Brucine, an alkaloid closely related to strychnine, is most commonly found in the Strychnos nux-vomica tree. Brucine poisoning is rare, since it is usually ingested with strychnine, and strychnine is more toxic than brucine. In synthetic chemistry, it can be used as a tool for stereospecific chemical syntheses.
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||394.47 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||178 °C (352 °F; 451 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
Brucine was first discovered in 1819 by Pelletier and Caventou in the bark of the Strychnos nux-vomica tree. While its structure was not deduced until much later, it was determined that it was closely related to strychnine in 1884, when the chemist Hanssen converted both strychnine and brucine into the same molecule.
|Animal||Route of Entry||LD50|
Mechanism of actionEdit
Glycine binds to receptors on inhibitory neurons to terminate action potentials. Its binding terminates an action potential by causing an influx of chloride ions into the neuron, repolarizing the neuron to its resting potential. Brucine also binds to these receptors, but its binding does not trigger an influx of chloride ions. Brucine's toxicity arises because glycine is blocked from binding to its receptors, making inhibition of an action potential more difficult.
Identification and treatmentEdit
Historically, brucine was distinguished from strychnine by the addition of chromic acid in H2SO4, since it does not give off the series of colors that is characteristic of strychnine.
Today, pure brucine intoxication occurs very rarely, since it is usually ingested with strychnine. Symptoms of brucine intoxication include muscle spasms, convulsions, rhabdomyolysis, and acute renal failure. Brucine can be detected and quantified using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Since brucine is a large chiral molecule, it has been used as an enantioselective recognition agent using in chiral resolution. Fisher first reported its use as a resolving agent in 1899, and it was the first natural product used as an organocatalyst in a reaction resulting in a successful enantiomeric enrichment by Marckwald, in 1904. Its bromide salt has been used as the stationary phase in HPLC in order to selectively bind one of two anionic enantiomers. Brucine has also been used in fractional distillation in acetone in order to resolve dihydroxy fatty acids, as well as diarylcarbinols.
“Well, suppose, then, that this poison was brucine, and you were to take a milligramme the first day, two milligrams the second day, and so on…at the end of a month, when drinking water from the same carafe, you would kill the person who drank with you, without your perceiving…that there was any poisonous substance mingled with this water.”
Brucine in also mentioned in the 1972 version of The Mechanic, in which the hitman Steve McKenna betrays his mentor, aging hitman Arthur Bishop, using a celebratory glass of wine spiked with brucine, leaving Bishop to die of an apparent heart attack.
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- Qin, J (2012). "Anti-Tumor Effects of Brucine Immune-Nanoparticles on Hepatocellular Carcinoma". International Journal of Nanomedicine. 7: 369–379.
- Serasanambati, M; Chilakapati, S; Vanagavaragu, J; Cilakapati, D (2014). "Inhibitory effect of gemcitabine and brucine on MDA MB-231 human breast cancer cells". International Journal of Drug Delivery. 6.
- Zhang, J; Wang, S; Chen, X; Zhide, H; Xiao, M (2003). "Capillary Electrophorese with Field-Enhanced Stacking for Rapid and Sensitive Determination of Strychnine and Brucine". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 376: 210–213.
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- "Synopsis for The Mechanic". IMDb. Retrieved 30 April 2015.