Chlorpyrifos (CPF), one of the most widely-used organophosphorus (OP) insecticides in agriculture, is degraded in the field to its oxon form, chlorpyrifos-oxon (CPO), which can represent a significant contaminant in exposures to adults and children. CPO is also responsible for the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition associated with CPF exposures; CPF is converted by liver CYP450 enzymes to CPO, which binds to and inhibits AChE and other serine active-site esterases, lipases and proteases. Young children represent a particularly susceptible population for exposure to CPF and CPO, in part because levels of the plasma enzyme, paraoxonase (PON1), which hydrolyzes CPO, are very low during early development. While a number of studies have demonstrated developmental neurotoxicity associated with CPF exposure, including effects at or below the threshold levels for AChE inhibition, it is unclear whether these effects were due directly to CPF or to its active metabolite, CPO. PON1 knockout (PON1(-/-)) mice, which lack PON1, represent a highly sensitive mouse model for toxicity associated with exposure to CPF or CPO. To examine the neurobehavioral consequences of CPO exposure during postnatal development, PON1(-/-) mice were exposed daily from PND 4 to PND 21 to CPO at 0.15, 0.18, or 0.25mg/kg/d. A neurobehavioral test battery did not reveal significant effects of CPO on early reflex development, motor coordination, pre-pulse inhibition of startle, startle amplitude, open field behavior, or learning and memory in the contextual fear conditioning, Morris water maze, or water radial-arm maze tests. However, body weight gain and startle latency were significantly affected by exposure to 0.25mg/kg/d CPO. Additionally, from PNDs 15-20 the mice exposed repeatedly to CPO at all three doses exhibited a dose-related transient hyperkinesis in the 20-min period following CPO administration, suggesting possible effects on catecholaminergic neurotransmission. Our previous study demonstrated wide-ranging effects of neonatal CPO exposure on gene expression in the brain and on brain AChE inhibition, and modulation of both of these effects by the PON1(Q192R) polymorphism. The current study indicates that the neurobehavioral consequences of these effects are more elusive, and suggests that alternative neurobehavioral tests might be warranted, such as tests of social interactions, age-dependent effects on learning and memory, or tests designed specifically to assess dopaminergic or noradrenergic function
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