Definition of picrotoxin in English:



mass nounMedicine
  • A bitter compound used to stimulate the respiratory and nervous system, especially in treating barbiturate poisoning.

    This toxin is obtained from the seeds of the shrub Anamirta cocculus (family Menispermaceae)

    • ‘When the synapses of these inhibitory neurons are blocked by drugs (such as of picrotoxin or penicillin), the excitatory network can sustain a chain reaction leading to an epileptiform discharge.’
    • ‘The only synaptic feedback to the pyloric pacemaker group through the EP to PD inhibitory synapse was removed by applying 10-5 M picrotoxin in the bath.’
    • ‘The cellular mechanisms underlying picrotoxin-induced convulsive activity were studied by using mouse spinal neurons growing in tissue culture.’
    • ‘Picrotoxin eliminates frequency selectivity of an auditory interneuron in a bushcricket.’


Mid 19th century: from Greek pikros ‘bitter’ + toxin.