Acrylamide neurotoxicity

Jamie Boyd boyd at
Mon Mar 6 18:03:34 EST 1995

Subject: Acrylamide neurotoxicity
From: Mandy Johnstone, udbl119 at
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 1995 17:52:52 LOCAL
In article <udbl119.34.015D1A0E at> Mandy Johnstone,
udbl119 at writes:
>Hi folks,
>I am intersted to find out how neurotoxic acrylamide actually
is...(stuff deleted)

	Here are a couple of references to studies of the visual systems of
acrylamide-dosed monkeys from Bill Merigan's lab in Rochester, New York. 
These papers, although focused on the visual system, will have references
to previous studies on acrylamide toxicity in general.  As I recall,
rather high oral doses of acrylamide were delivered over periods of
weeks-months in these studies.  The most noticable effect was peripheral
neuropathy, degeneration of myelinated fibers in motor and sensory

Lynch, J.L., T.A. Eskin, and W.H. Merigan. Selective degeneration of the
parvovellular-projecting retinal 	ganglion cells in a new world monkey,
Saimiri sciureus, Brain Research, 499 (1989) 325-332.

Merigan, W.H., and T.A. Eskin. Spatio-temporal vision of macaques with
severe loss of P-Beta retinal 	ganglion cells, Vision Research, 26 (1986)

>There was an intersting story in the Times newspaper recently about a
Biochemistry lecturer who had been  >slowly adding it to his wifes coffee
until she dropped into a coma from which she fortunately 
>recovered but I never discovered what the long term effects were.

	From the point of veiw of the visual system, the interesting thing about
acrylamide toxicity is that it preferentially damaged the axons of a
particular class of retinal ganglion cells, those projecting to the
parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus, while mostly
sparing those retinal ganglion cells which project to the magnocellular
layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus. These two classes of retinal
ganglion cells have different properties, the parvocellular-projecting
ones possesing wavelength-selectivity, and, due to their small receptive
field size, high acuity, while the magnocellular-projecting ganglion
cells are broadband (i.e., colour blind) and respond well to larger,
faster moving stimulii.
	The wife of the biochemistry lecturer (If this story was in some other
paper than the times, I should think it was an urban legend) should be,
therefore, colour blind and no longer able to see fine print!

I beleive there actually was a case where visual testing was performed on
workers subjected to chronic acrylamide poisoning in a chemical factory,
but I do not recall the details or the reference (if any).  Can any one
else remember it? 

Jamie Boyd
Dept. of Ophthalmology
University of British Columbia
Boyd at

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