Neurotoxicity of Intravenously Administered Penicillin G

Marcus E. Raichle, Henn Kutt, Sydney Louis, Fletcher Mcdowell

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Penicillin G, 20 million units daily given intravenously to a nonuremic patient, caused encephalopathy (progressive restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, and multifocal myoclonus) followed by recovery after discontinuation of the drug. In normal awake cats doses up to 1.3 million units/ kg produced encephalopathy with myoclonus; higher doses culminated in status epilepticus and death. Pretreatment with small doses minimized the effects of a subsequent high dose. In awake rats 4.5 to 5 million units/kg produced encephalopathy resulting in death of the majority of animals. In rats anesthetized with ether, same results were obtained with 3 to 3.5 million units/kg. The highest concentrations of labeled penicillin G in brain, located mostly in membranal-nuclear fraction, was reached in five to ten minutes. The penicillin encephalopathy was reversed in animals by intravenously administered penicillinase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-239
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1971


  • PenicillinG
  • encephalopathy
  • multifocal myoclonus
  • nonuremic subjects
  • penicillinase
  • status epilepticus


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