Evaluation of the genotoxicity of the pyrethroid insecticide phenothrin

Károly Nagy, Gábor Rácz, Takashi Matsumoto, Róza Ádány, Balázs Ádám

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Phenothrin, a synthetic pyrethroid compound, is widely used to control agricultural and household insects, as well as to eliminate human louse infestation. Toxicity studies on the direct DNA-damaging effect of phenothrin are lacking. We therefore investigated whether phenothrin exposure can lead to increased DNA damage in vitro in human peripheral blood lymphocytes and in human hepatocytes. Genotoxicity was evaluated by means of the comet assay modified with formamidopyrimidine DNA-glycosylase post-treatment for the detection of oxidative base-damage in DNA. We also assessed the cytotoxic potential of this compound by use of combined fluorescence viability staining. Our results show that phenothrin induces statistically significant, dose-dependent DNA damage in the absence of marked cytotoxicity at concentrations higher than 20. μM and 50. μM in human blood peripheral lymphocytes and hepatocytes, respectively. Oxidative DNA damage could also be detected in the two cell types, although this did not reach statistical significance. These findings provide evidence of the DNA-damaging potential of phenothrin and call for additional studies to reveal the genotoxic properties of this pyrethroid. The observations also point at the importance of using caution when considering the use of phenothrin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Comet assay
  • DNA damage
  • Phenothrin
  • Pyrethroid
  • Sumithrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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