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Lathyrism: A Review

Mark V. Barrow, Charles F. Simpson and Edward J. Miller
The Quarterly Review of Biology
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Jun., 1974), pp. 101-128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2820941
Page Count: 28
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Lathyrism: A Review
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Abstract

Lathyrism encompases two entities. The first, neurolathyrism, occurs in a variety of animals, including man, after the consumption of several Lathyrus species. Three distinct neurolathyrogens have been isolated thus far from these plants. Clinical manifestations are marked by spastic paraplegia, and degenerative pathological changes are noted in the spinal cord to account for this effect. The other type of lathryrism, observed mainly in rats and turkeys, and not in man, is called osteolathyrism. This consists of kyphoscoliosis of the spine and curvatures of the long bones. Aortic aneyrysms are also observed in these animals, and this effect has been termed angiolathyrism is usually seen in conjunction with osteolathyrism, and the vessel and bone effects have not been convincingly dissociated. Beta-aminopropionitrile, a toxic product of L. odoratus (sweet pea), has been identified as the usual inducer of this second type of lathyrism, although a variety of synthetic nitriles and other compounds have been noted to have similar effects. Extensive studies of osteolathyritic and angiolathyritic tissues have revealed unique histopathological and ultrastructural changes, as well as decreased connective tissue strength. Biochemical studies have revealed increased solubility of collagen and specific enzyme inhibition of iysyl oxidase at the first slep of cross-link formation in elastin and collagen. These effects perhaps partly account for the observed curvatures of long bones, decreased tensile strength of connective tissues, adn aortic aneurysm and rupture in osteolathyrism and angiolathyrism. Teratogenic effects of the osteolathyrogens include ectocardia and gastroschisis in midpregnancy, cleft palate somewhat later, and aneurysms and kyphoscoliosis still later. These effects depend on the dose, agent, and time of administration, and may be directly related to the biochemical lesion.

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