Detoxicaton of OP Insecticides
The commonly used organophosphorus insecticides parathion, chlorpyrifos and diazinon are manufactured as organoposphorothioates. These compounds are very poor inhibitors of cholinesterases. In organisms (target and non-target) the thioate is converted to an oxon form by cytochromes P450. Also, as discussed below, actual exposures include both parent thioate residues as well as the highly toxic oxon forms.
It was thought that mammals could detoxify the oxons as rapidly as they were formed. However, in recent years, it has become apparent that there is considerable variability in different individuals’ plasma paraoxonase (PON1) levels that are controlled developmentally and genetically.
The following slides will elaborate on these factors and the consequence of high vs. low plasma PON1 levels. An additional concern based on recent findings of researchers from North Carolina State University is that the thioates are suicide substrates for the P45O enzymes that catalyze the oxidative desulfuration of the parent compounds. Of particular interest is the inactivation of cytochromes P450 3A4 and 1A2 that are important in the metabolism of testosterone and estradiol.