Neurotoxic properties of certain aliphatic hexacarbons

Peter Spencer, H. H. Schaumburg

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During the summer of 1973 an outbreak of peripheral neuropathy developed among a large group of employees of a fabric manufacturing plant in Ohio, USA (Billmaier et al. 1974). The disease was characterized by distal weakness and sensory loss symmetrically in both the hands and the feet (Allen et al. 1975). The most severely affected individuals worked in the printing department where colouring inks, dissolved in volatile solvents, were applied to the surfaces of plastic coated fabrics. The purpose of the present paper is to emphasize the importance of chronic testing of potentially neurotoxic compounds in experimental animals, to describe the range of hexacarbon compounds which have been identified as neurotic agents and, finally, to characterize and illustrate the pathological basis for the onset of the nervous system disease. A total of seven hexacarbon compounds have been tested in this study. It seems likely that 2,5-hexanedione is the primary neurotoxin of the neurotoxic hexacarbons. Whether the neurotoxic property of this compound is related to the symmetry of the molecule or to the delta spacing of the carbonyl goups, and the substance acts in the nervous system, are subjects of current investigation in the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-39
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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