Colchicine intoxication: clinical pharmacology, risk factors, features, and management

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1991 Dec;21(3):143-55. doi: 10.1016/0049-0172(91)90003-i.


The use of colchicine for acute gouty arthritis dates to ancient times. In recent years, colchicine also has been used successfully for various other rheumatic and nonrheumatic conditions. Colchicine is a safe drug when used according to established therapeutic guidelines. However, toxicity can be considerable if ingested intentionally or if the recommended doses are exceeded. Colchicine intoxication is characterized by multi-organ involvement and by the poor prognosis associated with administration of large amounts of the drug. Therapy is basically supportive and symptomatic because of the rapid distribution and binding of colchicine to the affected tissues. Use of anticolchicine antibodies is a novel approach that has shown promise in experimental models. Important research questions pertain to the effect of liver and kidney disease on colchicine metabolism, use of colchicine levels in the diagnosis of intoxication and for prognostication, and application of immunotoxicotherapy for colchicine poisoning in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colchicine / adverse effects*
  • Colchicine / chemistry
  • Colchicine / pharmacokinetics
  • Colchicine / poisoning
  • Humans
  • Poisoning / metabolism
  • Poisoning / therapy*
  • Risk Factors


  • Colchicine