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J Anal Toxicol. 2014 Nov-Dec;38(9):619-27. doi: 10.1093/jat/bku078. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

A validated method for quantifying atractyloside and carboxyatractyloside in blood by HPLC-HRMS/MS, a non-fatal case of intoxication with Atractylis gummifera L.

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  • 1Laboratoire LAT LUMTOX, 800 av. Marie Curie Z.I. Jean Jaurès, La Voulte-sur-Rhône 07800, France Ecole Doctorale Interdisciplinaire Sciences-Santé, Université Claude Bernard, Hôpital Louis Pradel, 28 av. du Doyen Lépine, Bron 69677, France
  • 2Laboratoire LAT LUMTOX, 800 av. Marie Curie Z.I. Jean Jaurès, La Voulte-sur-Rhône 07800, France.
  • 3Laboratoire de Toxicologie, Faculté de Pharmacie de Lyon, 8 av. Rockefeller, Lyon 69373, France Laboratoire de Pharmacologie, Centre Hospitalier Lyon Sud, chemin du Grand Revoyet, Pierre-Bénite 69495, France.
  • 4Laboratoire LAT LUMTOX, Hôpital d'instruction des Armées Desgenettes, 71 av. Rockefeller, Lyon 69003, France.
  • 5Faculté de Médecine, Institut Médico-légal, 12 av. Rockefeller, Lyon 69008, France.


Atractyloside (ATR) and carboxyatractyloside (CATR) are diterpene glycosides that are responsible for the toxicity of several Asteraceae plants around the world. Mediterranean gum thistle (Atractylis gummifera L.) and Zulu impila (Callilepis laureola DC.), in particular, are notoriously poisonous and the cause of many accidental deaths, some suicides and even some murders. There is no current method for measuring the two toxins in biological samples that meet the criteria of specificity required in forensic medicine. We have endeavored to fill this analytical gap. Analysis was carried out using a solid-phase extraction and a high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry detection. The method was validated in the whole blood with quantification limits of 0.17 and 0.15 µg/L for ATR and CATR, respectively. The method was applied to a non-fatal case of intoxication with A. gummifera. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first time that a concentration of ATR and CATR in blood (883.1 and 119.0 µg/L, respectively) and urine (230.4 and 140.3 µg/L, respectively) is reported. ATR and CATR were quantified in A. gummifera roots by the standard method addition (3.7 and 5.4 mg/g, respectively).

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