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tubocurarine chloride


[too-boh-kyoo-rahr-een, -in, tyoo-]

Tubocurarine chloride is an antagonist of nicotinic neuromuscular acetylcholine receptors that is used to paralyse patients undergoing anaesthesia.


It is one of the chemicals that can be obtained from curare, itself an extract of Chondrodendron tomentosum, a plant found in South American jungles which is used as a source of arrow poison. Native indians hunting animals with this poison were able to eat the animal's contaminated flesh without being affected by the toxin because tubocurarine cannot easily cross mucous membranes and is thus inactive orally.

Medically, first used in 1912. Introduced in anaesthesia in 1942. The correct chemical structure was only elucidated circa 1970, even though the plant had been known since the Spanish Conquest.

The word curare comes from the South American Indian name for the arrow poison: "ourare". Presumably the initial syllable was pronounced with a heavy glottal stroke. Tubocurarine is so called because the plant samples containing it were first shipped to Europe in tubes.

Today, tubocurarine has fallen into disuse in western medicine, as safer synthetic alternatives such as atracurium are available. However, tubocurarine is still used in the United States and elsewhere as part of the lethal injection procedure.

Other names

d-Tubocurarine. Tubocurarin. Tubocurarinum. Delacurarine. Tubarine. Metubine. Jex

HSDB 2152. Isoquinoline Alkaloid. Tubadil. Mecostrin. Intracostin. Intocostrin.


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