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

Interactions between neuropathy target esterase and its inhibitors and the development of polyneuropathy.

This paper combines new and old data in order to offer a modified perspective of the mechanism of organophosphate-induced delayed polyneuropathy. Neuropathy target esterase (NTE) is though to be the molecular target and neuropathy to be initiated with a two-step mechanism: progressive inhibition of NTE and aging of the phosphorylated enzyme. When neuropathic organophosphates modify more than 70% of NTE in this way, neuropathy develops 2 weeks later. Other chemicals producing an inhibited NTE, which is incapable of aging, were thought to be not neuropathic. When given before a challenging dose of a neuropathic organophosphate they protect animals from neuropathy. However, recent evidence indicates that aging may not always be essential in causing neuropathy. In fact, mipafox and methamidophos as well as certain classic protective inhibitors such as carbamate and sulfonyl fluoride form an inhibited NTE which apparently does not age and yet produces neuropathy. We propose that all NTE inhibitors may have the potential to cause neuropathy. In analogy with pharmacological models of drug-receptor interactions, NTE inhibitors might have variable intrinsic activities to initiate neuropathy once attached to the protein. Strong neuropathic chemicals require about 70% inhibition of NTE, others 80-90%, and the least potent almost 100%. These differences have been amplified by means of promotion. Different levels of NTE inhibition as caused by different compounds were promoted by the same dose of phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride to similar degrees of ataxia. Conversely nearly complete NTE inhibitions obtained in chicks with different chemicals were promoted to varying severities of ataxia. Protection from delayed polyneuropathy by the least neuropathic inhibitors can be explained by their weak intrinsic activity: occupying NTE, they prevent the binding of more neuropathic compounds. Methamidophos represents a particular example because it is protective at lower doses and neuropathic at high doses. Moreover, the levels of NTE inhibited by methamidophos which can be promoted to neuropathy are lower than those required for classic protective chemicals and higher than those of classic neuropathic OPs. This suggests that methamidophos has an intermediate position between the most and the least neuropathic NTE inhibitors.[1]


  1. Interactions between neuropathy target esterase and its inhibitors and the development of polyneuropathy. Lotti, M., Moretto, A., Capodicasa, E., Bertolazzi, M., Peraica, M., Scapellato, M.L. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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