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Pesticides Are Toxic to Cells

Could cause kind of damage that leads to Parkinson's disease

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Several common pesticides are as toxic or more toxic to cell mitochondria than the pesticide rotenone, which has already been linked to Parkinson's disease, says a study by Emory University School of Medicine neurologists.

Mitochondria are the "power plants" that provide all cells with energy. Previous research showed the pesticide rotenone damages mitochondria by inhibiting an enzyme called complex I. Parkinson's disease has been associated with abnormalities of mitochondria.

In this new study, the Emory scientists exposed human neuroblastoma cells to the pesticides rotenone, pyridaben, fenazaquin and fenpyroximate. They found pyridaben was the most toxic compound, followed by rotenone, fenpyroximate and fenazaquin.

The study also found that pyridaben was more potent that rotenone in producing free radicals and oxidative damage to cells, both believed to be important in causing Parkinson's disease.

"These results show that commonly used pesticides are toxic to cells, and may cause the kinds of cellular damage that lead to diseases such as Parkinson's," researcher Todd B. Sherer says in a prepared statement.

"Although our study does not prove that any particular pesticide causes Parkinson's, it does lead to more questions about the safety of chronic exposure to these environmental agents and certainly warrants additional research," Sherer says.

"For quite a while, scientists have believed that environmental factors, including pesticides, may be important in causing Parkinson's disease. We are continuing our research to determine exactly how these exposures cause nerve damage and death," researcher Dr. Tim Greenamyre says in a prepared statement.

The study was presented recently at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: Emory University Health Sciences Center, news release, November 2003
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