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Toxicon. 1998 Apr;36(4):571-88.

Recovery from the lethal effects of saxitoxin: a therapeutic window for 4-aminopyridine (4-AP).

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  • 1Pharmacology Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010-5425, USA.


We have shown that saxitoxin (STX) induced lethality can be reversed by 4-AP when it is administered at the time of respiratory arrest [Benton, B. J., Spriggs, D. L., Capacio, B. R. and Chang, F.-C. T. (1995) 4-Aminopyridine antagonizes the lethal effects of saxitoxin (STX) and tetrodotoxin (TTX). International Society of Toxicology, 5th Pan American Symposium on Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins, Frederick, MD. July/August 1995, p. 217]. The purpose of this study was to determine whether 4-AP's efficacy could be enhanced further when administered at different times relative to STX intoxication. The animals used in this study were chronically instrumented for concurrent recordings of diaphragm electromyogram (DEMG), neck skeletal muscle electromyogram, Lead II electrocardiogram, and electrocorticogram (ECoG). There were five groups of unanesthetized guinea pigs. The first group served as 4-AP controls and received a 2 mg/kg i.m. dose of 4-AP. The four remaining groups were given a lethal dose of STX (5 microg/kg i.m.); the second group, STX controls, received no 4-AP; the third group, the 4-AP treatment group, received 4-AP immediately following cardiorespiratory collapse; the fourth group was the 4-AP/STX co-administration group and 4-AP was given concurrently with STX; and the fifth group was the 4-AP pretreatment group in which 4-AP was given 10 min before STX. At the point of STX-induced cardiorespiratory collapse, the guinea pigs were ventilated and given an i.p. injection of sodium bicarbonate. Results showed that 4-AP prevented cardiorespiratory collapse in 3/7 animals in the 4-AP pretreatment group. Also, 4-AP in conjunction with artificial ventilation and sodium bicarbonate accelerated recovery from STX-induced cardiorespiratory collapse in all the treatment groups compared to the STX controls.

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