Altered muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype binding in neonatal rat brain following exposure to chlorpyrifos or methyl parathion

Toxicol Sci. 2007 Nov;100(1):118-27. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfm195. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


The neurodevelopmental effects of two organophosphorus (OP) insecticides, chlorpyrifos (CPS) and methyl parathion (MPS), on cholinesterase (ChE) activity and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) binding were investigated in neonatal rat brain. Animals were orally gavaged using an incremental dosing regimen from postnatal day 1 (PND1) until PND8 with a low, medium, and high dosage for both CPS and MPS. On PND4 and PND8, ChE activity was measured in whole brain while the total and subtype densities of mAChRs were measured in three brain sections: area anterior to optic chiasma (anterior forebrain), area from the optic chiasma to the medulla/pons (posterior forebrain); and the medulla/pons excluding the cerebellum. The ligands 3H-pirenzepine, 3H-AF-DX 384, 3H-4-DAMP, and 3H-QNB were used to measure the maximal binding of the M1, M2/M4, and M3 subtypes and total mAChR receptors, respectively. In the anterior and the posterior forebrain, the levels of all mAChRs nearly doubled from PND4 to PND8, while in the medulla/pons, M1- and M3-subtype mAChR densities were low and did not increase and M2/M4 subtype and total mAChR slightly increased from PND4 to PND8. Reduction of ChE activity and mAChR binding by CPS or MPS was more evident in rats at PND8 than at PND4. With respect to mAChR binding, the greatest effects were observed in the medulla/pons and the least effects were observed in the posterior region of the forebrain. These results demonstrate that OPs exert adverse effects on rat central nervous system development through the cholinergic system in an age- and region-dependent manner.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Binding Sites
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Chlorpyrifos / toxicity*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / toxicity*
  • Cholinesterases / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Medulla Oblongata / drug effects
  • Medulla Oblongata / metabolism
  • Methyl Parathion / toxicity*
  • Pons / drug effects
  • Pons / metabolism
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Insecticides
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Methyl Parathion
  • Cholinesterases
  • Chlorpyrifos