Mosquito repellent (pyrethroid-based) induced dysfunction of blood-brain barrier permeability in developing brain

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 Feb;22(1):31-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2003.10.005.


Pyrethroid-based mosquito repellents (MR) are commonly used to protect humans against mosquito vector. New born babies and children are often exposed to pyrethroids for long periods by the use of liquid vaporizers. Occupational and experimental studies indicate that pyrethroids can cause clinical, biochemical and neurological changes, and that exposure to pyrethroids during organogenesis and early developmental period is especially harmful. The neurotoxicity caused by MR has aroused concern among public regarding their use. In the present study, the effect of exposure of rat pups during early developmental stages to a pyrethroid-based MR (allethrin, 3.6% w/v, 8h per day through inhalation) on blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability was investigated. Sodium fluororescein (SF) and Evan's blue (EB) were used as micromolecular and macromolecular tracers, respectively. Exposure during prenatal (gestation days 1-20), postnatal (PND1-30) and perinatal (gestation days 1-20 + PND1-30) periods showed significant increase in the brain uptake index (BUI) of SF by 54% (P < 0.01), 70% (P < 0.01), 79% (P < 0.01), respectively. This increase persisted (68%, P < 0.01) even 1 week after withdrawal of exposure (as assessed on PND37). EB did not exhibit significant change in BBB permeability in any of the group. The results suggest that MR inhalation during early prenatal/postnatal/perinatal life may have adverse effects on infants leading to central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities, if a mechanism operates in humans similar to that in rat pups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Allethrins / toxicity*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Indicators and Reagents / pharmacokinetics
  • Insect Repellents / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Allethrins
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Insect Repellents