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Neurotoxicology. 2002 Oct;23(4-5):537-44.

Selective effects of insecticides on nigrostriatal dopaminergic nerve pathways.

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Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg 24061-0319, USA.


A degeneration of the nigrostriatal pathway is a primary component of Parkinson's disease (PD), and we have investigated the actions of insecticides on this pathway. For in vivo exposures, C57BL/6 mice were treated three times over a 2-week period with heptachlor, the pyrethroids deltamethrin and permethrin, or chlorpyrifos. One day after the last treatment, we observed that heptachlor and the pyrethroids increased maximal [3H]dopamine uptake in striatal synaptosomes from treated mice, with dose-dependent changes in Vmax displaying a bell-shaped curve. Western blot analysis confirmed increased levels of dopamine transporter (DAT) protein in the striatum of mice treated with heptachlor and permethrin. In contrast, we observed a small, but statistically significant decrease in dopamine uptake by 100 mg/kg chlorpyrifos. For heptachlor, doses that upregulated DAT expression had little or no effect on serotonin transport. Permethrin did cause an upregulation of serotonin transport, but required a 30-fold greater dose than that effective on dopamine uptake. Other evidence of specificity was found in transmitter release assays, where heptachlor and deltamethrin released dopamine from striatal terminals with greater potency than other transmitter types. These findings confirm that insecticides possess specificity for effects on striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission.

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