Fatal cases of strychnine ingestion referred to Fars Legal Medicine Organization; Autopsy findings and Analytical methods used in strychnine detection

Document Type : Research(Original) Article


Legal Medicine Research Center, Legal Medicine Organization of Iran, Tehran, Iran


Strychnine is a toxic alkaloid which might be the source of poisoning with homicidal and suicidal purposes. Eleven fatal cases of strychnine ingestion were considered in this study. Strychnine was isolated from biological samples using the solid phase extraction (SPE) procedure and detected by analytical methods such as thin layer chromatography (TLC), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) as well as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Eleven cases of strychnine ingestion including 8 men and 3 women with minimum and maximum ages of 17 and 56 years old have been studied. Most of them had an education level of high school and had neither criminal history nor psychological disorders except for 3 cases that were using psychiatric drugs. Facial and ocular congestion, facial cyanosis, lung edema and hemorrhage were found in all of the cases. Hyperemic kidney, brain, liver and meninges and lung collapse were other pathologic findings encountered. Reactive gliosis, subarachnoid focal hemorrhage and 6 cm laceration on the left side of the face were separately found in three cases. Considering highly fatal effects of strychnine and its potential suicidal use, it should be strictly and severely prohibited and watched out for its misuse. On the other hand, the analytical methods used, indicated their reliable, simple, specific and sensible application in forensic and clinical investigations.


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