A toxin (term derived from the word toxic, first used by organic chemist Ludwig Brieger) is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms (animals, plants or microbial organisms) that is harmful to some species.
A biotoxin is a poison produced by the metabolic activity of certain living beings, such as bacteria. Toxins produced by fungi are called mycotoxins.
Harmful toxins to humans
The presence of toxins in human blood is called toxinaemia or toxemia and defines different prognosis. Let’s remember some of the most dangerous toxins for the body:
- Ophidic toxin
- Bacterial toxin
- Choleric toxin
- Diphtheria toxin
- Whooping cough toxin
- Botulinum toxin
- Tetanus toxin
- Streptococcal toxin
- Staphylococcal toxin
Toxins act through different mechanisms:
- neurotoxic (neurotoxin) when they act directly on the neuron or on the synapses in an inhibiting sense and therefore determining paralysis or stimulant with convulsive effects, as happens for tetanus;
- haemotoxic when they act on the blood causing the destruction of certain elements such as red blood cells or altering the blood clotting systems;
- cytotoxic when the action is directed directly to the cell.