Suicidal death after injection of a castor bean extract (**Ricinus communis** L.)
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Forensic science international. - Lausanne
, p. e13-e20
University of Antwerp
The castor bean plant (Ricinus communis L.) or wonder tree is cultivated in many countries as an ornamental annual plant in gardens. The highest concentration of the lectin ricin is present in the seeds and pods. Ricin is considered as one of the most toxic natural poisons. Ricinine is a piperidine alkaloidal toxin present in castor bean and is described as a biomarker for the exposure to ricin. A case report is presented of a 49-year-old man who committed suicide by intravenous and subcutaneous injection of a castor bean extract. He was brought to the emergency department 24 h after injecting himself. On admission, the patient was conscious and he presented with a history of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dyspnoea, vertigo and muscular pain. Despite symptomatic and supportive intensive care, the man died 9 h after admission due to multiorgan failure. A body external examination was performed. Blood, urine, vitreous humour and the castor bean extract were submitted to the laboratory for toxicological analysis. The identification of ricinine in the extract was performed by solid phase extraction in combination with full-scan gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography with photodiode array detection and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry operated in the full-scan mode, respectively. An extraction procedure with Oasis HLB solid phase extraction cartridges was applied. Chromatography was achieved using a Symmetry® C18 column using a gradient mode with 0.15% formic acid and 0.15% formic acid in acetonitrile as mobile phase. Exposure to the castor bean extract was confirmed by identification of the biomarker ricinine in blood, urine and vitreous humour using solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry with electro spray source in positive ionization mode. Multiple reaction monitoring was used for specific detection. To the authors knowledge, it is the first time that ricinine has been identified in vitreous humour in a case of castor bean poisoning. Based on the clinical symptoms and the results of the toxicological analysis, we concluded that death was caused by intoxication with plant toxins originated from R. communis L.