Effects of Permethrin or Deltamethrin Exposure in Adult Sprague Dawley Rats on Acoustic and Light Prepulse Inhibition of Acoustic or Tactile Startle


The effects of permethrin (PRM) and deltamethrin (DLM) on acoustic or light prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response (ASR) and tactile startle response (TSR) were studied in adult male Sprague Dawley rats. Preliminary studies were conducted to optimize the parameters of light and acoustic prepulse inhibition of ASR and TSR. Once these parameters were set, a new group of rats was administered PRM (0 or 90 mg/kg) or DLM (0 or 25 mg/kg) by gavage in 5 mL/kg corn oil. ASR and TSR were assessed using acoustic or light prepulses 6, 8, and 12 h after PRM and 2, 4, and 6 h after DLM exposure. PRM increased ASR 6 h post-treatment with no interaction with acoustic prepulse levels and with no effect on TSR. When light was used as the prepulse, PRM increased ASR and TSR at 6 h with no interaction with prepulse levels. DLM decreased ASR and TSR on trials without prepulses but not on trials with acoustic prepulses. DLM also decreased ASR when light prepulses were present 4 h post-treatment. A final experiment assessed whether the house light in the test cabinet affected ASR and TSR after PRM or DLM exposure. Rats had increased ASR and TSR when house lights were on compared with when they were off, but lighting did not differentially interact with PRM or DLM. Light and acoustic prepulses of ASR and TSR have different effects depending on the test agent and the test parameters.

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We thank undergraduate students Erin Tepe, Audra Stueve, Jacob Feldman, Sydney Bevelheimer, Aliyah Lingo, Shalyn Brown, Caitlyn Lohman, and Caitlin Lachut for assisting in testing of rats used in this research.


This project was supported by the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation, Division of Neurology to Drs. Vorhees and Williams. Behavioral testing was conducted through the Animal Behavior Core of Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation.

Author information




Samantha Regan, Chiho Sugimoto, and Adam Fritz contributed to the testing of the animals, administered the compounds, compiled, and checked the data. Samantha Regan in collaboration with Dr. Williams statistically analyzed the data. Samantha Regan in collaboration with Dr. Vorhees developed the figures. Drs. Vorhees and Williams conceived and designed the study, edited the paper, and provided the resources to conduct the study.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael T. Williams.

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Competing Interests

Drs. Williams and Vorhees received funding from the Council for the Advancement of Pyrethroid Human Risk Assessment, LLC (CAPHRA) from 2012 to 2017. The present studies, however, were not supported by CAPHRA. Dr. Vorhees has, within the last 3 years, consulted for a Scientific Advisory Panel for the International Glutamate Technical Committee. He has also served on Scientific Advisory Committees on Chemicals for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on a Scientific Advisory Committee on Artificial Food Colors and Children’s Behavior for the California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and on a National Academy of Science Committee to review a National Toxicology Program systematic review of the effects of fluoride on brain development and cognition. Mr. Fritz, Ms. Regan, and Ms. Sugimoto declare no potential conflicts of interest.

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Regan, S.L., Sugimoto, C., Fritz, A.L. et al. Effects of Permethrin or Deltamethrin Exposure in Adult Sprague Dawley Rats on Acoustic and Light Prepulse Inhibition of Acoustic or Tactile Startle. Neurotox Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12640-021-00339-9

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  • Acoustic startle
  • Tactile startle
  • Light prepulse inhibition
  • Acoustic prepulse inhibition
  • Permethrin
  • Deltamethrin