The toxic mechanism of endosulfan, a widely used organochlorine pesticide, was investigated in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human cell lines. A concentration-dependent inhibition of cell growth was observed when S. cerevisiae was exposed to endosulfan, and its cytotoxicity (IC50) was found to be 49 μM and 86 μM in HepG2 and HeLa human cell lines, respectively. The treatment of S. cerevisiae with endosulfan resulted in oxidative damage, as demonstrated by thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARS) production, in a dose-dependent manner, and the growth inhibition was recovered by treatment with lipid-soluble antioxidants, such as α-tocopherol or β-carotene, suggesting that endosulfan toxicity may be closely associated with endosulfan-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. The inhibition of cellular respiration by endosulfan treatment and the recovery of respiration activity by antioxidant treatment confirmed that endosulfan induces oxidative stress and inhibits respiration via ROS generation. These results suggest that unicellular yeast might provide a useful system for elucidating the toxicity of endosulfan.
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