From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Cerberin structure

Cerberin is a toxic cardiac glycoside found in the seeds of the Cerbera odollam tree, commonly known as the "suicide tree." This compound is structurally similar to other cardiac glycosides such as digoxin and ouabain, and it exerts its toxic effects by inhibiting the sodium-potassium pump (Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase) in cardiac cells.

Chemical Structure and Properties[edit | edit source]

Cerberin is a complex molecule with a steroidal structure, characterized by a lactone ring and sugar moieties. Its molecular formula is C30H44O9. The presence of the lactone ring is crucial for its biological activity, as it allows the molecule to bind to the Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase enzyme.

Mechanism of Action[edit | edit source]

Cerberin inhibits the Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase enzyme, which is essential for maintaining the electrochemical gradient across cell membranes. By inhibiting this enzyme, cerberin causes an increase in intracellular sodium levels, which in turn leads to an increase in intracellular calcium levels through the sodium-calcium exchanger. Elevated intracellular calcium enhances cardiac contractility but also predisposes the heart to arrhythmias, which can be fatal.

Toxicity and Symptoms[edit | edit source]

Ingestion of cerberin can lead to severe poisoning, characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, and confusion. In severe cases, it can cause cardiac arrhythmias, bradycardia, and cardiac arrest. The lethal dose of cerberin is relatively low, making it a potent poison.

Uses and Applications[edit | edit source]

While cerberin is primarily known for its toxic properties, it has been studied for potential therapeutic applications, particularly in the treatment of certain cardiac conditions. However, its narrow therapeutic index and high toxicity limit its clinical use.

Detection and Treatment[edit | edit source]

Detection of cerberin poisoning can be challenging due to its similarity to other cardiac glycosides. Laboratory tests, including mass spectrometry and immunoassays, can be used to confirm the presence of cerberin in biological samples. Treatment of cerberin poisoning involves supportive care and the administration of activated charcoal to prevent further absorption. In cases of severe poisoning, the use of digoxin-specific antibody fragments (digoxin immune Fab) may be considered.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD