Early Effects of Organophosphate Compounds on In Vitro Intracellular Signaling and Levels of Active Neurotrophin Receptors, and on In Vivo Neurotrophin Concentrations

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Virginia Tech


Organophosphorus (OP) compounds are found in household pest control products, plastics, and petroleum. Due to the neurotoxic nature of OP compounds, exposure can cause both acute and delayed symptoms, including organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN). This syndrome is characterized by Wallerian-like degeneration of nerves in the central and peripheral nervous system after exposure to neuropathic OP compounds. There are many questions surrounding the mechanisms of the onset of OPIDN, including possible alterations in proteins associated with neuronal maintenance and repair. This dissertation investigated the changes in levels of neurotrophins in vivo and how in vitro levels of neurotrophin receptors and their downstream signaling cascades are affected after exposure to OP compounds. We also characterized the molecular weight of a soluble factor responsible for inducing neurite outgrowth in vitro after in vivo exposure to a neuropathic OP compound. We evaluated in vivo endpoints using enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays. Results indicated that nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) are found in chicken spinal cord but do not increase as a result of exposure to neuropathic OP compounds. This study also noted that NGF, BDNF, and NT-3 concentrations were not altered after exposure to a non-neuropathic OP compound. We evaluated in vitro endpoints using Western blots, ultrafiltration, and digital morphometry. These studies revealed that activated forms of high-affinity and low-affinity neurotrophin receptors are present after OP compound exposure, that the ratio of these two receptors to each other is stable after OP compound exposure, and that the activated form of the low-affinity receptor, which can lead to apoptosis, was present in greater levels than the activated form of the high-affinity receptor. Furthermore, OP compound exposure resulted in time-dependent changes of protein levels central to the mitogen-activated kinase and phosopholipase C-gamma intracellular pathways. Changes in a third pathway, the protein kinase C pathway, were dependent on the concentration and type of OP compound. Finally, in vitro neurite length was not affected by the type of OP compound administered in vivo or when a whole protein fraction was separated by molecular weight. This research has revealed in vivo consequences and early effects on intracellular protein and activated neurotrophin receptor levels after OP compound exposure. These early effects may contribute to the delayed development of neurotoxic effects associated with OP compound exposure.



Organophosphorus, Neurotrophin, SH-SY5Y