Stereospecific action of pyrethroid insecticides on the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor-ionophore complex

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Science  30 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4618, pp. 1399-1401
DOI: 10.1126/science.6310756


The potent alpha-cyano-3-phenoxybenzyl pyrethroids, including cypermethrin, deltamethrin, and fenvalerate, act stereospecifically to inhibit binding to rat brain synaptic membranes of sulfur-35-labeled t-butylbicyclophosphorothionate, a new radioligand for the picrotoxinin binding site. Scatchard analysis indicates that picrotoxinin inhibition of t-butylbicyclophosphorothionate binding is competitive whereas cypermethrin inhibition possibly involves a closely associated site in the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor-ionophore complex. Studies with 37 pyrethroids reveal an absolute correlation, that is, no false positives or negatives, between mouse intracerebral toxicity and in vitro inhibition: all toxic cyano compounds but none of their nontoxic stereoisomers are inhibitors; cis isomers are more potent than trans isomers as both toxicants and inhibitors; and noncyano pyrethroids are much less potent or are inactive.