Neurodevelopmental consequences of gestational and lactational exposure to pyrethroids in rats

Environ Toxicol. 2016 Dec;31(12):1761-1770. doi: 10.1002/tox.22178. Epub 2015 Oct 13.


Indiscriminate use of pyrethroids has raised serious health related concerns, especially about their effects on children. The present study was designed to assess the developmental neurotoxicity of two pyrethroids; bifenthrin (BIF) and β-cyfluthrin (CYF) administered at 1/15 of LD50 in rats. Pregnant females were exposed to the test compounds orally throughout gestation and lactation periods. Neonates were weighed and sexed at birth and were observed for any gross abnormality. Growth, viability and weaning indices were calculated during the lactation period. Exposure to both the compounds did not alter the physical developmental parameters viz. eye opening, pinna detachment, and fur appearance. CYF significantly impaired growth and survivability of pups. Behavioral endpoints assessed in neonates (surface righting, pivoting, and negative geotaxis reflex) as well as adults (motor activity and motor coordination) exhibited marked effect of CYF treatment. Administration of BIF to pregnant dams impaired pivoting in neonates. Decreased locomotion in the open-field and impaired rota-rod performance were also witnessed in BIF-exposed animals. Enhanced oxidative stress was seen in corpus striatum, cerebellum, and hippocampus regions of the brain; reduced catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase activities were measured in BIF and CYF treated weanlings. Acetylcholinesterase activity was also found to be lowered following administration of both compounds at PND 21. The present results suggest that exposure to pyrethroids during critical periods of growth can induce long term effects on the behavior of animals. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 31: 1761-1770, 2016.

Keywords: developmental neurotoxicity; neonates; neuromotor reflexes; open field; rota-rod; synthetic pyrethroid; weaning.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Lactation*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / psychology
  • Nitriles
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Weaning


  • Nitriles
  • Pyrethrins
  • bifenthrin
  • cyfluthrin