Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology

Hippocampal ER stress and learning deficits following repeated pyrethroid exposure.

PMID 25359175


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is implicated as a significant contributor to neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction. Previously, we reported that the widely used pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin causes ER stress-mediated apoptosis in SK-N-AS neuroblastoma cells. Whether or not this occurs in vivo remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that repeated deltamethrin exposure (3 mg/kg every 3 days for 60 days) causes hippocampal ER stress and learning deficits in adult mice. Repeated exposure to deltamethrin caused ER stress in the hippocampus as indicated by increased levels of C/EBP-homologous protein (131%) and glucose-regulated protein 78 (96%). This was accompanied by increased levels of caspase-12 (110%) and activated caspase-3 (50%). To determine whether these effects resulted in learning deficits, hippocampal-dependent learning was evaluated using the Morris water maze. Deltamethrin-treated animals exhibited profound deficits in the acquisition of learning. We also found that deltamethrin exposure resulted in decreased BrdU-positive cells (37%) in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, suggesting potential impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that repeated deltamethrin exposure leads to ER stress, apoptotic cell death in the hippocampus, and deficits in hippocampal precursor proliferation, which is associated with learning deficits.