Neuroreflex control of cardiovascular function is impaired after acute poisoning with chlorpyrifos, an organophosphorus insecticide: Possible short and long term clinical implications

Alexandre F. Cunha, Igor S.A. Felippe, Nilson C. Ferreira-Junior, Leonardo B.M. Resstel, Daniela A.M. Guimarães, Vanessa Beijamini, Julian F.R. Paton, Karla N. Sampaio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Although it is well-established that severe poisoning by organophosphorus (OP) compounds strongly affects the cardiorespiratory system, the effects of sub-lethal exposure to these compounds on the neural control of cardiovascular function are poorly explored. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of acute sub-lethal exposure to chlorpyrifos (CPF), a commonly used OP insecticide, on three basic reflex mechanisms involved in blood pressure regulation, the peripheral chemoreflex, the baroreflex and the Bezold-Jarisch reflex. Adult male Wistar rats were injected intraperitoneally with a single dose of CPF (30 mg/kg) or saline (0.9%). 24 h after injections, cardiovascular reflexes were tested in awake rats. Potassium cyanide (KCN) and phenylbiguanide (PBG) were injected intravenously to activate the chemoreflex and the Bezold-Jarisch reflex, respectively. The baroreflex was activated by phenylephrine and sodium nitroprusside infusions. Blood samples were taken for measurements of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) activity while acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity was measured in brainstem samples. Animals treated with CPF presented signs of intoxication such as ataxia, tremor, lacrimation, salivation, tetany, urination and defecation. The hypertensive and the bradycardic responses of the chemoreflex as well as the hypotensive and bradycardic responses of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex were attenuated in CPF treated animals (P < 0.05). Concerning the baroreflex responses, CPF treatment reduced the bradycardia plateau, the range and the gain of the reflex (P < 0.05). Plasma BChE and brainstem AChE were both reduced significantly after CPF treatment (P < 0.05). Our results showed that acute sub-lethal exposure to CPF impairs the cardiovascular responses of homeostatic and defensive cardiovascular reflexes. These effects are associated with a marked inhibition of plasma BChE and brainstem AChE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
Early online date19 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Baroreflex
  • Bezold-Jarisch reflex
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Peripheral chemoreflex

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