Fipronil-induced disruption of thyroid function in rats is mediated by increased total and free thyroxine clearances concomitantly to increased activity of hepatic enzymes

Toxicology. 2009 Jan 8;255(1-2):38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.09.026. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


Fipronil is a widely used phytosanitary product and insecticide for pets. In the rat, fipronil can disrupt thyroid function by decreasing plasma concentrations of total thyroxine (T4) likely through increased T4 clearance. However, the mechanism of fipronil action on thyroid function remains unclear. The goals of the present study were to evaluate the effects of fipronil on thyroid hormone (TH) concentrations and elimination in the rat under well characterized plasma exposure to fipronil and its main metabolite fipronil sulfone. In thyroid-intact female rats, fipronil treatment (3 mg/(kg day) per os for 14 days) decreased both total and free TH plasma concentrations concomitantly to increased thyroid stimulating hormone plasma concentrations. A T4-free euthyroid-like model consisting of thyroidectomized rats treated with tri-iodothyronine (12 microg/(kg day), sc) was developed to evaluate both total and free T4 clearances. In this model, fipronil treatment induced a twofold increase in total and free T4 clearances. The same fipronil treatment increased antipyrine clearance in thyroid-intact rats suggesting an increase in the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes. Finally, this treatment was also associated with an increase in hepatic microsomal 4-nitrophenol UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity involved in T4 glucuronidation. Thus, fipronil-induced thyroid disruption results from an increased rate of T4 elimination likely mediated by increased hepatic enzyme activity. Plasma concentrations of fipronil sulfone were at least 20-fold higher than those of fipronil. This highlights the need to further investigate the contribution of fipronil sulfone to the fipronil-induced thyroid disruption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / metabolism
  • Antipyrine / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors*
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Half-Life
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Pyrazoles / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism*
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Thyroxine / metabolism*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Insecticides
  • Pyrazoles
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Thyrotropin
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • Thyroxine
  • fipronil
  • Antipyrine