TRPA1 channel mediates organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy

Qiang Ding, Sui Fang, Xueqin Chen, Youxin Wang, Jian Li, Fuyun Tian, Xiang Xu, Bernard Attali, Xin Xie, Zhaobing Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN), often leads to paresthesias, ataxia and paralysis, occurs in the late-stage of acute poisoning or after repeated exposures to organophosphate (OP) insecticides or nerve agents, and may contribute to the Gulf War Syndrome. The acute phase of OP poisoning is often attributed to acetylcholinesterase inhibition. However, the underlying mechanism for the delayed neuropathy remains unknown and no treatment is available. Here we demonstrate that TRPA1 channel (Transient receptor potential cation channel, member A1) mediates OPIDN. A variety of OPs, exemplified by malathion, activates TRPA1 but not other neuronal TRP channels. Malathion increases the intracellular calcium levels and upregulates the excitability of mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons in vitro. Mice with repeated exposures to malathion also develop local tissue nerve injuries and pain-related behaviors, which resembles OPIDN. Both the neuropathological changes and the nocifensive behaviors can be attenuated by treatment of TRPA1 antagonist HC030031 or abolished by knockout of Trpa1 gene. In the classic hens OPIDN model, malathion causes nerve injuries and ataxia to a similar level as the positive inducer tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (TOCP), which also activates TRPA1 channel. Treatment with HC030031 reduces the damages caused by malathion or tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate. Duloxetine and Ketotifen, two commercially available drugs exhibiting TRPA1 inhibitory activity, show neuroprotective effects against OPIDN and might be used in emergency situations. The current study suggests TRPA1 is the major mediator of OPIDN and targeting TRPA1 is an effective way for the treatment of OPIDN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17024
JournalCell Discovery
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Malathion
  • Organophosphate
  • TOCP
  • TRPA1


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