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Br J Cancer. 1976 Oct;34(4):418-25.

Toxicity, distribution and elimination of the cancerostatic lectins abrin and ricin after parenteral injection into mice.


The survival time of mice after i.v. injection of the cancerostatic lectins, abrin and ricin was recorded. The LD50 dose was found to be 10-13 ng and 55-65 ng per mouse for abrin and ricin, respectively. Increasing amounts of toxin reduced the survival time, reaching a minimum of about 10 h. Lactose injected with ricin, provided partial protection against ricin, as measured by the survival time. Abrin and ricin labelled with 125I, and shown to retain their full toxic activity, were injected into mice. Most of the radioactivity found in the organs was present in the form of intact toxins, at least up to 5 h after injection. After i.v. injection the highest concentration/g tissue was found in spleen, followed by kidneys, heart, liver and thymus. The relative concentration in liver was considerably higher for ricin than for abrin. Similar results were found after i.p. injection. When lactose was administered together with ricin, almost 80% of the ricin injected was found in the liver after 30 min, compared to 48% without lactose, and the amount in other organs was concurrently reduced. The elimination of total radioactivity was much faster for ricin than abrin. The radioactivity found in the urine was largely present in non-trichloroacetic acid precipitable form, indicating that the toxins were extensively degraded before excretion.

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