Post-exposure therapy with human butyrylcholinesterase following percutaneous VX challenge in guinea pigs

Helen Mumford, Matthew E Price, David E Lenz, Douglas M Cerasoli
Clinical Toxicology 2011, 49 (4): 287-97
Human butyrylcholinesterase (huBuChE) has potential utility as a post-exposure therapy following percutaneous nerve agent poisoning as there is a slower absorption of agent by this route and hence a later onset of poisoning. METHODS. We used surgically implanted radiotelemetry devices to monitor heart rate, EEG, body temperature and locomotor activity in guinea pigs challenged with VX via the percutaneous route. RESULTS. Treatment with huBuChE (24.2 mg/kg, i.m.) at 30 or 120 min following percutaneous VX (~2.5 × LD(50)) protected 9 out of 10 animals from lethality. When i.m. huBuChE administration was delayed until the onset of observable signs of systemic cholinergic poisoning, only one out of six animals survived to 7 days. Survival increased to 50% when the same dose of huBuChE was given intravenously at the onset of signs of poisoning. This dose represents approximately 1/10th the stoichiometric equivalent of the dose of VX administered (0.74 mg/kg). Intramuscular administration of huBuChE (24.2 mg/kg) alone did not produce any changes in heart rate, brain electrical activity, temperature or locomotion compared to saline control. Survival following VX and huBuChE treatment was associated with minimal incapacitation and observable signs of poisoning, and the mitigation or prevention of detrimental physiological changes (e.g. seizure, bradycardia and hypothermia) observed in VX + saline-treated animals. At 7 days, cholinesterase activity in the erythrocytes and most brain areas of guinea pigs that received huBuChE at either 18 h prior to or 30 min following VX was not significantly different from that of naïve, weight-matched control animals. CONCLUSION. Percutaneous VX poisoning was successfully treated using post-exposure therapy with huBuChE bioscavenger. The opportunity for post-exposure treatment may have particular relevance in civilian settings, and this is a promising indication for the use of huBuChE.

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