Characterizing biological variability in livestock blood cholinesterase activity for biomonitoring organophosphate nerve agent exposure

Richard S. Halbrook From the Environmental Sciences Division (Halbrook, Shugart), and the Health and Safety Research Division (Watson, Munro), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, and the Department of Rural Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901 (Linnabary).

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Lee R. Shugart From the Environmental Sciences Division (Halbrook, Shugart), and the Health and Safety Research Division (Watson, Munro), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, and the Department of Rural Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901 (Linnabary).

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Annetta P. Watson From the Environmental Sciences Division (Halbrook, Shugart), and the Health and Safety Research Division (Watson, Munro), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, and the Department of Rural Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901 (Linnabary).

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Nancy B. Munro From the Environmental Sciences Division (Halbrook, Shugart), and the Health and Safety Research Division (Watson, Munro), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, and the Department of Rural Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901 (Linnabary).

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Robert D. Linnabary From the Environmental Sciences Division (Halbrook, Shugart), and the Health and Safety Research Division (Watson, Munro), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, and the Department of Rural Practice, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901 (Linnabary).

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Summary

A biomonitoring protocol, using blood cholinesterase (ChE) activity in livestock as a monitor of potential organophosphate nerve agent exposure during the planned destruction of US unitary chemical warfare agent stockpiles, is described. The experimental design included analysis of blood ChE activity in individual healthy sheep, horses, and dairy and beef cattle during a 10- to 12-month period. Castrated and sexually intact males, pregnant and lactating females, and adult and immature animals were examined through at least one reproductive cycle. The same animals were used throughout the period of observation and were not exposed to ChE-inhibiting organo-phosphate or carbamate compounds. A framework for an effective biomonitoring protocol within a monitoring area includes establishing individual baseline blood ChE activity for a sentinel group of 6 animals on the bases of blood samples collected over a 6-month period, monthly collection of blood samples for ChE-activity determination during monitoring, and selection of adult animals as sentinels. Exposure to ChE-inhibiting compounds would be suspected when all blood ChE activity of all animals within the sentinel group are decreased > 20% from their own baseline value. Sentinel species selection is primarily a logistical and operational concern; however, sheep appear to be the species of choice because within-individual baseline ChE activity and among age and gender group ChE activity in sheep had the least variability, compared with data from other species. This protocol provides an effective and efficient means for detecting abnormal depressions in blood ChE activity in livestock and can serve as a valuable indicator of the extent of actual plume movement and/or deposition in the event of organophosphate nerve agent release.

Summary

A biomonitoring protocol, using blood cholinesterase (ChE) activity in livestock as a monitor of potential organophosphate nerve agent exposure during the planned destruction of US unitary chemical warfare agent stockpiles, is described. The experimental design included analysis of blood ChE activity in individual healthy sheep, horses, and dairy and beef cattle during a 10- to 12-month period. Castrated and sexually intact males, pregnant and lactating females, and adult and immature animals were examined through at least one reproductive cycle. The same animals were used throughout the period of observation and were not exposed to ChE-inhibiting organo-phosphate or carbamate compounds. A framework for an effective biomonitoring protocol within a monitoring area includes establishing individual baseline blood ChE activity for a sentinel group of 6 animals on the bases of blood samples collected over a 6-month period, monthly collection of blood samples for ChE-activity determination during monitoring, and selection of adult animals as sentinels. Exposure to ChE-inhibiting compounds would be suspected when all blood ChE activity of all animals within the sentinel group are decreased > 20% from their own baseline value. Sentinel species selection is primarily a logistical and operational concern; however, sheep appear to be the species of choice because within-individual baseline ChE activity and among age and gender group ChE activity in sheep had the least variability, compared with data from other species. This protocol provides an effective and efficient means for detecting abnormal depressions in blood ChE activity in livestock and can serve as a valuable indicator of the extent of actual plume movement and/or deposition in the event of organophosphate nerve agent release.

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