Environmental toxicology

Maternal exposure to the mixture of organophosphorus pesticides induces reproductive dysfunction in the offspring.

PMID 21793158


Organophosphorus pesticide residues are found in many food samples due to increasing use of multiple organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) in agriculture. Toxicity of individual organophosphorus has been well-studied in previous epidemiological and laboratory investigations. This study focused on reproductive toxicity of perinatal exposure to the mixture of organophosphorus pesticides (MOPs). The MOPs consists of three most commonly used pesticides, i.e., Dichlorovos, Dimethoate, and Malathion which individually does not cause significant effects on the reproductive system at the similar concentration levels based on previous studies. Using the Sprague-Dawley rats, we established a perinatal exposure model by oral gavage and observed significant endometrial hyperplasia and thickened uterine walls in the F0 rats after administration of high doses of the MOPs. We further monitored several key developmental and behavioral indices in the F1 generation after maternal exposure to the MOPs, and observed significantly delayed physical development and weakened mental development. Moreover, we found increased weights of the reproductive organs (the uterus and the testis) and abnormal levels of key sex hormones (progestin and testosterone) in the MOPs groups. It is more important that we observed a significantly lower pregnancy rate and live birth rate in the high-dose MOPs group. These results indicate that the MOPs may be more detrimental to the maternal endometria and the reproductive functions in the offspring than individual organophosphorus.