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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of the new herbicide fentrazamide on the glucose utilization in neurons and erythrocytes in vitro.

Treatment of rats with fentrazamide for 2 years at 3000 ppm (males) and 4000 ppm (females) led to an increased incidence and degree of axonal degeneration in sciatic nerve as well as to effects on red blood cells. The mechanism underlying these effects was investigated in vitro using various cell cultures (permanent rodent cell lines from the nervous system, liver, kidney, skeletal and heart muscle and fibroblasts, primary cortical neurons and erythrocytes from the rat). Added to cultured rat cortical neurons for 1 week, fentrazamide considerably decreased glucose consumption, ATP levels and mitochondrial membrane potential and lowered the GSH level, however, it had little impact on viability and neurofilaments and did not induce oxidative stress ( ROS) over the first 2 h. After recovery for 1 week, in addition some destruction of neurofilaments had occurred probably secondary to the disturbance of energy production. These effects were prevented by pyruvate. Further studies indicated that fentrazamide primarily inhibited glucose utilization, most likely by interfering with glycolysis. Similar effects were found in erythrocytes treated with fentrazamide over a period of 7 days. Primarily, the glucose consumption was reduced after 1-day treatment, followed by a marked reduction of the energy supply at days 3 and 7. Comparable to the neurons, the GSH level was significantly reduced. A marked hemolysis of the red blood cells was then observed after prolonged treatment. The extensive energy demand and exclusive dependency on glucose utilization of neurons and erythrocytes may explain the specific vulnerability of motor neurons and erythrocytes. When comparing the concentrations necessary for inducing effects in vitro on neuronal cells and erythrocytes to the very low plasma concentrations of fentrazamide in treated rats it is suggested that only a small impact of fentrazamide on the energy status at high doses will occur in vivo. Therefore, aging of the rat as another factor compromising mitochondrial energy production in motor neurons must be considered as additional contribution for the induction of axonal degeneration. It is concluded that this effect of fentrazamide in rats poses no specific risk under the exposure conditions relevant to humans.[1]


  1. Effects of the new herbicide fentrazamide on the glucose utilization in neurons and erythrocytes in vitro. Schmuck, G., Freyberger, A., Ahr, H.J., Stahl, B., Kayser, M. Neurotoxicology (2003) [Pubmed]
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