This investigation was designed to study the neurotoxicity produced in hens by the aliphatic hexacarbons n-hexane, methyl n-butyl ketone (MnBK), 2,5-hexanediol (2,5- HDOH), and 2,5-hexanedione (2,5-HD) following daily dermal application of each chemical alone and in combination with O-ethyl O-4-nitrophenyl phenylphosphonothioote (EPN). Dermal application was carried out on the unprotected back of the neck. To assess whether the joint neurotoxic action of various chemicals is caused by the enhancement of absorption through the skin or by interaction at the molecular level, two additional experiments were performed. In the first experiment, EPN was dissolved in each of the aliphatic hydrocarbons prior to their topical application. In the second experiment, EPN was dissolved in acetone and applied at a different location from that of the aliphatic hexacarbons. Dermal application was carried out for 90 d followed by a 30-d observation period. The results show that (1) hens treated with EPN developed severe ataxia followed by improvement during the observation period; (2) n-hexane produced leg weakness with subsequent recovery, whereas the same dose of MnBK, 2,5-HDOH, or 2,5-HD produced clinical signs of neurotoxicity characterized by gross ataxia; (3) concurrent dermal application of EPN with n-hexane or 2,5-HDOH at the same site or at different sites produced an additive neurotoxic action; (4) simultaneous dermal application of EPN and MnBK at different sites resulted in an additive effect, whereas it caused potentiation when applied at the same site; and (5) concurrent topical application of EPN and 2,5-HD produced a potentiating neurotoxic effect. While no histopathologic lesion was produced at the end of the observation period when any test chemical was applied alone, binary treatments of EPN and aliphatic hexacarbons resulted in histopathologic changes in some hens, with morphology and distribution characteristic of EPN neurotoxicity. The joint potentiating or additive action of aliphatic hexacarbons on EPN neurotoxicity was: 2,5-HD < MnBK < 2,5- HDOH < n-hexane. The mechanism of this joint action seems to be related both to enhancing skin absorption of EPN and/or to its metabolic activation by n-hexane and its related chemicals.
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