A national toxicology program systematic review of the evidence for long-term effects after acute exposure to sarin nerve agent

David A. Jett, Christopher A. Sibrizzi, Robyn B. Blain, Pamela A. Hartman, Pamela J. Lein, Kyla W. Taylor, Andrew A. Rooney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Sarin is a highly toxic nerve agent that was developed for chemical warfare during World War II and is used in present conflicts. Immediate effects of acute sarin exposure are established; however, whether effects persist after initial signs have subsided is debated. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted a systematic review to evaluate the evidence for long-term neurological effects following acute (<24 hour) exposure to sarin. The literature search and screening process identified 32 data sets within the 34 human studies and 47 data sets within the 51 animal studies (from 6837 potentially relevant references) that met the objective and the inclusion criteria. Four main health effect categories of neurological response were identified as having sufficient data to reach hazard conclusions: (1) cholinesterase levels; (2) visual and ocular effects; (3) effects on learning, memory, and intelligence; and (4) morphology and histopathology in nervous system tissues. NTP concluded that acute sarin exposure is known to be a neurological hazard to humans in the period following exposure up to 7 days and suspected to be a hazard week to years after exposure, given a lower level of evidence in later time periods. Effects included reduced cholinesterase, visual and ocular effects, impaired learning and memory, and altered nervous system morphology. Further mechanistic, targeted animal studies, translational research, and rapid research responses after human exposures may reduce uncertainties on long-term consequences of sarin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-490
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

Keywords

  • chemical weapon
  • long-term effects
  • National Toxicology Program
  • nerve agent
  • Sarin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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