Carbon tetrachloride - The sweet smell of hepatotoxicity

  • saccharine-smelling (akin to the scent of a dry cleaner's) synthetic halomethane widely used in the early 20th century to extinguish fires, help cool things down (it is a good refrigerant), and dry clean clothing
    • currently used to make other refrigerants
  • used as an insecticide in the good old US of A up until the 1970s, at which point it was finally banned
  • when subjected to high temperatures, it can form the toxic gas phosgene
  • if you get a lot of it in you somehow, it'll wreck havoc on your liver, kidneys, and central nervous system
    • the liver is particularly sensitive, likely reflecting the presence of a tonne of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes such as CYP2E1 that are capable of changing a whole bunch of it into highly reactive free radical intermediates
  • has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals when either swallowed or inhaled
Weber LW, Boll M, Stampfl A. Hepatotoxicity and mechanism of action of haloalkanes: carbon tetrachloride as a toxicological model. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2003;33(2):105-36. Review.

2 chemically inspired comments:

Vicky said...

Not carbon tet related, but
the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology have made a huge text book freely available online that covers the cutting edge of pretty much everything we know about how drugs affect the mind and brain.


CND said...

Hey Vicky, thanks for the heads up! Free text books rock my world. Especially neuropsychopharmacology ones.