Effect of Developmental Exposure to Chlorpyrifos on the Expression of Neurotrophin Growth Factors and Cell-Specific Markers in Neonatal Rat Brain

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Chlorpyrifos (CPS), a known neurotoxicant, is a widely used agricultural organophosphorus insecticide. The effects of postnatal exposure to CPS on the expression of mRNA for two factors critical to brain development, nerve growth factor (NGF) and reelin, were investigated in the forebrain of rats. In addition, the expression of mRNA for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) M1 subtype and cell-specific markers for developing neurons (β-III tubulin), astrocytes (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP), and oligodendrocytes (myelin-associated glycoprotein, MAG) was also investigated. Oral administration of CPS (1.5 or 3.0 mg/kg) or the corn oil vehicle was performed daily from postnatal days (PNDs) 1 through 6. No signs of overt toxicity or of cholinergic hyperstimulation were observed after CPS administration. Body weight was significantly different from controls on PND7 in both males and females exposed to 3.0 mg/kg CPS. Quantitative PCR was performed on the forebrain. The expression of NGF, reelin, and M1 mAChR mRNA was significantly reduced with both dosages of CPS in both sexes. β-III Tubulin mRNA expression remained unchanged after exposure, whereas MAG mRNA expression was significantly decreased with both dosages of CPS in both sexes, suggesting effects on the developing oligodendrocytes. In contrast, GFAP mRNA levels were significantly increased with both dosages of CPS in both sexes, suggesting increased astrocyte reactivity. Our findings indicate that dosages of CPS which cause significant cholinesterase inhibition but do not exert overt toxicity can adversely affect the expression levels of critical genes involved in brain development during the early postnatal period in the rat.

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