Developmental exposure of rats to chlorpyrifos elicits sex-selective hyperlipidemia and hyperinsulinemia in adulthood

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Oct;113(10):1291-4. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8133.


Developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos alters cell signaling both in the brain and in peripheral tissues, affecting the responses to a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones. We administered 1 mg/kg/day chlorpyrifos to rats on postnatal days 1-4, a regimen below the threshold for systemic toxicity. When tested in adulthood, chlorpyrifos-exposed animals displayed elevations in plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, without underlying alterations in nonesterified free fatty acids and glycerol. This effect was restricted to males. Similarly, in the postprandial state, male rats showed hyperinsulinemia in the face of normal circulating glucose levels but demonstrated appropriate reduction of circulating insulin concentrations after fasting. These outcomes and sex selectivity resemble earlier findings at the cellular level, which identified hepatic hyperresponsiveness to gluconeogenic inputs from beta-adrenoceptors or glucagon receptors. Our results thus indicate that apparently subtoxic neonatal chlorpyrifos exposure, devoid of effects on viability or growth but within the parameters of human fetal or neonatal exposures, produce a metabolic pattern for plasma lipids and insulin that resembles the major adult risk factors for atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Weight
  • Chlorpyrifos / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Growth
  • Hyperinsulinism / chemically induced*
  • Hyperlipidemias / chemically induced*
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sex Factors*


  • Insecticides
  • Chlorpyrifos