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Toxicol Lett. 2013 Feb 13;217(1):14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.11.026. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

Chlorpyrifos and its metabolites alter gene expression at non-cytotoxic concentrations in D3 mouse embryonic stem cells under in vitro differentiation: considerations for embryotoxic risk assessment.

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Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, 03202 Elche, Spain.


The effects of organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos (CPF) on development are currently under discussion. CPF and its metabolites, chlorpyrifos-oxon (CPO) and 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TClP), were more cytotoxic for D3 mouse embryonic stem cells than for differentiated fibroblasts 3T3 cells. Exposure to 10 μM CPF and TClP and 100 μM CPO for 12 h significantly altered the in vitro expression of biomarkers of differentiation in D3 cells. Similarly, exposure to 20 μM CPF and 25 μM CPO and TClP for 3 days also altered the expression of the biomarkers in the same model. These exposures caused no significant reduction in D3 viability with mild inhibition of acetylcholinesterase and neuropathy target esterase by CPF and severe inhibition by CPO. We conclude that certain in vivo exposure scenarios are possible, which cause inhibition of acetylcholinesterase but without clinical symptoms that reach high enough systemic CPF concentrations able to alter the expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation with potentially hazard effects on development. Conversely, the risk for embryotoxicity by CPO and TClP was very low because the required exposure would induce severe cholinergic syndrome.

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