PMID: 64597Jan 13, 1977Paper

Toxic polyneuropathies after sniffing a glue thinner

Journal of Neurology
H AltenkirchJ Helmbrecht


In West Berlin in the autumn of 1975 through the following 5 months we observed 18 juvenile patients who had a toxic polyneuropathy and had sniffed a glue thinner. The neurological picture consisted of a symmetrical, progressive, ascending, mainly motor, polyneuropathy with pronounced muscle atrophy and characteristic vegetative alterations. The height of the disease was reached after 1 1/2-2 1/2 months and was characterized by tetraplegia in 7 patients. After 8 months all patients still had a motor deficit. Nerve biopsy showed paranodal axon swelling, dense masses of neurofilaments and secondary myelin retraction. The neurological and morphological data correspond to the "glue sniffer's neuropathy" and the n-hexane and MBK polyneuropathy after industrial exposure, as described in 10 cases to date. However, there was no MBK in the glue thinner. The polyneuropathies occurred in close time relation with the denaturation of the thinner with MEK (2-butanone). It is concluded from the data n-hexane and MBK have a common toxic mechanism with primary axonal changes and that there is an additional synergistic effect of MEK.


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