Dietary exposure to a low dose of pesticides alone or as a mixture: the biological metabolic fingerprint and impact on hematopoiesis

Toxicology. 2013 Jun 7:308:74-87. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2013.03.004. Epub 2013 Mar 22.


Consumers are exposed to a mixture of pesticides through their food intake. These compounds are considered risk factors for human health, and the impact of dietary exposure to low doses of pesticide mixtures remains poorly understood. For this study we developed a mouse model to mimic consumer exposure in order to compare the effect of pesticides both alone or combined at doses corresponding to their Acceptable Daily Intake value. Female mice were exposed to pesticides throughout gestation and lactation. After weaning pups were fed the same pesticide-enriched diet their mothers had received for an additional 11 weeks. A metabonomic approach using (1)H NMR-based analysis of plasma showed that exposure to each pesticide produced a specific metabolic fingerprint in adult offspring. Discriminant metabolites between groups were glucose or lactate, choline, glycerophosphocholine and phosphocholine. Interestingly, metabolite differences were observed as early as weaned animals that had not yet been directly exposed themselves. Studies of the hematopoietic system revealed that dietary exposure to one particular pesticide, endosulfan, produced a significant decrease in red blood cell and hemoglobin levels, consistent with hemolytic anemia. Moreover, cell signaling profiles of bone marrow progenitors were also clearly affected. Expression of cell signaling proteins such as P35, CDC27, FAK, P38 MAP kinase, calcineurin and caspase as well as proteins involved in the stability or structure of the cytoskeleton (vinculin, MAP2) was changed upon dietary exposure to pesticides. Finally, we found that dietary exposure to a mixture of pesticides had effects that differed and were often lesser or equal to that of the most efficient pesticide (endosulfan), suggesting that the effect of pesticide mixtures cannot always be predicted from the combined effects of their constituent compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pesticides / chemistry
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*


  • Pesticides