloid.htm
work cited con t
Work Cited (Con’t)
  • www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002888.htm
  • www.erie.gov/health/services/health_pros_alert48.asp
  • Merck Index 12th edition.Merck and Co INC. 1996 Pg 148-149, 1444,1485-1486
  • Clarke, EGC and Clarke Myra. Garner's Veterinary Toxicology3rd edition. Williams and Wilkins Co. 1967. Pgs. 395-397
  • Ellenhorn, Matthew. Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology. WilliamsandWilkinsCo. 1997. Pgs. 1854-1855.
  • "Blue Nightshade". WebMDHealth. 1999. http://my.webmd.com/content/assest/adam_poison_blue_nightshade
  • "Poisoned by Tomato" www.felinefuture.com/fact/nutrition/tomato.html
  • Cheeke, Peter and Skull, Lee. Natural Toxicants in Feeds and PoisonousPlants.AVI.1985. Pgs. 131-135
  • http://chemistry.about.com/science/chemistry/library/weekly/aa011700a.htm
  • "Is there poison in potatos?" drweil.com. 2003.
  • http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QA/QA252785/