Stress and combined exposure to low doses of pyridostigmine bromide, DEET, and permethrin produce neurochemical and neuropathological alterations in cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Academic Article uri icon


  • Exposure to a combination of stress and low doses of the chemicals pyridostigmine bromide (PB), DEET, and permethrin in adult rats, a model of Gulf War exposure, produces blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and neuronal cell death in the cingulate cortex, dentate gyrus, thalamus, and hypothalamus. In this study, neuropathological alterations in other areas of the brain where no apparent BBB disruption was observed was studied following such exposure. Animals exposed to both stress and chemical exhibited decreased brain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the midbrain, brainstem, and cerebellum and decreased m2 muscarinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor ligand binding in the midbrain and cerebellum. These alterations were associated with significant neuronal cell death, reduced microtubule-associated protein (MAP-2) expression, and increased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampal subfields CA1 and CA3. In the cerebellum, the neurochemical alterations were associated with Purkinje cell loss and increased GFAP immunoreactivity in the white matter. However, animals subjected to either stress or chemicals alone did not show any of these changes in comparison to vehicle-treated controls. Collectively, these results suggest that prolonged exposure to a combination of stress and the chemicals PB, DEET, and permethrin can produce significant damage to the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum, even in the absence of apparent BBB damage. As these areas of the brain are respectively important for the maintenance of motor and sensory functions, learning and memory, and gait and coordination of movements, such alterations could lead to many physiological, pharmacological, and behavioral abnormalities, particularly motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction.

published proceedings

  • J Toxicol Environ Health A

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Abdel-Rahman, A., Abou-Donia, S., El-Masry, E., Shetty, A., & Abou-Donia, M.

citation count

  • 110

complete list of authors

  • Abdel-Rahman, A||Abou-Donia, Suzanne||El-Masry, Eman||Shetty, Ashok||Abou-Donia, Mohamed

publication date

  • January 2004