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N Engl J Med. 1976 Aug 26;295(9):461-7.

Jamaican vomiting sickness. Biochemical investigation of two cases.


We identified methylenecyclopropylacetic acid, a known metabolite of hypoglycin A, in the urine of two patients with Jamaican vomiting sickness. Excretion of unusual dicarboxylic acids such as 2-ethylmalonic, 2-methylsuccinic, glutaric, adipic and dicarboxylic acids with eight and 10 carbon chains were also detected in both patients. The amounts of these dicarboxylic acids were 70 to 1000 times higher than normal. These metabolites have also been identified in urine of hypoglycin-treated rats. This evidence links hypoglycin A to Jamaican vomiting sickness as its causative agent. Urinary excretion of short-chain fatty acids was also increased up to 300 times higher than normal. These results indicate that, despite their clinical and histologic similarities, the cause and biochemical mechanisms of Jamaican vomiting sickness differ distinctly from those of Reye's syndrome in which these abnormal urinary metabolites are not appreciably increased.

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