Chronic neuropsychological sequelae of cholinesterase inhibitors in the absence of structural brain damage: two cases of acute poisoning

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Jun;113(6):762-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7545.


Here we describe two cases of carbamate poisoning. Patients AMF and PVM were accidentally poisoned by cholinesterase inhibitors. The medical diagnosis in both cases was overcholinergic syndrome, as demonstrated by exposure to cholinesterase inhibitors. The widespread use of cholinesterase inhibitors, especially as pesticides, produces a great number of human poisoning events annually. The main known neurotoxic effect of these substances is cholinesterase inhibition, which causes cholinergic overstimulation. Once AMF and PVM had recovered from acute intoxication, they were subjected to extensive neuropsychological evaluation 3 and 12 months after the poisoning event. These assessments point to a cognitive deficit in attention, memory, perceptual, and motor domains 3 months after intoxication. One year later these sequelae remained, even though the brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans were interpreted as being within normal limits. We present these cases as examples of neuropsychological profiles of long-term sequelae related to acute poisoning by cholinesterase inhibitor pesticides and show the usefulness of neuropsychological assessment in detecting central nervous system dysfunction in the absence of biochemical or structural markers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / chemically induced
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / poisoning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / poisoning*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Methomyl / poisoning*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Pyrethrins / poisoning*
  • Spain


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins
  • Methomyl
  • cypermethrin