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

Delayed neurologic and behavioral effects of subtoxic doses of cholinesterase inhibitors.

We tested the hypothesis that pyridostigmine bromide (PB) intake and/or low-level sarin exposure, suggested by some as causes of the symptoms experienced by Persian Gulf War veterans, induce neurobehavioral dysfunction that outlasts their effects on cholinesterase. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated during 3 weeks with s.c. saline, PB in drinking water (80 mg/l), sarin (62.5 microg/kg; 0.5x LD(50), three times/week s.c.), or PB in drinking water + sarin. Animals were tested for passive avoidance, nociceptive threshold, acoustic startle, and open field activity 2, 4, or 16 weeks after treatment. Two weeks after sarin, acoustic startle was enhanced, whereas distance explored in the open field decreased. These effects were absent with PB + sarin or PB by itself. No effect on any variable was found at 4 weeks, whereas at 16 weeks sarin induced a decrease and PB + sarin induced an increase in habituation in the open field test. Nociceptive threshold was elevated in the PB + sarin group at 16 weeks. No effect of treatment on passive avoidance was noted in any group. Brain regional acetylcholinesterase and cholineacetyltransferase activities were not affected at any time after treatment, but muscarinic receptors were down-regulated in hippocampus, caudate putamen, and mesencephalon in the sarin group at 2 weeks. In conclusion, this study gives further support to the use of PB against nerve agent poisoning and does not support the hypothesis that delayed symptoms experienced by Persian Gulf War veterans could be due to PB, alone or in association with low-level sarin exposure.[1]


  1. Delayed neurologic and behavioral effects of subtoxic doses of cholinesterase inhibitors. Scremin, O.U., Shih, T.M., Huynh, L., Roch, M., Booth, R., Jenden, D.J. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. (2003) [Pubmed]
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