J Toxicol Clin Exp 1989 Mar-Apr;9(2):83-99
Gyromitra esculenta (Persoon ex Fries) mushrooms have been responsible for severe intoxications and even deaths. Clinical data are characterized primarily by vomiting and diarrhoea, and, afterwhile, by jaundice, convulsions and coma. The species of concern are mainly G. esculenta, G. fastigiata and G. gigas; nevertheless, recent advances in chromatography, biochemistry and toxicology have established that other species within the Ascomycetes may prove also toxic. The toxins, i.e. gyromitrin (N-methyl-N-formyl-N-acetyl-hydrazone) and its higher homologues, are converted in vivo into MFH (N-methyl-N-formyl-hydrazine), then into MMH (N-Methylhydrazine). The toxicity of these latter chemicals, which are chiefly hepatotoxic and even carcinogenic, has been established through in vivo, and, in vitro experiments with monocelled cultures and biochemical systems. Considering the chemical structure and the reactivity of these natural compounds, chemical and biochemical mechanisms are suggested in order to explain their intrinsic biological activity.
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