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Keywords:

  • pesticide;
  • bone marrow;
  • toxicity stem cell;
  • stromal cell;
  • aplastic anemia

Long-term exposure of agriculturally used organochloride and organophosphate pesticides have been shown to cause long-lasting hematotoxicity and increased incidence of aplastic anemia in humans. The mechanisms involved in pesticide induced hematotoxicity and the features of toxicity that may play a major role in bone marrow suppression are not known. The aim of the present study was to investigate the hematological consequences of pesticide exposure in swiss albino mice exposed to aqueous mixture of common agriculturally used pesticides for 6 h/day, 5 days/week for 13 weeks. After the end of last exposure, without a recovery period, the strong hematotoxic effect of pesticide was assessed in mice with long-term bone marrow explant culture (LTBMC-Ex) system and cell colony forming assays. Bone marrow explant culture from the pesticide exposed group of mice failed to generate a supportive stromal matrix and did not produce adequate number of hematopoietic cells and found to contain largely the adipogenic precursors. The decreased cell colony numbers in the pesticide exposed group indicated defective maturational and functional status of different marrow cell lineages. As a whole, exposure of mice to the mixture of pesticides reduced the total number of bone marrow cells (granulocytes are the major targets of pesticide toxicity), hematopoietic, and non-hematopoietic progenitor cells and most of the hematological parameters. Replication of primitive stem/progenitor cells in the marrow was decreased following pesticide exposure with G0/G1-phase arrest of most of the cells. The progenitor cells showed decreased percentage of cells in S/G2/M-phase. The increased apoptosis profile of the marrow progenitors (Increased CD95 expression) and primitive stem cells (High Annexin-V positivity on Sca1+ cells) with an elevated intracellular cleaved caspase-3 level on the Sca1+ bone marrow cells provided the base necessary for explaining the deranged bone marrow microenvironmental structure which was evident from scanning electron micrographs. These results clearly indicate a strong, long lasting toxic effect of pesticides on the bone marrow microenvironment and different microenvironmental components which ultimately leads to the formation of a degenerative disease like aplastic anemia. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 84–97, 2014.