Sarin: health effects, metabolism, and methods of analysis.
Sarin (O-isopropylmethylphosphonofluoridate) is a highly toxic nerve agent produced for chemical warfare. Sarin is an extremely potent acetylcholinesterase (AchE) inhibitor with high specificity and affinity for the enzyme. Death by sarin is due to anoxia resulting from airway obstruction, weakness of the muscles of respiration, convulsions and respiratory failure. The main clinical symptoms of acute toxicity of sarin are seizures, tremors and hypothermia. Exposure to sarin during incidents in Japan in 1994, 1995 and 1998, and possible exposure to low levels of sarin during the Gulf War, resulted in the deaths and injury of many people in Japan and caused possible long-term health effects on Gulf War veterans. Symptoms related to sarin poisoning in Japan still exist 1-3 years after the incident and include fatigue, asthenia, shoulder stiffness and blurred vision. Sarin produced seizures in rats and pigs. Recent studies showed that long-term exposure to low levels of sarin caused neurophysiological and behavioral alterations. Toxicity from sarin significantly increased following concurrent exposure to other chemicals such as pyridostigmine bromide. Further research to examine effects of sarin on the cellular and the molecular levels, gene transcription, endocrine system as well as its long-term impact is needed.
Abu-Qare, AW; Abou-Donia, MB
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