The trans isomer of [1R,S] permethrin (t-per) was > 110 times more toxic to rainbow trout than to mice by both iv and ip administration. The importance of trans-permethrin biotransformation in this differential toxicity was assessed by measuring rates of t-per biotransformation in trout and mouse tissues in vitro, and the effect of inhibitors of drug metabolism on t-per lethality in both species. A previous study had shown that ester hydrolysis by trout liver, plasma, and kidney is much slower than that seen in these same tissues in mice. The present work further indicates that oxidation of t-per is 35 times slower in trout liver microsomes than mouse microsomes when the tissue suspensions were incubated at the body temperature of trout and mice (12°C for trout and 37°C for mice). Inhibition of esterase activity with tri-o-tolyl phosphate (TOTP) produced no potentiation of t-per lethality in trout while the same compound potentiated t-per lethality at least 1.5-fold in mice. Piperonyl butoxide (PIP) alone produced no potentiation in mice but slightly increased t-per toxicity when administered in conjunction with TOTP. PIP caused a slight increase in t-per lethality in rainbow trout but no increase in t-per lethality from control was observed when trout were pretreated with both TOTP and PIP. When drug metabolism was inhibited, t-per was still 65 times more toxic to trout than to mice. The data indicate that trout, in addition to hydrolyzing t-per slowly, also oxidize the compound considerably slower than mice in vitro. Potentiation of t-per lethality by TOTP suggests ester hydrolysis to be an important t-per detoxification reaction in mice but not in trout. However, since t-per was 65 times more toxic to the trout than mouse when drug metabolism was inhibited, other factors, such as differences in target organ sensitivity may be involved in the differential toxicity of permethrin.
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