Environmental toxicology

Comparing the relative toxicity of malathion and malaoxon in blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus.

PMID 18247417


Malathion inhibits the critical body enzyme, acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This capability requires that malathion should first be converted to malaoxon to become an active anticholinesterase agent. Conversion can be caused by oxidation in mammals, insects, plants, and in sunlight. In this study, the effects of malathion and malaoxon on catfish Ictalurus furcatus were evaluated. After 96-h exposures, the LC(50) (concentration that causes 50% mortality) and IC(50) (concentration that causes 50% enzyme inhibition) for malaoxon were lower than corresponding values for malathion. The overall mean 96-h LC(50) is 17.0 ppm for malathion and 3.1 ppm for malaoxon. IC(50) values for malathion are 8.5 ppm for brain, 10.3 ppm for liver, and 16.6 ppm for muscle. Corresponding values for malaoxon are 2.3, 3.7, and 6.8 ppm, respectively. All the AChE activities in malathion- and malaoxon-exposed catfish brain showed significant inhibition. The oxidation product malaoxon demonstrated higher inhibition on AChE activity than did malathion. Moreover, malaoxon showed significant inhibition on butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in the liver if the concentrations were increased to more than 1 ppm. Malathion showed no difference between treatment group and control group. Compared with malathion, malaoxon showed higher inhibition on monoamine activity than that of malathion. The results indicated that the oxidative product malaoxon is more toxic than the parent compound malathion. AChE, BChE, and monoamine activities are confirmed as bioindicators of malathion exposure in blue catfish, I. furcatus.

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