Acute toxicity of high doses of the glycoalkaloids, alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine, in the Syrian Golden hamster

Søren Langkilde, Malene Schrøder, Derek Stewart, Otto A. Meyer, Sean Conner, Howard Davies, Morten Poulsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Sprouted, stressed, or spoiled potato tubers have reportedly led to human acute intoxication, coma, and death when consumed in high amounts. These effects have been attributed to glycoalkaloids (GAs), primarily alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine, naturally present in all potatoes. The level of GAs in potato tubers has previously been shown to increase substantially as a result of improper handling and postharvest storage. A short-term study was performed to investigate the dose-response profile of alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine alone or in combination, administered daily by oral gavage to Syrian Golden hamsters. Daily doses of 100 mg of alpha-solanine [kg body weight (BW)](-1) induced death in two of four hamsters within 4 days, when administered by gavage to female Syrian hamsters. Doses of 100 mg of alpha-chaconine alone or alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine combined in a ratio of 1:2.5, in doses of 75 or 100 mg (kg BW)(-1), induced death in one of four hamsters within the same period. Animals dosed with alpha-solanine alone or in combination with alpha-chaconine suffered from fluid-filled and dilated small intestines. The GA administration had no effect on acetyl cholinesterase (AChE) or butyryl cholinesterase (BuChE) activity in plasma or brain. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based metabolomics showed that there was a specific accumulation of alpha-chaconine in the liver tissues. In addition, metabolomics gave direct evidence of glycolytic metabolism of the GA with the beta(1), beta(2), and gamma-GAs detected in the urine and, to a lesser extent, the feces. Doses from 75 mg (kg BW)(-1) of alpha-chaconine, alpha-solanine, or the two compounds combined were potentially lethal within 4-5 days in the Syrian Golden hamster. However, the cause of death in these studies could not be established. No synergistic effects of alpha-solanine combined with a-chaconine were evident.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)8753-8760
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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