Journal Article

Two Deaths Attributed to the Use of 2,4-Dinitrophenol

Estuardo J. Miranda, Iain M. McIntyre, Dawn R. Parker, Ray D. Gary and Barry K. Logan

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 30, issue 3, pages 219-222
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Two Deaths Attributed to the Use of 2,4-Dinitrophenol

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We report the cases of two individuals, one in Tacoma, WA, and the second in San Diego, CA, whose deaths were attributed to ingestion of 2,4-dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP). 2,4-DNP has historically been used as a herbicide and fungicide. By uncoupling mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, the drug causes a marked increase in fat metabolism that has led to its use to aid weight loss. Both cases reported here involved its use for this purpose. Features common to both cases included markedly elevated body temperature, rapid pulse and respiration, yellow coloring of the viscera at autopsy, history of use of weight loss or body building supplements, and presence of a yellow powder at the decedent's residence. Because of its acidic nature, the drug is not detected in the basic drug fraction of most analytical protocols, but it is recovered in the acid/neutral fraction of biological extracts and can be measured by high-performance liquid chromatography or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The concentration of 2,4-DNP in the admission blood samples of the two deaths reported here were 36.1 and 28 mg/L, respectively. Death in both cases was attributed to 2,4-DNP toxicity. Review of information available on the internet suggests that, although banned, 2,4-DNP is still illicitly promoted for weight loss.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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