Lack of P-glycoprotein-mediated efflux and the potential involvement of an influx transport process contributing to the intestinal uptake of deltamethrin, cis-permethrin, and trans-permethrin

Toxicol Sci. 2013 Dec;136(2):284-93. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft193. Epub 2013 Sep 7.


The effectiveness and widespread use of pyrethroid insecticides has lead to concerns regarding their safety. Human ingestion of these potentially neurotoxic compounds is typically through hand-to-mouth contact or consumption of contaminated foods. A substantial proportion of ingested pyrethroids are eliminated in feces, suggesting that absorption is limited, possibly by the action of the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp). We utilized caco-2 cells as a model system for intestinal enterocytes and qualitatively and quantitatively assessed the transport of deltamethrin (DLM), cis-permethrin (CPM), and trans-permethrin (TPM). Caco-2 cell uptake of the P-gp substrate R6G was increased by the P-gp inhibitors cyclosporine A (CSA) and ritonavir but not by DLM, CPM, and TPM. Unexpectedly, CSA and ritonavir significantly reduced the uptake of DLM, CPM, and TPM. Permeability coefficients (P app) and directional flux of DLM, CPM, or TPM were greater in the absorptive than the secretory (efflux) direction when measured across caco-2 monolayers grown on Transwell inserts. When CSA was applied to the monolayers' apical (AP) side, the AP to basolateral (BL) P app was significantly reduced, with no change in the BL to AP P app. Kinetic analysis demonstrated saturable transport kinetics for all 3 pyrethroids. These findings indicate that the cellular uptake of DLM, CPM, and TPM is not limited by P-gp efflux but undergo absorptive influx transport as a contributing mechanism for cellular uptake. However, the overall P app values for DLM, CPM, and TPM are consistent with the low permeability/low absorption compound mannitol, suggesting limited gastrointestinal absorption potential.

Keywords: P-glycoprotein; caco-2.; insecticide; pyrethroid; transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Nitriles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Permethrin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Protein Transport
  • Pyrethrins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Stereoisomerism


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Nitriles
  • Pyrethrins
  • decamethrin
  • Permethrin