Effects of fenthion, fenitrothion and desbromoleptophos on gait, acetylcholinesterase, and neurotoxic esterase in young chicks after in ovo exposure.

PMID 2453943


Previous studies have demonstrated that gait is affected in chicks exposed to organophosphorus esters (OPs) that induce delayed neurotoxicity (OPIDN) in adult hens. To investigate the developmental relationship between such functional deficits and OPIDN, chicks were exposed to 3 OPs with different OPIDN potential. Desbromoleptophos (DBL) induces OPIDN in adult hens; fenthion (FEN) has uncertain OPIDN potential; fenitrothion (FTR) does not induce OPIDN. Chicks were treated by injection into the egg on day 15 of incubation, after the presumed period of OP-induced structural teratogenesis. AChE and neurotoxic esterase (NTE) were assayed during incubation and in parallel with post-hatching evaluations of gait. DBL, 125 mg/kg in ovo, caused paralysis in 70% of chicks after hatching. The gait of surviving chicks was affected for at least 6 weeks and marked by toes curling under. NTE was inhibited until 10 days post-hatching and AChE until hatching. FEN did not inhibit NTE significantly, but AChE was significantly inhibited until hatching. Chicks exposed as embryos to FEN were hyperactive and aggressive. Gait was still affected 6 weeks after treatment with 3 mg/kg FEN. FTR at 125 mg/kg inhibited AChE until day 10 post-hatching, but neither inhibited NTE nor affected gait. The growth of OP-exposed chicks was not significantly decreased, so the decreased length and increased width of the stride could not be ascribed to stunted growth. We conclude that OPs cause irreversible effects on gait that are not related to their defined neurotoxic effects, since altered gait (1) occurs below the age of sensitivity to OPIDN, (2) is seen in the absence of NTE inhibition and (3) does not invariably accompany AChE inhibition.