Sulfur mustard toxicity: History, chemistry, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics

Kamyar Ghabili, Paul S. Agutter, Mostafa Ghanei, Khalil Ansarin, Yunes Panahi, Mohammadali Mohajel Shoja

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Sulfur mustard (SM) and similar bifunctional agents have been used as chemical weapons for almost 100 years. Victims of high-dose exposure, both combatants and civilians, may die within hours or weeks, but low-dose exposure causes both acute injury to the eyes, skin, respiratory tract and other parts of the body, and chronic sequelae in these organs are often debilitating and have a serious impact on quality of life. Ever since they were first used in warfare in 1917, SM and other mustard agents have been the subjects of intensive research, and their chemistry, pharmacokinetics and mechanisms of toxic action are now fairly well understood. In the present article we review this knowledge and relate the molecular-biological basis of SM toxicity, as far as it has been elucidated, to the pathological effects on exposure victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-403
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical weapon
  • mechanism; molecular
  • sulfur mustard
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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