Impact of chronic exposure to low doses of chlorpyrifos on the intestinal microbiota in the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME) and in the rat

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 May;20(5):2726-34. doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1283-4. Epub 2012 Nov 8.


The impact of the insecticide chlorpyrifos (CPF) on the mammalian digestive system has been poorly described. The present study aimed at evaluating the effect of chronic, low-dose exposure to CPF on the composition of the gut microbiota in a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem: the SHIME and in rats. The SHIME comprises six reactor vessels (stomach to colon). The colonic segments were inoculated with feces from healthy humans. Then, the simulator was exposed to a daily dose of 1 mg of CPF for 30 days. The changes over time in the populations of bacteria were examined at different time points: prior to pesticide exposure (as a control) and after exposure. In parallel, pregnant rats were gavaged daily with 1 mg/kg of CPF (or vehicle) until the pups were weaned. Next, the rats were gavaged with same dose of CPF until 60 days of age (adulthood). Then, samples of different parts of the digestive tract were collected under sterile conditions for microbiological assessment. Chronic, low-dose exposure to CPF in the SHIME and in the rat was found to induce dysbiosis in the microbial community with, in particular, proliferation of subpopulations of some strains and a decrease in the numbers of others bacteria. In compliance with European guidelines, the use of the SHIME in vitro tool would help to (1) elucidate the final health effect of toxic agents and (2) minimize (though not fully replace) animal testing. Indeed, certain parameters would still have to be studied further in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorpyrifos / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Models, Biological
  • Rats
  • Time Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Insecticides
  • Chlorpyrifos