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Keywords:

  • yew;
  • aglycons;
  • 3,5-dimethoxyphenol;
  • myrtenol;
  • 1-octen-3-ol

The toxicity of yew (Taxus spp) is well known from ancient times and is mainly due to taxins acting as inhibitors of calcium and sodium transport across the cell membrane of cardiac myocytes. The confirmation of yew taxins in body fluids can be carried out by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). However, before selecting this precise but expensive technique, an orientation test should be done to ascertain yew presence as toxic agent in the organism. As the 3,5-dimethoxyphenol (3,5-DMP), myrtenol and 1-octen-3-ol appear as glycosidically bound volatile compounds and are very yew specific, the detection of 3,5-DMP and the measurement of 1-octen-3-ol / myrtenol concentration ratio constitute reliable indicators of yew presence in forensic cases. The detection of these compounds is easily performed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (SIM) after an enzymatic hydrolysis (β-glucosidase) allowing the release of volatile compounds from yew glycosides. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.