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J Environ Sci Health B. 2019;54(9):737-744. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2019.1633215. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

Evaluation of the cytotoxic effects of glyphosate herbicides in human liver, lung, and nerve.

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School of Pharmacy, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology , Shanghai , China.
College of Life Sciences, Shanghai Normal University , Shanghai , China.


Glyphosate-based herbicides are broad-spectrum pesticides widely used in the world, which is considered a highly safe pesticide due to their target specificity, but recently, there has been an ongoing controversy regarding their carcinogenicity and possible side effects of glyphosate on human health. Commercial glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) consist of declared active ingredient (glyphosate salts) and a number of formulants such as ethoxylated formulants (4130®, 3780®, and A-178®). The aim of our study is to investigate whether the toxicity of GBHs is related to formulants. The effects of GBHs on human health were studied at the cellular level based on their toxicity to liver, lungs and nerve tissue. The inhibitory toxicity to cell viability by GBHs was examined with cell-based systems using three human cell lines: HepG2, A549, and SH-SY5Y. Data obtained showed that all tested ethoxylated formulants and their mixtures with declared active ingredient glyphosate isopropylamine salt (GP) have significant inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, while the declared active ingredient has no significant toxicity. Our study demonstrates that the toxic effect of GBH is primarily due to the use of formulants. This result suggests that GP is relatively safe and a new approach for the assessment of toxicity should be made.


Cytotoxicity; ethoxylated formulant; glyphosate herbicide; human health; pesticide

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