Bufadienolide-type cardiac glycosides have a worldwide distribution and are mainly synthesized by plants, but there are also animal sources. In South Africa, members of three genera of the Crassulaceae (Cotyledon
) cause a unique chronic form of cardiac glycoside poisoning, predominantly in small stock. This paretic/paralytic condition is referred to as “krimpsiekte”, cotyledonosis or “nenta”. “Krimpsiekte” is a plant poisoning only reported from South Africa and is regarded as the most important plant poisoning of small stock in the semi-arid Little Karoo and southern fringes of the Great Karoo. The toxicosis is caused by cumulative bufadienolides which have neurotoxic properties. Four types of cumulative neurotoxic bufadienolides, namely cotyledoside, and the tyledosides, orbicusides and lanceotoxins, have been isolated. Based on the structure activity relationships and certain toxicokinetic parameters possible reasons for their accumulation are presented. Consumption of edible tissues from animals that have ingested these plants poses a potential risk to humans.
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