Batrachotoxin: Chemistry and Pharmacology

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Science  04 Jun 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3987, pp. 995-1002
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3987.995


Batrachotoxin has been shown to be a pyrrolecarboxylic ester of a novel steroidal base with unique and selective actions on a variety of electrogenic membranes. The effects of batrachotoxin in neuromuscular preparations both pre- and postsynaptically, in nerve axons, in superior cervical ganglion, in heart Purkinje fibers, and in brain slices appear to be due to the selective and irreversible increase in permeability of membranes to sodium ions. The subsequent effects of this increase in Na+ permeability evoked by batrachotoxin—such as membrane depolarization, enhanced spontaneous transmitter release, muscle contracture, and enhanced formation of cyclic AMP in brain slices—may be blocked reversibly by tetrodotoxin.

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