Organophosphates and Carbamates

L. G. Costa, Michael Aschner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Organophosphates (OPs) are a major class of insecticides. Their acute toxicity is due to inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) resulting in the accumulation of acetylcholine in the synapse, with an ensuing cholinergic crisis. Treatment of OP intoxication consists in administering atropine, to block muscarinic receptors, and oximes, to facilitate the reactivation of AChE. An intermediate syndrome, characterized by muscular weakness, is at times observed in humans after OP poisoning. Some OPs can also cause a peripheral neuropathy (OP-induced delayed polyneuropathy) that is seen weeks after acute poisoning when all other symptoms have subsided, and is unrelated to AChE inhibition. Another class of insecticides that act by inhibiting AChE is that of carbamates; the signs and symptoms of intoxication are the same as for OPs, but of much shorter duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9780123851574
ISBN (Print)9780123851581
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Acetylcholine
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Atropine
  • Carbamate insecticides
  • Cholinergic syndrome
  • Intermediate syndrome
  • Muscarinic receptors
  • Nicotinic receptors
  • Organophosphate-induced delayed polyneuropathy
  • Organophosphorus insecticides
  • Oximes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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