Microtubule-associated targets in chlorpyrifos oxon hippocampal neurotoxicity

M. A. Prendergast, R. L. Self, K. J. Smith, L. Ghayoumi, M. M. Mullins, T. R. Butler, J. J. Buccafusco, D. A. Gearhart, A. V. Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Prolonged exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides may produce cognitive deficits reflective of hippocampal injury in both humans and rodents. Recent work has indicated that microtubule trafficking is also adversely affected by exposure to the OP pesticide chlorpyrifos, suggesting a novel mode of OP-induced neurotoxicity. The present studies examined effects of prolonged exposure to chlorpyrifos oxon (CPO) on acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, immunoreactivity (IR) of microtubule-associated proteins, neuronal injury, and tubulin polymerization using in vitro organotypic slice cultures of rat hippocampus and bovine tubulin. Cultures were exposed to CPO (0.1-10 μM) in cell culture medium for 1-7 days, a regimen producing progressive reductions in AChE activity of 15-60%. Cytotoxicity (somatic uptake of the non-vital marker propidium iodide), as well as IR of α-tubulin and microtubule-associated protein-2 (a/b) [MAP-2], was assessed 1, 3, and 7 days after the start of CPO exposure. As early as 24 h after the start of exposure, CPO-induced deficits in MAP-2 IR were evident and progressive in each region of slice cultures at concentrations as low as 0.1 μM. CPO exposure did not alter α-tubulin IR at any time point. Concentration-dependent injury in the cornu ammonis (CA)1 pyramidal cell layer and to a lesser extent, CA3 and dentate cells, was evident 3 days after the start of CPO exposure (≥0.1 μM) and was greatest after 7 days. Tubulin polymerization assays indicated that CPO (≥0.1 μM) markedly inhibited the polymerization of purified tubulin and MAP-rich tubulin, though effects on MAP-rich tubulin were more pronounced. These data suggest that exposure to CPO produces a progressive decrease in neuronal viability that may be associated with impaired microtubule synthesis and/or function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-339
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIEHS (ES012241).


  • cytoskeleton
  • organophosphate
  • pesticide
  • tubulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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