|CAS number||2244-11-3 (Monohydrate),|
|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||142.07 g/mol|
|Melting point||256 °C (decomposition)|
|Solubility in water||Freely soluble|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
Alloxan was originally isolated in 1818 by Brugnatelli and was named in 1838 by Wöhler and Liebig. The name "Alloxan" emerged from an amalgamation of the words "allantoin" and "Oxalsäure" (oxalic acid).
Alloxan is a toxic glucose analogue, which selectively destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (that is beta cells) when administered to rodents and many other animal species. This causes an insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (called "alloxan diabetes") in these animals, with characteristics similar to type 1 diabetes in humans. Alloxan is selectively toxic to insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells because it preferentially accumulates in beta cells through uptake via the GLUT2 glucose transporter. Alloxan, in the presence of intracellular thiols, generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) in a cyclic reaction with its reduction product, dialuric acid. The beta cell toxic action of alloxan is initiated by free radicals formed in this redox reaction. One study suggests that alloxan does not cause diabetes in humans. Others found a significant difference in alloxan plasma levels in children with and without diabetes Type 1.
The compound was discovered by Justus von Liebig and Friedrich Wöhler following the discovery of urea in 1828 and is one of the oldest named organic compounds that exist. The alloxan model of diabetes was first described in rabbits by Dunn, Sheehan and McLetchie in 1943.
Alloxane is a raw material for the production of the purple dye murexide. Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered the dye in 1776. Murexide is the product of the complex in-situ multistep reaction of alloxantin and gaseous ammonia. Murexide results from the condensation of the unisolated intermediate uramil with alloxan, liberated during the course of the reaction.
Scheele sourced uric acid from human calculi (such as kidney stones) and called the compound lithic acid. William Prout investigated the compound in 1818 and he used boa constrictor excrement with up to 90% ammonium acid urate.
It is also forms as an unintended byproduct in the whitening of maida flour and other flour, but this is said to be a common misconception.
Impact upon beta cells
Because it selectively kills the insulin-producing beta-cells found in the pancreas, alloxan is used to induce diabetes in laboratory animals. This occurs most likely because of selective uptake of the compound due to its structural similarity to glucose as well as the beta-cell's highly efficient uptake mechanism (GLUT2).
Primo Levi in his novel The Periodic Table in chapter Nitrogen considers pythons as a source for alloxane on behalf of a lipstick producer but he is turned down by the director of the Turin zoo because the zoo already has lucrative contracts with cosmetics companies.
- Merck Index, 11th Edition, 281.
- Lenzen, S. (2008). "The Mechanisms of Alloxan- and Streptozotocin-induced Diabetes". Diabetologia 51 (2): 216–226. doi:10.1007/s00125-007-0886-7. PMID 18087688.
- Mrozikiewicz, A.; Kielstrokczewska-Mrozikiewicz, D.; Lstrokowicki, Z.; Chmara, E.; Korzeniowska, K.; Mrozikiewicz, P. M. (1994). "Blood Levels of Alloxan in Children with Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus". Acta Diabetologica 31 (4): 236–237. PMID 7888696.
- Dunn, J. S.; Sheehan, H. L.; McLetchie, N. G. B. (1943). "Necrosis of Islets of Langerhans Produced Experimentally". Lancet 241 (6242): 484–487. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)42072-6.
- Holmgren, A. V.; Wenner, W. (1952), "Alloxan monohydrate", Org. Synth. 32: 6; Coll. Vol. 4: 23
- Tipson, R. S. (1953), "Alloxantin dihydrate", Org. Synth. 33: 3; Coll. Vol. 4: 25
- Tyrberg, B.; Andersson, A.; Borg, L. A. (2001). "Species Differences in Susceptibility of Transplanted and Cultured Pancreatic Islets to the β-Cell Toxin Alloxan". General and Comparative Endocrinology 122 (3): 238–251. doi:10.1006/gcen.2001.7638. PMID 11356036.
- Eizirik, D. L.; Pipeleers, D. G.; Ling, Z.; Welsh, N.; Hellerström, C.; Andersson, A. (1994). "Major Species Differences between Humans and Rodents in the Susceptibility to Pancreatic β-Cell Injury". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 91 (20): 9253–9256. doi:10.1073/pnas.91.20.9253. PMID 7937750.
- McLetchie, N. G. (2002). "Alloxan Diabetes, a Discovery, albeit a Minor one" (PDF). Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 32 (2): 134–142. PMID 12434795.
- The history and chemistry of the Murexide dye