Wednesday, 05 December 2018 10:41

Pesticides damage nerve cells Featured

Glyphosate-based pesticides can have a damaging effect on the peripheral nervous system. Scientists at the University Hospital in Essen have obtained this finding through investigations with cell cultures.

The researchers led by Dr. med. Dr. rer. nat. Mark Stettner, head of the working group for Clinical and Experimental Neuroimmunology at University Hospital Essen, tested different concentrations of pure glyphosate as well as commercial available glyphosate-containing pesticides in vitro. The cell culture model contained nerve cells and Schwann's cells which are responsible for the myelin synthesis of peripheral nerve fibers therefore relevant for the survival of the nerve cells.

The scientists observed that Schwann's cells degrade the protective myelin layer of the nerve cells after the addition of glyphosate-containing pesticides. No new myelin was formed. The pure glyphosate had a less damaging effect. The researchers assume that the glyphosate-containing pesticide lead to a kind of reprogramming of Schwann's cells, whereby they switch from myelin-forming mode to an inflammatory mode and can no longer perform their protective function for the nerve cells.

This could be due more to the by-products of the plant protection product; the pure glyphosate may play a rather subordinate role.

The scientists have published their results in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.

Szepanowski, F., Szepanowski, L. P., Mausberg, A. K., Albrecht, P., Kleinschnitz, C., Kieseier, B. C. & Stettner, M. (2018). Differential impact of pure glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicide in a model of peripheral nervous system myelination. Acta Neuropathol. 2018 Dec;136(6):979-982. doi: 10.1007/s00401-018-1938-4.