Poisoning by cyanide can be verified by analysis of the cyanide detoxification product, α-ketoglutarate cyanohydrin (α-KgCN), which is produced from the reaction of cyanide and endogenous α-ketoglutarate. Although α-KgCN can potentially be used to verify cyanide exposure, limited toxicokinetic data in cyanide-poisoned animals are available. We, therefore, studied the toxicokinetics of α-KgCN and compared its behavior to other cyanide metabolites, thiocyanate and 2-amino-2-thiazoline-4-carboxylic acid (ATCA), in the plasma of 31 Yorkshire pigs that received KCN (4 mg/mL) intravenously (IV) (0.17 mg/kg/min). α-KgCN concentrations rose rapidly during KCN administration until the onset of apnea, and then decreased over time in all groups with a half-life of 15 min. The maximum concentrations of α-KgCN and cyanide were 2.35 and 30.18 μM, respectively, suggesting that only a small fraction of the administered cyanide is converted to α-KgCN. Although this is the case, the α-KgCN concentration increased >100-fold over endogenous concentrations compared to only a three-fold increase for cyanide and ATCA. The plasma profile of α-KgCN was similar to that of cyanide, ATCA, and thiocyanate. The results of this study suggest that the use of α-KgCN as a biomarker for cyanide exposure is best suited immediately following exposure for instances of acute, high-dose cyanide poisoning.
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Mitchell, Brendan L.; Bhandari, Raj K.; Bebarta, Vikhyat S.; Rockwood, Gary A.; Boss, Gerry R.; and Logue, Brian A., "Toxicokinetic Profiles of α-ketoglutarate Cyanohydrin, a Cyanide Detoxification Product, Following Exposure to Potassium Cyanide" (2013). Chemistry and Biochemistry Faculty Publications. 51.