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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2006 May;25(5):1200-7.

Dose-additive inhibition of chinook salmon acetylcholinesterase activity by mixtures of organophosphate and carbamate insecticides.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA.


Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are widely detected in surface waters of the western United States. These chemicals interfere with acetylcholine-mediated synaptic transmission in the nervous systems of fish and other aquatic animals via the inhibition of AChE (acetylcholinesterase) enzyme activity. Anticholinesterase insecticides commonly co-occur in the environment. This raises the possibility of antagonistic, additive, or synergistic neurotoxicity in exposed fish, including threatened and endangered species of Pacific salmon. We extracted AChE from the olfactory nervous system of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and investigated the inhibitory effects of organophosphates (the oxon derivatives of diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and malathion) and carbamates (carbaryl and carbofuran), alone and in two-way combinations. We found that the joint toxicity of anticholinesterase mixtures can be accurately predicted from the inhibitory potencies of individual chemicals within a mixture. This indicates that organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are noninteractive in terms of AChE inhibition and that it might be possible to estimate the cumulative neurotoxicity of mixtures by simple dose addition. Because organophosphates and carbamates are likely to have additive effects on the neurobehavior of salmon under natural exposure conditions, ecological risk assessments that focus on individual anticholinesterases might underestimate the actual risk to salmon in watersheds in which mixtures of these chemicals occur.

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