Lathyrism is related to a neurotoxin acting through the glutaminergic system. Spastic paraplegia has been observed in Europe and India following consumption of different varieties of chickpea.^ Development of human lathyrism is associated with two potent neurotoxins found in the peas: alpha-amino beta oxalylaminopropionic acid and alpha-amino gamma oxalylaminobutyric acid.y
Toxic neurological signs are seen when 30 percent or more of the diet consists of chickpeas. Men tend to be affected more than women. The onset is subtle, with pain in the lumbar region and stiffness and weakness of the lower extremities on awakening in the morning. A slight fever may be present. Paresthesias and weakness may develop during the next several days. The legs become spastic and exhibit clonic tremor. The upper extremities may also be involved in patients with severe disease. Within 1 to 2 weeks the pain and paresthesias usually disappear, although relapses sometimes occur. In addition to the more common spastic paraplegia, polyneuropathy and peripheral mononeuropathy may be present.
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