Eighteen-week-old mallard hens received 0, 10, 30, 90, or 270 ppm technical grade EPN (phenylphosphonothioic acid O-ethyl-O-4-nitrophenyl ester) in the diet for 90 days. Ataxia was first observed in the 270-ppm group after 16 days, in the 90-ppm group after 20 days, in the 30-ppm group after 38 days; 10 ppm failed to produce ataxia. By the end of 90 days all 6 birds in the 270-ppm group exhibited ataxia or paralysis whereas 5 of 6 birds in the 90-ppm group and 2 of 6 birds in the 30-ppm group were visibly affected. Treatment with 30 ppm or more resulted in a significant reduction in body weight. Brain neurotoxic esterase activity was inhibited by averages of 16, 69, 73, and 74% in the 10-, 30-, 90-, and 270-ppm groups, respectively. Brain acetylcholinesterase, plasma cholinesterase, and plasma alkaline phosphatase were significantly inhibited as well. Distinct histopathological effects were seen in the 30-, 90-, and 270-ppm groups which included demyelination and degeneration of axons of the spinal cord. Additional ducks were exposed in a similar manner to 60-, 270-, or 540-ppm leptophos (phosphonothioic acid O-4-bromo-2,5-dichlorophenyl-O-methylphenyl ester) which resulted in similar behavioral, biochemical, and histopathological alterations. These findings indicate that adult mallards are probably somewhat less sensitive than chickens to subchronic dietary exposure to organophosphorus insecticides that induce delayed neurotoxicity.
Additional publication details
Subchronic organophosphorus ester-induced delayed neurotoxicity in mallards