Neurotoxicity after acute anticholinesterase pesticide poisoning and envenomation

Project Grant ID: NHMRC 1030069
Principal Investigator: Prof. Nicholas Buckley, University of New South Wales

Organophosphorus (OP) compounds and carbamates are among the most widely used pesticides and can cause life-threatening poisoning after accidental or deliberate exposure. An estimated 2-3 million people in rural areas of the developing world are affected annually. Snake bite is another common problem in the rural tropics with approximately two million snake envenomings worldwide each year. Significant resources are used in hospitals across the region treating snake envenoming.

In both pesticide poisoning and snakebite an important target is the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Current treatments have not been shown to unequivocally improve NMJ function in either condition and better treatments are urgently needed to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Recent work by our group shows that patients with OP insecticide poisoning are impaired in objective neuro-behavioural and neurophysiological markers of cognition. Identifying the influence of factors such as OP formulation, and the temporal nature of long-term cognitive impairment would help to focus follow up assessments and interventions to the groups in need, thereby saving resources.

The primary aim of this project is to develop better biomarkers of NMJ dysfunction after toxic injuries, to underpin better evaluation of treatments.

In this study we also examine the long-term neurocognitive effects of acute OP insecticide poisoning and snake envenomation.