Increased neurotoxicity following concurrent exposure to pyridostigmine bromide, DEET, and chlorpyrifos.


Journal Article

The operating environment of the service personnel during the Persian Gulf War involved psychological, biological, and chemical elements including exposure to pesticides such as the insect repellent DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and the insecticide chlorpyrifos (O,O-diethyl O-3,5,6-trichloropyridinyl phosphorothioate) and to pyridostigmine bromide (PB,3-dimethylaminocarbonyloxy-N-methylpyridinium bromide) that was administered as a prophylactic agent against possible nerve gas attack. The present study was designed to determine the toxicity produced by individual or coexposure of hens 5 days/week for 2 months to 5 mg PB/kg/day in water, by gavage; 500 mg DEET/kg/day, neat, sc; and 10 mg chlorpyrifos kg/day in corn oil, sc. Coexposure to various binary treatments produced greater neurotoxicity than that caused by individual exposures and was characterized by severe neurologic deficit and neuropathological alterations. Also, neurotoxicity was further enhanced following concurrent administration of the three chemicals. Severe inhibition of plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) activity was produced in hens treated with PB (activity 17% of control) compared to those treated with chlorpyrifos (activity 51% of control) or DEET (activity 83% of control). BuChE inhibition was further increased in binary and tertiary treatment groups compared to individual treatment groups. In contrast, a significant inhibition of brain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was produced in hens administered chlorpyrifos alone (activity 67% of control), while those given chlorpyrifos in combination with other compounds exhibited a significant inhibition of brain AChE activity ranging from 43 to 76%. Brain neurotoxicity target esterase (NTE) was not inhibited in any of the individual treatment groups or PB/DEET, but was significantly inhibited and had activity expressed as a percentage of control in groups administered combined chlorpyrifos with PB of 73% or DEET of 74% and in the tertiary treatment group of 71%. We hypothesize that test compounds may compete for xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes in the liver and blood and may also compromise the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, leading to an increase in their "effective concentrations" in the nervous system to levels equivalent to the toxic doses of individual compounds. This is consistent with the present observation of increases in (1) the inhibition of brain AChE and NTE, (2) the extent of neurologic dysfunction, and (3) the severity and frequency of neuropathologic lesions in the combined treatment groups compared to those administered individual compounds.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Abou-Donia, MB; Wilmarth, KR; Abdel-Rahman, AA; Jensen, KF; Oehme, FW; Kurt, TL

Published Date

  • December 1996

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 201 - 222

PubMed ID

  • 8954750

Pubmed Central ID

  • 8954750

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0272-0590

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1006/faat.1996.0190


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States