Lathyrogens, found in legumes such as chick peas and vetch, are derivatives of amino acids that act as metabolic antagonists of glutamic acid, a neurotransmitter in the brain. When lathyrogens are ingested in large amounts by humans or animals, they cause a crippling paralysis of the lower limbs and may result in death. Lathyrism only occurs on a impoverished diet of vetch, sweet pea, or grass pea and is characterized by bone thinning and leg paralysis.
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Prepared Summer 1997 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.