ABSTRACT. Organophosphorus compounds are potent neurotoxic chemicals that are widely used in medicine, industry, and agriculture. The neurotoxicity of these chemicals has been documented in accidental human poisoning, epidemiological studies, and animal models.
Organophosphorus compounds have 3 distinct neurotoxic actions. The primary action is the irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, resulting in the accumulation of acetylcholine and subsequent overstimulation of the nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, resulting in cholinergic effects. Another action of some of these compounds, arising from single or repeated exposure, is a delayed onset of ataxia, accompanied by a Wallerian-type degeneration of the axon and myelin in the most distal portion of the longest tracts in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, and is known as organophosphorus ester-induced delayed neurotoxicity (OPIDN). In addition, since the introduction and extensive use of synthetic organophosphorus compounds in agriculture and industry half a century ago, many studies have reported long-term, persistent, chronic neurotoxicity symptoms in individuals as a result of acute exposure to high doses that cause acute cholinergic toxicity, or from long-term, low-level, subclinical doses of these chemicals. The author attempts to define the neuronal disorder that results from organophosphorus ester-induced chronic neurotoxicity (OPICN), which leads to long-term neurological and neurobehavioral deficits. Although the mechanisms of this neurodegenerative disorder have yet to be established, the sparse available data suggest that large toxic doses of organophosphorus compounds cause acute necrotic neuronal cell death in the brain, whereas sublethal or subclinical doses produce apoptotic neuronal cell death and involve oxidative stress.
Key words: acetylcholinesterase, apoptosis, brain, necrosis, nervous system, neurobehavioral,
neuropathological, neuropsychological, OPICN, OPIDN, organophosphorus compounds
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