Evaluation of DNA damage and cytotoxicity induced by three commonly used organophosphate pesticides individually and in mixture, in rat tissues


Correspondence to: Nalini Srivastava. E-mail: nalinis21@yahoo.com


Organophosphate pesticides are among the most widely used synthetic chemicals for controlling a wide variety of pests. Chlorpyrifos (CPF), methyl parathion (MPT), and malathion (MLT) are among the most extensively used organophosphate (OP) pesticides. The main target of action of OP compounds is the central and peripheral nervous system, although it has also been postulated that these compounds in both acute and chronic intoxication, disturb the redox processes and thus induce oxidative stress. The excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) causes damage to all vital macromolecules including lipids, proteins, and DNA. This study was aimed to investigate the genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of CPF, MPT, and MLT when given singly or in combination. The DNA damage was measured by alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis or comet assay and expressed as DNA damage index. The results showed that both acute and chronic exposure with CPF, MPT, and MLT, caused significantly marked DNA damage in rat tissues namely, liver, brain, kidney, and spleen, when measured 24 hour posttreatment. It was also observed that MPT caused highest level of DNA damage and brain was maximally affected by these OP compounds. When these pesticides were given in mixture, the damage was not the sum of damage caused by individual pesticide, confirming that these pesticides do not potentiate the toxicity of each other. When the DNA damage was measured 48 and 72 hour posttreatment, the damage was partially repaired. Pesticide exposure also caused histopathological changes in rat tissues. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 28: 543–552, 2013.