Diisopropylfluorophosphate (DFP) is an irreversible inhibitor of acetylcholine esterase and a surrogate of the organophosphorus (OP) nerve agent sarin. The neurotoxicity of DFP was assessed as a reduction of population spike (PS) area elicited by synaptic stimulation in acute hippocampal slices. Two classical antidotes, atropine, and pralidoxime, and two novel antidotes, 4R-cembranotriene-diol (4R) and a caspase nine inhibitor, were tested. Atropine, pralidoxime, and 4R significantly protected when applied 30 min after DFP. The caspase inhibitor was neuroprotective when applied 5-10 min before or after DFP, suggesting that early synaptic apoptosis is responsible for the loss of PSs. It is likely that apoptosis starts at the synapses and, if antidotes are not applied, descends to the cell bodies, causing death. The acute slice is a reliable tool for mechanistic studies, and the assessment of neurotoxicity and neuroprotection with PS areas is, in general, pharmacologically congruent with in vivo results and predicts the effect of drugs in vivo. 4R was first found to be neuroprotective in slices and later we demonstrated that 4R is neuroprotective in vivo. The mechanism of neurotoxicity of OPs is not well understood, and there is a need for novel antidotes that could be discovered using acute slices.
Keywords: 4R-cembranotriene-diol; DFP neurotoxicity; Hippocampal CA1 area; Muscarinic overstimulation; Population spikes; Synaptic apoptosis.