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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 23;7:40925. doi: 10.1038/srep40925.

Chlorpyrifos inhibits neural induction via Mfn1-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction in human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Yamada S1,2,1, Kubo Y1,1, Yamazaki D1,1, Sekino Y1,1, Kanda Y1,1.

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Division of Pharmacology, National Institute of Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.
Pharmacological Evaluation Institute of Japan (PEIJ), Kanagawa, Japan.


Organophosphates, such as chlorpyrifos (CPF), are widely used as insecticides in agriculture. CPF is known to induce cytotoxicity, including neurodevelopmental toxicity. However, the molecular mechanisms of CPF toxicity at early fetal stage have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we examined the mechanisms of CPF-induced cytotoxicity using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We found that exposure to CPF at micromolar levels decreased intracellular ATP levels. As CPF suppressed energy production that is a critical function of the mitochondria, we focused on the effects of CPF on mitochondrial dynamics. CPF induced mitochondrial fragmentation via reduction of mitochondrial fusion protein mitofusin 1 (Mfn1) in iPSCs. In addition, CPF reduced the expression of several neural differentiation marker genes in iPSCs. Moreover, knockdown of Mfn1 gene in iPSCs downregulated the expression of PAX6, a key transcription factor that regulates neurogenesis, suggesting that Mfn1 mediates neural induction in iPSCs. Taken together, these results suggest that CPF induces neurotoxicity via Mfn1-mediated mitochondrial fragmentation in iPSCs. Thus, mitochondrial dysfunction in iPSCs could be used as a possible marker for cytotoxic effects by chemicals.

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