Medical treatment of acute poisoning with organophosphorus and carbamate pesticides
Organophosphorus compounds (OPs) are used as pesticides and developed as warfare nerve agents such as tabun, soman, sarin, VX and others. Exposure to even small amounts of an OP can be fatal and death is usually caused by respiratory failure. The mechanism of OP poisoning involves inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) leading to inactivation of the enzyme which has an important role in neurotransmission. AChE inhibition results in the accumulation of acetylcholine at cholinergic receptor sites, producing continuous stimulation of cholinergic fibers throughout the nervous systems. During more than five decades, pyridinium oximes have been developed as therapeutic agents used in the medical treatment of poisoning with OP. They act by reactivation of AChE inhibited by OP. However, they differ in their activity in poisoning with pesticides and warfare nerve agents and there is still no universal broad-spectrum oxime capable of protecting against all known OP. In spite of enormous efforts devoted to development of new pyridinium oximes as potential antidotes against poisoning with OP only four compounds so far have found its application in human medicine. Presently, a combination of an antimuscarinic agent, e.g. atropine, AChE reactivator such as one of the recommended pyridinium oximes (pralidoxime, trimedoxime, obidoxime and HI-6) and diazepam are used for the treatment of OP poisoning in humans. In this article the available data related to medical treatment of poisoning with OP pesticides are reviewed and the current recommendations are presented.
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