Definitive evidence for the acute sarin poisoning diagnosis in the Tokyo subway

M Nagao, T Takatori, Y Matsuda, M Nakajima, H Iwase, K Iwadate
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 1997, 144 (1): 198-203
A new method was developed to detect sarin hydrolysis products from erythrocytes of four victims of sarin (isopropylmethylphosphonofluoridate) poisoning resulting from the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. Sarin-bound acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was solubilized from erythrocyte membranes of sarin victims, digested with trypsin, the sarin hydrolysis products bound to AChE were released by alkaline phosphatase digestion, and the digested sarin hydrolysis products were subjected to trimethylsilyl derivatization and detected by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Isopropylmethylphosphonic acid, which is a sarin hydrolysis product, was detected in all sarin poisoning, victims we examined and methylphosphonic acid, which is a sarin and soman hydrolysis product, was determined in all victims. Postmortem examinations revealed no macroscopic and microscopic findings specific to sarin poisoning and sarin and its hydrolysis products were almost undetectable in their blood. We think that the procedure described below will be useful for the forensic diagnosis of acute sarin poisoning.

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