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Toxicol Lett. 2018 Jan 5;282:8-24. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 7.

Upper respiratory tract nociceptor stimulation and stress response following acute and repeated Cyfluthrin inhalation in normal and pregnant rats: Physiological rat-specific adaptions can easily be misunderstood as adversities.

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Hannover Medical School, Hanover, Germany; 4th Military Medical University, Xi'an, China; Bayer Pharma AG, Department of Toxicology, Wuppertal, Germany1. Electronic address:


This paper reviews the results from past regulatory and mechanistic inhalation studies in rats with the type II pyrethroid Cyfluthrin. Apart from many chemical irritants, Cyfluthrin was shown to be a neuroexcitatory agent without any inherent tissue-destructive or irritant property. Thus, any Cyfluthrin-induced neuroexcitatory afferent sensory stimulus from peripheral nociceptors in the upper respiratory tract is likely to be perceived as a transient stimulus triggering annoyance and/or avoidance by both rats and humans. However, while thermolabile rats respond to such stresses reflexively, homeothermic humans appear to respond psychologically. With this focus in mind, past inhalation studies in rats and human volunteers were reevaluated and assessed to identify common denominators to such neuroexcitatory stimuli upon inhalation exposure. This analysis supports the conclusion that the adaptive physiological response occurring in rats secondary to such chemosensory stimuli requires inhalation exposures above the chemosensory threshold. Rats, a species known to undergo adaptively a hibernation-like physiological state upon environmental stresses, experienced reflexively-induced bradypnea, bradycardia, hypothermia, and changes in acid-base status during inhalation exposure. After cessation of the sensory stimulus, rapid recovery occurred. Physiological data of male and female rats from a 4-week repeated inhalation study (exposure 6-h/day, 5-times/week) were used to select concentration for a 10-day developmental inhalation toxicity study in pregnant rats. Maternal hypothermia and hypoventilation were identified as likely cause of fetal and placental growth retardations because of a maternal adaptation-driven reduced feto-placental transfer of oxygen. In summary, maternal reflex-hypothermia, reduced cardiac output and placental perfusion, and disruption of the gestation-related hyperventilation are believed to be the maternally mediated causes for developmental impairments. Thus, inhaled chemosensory substances may appear to be more toxic in rats than they will be in humans because the thermoregulatory response of rats to such stimuli can cause profound physiological adaptions that can easily be misunderstood as adversities in conventional inhalation studies in small rodents. The afferent threshold triggering such outcomes in rodents translate to perceptions of annoyance in humans. Consequently, hazard characterization and human risk assessment need to be focused on the chemosensory threshold rather than endpoints occurring downstream to rodent-specific homeostasis.


Acid-base status; Cardiopulmonary function; Developmental toxicity; Hypothermia; Nociceptive sensory reflexes

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