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January 1971

Ultrastructural Changes in Skeletal Muscle Induced by Colchicine

Author Affiliations

From the departments of neurology (Dr. Markand) and pathology (Dr. D'Agostino), University of Texas (Southwestern) Medical School, Dallas.

Arch Neurol. 1971;24(1):72-82. doi:10.1001/archneur.1971.00480310100010

COLCHICINE arrests mitotic division of many plant and animal cells by interfering with the formation of the mitotic spindle.1-7 Cellular division is arrested at metaphase, bizarre and abnormal nuclear configurations occur, and the cell often dies. Colchicine also has a profound effect on nonmitotic differentiating cells. It induces the formation of cytoplasmic filaments in the interphase HeLa cells in vitro8 and neurofibrillary tangles in tissue cultures of rat neurons.9 Neurofibrillary change has recently been noted in the brainstem and spinal cord of rabbits after intracisternal injection of colchicine.10 The variable effects of colchicine apparently depend on its binding to the subunit protein of microtubules.11

Although colchicine consistently causes severe ascending paralysis in experimental animals, a thorough morphological study of skeletal muscle has not been undertaken. Ferguson12 reported delayed paralysis of the hindlimbs in acute toxicity experiments in rats and prominent muscle atrophy in

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