Weak and reversible inhibitors of cholinesterases, when administered before potent organophosphorus inhibitors (pretreatment), have the ability, to a certain extent, to protect enzymes from inhibition. Such a protective effect was demonstrated in vitro for metoclopramide and ranitidine. The putative mode of protective action of these substances is, when administered in excess, competition for the active site of the enzyme with the more potent organophosphate. The present paper presents results using another benzamide with weak cholinesterase inhibitory properties: tiapride (TIA). The purpose of the study was to quantify in vitro the extent that TIA conferred protection, using paraoxon (POX) as an inhibitor, and to compare the results with existing data obtained using TIA as a protective agent against dichlorvos (DDVP). POX is a highly toxic non-neuropathic organophosphate. While the use of parathion (the inactive prodrug which is metabolically converted to POX) has been restricted in most countries, the organophosphate is still responsible for a large number of accidental or suicidal exposures. DDVP is a moderately toxic, non-neuropathic organophosphate. Red blood cell (RBC) acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities in whole blood and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) activities in human plasma were measured photometrically in the presence of different POX and TIA concentrations and the IC50 was calculated. Determinations were repeated in the presence of increasing TIA concentrations. The IC50 of POX increases with the TIA concentration in a linear manner. The protective effect of tiapride on cholinesterase could be of practical relevance in the pretreatment of organophosphate poisoning. It is concluded that in vivo testing of TIA as an organophosphate protective agent is warranted.
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