The influence of sensitization on mechanisms of organophosphorus pesticide-induced airway hyperreactivity

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2015 Nov;53(5):738-47. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2014-0444OC.


We previously demonstrated that antigen sensitization increases vulnerability to airway hyperreactivity induced by the organophosphorus pesticide (OP) parathion. Sensitization also changes the mechanism of parathion-induced airway hyperreactivity to one that is dependent on IL-5. To determine whether this effect can be generalized to other OPs, and to other classes of pesticides, we measured airway responsiveness to vagal stimulation or intravenous acetylcholine in nonsensitized and ovalbumin-sensitized guinea pigs 24 hours after a single subcutaneous injection of the OPs diazinon or chlorpyrifos, or the pyrethroid permethrin. Sensitization exacerbated the effects of chlorpyrifos on bronchoconstriction in response to vagal stimulation or intravenous acetylcholine. Pretreatment with function-blocking IL-5 antibody prevented chlorpyrifos-induced airway hyperreactivity in sensitized, but not in nonsensitized, guinea pigs. In sensitized guinea pigs, blocking IL-5 decreased eosinophil activation, as measured by decreased eosinophil major basic protein in the trachea. In contrast, sensitization did not alter diazinon-induced airway hyperreactivity, and permethrin did not cause airway hyperreactivity in either nonsensitized or sensitized guinea pigs. None of the pesticides affected inflammatory cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid or blood. We have previously shown that three different OPs cause airway hyperreactivity via loss of neuronal M2 muscarinic receptor function. Similar to parathion, but unlike diazinon, the mechanism of chlorpyrifos-induced airway hyperreactivity is changed by sensitization. Thus, OP-induced airway hyperreactivity is dependent on sensitization status and on the OP used, which may influence therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: airway hyperreactivity; eosinophils; organophosphorus pesticides; permethrin; sensitization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / pharmacology
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / chemically induced
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / genetics
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / pathology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoconstriction / drug effects*
  • Bronchoconstriction / immunology
  • Chlorpyrifos / pharmacology
  • Diazinon / pharmacology
  • Eosinophils / drug effects
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Immunization*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-5 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Ovalbumin / pharmacology*
  • Permethrin / pharmacology
  • Trachea / drug effects
  • Trachea / immunology
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Vagus Nerve / drug effects
  • Vagus Nerve / immunology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Insecticides
  • Interleukin-5
  • Permethrin
  • Ovalbumin
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Acetylcholine
  • Diazinon