Toxicological profiles - Pyrethrins And Pyrethroids

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In this part, we look at how pyrethrins kill insects. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are nerve poisons.

Even if they fail to produce tissue damage, their impact is sure to prove devastating. By binding to protein channels, they disturb the formation and further transmission of electrical signals action potentials; see Fig. Figure As nerve poisons, pyrethroids disturb the formation and further transmission of electrical signals. In the resting state, a potential difference exists between the two sides of the cell membrane: ca. Inside, the reverse is true. An external excitation of the neuron causes the sodium channels to open for ca.

This, in turn, causes the potential difference to fall depolarization; see Fig. The sodium channels then close, and the potassium channels simultaneously open. In the case of continuous excitation, the process repeats after a few milliseconds, causing the neuron to "fire" as often as times per second [69,70]. Treatment of an isolated frog neuron with allethrin 17 ; a synthetic pyrethroid results in multiple, uncontrolled action potentials see Fig.

Such neuronal hyperactivity leads to involuntary, rapidly repeating contractions of opposing muscle groups "tremor syndrome". This trembling is caused by the binding of allethrin to the sodium channels. These proteins are the site of attack for numerous toxins from nature's "poison chest": among others, aconitine monk's hood or wolf's bane , batrachotoxin dart-poison frogs , tetrodotoxin pufferfish , brevetoxin, and ciguatoxin algal poisons of dinoflagellates , delphinium larkspur , grayanotoxin Rhododendron ponticum , as well as diverse highly toxic peptides from rock snails, scorpions, and spiders.

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Pyrethroids have their own unique binding sites, at which DDT 9 also docks. This explains why various insects, after ingesting DDT or pyrethroids display the same symptoms, and why DDT-resistant mosquitoes are also less sensitive to pyrethroids cross-resistance. The sodium channels in insects differ from those in mammals, but the great sensitivity difference with respect to pyrethroids is still astonishing. Yuzhe Du and coworkers discussed one possible explanation in They discovered a second! Despite these sensitivity differences, at high doses, the symptoms associated with poisoning are similar for insects and mammals.

But in the case of mammals, this is true only for intravenous administration. In general, with normal application, pyrethroids are not acutely toxic with respect to humans, and are, thus, quite safe. At least in our years-long efforts, we have observed no instances of harm. Nevertheless, the toxic effects in these species should continue to be investigated extensively. The great difference in toxicity between intravenous and oral administration suggests a rapid degradation in mammalian organisms.


Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are degraded largely through hydrolysis and oxidation, whereby the latter route is especially significant. The essential cytochrome P CYP enzyme systems are localized primarily in the liver. They form a "superfamily" of heme proteins which catalyze the incorporation of an oxygen atom monooxygenases into nonpolar C—H bonds, i.

Hydrolysis of the central ester group by esterases leads to inactive alcohols and carboxylic acids, which are further oxidatively degraded independently of one another. The resulting hydroxylated degradation products are more polar, and thus more water soluble, and can, therefore, be eliminated more readily via the kidneys. Hydrolytic and oxidative metabolism of cinerin I The unwelcome metabolism of the pyrethrins occurs relatively rapidly within the body of the insects, as becomes quite evident.

After the rapid initial "knock-down" effect, the insects recover after a while, prior to the onset of lethal consequences. The selected eggs were orange with dark eyespots. Groups of 10 eggs were fixed onto microscope slides with double-sided adhesive tape. The treatment of individual eggs was performed via topical application to the operculum of 0.


Each batch of eggs received the DD of 0. Controls received acetone. The total number of eggs used is given in Table II. Mortality data were recorded 10 days after treatment to determine the number of eggs that failed to hatch. This period was also used to check whether any delayed hatching occurred in the control Toloza et al.

First instars - T. The bioassays consisted of the topical application of 0. The control groups received only pure acetone.

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The final concentrations tested ranged from 0. All concentrations were replicated at least three times with a minimum of 10 insects per replicate. All treatments were performed on different days. Mortality was evaluated after 24 h by placing the insects on a circular piece of filter paper 11 cm diameter and observing their ability to walk.

Only nymphs that were able to walk from the centre of the filter paper to the border were considered alive. The total number of insects used is shown in Table III. The resistance ratio RR was calculated as described by Robertson et al. Comparative susceptibility to deltamethrin of eggs and first instars from T. Toxicity to insecticides with different modes of action in T. In contrast, fenitrothion and imidacloprid were lethal, with LD 50 values that ranged from 5. Chagas disease occurs throughout Latin America; however, the manifestations and epidemiological characteristics of the disease vary among epidemic areas, mainly due to differences in social and economic development WHO The experimental results of the present study demonstrated high resistance to deltamethrin associated with ineffective field treatment of T.

These results are in accordance with those of previous studies performed in the Gran Chaco ecoregion, where resistance to deltamethrin was also found in both domestic and peridomestic T. Therefore, it is necessary to find insecticides with alternative modes of action to that of pyrethroid chemicals to control this vector.

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

This is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of seven insecticides with an alternative mode of action to deltamethrin against T. Higher doses were not evaluated because of methodological problems caused by the availability of the insecticides. However, these results are important because these insecticides have never been studied in T. A possible explanation for the observed lack of effectiveness may be related to a problem regarding the penetration of the insecticides. This type of problem has been reported for the organochlorine DDT when used against T.

The authors of this previous study found that the penetration rate of DDT was related to the nutritional state of the nymphs, with insects that were fed on pigeons 1. This remarkable difference was due to the cuticular distention associated with blood ingestion, which allows higher penetration of the insecticide through the intersegmental membrane of the cuticle Bennet-Clark In contrast, the LD 50 values obtained for fenitrothion and imidacloprid were similar to the LD 50 values found for the organophosphorous compound malathion, which has been proven to be effective against pyrethroid-resistant T.

However, in the Gran Chaco ecoregion, T. These conditions are not mutually exclusive, but the adaptation of this species to this ecoregion should also be considered. Moreover, domestic T. Recently, Roca Acevedo et al. Although the authors found differences in the toxicological responses of first instars to deltamethrin, their enzymatic activities were similar. Because these populations were collected from a sylvatic habitat, no chemical control interventions were performed.

Thus, wild T. The only insecticide formulations approved for use in the field control of T. However, Rojas de Arias and Fournet showed that the phenylpyrazole fipronil, a GABA-gated chloride channel antagonist, exhibited up to three months of residual efficacy on mud and lime-coated mud blocks when applied at a concentration of mg a. This finding indicated the potential of this non-pyrethroid insecticide in the control of Chagas disease vectors.

In our assays, imidacloprid was effective against deltamethrin-resistant T. A field study should also be performed to study the residual effect of this insecticide on different surfaces. Finally, it is essential that other insecticidal compounds, especially those with alternative modes of action to pyrethroids and organophosphates, are rapidly made available for T.

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DAPs have been observed in fresh fruit juices, and DAP production in juices fortified with OP insecticides has also been followed [ 16 ]. Oxidation is another hypothesized degradation route for some insecticides. For example, the first step in mammalian biological metabolism of OP insecticides is oxidation [ 24 ].

Insecticide oxidation has also been observed in red grape juice, water, and water fortified with the antioxidant quercetin [ 25 ]. In this study, quercetin and other components of grape juice were found to inhibit insecticide oxidation. Degradation of insecticides in food and beverages is of importance for many reasons.

Multiple studies have shown that the same compounds used as urinary metabolites are often produced in food before insecticide metabolism in the body [ 16 , 23 , 26 ]. Some insecticide degradates, such as DAPs, may be further degraded after ingestion [ 16 ]. However, other research concerning both DAPs and 3,5,6-trichloropyridinol TCPy, a specific metabolite of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl in animal models suggests that these compounds are largely adsorbed by the body and then excreted unchanged in the urine [ 26 ].

If ingested insecticide degradates are excreted unchanged in urine, observation of these analytes would lead to overestimation of insecticide exposure. Given neurodevelopmental dangers associated specifically with chlorpyrifos [ 27 , 28 , 29 ], this compound has been under particular scrutiny in the United States [ 30 ]. To direct related policy, we need full understanding of chlorpyrifos exposure and exposure assessment. Given this fact and the fact that chlorpyrifos is currently used on citrus crops [ 30 ], it is noteworthy that chlorpyrifos does not significantly degrade in orange juice.

Therefore, it may be assumed that urinary chlorpyrifos metabolites such as 3,5,6-trichloropyridinol are effective BOEs for chlorpyrifos, supporting studies linking urinary TCPy concentrations to developmental effects in children [ 27 , 28 , 29 ].