Differentiation of Medullary and Neuromuscular Effects of Nerve Agents

  • Daniel L. Rickett
  • Everette T. Beers


Respiratory insufficiency has long been recognized as the primary cause of death following acute exposure to lethal doses of organophosphorus compounds (OP’s) (deCandole et al., 1953; Holmes, 1952; 1953a; 1953b; Stewart and Anderson, 1968; Wright, 1954; for review, see Brimblecombe, 1977). The highly toxic organophosphorus chemical warfare (CW) nerve agents soman (GD), sarin (GB), tabun (GA), and VX are potent inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and produce complex and widespread toxic effects throughout the body. Within the identifiable confines of the respiratory system alone, the pervasiveness of CW agents’ toxic effects has been noted in a variety of respiratory-related organs and tissues. Early research established that AChE inhibitors are capable of either respiratory facilitation or inhibition in a dose-dependent fashion, that these effects might be attributable to the accumulation of acetylcholine (ACh), and that their sites of action could be in the central nervous system (CNS), the periphery, or both.


Phrenic Nerve Respiratory Arrest Nerve Agent Organophosphorus Compound Diaphragm Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel L. Rickett
    • 1
  • Everette T. Beers
    • 2
  1. 1.Medical Defense Against Chemical Agents, HeadquartersU.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command Fort DetrickFrederickUSA
  2. 2.Neurotoxicoloty Branch, Physiology Div. U.S. ArmyMedical Research Institute of Chemical DefenseAberdeen Proving GroundUSA

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