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Toxicol In Vitro. 2005 Dec;19(8):1035-43. Epub 2005 Jul 14.

Study on the toxicity of phenolic and phenoxy herbicides using the submitochondrial particle assay.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Universit√† Ca Foscari di Venezia, Calle Larga S. Marta 2137, 30123 Venezia, Italy. argese@unive.it


A simple and rapid in vitro toxicological assay, utilizing submitochondrial particles (SMP), has been used to evaluate the toxic effects of fifteen herbicides belonging to the phenol and phenoxyalkanoic acid chemical classes. The SMP assay allows the quantitative evaluation of the toxicity of compounds with different mechanisms of action: uncouplers, inhibitors of the enzyme complexes involved in reverse electron transfer and in oxidative phosphorylation and chemicals that alter the membrane structure. The two groups of herbicides showed different levels of toxicity. For phenol derivatives, EC50 values ranged from 0.16 microM (ioxynil) to 6.7 microM (2,4-dinitrophenol), whereas for phenoxy herbicides EC50 values ranged from 21 microM (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, 2,4,5-T) to 110 microM (4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid, MCPA). On the average, the toxicity of phenolic compounds is greater than that of phenoxyalkanoic acids by two orders of magnitude. Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) were developed between EC50 values and various molecular descriptors. The results suggest the existence of different mechanisms of action for the two classes of compounds. The findings obtained for phenolic herbicides are consistent with a protonophoric uncoupling mechanism, whereas for phenoxy herbicides a non-specific mode of action at membrane level can be hypothesized.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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