Acrylonitrile has distinct hormetic effects on acetylcholinesterase activity in mouse brain and blood that are modulated by ethanol

He Yuanqing, Wang Suhua, Xing Guangwei, Ren Chunlan, Qian Hai, Xu Wenrong, Lu Rongzhu, Michael Aschner, Dejan Milatovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Acrylonitrile(AN) is a neurotoxin both in animals and humans, but its effects on acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity remain controversial. This study aimed to determine the dose-response effects of AN on AChE activity and the modulatory role of ethanol pretreatment. A total of 144 Kunming mice were randomly divided into 18 groups: nine groups received 5% ethanol in their drinking water, and the remaining nine groups received regular tap water. One week later, both the ethanol and tap water only groups were given an intraperitoneal injection of AN at the following doses: 0 (control), 0.156, 0.3125, 0.625, 1.25, 2.5, 5, 10 or 20 mg AN/kg body weight. AChE activity was determined on whole blood and brain 24 h later. Blood AChE activity was higher in AN-injected mice than in controls at all doses. AChE activity in blood increased in a dose-dependent manner, peaking at 0.156 mg/kg, after which a gradual decrease ensued, displaying a β-typed dose-response relationship. In contrast, brain AChE activity, following a single AN injection, was consistently lower than in control mice, and continued to fall up to a dose of 0.313 mg/kg, and thereafter increased gradually with higher doses. Mice receiving a 20 mg/kg dose of AN exhibited AChE brain activity indistinguishable from that of control mice, demonstrating a typical U-typed dose-response relationship. The activity of AChE in the blood and brain of the AN + ethanol-treated groups displayed a shift to the right, and the magnitude of the decrease in AChE activity induced by AN was attenuated relative to the AN-only group. These results suggest that AN affects AChE activity in both mouse blood and brain in a hormetic manner. Pretreatment with ethanol modifies the effect of AN on AChE, indicating that parent AN has a more prominent role than its metabolites in modulating enzyme activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Biphasic effects
  • Hormesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


Dive into the research topics of 'Acrylonitrile has distinct hormetic effects on acetylcholinesterase activity in mouse brain and blood that are modulated by ethanol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this