Determination of alkylmethylphosphonic acids, the main metabolites of organophosphorus nerve agents, in biofluids by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid-liquid-solid-phase-transfer-catalyzed pentafluorobenzylation.
A simple gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) procedure has been developed for the main metabolites of organophosphorus nerve agents, alkylmethylphosphonic acids (AMPAs; alkyl = Et, i-Pr, and pinacolyl) in biofluids via extractive pentafluorobenzylation. The derivatization was carried out under liquid-liquid-solid-phase-transfer conditions using a polymer-bound tri-n-butylmethylphosphonium bromide as a catalyst. AMPAs in aqueous samples were semiquantitatively extracted into a small-volume organic layer as their pentafluorobenzyl derivatives at pH 4.5 (85 degrees C). Sample pretreatments for urine, serum, and saliva were each examined to minimize matrix interference. The detection limits of APMAs by electron-impact ionization GC-MS were around 50 ng/mL and 2.5-10 ng/mL in the full-scan and selected-ion monitoring modes, respectively. In order to detect trace-level AMPAs, negative-ion chemical ionization (NICI) was also employed to enhance sensitivity. The detection limits of AMPAs in biofluids were typically 60 pg/mL by GC-NICI-MS. (+info)
Chemical and biological weapons: new questions, new answers.
The words "chemical and biological weapons" (CBW) send a shiver down most spines these days. With the end of the Cold War, the possibility of a massive nuclear confrontation appears remote, so today many popular doomsday scenarios center on the aggressive use of chemical or biological warfare by rogue nations or terrorist groups. As exaggerated as some of the accounts are, with CBW cast as the latest unseen, unstoppable enemy, the threat posed by these weapons is all too real, and growing. (+info)
The sources, fate, and toxicity of chemical warfare agent degradation products.
We include in this review an assessment of the formation, environmental fate, and mammalian and ecotoxicity of CW agent degradation products relevant to environmental and occupational health. These parent CW agents include several vesicants: sulfur mustards [undistilled sulfur mustard (H), sulfur mustard (HD), and an HD/agent T mixture (HT)]; nitrogen mustards [ethylbis(2-chloroethyl)amine (HN1), methylbis(2-chloroethyl)amine (HN2), tris(2-chloroethyl)amine (HN3)], and Lewisite; four nerve agents (O-ethyl S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioate (VX), tabun (GA), sarin (GB), and soman (GD)); and the blood agent cyanogen chloride. The degradation processes considered here include hydrolysis, microbial degradation, oxidation, and photolysis. We also briefly address decontamination but not combustion processes. Because CW agents are generally not considered very persistent, certain degradation products of significant persistence, even those that are not particularly toxic, may indicate previous CW agent presence or that degradation has occurred. Of those products for which there are data on both environmental fate and toxicity, only a few are both environmentally persistent and highly toxic. Major degradation products estimated to be of significant persistence (weeks to years) include thiodiglycol for HD; Lewisite oxide for Lewisite; and ethyl methyl phosphonic acid, methyl phosphonic acid, and possibly S-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) methylphosphonothioic acid (EA 2192) for VX. Methyl phosphonic acid is also the ultimate hydrolysis product of both GB and GD. The GB product, isopropyl methylphosphonic acid, and a closely related contaminant of GB, diisopropyl methylphosphonate, are also persistent. Of all of these compounds, only Lewisite oxide and EA 2192 possess high mammalian toxicity. Unlike other CW agents, sulfur mustard agents (e.g., HD) are somewhat persistent; therefore, sites or conditions involving potential HD contamination should include an evaluation of both the agent and thiodiglycol. (+info)
Hazards of chemical weapons release during war: new perspectives.
The two major threat classes of chemical weapons are mustard gas and the nerve agents, and this has not changed in over 50 years. Both types are commonly called gases, but they are actually liquids that are not remarkably volatile. These agents were designed specifically to harm people by any route of exposure and to be effective at low doses. Mustard gas was used in World War I, and the nerve agents were developed shortly before, during, and after World War II. Our perception of the potency of chemical weapons has changed, as well as our concern over potential effects of prolonged exposures to low doses and potential target populations that include women and children. Many of the toxicologic studies and human toxicity estimates for both mustard and nerve agents were designed for the purpose of quickly developing maximal casualties in the least sensitive male soldier. The "toxicity" of the chemical weapons has not changed, but our perception of "toxicity" has. (+info)
Sequelae of sarin toxicity at one and three years after exposure in Matsumoto, Japan.
In order to clarify the later sequelae of sarin poisoning that occurred in Matsumoto City, Japan, on June 27, 1994, a cohort study was conducted on all persons (2052 Japanese people) inhabiting an area 1050 meters from north to south and 850 meters from east to west with the sarin release site in the center. Respondents numbered 1237 and 836 people when surveys were conducted at one and three years after the sarin incident, respectively. Numbers of persons with symptoms of sarin toxicity were compared between sarin victims and non-victims. Of the respondents, 58 and 46 people had symptoms associated with sarin such as fatigue, asthenia, shoulder stiffness, asthenopia and blurred vision at both points of the survey, respectively. The prevalences were low; some complained of insomnia, had bad dreams, difficulty in smoking, husky voice, slight fever and palpitation. The victims who had symptoms one year after the incident had a lower erythrocyte cholinesterase activity than did those who did not have symptoms at the early stage; such persons lived in an area with a 500 meter long axis north east from the sarin release site. The three-year cohort study clearly showed that the odds ratios of almost all of the symptoms were high in the sarin-exposed group, suggesting a positive relationship between symptoms and grades of exposure to sarin. These results suggest that symptoms reported by many victims of the sarin incident are thought to be sequelae related to sarin exposure. (+info)
Characterization of VX on concrete using ion trap secondary ionization mass spectrometry.
The nerve agent VX (O-ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methyl phosphonothiolate) was analyzed on the surface of concrete samples using an ion trap secondary ion mass spectrometer (IT-SIMS). It was found that VX could be detected down to an absolute quantity of 5 ng on a concrete chip, or to a surface coverage of 0.0004 monolayers on crushed concrete. To achieve these levels of detection, the m/z 268-->128 ion fragmentation was measured using MS2, where m/z 268 corresponds to [VX + H]+, and 128 corresponds to a diisopropylvinylammonium isomer, that is formed by the elimination of the phosphonothiolate moiety. Detection at these levels was accomplished by analyzing samples that had been recently exposed to VX, i.e., within an hour. When the VX-exposed concrete samples were aged, the SIMS signature for intact VX had disappeared, which signaled the degradation of the compound on the concrete surface. The VX signature was replaced by ions which are interpreted in terms of VX degradation products, which appear to be somewhat long lived on the concrete surface. These compounds include ethylmethylphosphonic acid (EMPA), diisopropyl taurine (DIPT), diisopropylaminoethanethiol (DESH), bis(diisopropylaminoethane) disulfide [(DES)2], and a particularly tenacious compound that may correspond to diisopropylvinylamine (DIVA), or an isomer thereof. It was found that the thiolamine-derived degradation products DIPT, DESH, and (DES)2 were removed with isopropyl alcohol extraction. However, the DIVA-related degradation product was observed to strongly adhere to the concrete surface for longer than one week. Although quantitation was not possible in this set of experiments, the results clearly show the rapid degradation of VX on concrete, as well as the surface sensitivity of the IT-SIMS for intact VX and its adsorptive degradation products. (+info)
The binding of substrate analogs to phosphotriesterase.
Phosphotriesterase (PTE) from Pseudomonas diminuta catalyzes the detoxification of organophosphates such as the widely utilized insecticide paraoxon and the chemical warfare agent sarin. The three-dimensional structure of the enzyme is known from high resolution x-ray crystallographic analyses. Each subunit of the homodimer folds into a so-called TIM barrel, with eight strands of parallel beta-sheet. The two zinc ions required for activity are positioned at the C-terminal portion of the beta-barrel. Here, we describe the three-dimensional structure of PTE complexed with the inhibitor diisopropyl methyl phosphonate, which serves as a mimic for sarin. Additionally, the structure of the enzyme complexed with triethyl phosphate is also presented. In the case of the PTE-diisopropyl methyl phosphonate complex, the phosphoryl oxygen of the inhibitor coordinates to the more solvent-exposed zinc ion (2.5 A), thereby lending support to the presumed catalytic mechanism involving metal coordination of the substrate. In the PTE-triethyl phosphate complex, the phosphoryl oxygen of the inhibitor is positioned at 3.4 A from the more solvent-exposed zinc ion. The two structures described in this report provide additional molecular understanding for the ability of this remarkable enzyme to hydrolyze such a wide range of organophosphorus substrates. (+info)
Acute sarin exposure causes differential regulation of choline acetyltransferase, acetylcholinesterase, and acetylcholine receptors in the central nervous system of the rat.
Acute neurotoxic effects of sarin (O:-isopropylmethylphosphonoflouridate) in male Sprague-Dawley rats were studied. The animals were treated with intramuscular (im) injections of either 1 x LD(50) (100 microg/kg), and sacrificed at 0. 5, 1, 3, 6, 15, or 20 h after treatment, or with im injections of either 0.01, 0.1, 0.5, or 1 x LD(50) and sacrificed 15 h after treatment. Plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and brain regional acetylcholinesterase (AChE) were inhibited (45-55%) by 30 min after the LD(50) dose. BChE in the plasma and AChE in cortex, brainstem, midbrain, and cerebellum remained inhibited for up to 20 h following a single LD(50) treatment. No inhibition in plasma BChE activity was observed 20 h after treatment with doses lower than the LD(50) dose. Midbrain and brainstem seem to be most responsive to sarin treatment at lower doses, as these regions exhibited inhibition (approximately 49% and 10%, respectively) in AChE activity following 0.1 x LD(50) treatment, after 20 h. Choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity was increased in cortex, brainstem, and midbrain 6 h after LD(50) treatment, and the elevated enzyme activity persisted up to 20 h after treatment. Cortex ChAT activity was significantly increased following a 0.1 x LD(50) dose, whereas brainstem and midbrain did not show any effect at lower doses. Treatment with an LD(50) dose caused a biphasic response in cortical nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (m2-mAChR) ligand binding, using [(3)H]cytisine and [(3)H]AFDX-384 as ligands for nAChR and mAChR, respectively. Decreases at 1 and 3 h and consistent increases at 6, 15, and 20 h in nAChR and m2-mAChR were observed following a single LD(50) dose. The increase in nAChR ligand binding densities was much more pronounced than in mAChR. These results suggest that a single exposure of sarin, ranging from 0.1 to 1 x LD(50), modulates the cholinergic pathways differently and thereby causes dysregulation in excitatory neurotransmission. (+info)