Oral doses of the organophosphorus pesticides acephate, dicrotophos, fensuifothion, fonofos, malathion, and parathion were administered to mallard ducklings (Anas platyrhynchos), and brain and plasma cholinesterase (ChE) activities were determined for up to 17 d after dosing. In vivo recovery of brain ChE activity to within 2 standard deviations of the mean activity of undosed birds occurred within 8 d, after being depressed an average of 25-58% at 24 h after dosing. In vivo recovery of plasma ChE appeared as fast as or faster than that of brain, but the pattern of recovery was more erratic and therefore statistical comparison with brain ChE recovery was not attempted. In vitro tests indicated that the potential for dephosphorylation to contribute to in vivo recovery of inhibited brain ChE differed among chemical treatments. Some ducklings died as a result of organophosphate dosing. In an experiment in which ducklings within each treatment group received the same dose (mg/kg), the brain ChE activity in birds that died was less than that in birds that survived. Brain ChE activities in ducklings that died were significantly different among pesticide treatments: fensuifothion > parathion > acephate > malathion (p < 0.05).
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