In vitro effects of malathion and O,O,S-trimethyl phosphorothioate on cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses

Kathleen E. Rodgers, Marcia H. Grayson, Toshiko Imamura, Bruce H. Devens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Oral administration of O,O,S-trimethyl phosphorothioate (OOS), an impurity present in technical formulations of malathion, has been shown to be associated with a high incidence of pneumonia in rats and to be highly immunosuppressive in mice. Based on these findings, an in vitro model was established to study the effect of this and other organophosphorus compounds on murine cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses. The organophosphorus compounds were tested for their ability to block in vitro generation of CTL responses to alloantigen and/or the expression of these cytotoxic responses. Responses were generated in C57Bl/6 (H-2b) spleen cells to mitomycin C-blocked P815 (H-2d) tumor cells. The cytotoxicity of the cultured splenocytes to P815 target was measured using a 4-hr chromium release assay. These data demonstrated that malathion was able to block the ability of splenocytes to sensitize to P815 at concentrations as low as 25 μg/ml, but was not able to block the expression of cytotoxicity by mature killer T cells. The same was true for OOS which had been activated by preincubation with rat liver postmitochondrial supernatant (PMS). Activated OOS blocked the generation of CTL responses at concentrations as low as 75 μg/ml while having no effect on mature cytotoxic cells. In fact, both malathion and activated OOS were no longer able to suppress CTL responses if treatment was performed as early as 24 hr after exposure to antigen. Additionally, it was demonstrated that when malathion was preincubated with PMS it was no longer suppressive and that OOS without activation failed to suppress CTL responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalPesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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