Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association

Sex-dependent effects of developmental exposure to different pesticides on spatial learning. The role of induced neuroinflammation in the hippocampus.

PMID 27908700


The use of pesticides has been associated with impaired neurodevelopment in children. The aims of this work were to assess: 1) the effects on spatial learning of developmental exposure to pesticides 2) if the effects are sex-dependent and 3) if hippocampal neuroinflammation is associated with the impairment of spatial learning. We analyzed the effects of developmental exposure to four pesticides: chlorpyrifos, carbaryl, endosulfan and cypermethrin. Exposure was from gestational day 7 to post-natal day 21 and spatial learning and memory was assessed when the rats were young adults. The effects of pesticides on spatial learning were pesticide and gender-dependent. Carbaryl did not affect spatial learning in males or females. Endosulfan and chlorpyrifos impaired learning in males but not in females. Cypermethrin improved spatial learning in the Morris water maze both in males and females while impaired learning in the radial maze only in males. Spatial learning ability was lower in control female rats than in males. All pesticides induced neuroinflammation, increasing IL-1b content in the hippocampus and there is a negative correlation between IL-1b levels in the hippocampus and spatial learning. Neuroinflammation would contribute to the effects of pesticides on spatial learning.

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