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Indian J Exp Biol. 2000 Jun;38(6):559-66.

Endogenous strychnine, nicotine, and morphine--description of hypo and hyper-strychninergic, nicotinergic and morphinergic state in relation to neuropsychiatric diseases.

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Department of Neurology, Medical College Hospital, Trivandrum 695011, India.


Previous work from this laboratory had demonstrated the presence of endogenous morphine, strychnine and nicotine in the mammalian brain and human serum samples. Morphine is synthesised from tyrosine and strychnine and nicotine from tryptophan. This study examines the role of strychnine, nicotine and morphine in neuropsychiatric disorders. The blood levels of tyrosine, tryptophan, strychnine, nicotine and morphine were studied as also RBC membrane Na(+)-K+ ATPase activity. It was found that serum tyrosine levels were reduced and tryptophan levels elevated in all neuropsychiatric disorders studied with a reduction in RBC Na(+)-K+ ATPase activity. Nicotine was present in significant amounts in serum of patients with schizophrenia, CNS glioma and syndrome X with multiple lacunar state. Morphine was present in significant amounts only in the serum of patients with multiple sclerosis and MDP. Strychnine was present in significant amounts in the serum of patients with epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and MDP. The presence of nicotine and strychnine in significant amounts could be related to elevated tryptophan levels suggesting the synthesis of these alkaloids from tryptophan. Morphine was not detected in most of the disorders owing to low tyrosine levels noted in them. Na(+)-K+ ATPase inhibition noticed in most of the disorders could be related to decreased hyperpolarising morphinergic transmission and increased depolarising nicotinergic and strychinergic transmission. The role of morphine, strychnine and nicotine in the pathogenesis of these disorders in the setting of membrane Na(+)-K+ ATPase inhibition is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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