Midazolam-Resistant Seizures and Brain Injury following Acute Intoxication of Diisopropylfluorophosphate, an Organophosphate Pesticide and Surrogate for Nerve Agents Academic Article uri icon


  • Organophosphates (OP) such as the pesticide diisopropylfluorophosphate (DFP) and the nerve agent sarin are lethal chemicals that induce seizures, status epilepticus (SE), and brain damage. Midazolam, a benzodiazepine modulator of synaptic GABA-A receptors, is currently considered as a new anticonvulsant for nerve agents. Here, we characterized the time course of protective efficacy of midazolam (0.2-5 mg/kg, i.m.) in rats exposed to DFP, a chemical threat agent and surrogate for nerve agents. Behavioral and electroencephalogram (EEG) seizures were monitored for 24 hours after DFP exposure. The extent of brain injury was determined 3 days after DFP exposure by unbiased stereologic analyses of valid markers of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation. Seizures were elicited within ∼8 minutes after DFP exposure that progressively developed into persistent SE lasting for hours. DFP exposure resulted in massive neuronal injury or necrosis, neurodegeneration of principal cells and interneurons, and neuroinflammation as evident by extensive activation of microglia and astrocytes in the hippocampus, amygdala, and other brain regions. Midazolam controlled seizures, neurodegeneration, and neuroinflammation when given early (10 minutes) after DFP exposure, but it was less effective when given at 40 minutes or later. Delayed therapy (≥40 minutes), a simulation of the practical therapeutic window for first responders or hospital admission, was associated with reduced seizure protection and neuroprotection. These results strongly reaffirm that the DFP-induced seizures and brain damage are progressively resistant to delayed treatment with midazolam, confirming the benzodiazepine refractory SE after OP intoxication. Thus, novel anticonvulsants superior to midazolam or adjunct therapies that enhance its efficacy are needed for effective treatment of refractory SE.

altmetric score

  • 13

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, X., Kuruba, R., & Reddy, D. S.

citation count

  • 28

publication date

  • August 2018