Pyrethroid Insecticides: Poisoning Syndromes, Synergies, and Therapy

Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, Centre for Mechanisms in Human Toxicology, Leicester, United Kingdom.
Journal of toxicology. Clinical toxicology 02/2000; 38(2):95-101. DOI: 10.1081/CLT-100100922
Source: PubMed


BACKGROUND: Pyrethroid insecticides are widely used, but there have been relatively few reports of systemic poisoning. These reports have, however, shown that pharmacotherapy is difficult and that the duration of poisoning can be unexpectedly long. Pyrethroids are ion channel toxins prolonging neuronal excitation, but are not directly cytotoxic. Two basic poisoning syndromes are seen. Type I pyrethroids produce reflex hyperexcitability and fine tremor. Type II pyrethroids produce salivation, hyperexcitability, choreoathetosis, and seizures. Both produce potent sympathetic activation. Local effects are also seen: skin contamination producing paresthesia and ingestion producing gastrointestinal irritation. The slow absorption of pyrethroids across the skin usually prevents systemic poisoning, although a significant reservoir of pyrethroid may remain bound to the epidermis. Carboxyesterase inhibitors can enhance pyrethroid toxicity in high-dose experimental studies. Hence, the unauthorized pyrethroid/organophosphate mixtures marketed in some developing countries may precipitate human poisoning. Pyrethroid paresthesia can be treated by decontamination of the skin, but systemic poisoning is difficult to control with anticonvulsants. Pentobarbitone, however, is surprisingly effective as therapy against systemic type II pyrethroid poisoning in rats, probably due to its dual action as a chloride channel agonist and a membrane stabilizer.

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    • "In addition, all aforementioned classes of insecticides are shown to be toxic to humans. Organochlorines are either known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors (Longnecker et al., 1997), organophosphate poisoning leads to cholinergic syndrome (Marrs, 1993) and intoxication by pyrethroids results in neurotoxicity and induction of seizures (Ray and Forshaw, 2000). Such effects are not "
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