The organophosphorus pesticide chlorpyrifos induces sex-specific airway hyperreactivity in adult rats

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6 Scopus citations


Occupational and environmental exposures to organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are associated with increased incidence of asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Although the canonical mechanism of OP neurotoxicity is inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), it was previously reported that the OP chlorpyrifos (CPF) causes airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in Guinea pigs at levels that do not inhibit lung or brain AChE. The Guinea pig is considered to have inherently hyperresponsive airways, thus, cross-species validation is needed to confirm relevance to humans. Additionally, sex differences in asthma incidence have been demonstrated in the human population, but whether OP-induced AHR is sexdependent has not been systematically studied in a preclinical model. In this study, 8-week old male and female Sprague Dawley rats were administered CPF at doses causing comparable AChE inhibition in whole lung homogenate (30 mg/kg in males, 7 mg/kg in females, sc) prior to assessing pulmonary mechanics in response to electrical stimulation of the vagus nerves at 24 h, 48 h, 72 h, 7 d or 14 d post-exposure in males, and 24h or 7 d post-exposure in females. CPF significantly potentiated vagally induced airway resistance and tissue elastance at 7 d post-exposure in males, and at 24h and 7 d postexposure in females. These effects occurred independent of significant AChE inhibition in cerebellum, blood, trachealis, or isolated airway, suggesting that AChE independent OP-induced airway hyperreactivity is a cross-species phenomenon. These findings have significant implications for assessing the risk posed by CPF, and potentially other OPs, to human health and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-253
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Airway hyperreactivity
  • Asthma
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Organophosphorus pesticides
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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