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  • Updated 06.22.2021
  • Released 12.03.1999
  • Expires For CME 06.22.2024

Acrylamide neuropathy



The authors discuss the clinical manifestations of acrylamide neuropathy. This toxic neuropathy has served as a model for studying the effects of toxins on the nervous system. New information has emerged regarding the potential mechanism of the neuropathy. This may completely change the approach to research of toxic neuropathies.

Key points

• Acrylamide causes a central-peripheral distal axonopathy.

• The neuropathy in animals is predictable and has been used as a model for other forms of central peripheral distal axonopathy.

• As with many toxic neuropathies, the manifestations are dose dependent, and the prognosis is dependent on the degree of central axonal degeneration.

Historical note and terminology

The neurotoxic effects of acrylamide have been known for over 50 years (15; 10). Acrylamide is used in grouting agents for soil and sealing applications (13), and polyacrylamide is used in flocculating wastewater treatment plants (09). The monomer is the toxic form, whereas the polymer is innocuous. However, the polymer may be contaminated by up to 2% monomer and can, thus, be a source of toxicity. Acrylamide is readily absorbed by inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact. Acrylamide neuropathy has been a popular experimental animal model for studying the processes of axonal transport (19; 12), dying-back neuropathy (22), and axonal swelling. Studies have raised doubts about the basic underlying mechanism of acrylamide neuropathy (18).

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