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Toxicol Lett. 2012 Nov 23;215(1):62-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.09.020. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

Effect of acute aluminum phosphide exposure on rats: a biochemical and histological correlation.

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Department of Biochemistry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.


Aluminum phosphide (AlP), a widely used fumigant and rodenticide leads to high mortality if ingested. Its toxicity is due to phosphine liberated when it comes in contact with moisture. The exact mechanism of action of phosphine is not known. In this study male Wistar rats were used. The animals received a single dose (20mg AlP/kg body weight i.g.) orally. Basic serum biochemical parameters, activity of mitochondrial complexes, antioxidant enzymes and parameters of oxidative stress, individual mitochondrial cytochrome levels were measured along with tissue histopathology and immunostaining for cytochrome c and compared with controls. The serum levels of creatinine kinase-MB, lactate dehydrogenase, magnesium and cortisol were higher (p<0.01); the activities of mitochondrial complexes I, II, IV were observed to be significantly decreased in liver tissue in treated rats (p<0.01). The activity of catalase was lower (p<0.05) with a significant increase in lipid peroxidation (p<0.05) whereas superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase were unaffected in them. There was a significant decrease in all the cytochromes in brain and liver tissues (p<0.05) with the exception of cytochrome b in brain, the levels of which remained same. Histopathology revealed congestion in most organs with centrizonal hemorrhagic necrosis in liver. Ultra structural changes indicating mitochondrial injury was observed in heart, liver and kidney tissues. There was also a marked reduction in the cytochrome-c immunostaining compared to the controls. Toxicity due to AlP appears to result as a consequence of both-energy insufficiency and oxidative stress, with a possible and preferential interaction with the tissue cytochromes.

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