Coprinopsis Atramentaria - Toxicity


Consuming Coprinopsis atramentaria within a few hours of alcohol results in a "disulfiram syndrome". This interaction has only been known since the early part of the twentieth century. Symptoms include facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise, agitation, palpitations and tingling in limbs, and arise five to ten minutes after consumption of alcohol. If no more alcohol is consumed, they will generally subside over two or three hours. Symptom severity is proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed, becoming evident when blood alcohol concentration reaches 5 mg/dL, and prominent at concentrations of 50–100 mg/dL. There has been at least one verified death from the mixture. See "1000 Ways to Die" Disulfiram has, however, been known to cause myocardial infarction (heart attack). The symptoms can occur if even a small amount of alcohol is consumed up to three days after eating the mushrooms, although they are milder as more time passes. Rarely, a cardiac arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation on top of supraventricular tachycardia, may develop.

The fungus contains a cyclopropylglutamine compound called coprine. Its active metabolite, 1-aminocyclopropanol, blocks the action of an enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which breaks down acetaldehyde in the body. Acetaldehyde is an intermediate metabolite of ethanol and is responsible for most symptoms of a hangover; its effect on autonomic β receptors is responsible for the vasomotor symptoms.

Treatment involves reassuring the patient that the often frightening symptoms will pass, rehydration (fluid replacement) for fluid loss from vomiting, and monitoring for cardiac arrhythmias.

Large and prolonged doses of coprine were found to have gonadotoxic effects on rats and dogs in testing.

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