Oxidative stress, cholinesterase activity, and DNA damage in the liver, whole blood, and plasma of Wistar rats following a 28-day exposure to glyphosate

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In this 28 day-study, we evaluated the effects of herbicide glyphosate administered by gavage to Wistar rats at daily doses equivalent to 0.1 of the acceptable operator exposure level (AOEL), 0.5 of the consumer acceptable daily intake (ADI), 1.75 (corresponding to the chronic population-adjusted dose, cPAD), and 10 mg kg−1 body weight (bw) (corresponding to 100 times the AOEL). At the end of each treatment, the body and liver weights were measured and compared with their baseline values. DNA damage in leukocytes and liver tissue was estimated with the alkaline comet assay. Oxidative stress was evaluated using a battery of endpoints to establish lipid peroxidation via thiobarbituric reactive substances (TBARS) level, level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), glutathione (GSH) level, and the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px). Total cholinesterase activity and the activities of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) were also measured. The exposed animals gained less weight than control. Treatment resulted in significantly higher primary DNA damage in the liver cells and leukocytes. Glyphosate exposure significantly lowered TBARS in the liver of the AOEL, ADI, and cPAD groups, and in plasma in the AOEL and cPAD group. AChE was inhibited with all treatments, but the AOEL and ADI groups significantly differed from control. Total ChE and plasma/liver ROS/GSH levels did not significantly differ from control, except for the 35 % decrease in ChE in the AOEL and ADI groups and a significant drop in liver GSH in the cPAD and 100xAOEL groups. AOEL and ADI blood GSH-Px activity dropped significantly, but in the liver it significantly increased in the ADI, cPAD, and 100xAOEL groups vs. control. All these findings show that even exposure to low glyphosate levels can have serious adverse effects and points to a need to change the approach to risk assessment of low-level chronic/sub-chronic glyphosate exposure, where oxidative stress is not necessarily related to the genetic damage and AChE inhibition.

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