Kinetic parameters of parathion and paraoxon uptake were determined in isolated and perfused rabbit and guinea pig lungs. They were related to organophosphate-induced lung cholinesterase inhibition. A single pass procedure was used to perfuse the lungs with an artificial medium perfusate containing paraoxon or parathion. The paraoxon and parathion concentrations were determined in the effluents collected at chosen intervals over an 18-min period beginning at the start of perfusion. Three inflowing concentrations (1 nmol/ml, 10 nmol/ml, and 20 nmol/ml) were tested in guinea pig lungs and one (10 nmol/ml) in rabbit lungs. Cholinesterase activity was determined at time 0 and at the end of the experiment. The lungs abundantly extracted paraoxon and parathion over the perfusion period. The extraction ratio was consistently greater in guinea pig than in rabbit lungs. The uptake velocity varied biexponentially in time, suggesting the existence of two compartments. Initial uptake velocities (A, B) and slopes (α and β) were calculated for both compartments. In guinea pigs, A, B and A + B increased proportionally to the supply rate of paraoxon and parathion while a and b remained constant. No significant difference was observed between parathion and paraoxon uptake kinetics. Parameter B was the only one to differ significantly between the two species (rabbits: 8.19 ± 1.53 for parathion and 6.85 ± 1.26 for paraoxon; guinea pigs: 12.75 ± 0.88 for parathion and 15.02 ± 3.84 for paraoxon). In the lungs of both species, there was a linear relation between y, the percentage of cholinesterase inhibition induced by either organophosphate, and X, the total amount of drug taken up by the lung tissue (in mmol/g/18 min). The following equations were obtained: y = 0.128 x ± 0.979 (R2 = 0.89, p < 0.001 for paraoxon); y = 0.120 x - 6.57 (R2 = 0.82, p < 0.005 for parathion). No difference was observed between the two organophosphates. After treatment with the cytochrome P450 inhibitor piperonyl butoxide, the above relations ceased to apply, but this treatment did not influence the kinetics of paraoxon and parathion uptake. The IC50 value calculated for paraoxon, i.e., the paraoxon concentration required to produce 50% inhibition of lung cholinesterase activity, was similar for guinea pigs (2.22 10-7 ± 0.22 M) and rabbits (2.36 10-7 ± 0.24 M). In conclusion, the biexponential evolution of the velocity of paraoxon and parathion uptake by the lungs thus demonstrates the presence of two pools. The lower extraction ratios calculated for rabbit lungs reflect the lower initial uptake velocity of the second compartment. In the range of concentrations investigated in guinea pigs, no saturable mechanism could be demonstrated for paraoxon and parathion. Cytochrome P450-related lung metabolic activity, through which parathion is converted to paraoxon, appears as a major step in parathion-induced lung cholinesterase inhibition, although it does not appear to affect parathion toxicokinetics.
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