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Persistent behavior deficits, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress in a rat model of acute organophosphate intoxication


Current medical countermeasures for organophosphate (OP)-induced status epilepticus (SE) are not effective in preventing long-term morbidity and there is an urgent need for improved therapies. Rat models of acute intoxication with the OP, diisopropylfluorophosphate (DFP), are increasingly being used to evaluate therapeutic candidates for efficacy in mitigating the long-term neurologic effects associated with OP-induced SE. Many of these therapeutic candidates target neuroinflammation and oxidative stress because of their implication in the pathogenesis of persistent neurologic deficits associated with OP-induced SE. Critical to these efforts is the rigorous characterization of the rat DFP model with respect to outcomes associated with acute OP intoxication in humans, which include long-term electroencephalographic, neurobehavioral, and neuropathologic effects, and their temporal relationship to neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. To address these needs, we examined a range of outcomes at later times post-exposure than have previously been reported for this model. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were given pyridostigmine bromide (0.1 mg/kg, im) 30 min prior to administration of DFP (4 mg/kg, sc), which was immediately followed by atropine sulfate (2 mg/kg, im) and pralidoxime (25 mg/kg, im). This exposure paradigm triggered robust electroencephalographic and behavioral seizures that rapidly progressed to SE lasting several hours in 90% of exposed animals. Animals that survived DFP-induced SE (~70%) exhibited spontaneous recurrent seizures and hyperreactive responses to tactile stimuli over the first 2 months post-exposure. Performance in the elevated plus maze, open field, and Pavlovian fear conditioning tests indicated that acute DFP intoxication reduced anxiety-like behavior and impaired learning and memory at 1 and 2 months post-exposure in the absence of effects on general locomotor behavior. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed significantly increased expression of biomarkers of reactive astrogliosis, microglial activation and oxidative stress in multiple brain regions at 1 and 2 months post-DFP, although there was significant spatiotemporal heterogeneity across these endpoints. Collectively, these data largely support the relevance of the rat model of acute DFP intoxication as a model for acute OP intoxication in the human, and support the hypothesis that neuroinflammation and/or oxidative stress represent potential therapeutic targets for mitigating the long-term neurologic sequelae of acute OP intoxication.

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