• organophosphate pesticides;
  • cholinesterase inhibitors;
  • pralidoxime;
  • atropine;
  • paraoxon;
  • mice


Objective: Organophosphates are used as pesticides, herbicides, and chemical warfare agents. Treatment of organophosphate poisoning is with intravenous atropine and pralidoxime in addition to supportive care. This study determined the efficacy of oral agents in preventing death from organophosphate poisoning. Methods: The organophosphate paraoxon (8 mg/kg) was used in a murine model with lethality at four and 24 hours as an end point. For oral treatment, 15 male Balbc mice were given either atropine sulfate (4 mg/kg), or a combination of atropine sulfate (4 mg/kg) with pralidoxime (100 mg/kg), by oral gavage. A control group of 22 mice received water by oral gavage. Chi-square analysis was used to compare results in the different groups. Results: Of the control group, six of 22 survived to four hours after paraoxon exposure. Of the exposed animals treated with oral atropine, eight of 15 survived to four hours. Of the exposed animals treated with a combination of atropine and pralidoxime, 13 of 15 survived to four hours. All animals surviving to four hours survived to 24 hours. The increased survival of animals in the atropine group relative to the control group was not significant (p = 0.09). Survival was significant in the group treated with atropine and pralidoxime relative to atropine alone (p = 0.02) and to the control group (p = 0.0002). All treated mice surviving at four hours were alive at 24 hours. Conclusions: Both oral atropine and a combination of oral atropine and pralidoxime improved survival, and combination therapy achieved statistical significance. Generalization of this result to other organophosphate pesticides, other doses of paraoxon, and other species cannot be made without further investigations.