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Evaluating mice lacking serum carboxylesterase as a behavioral model for nerve agent intoxication

Emily N Dunn, Teresa M Ferrara-Bowens, Mark E Chachich, Cary L Honnold, Cristin C Rothwell, Heidi M Hoard-Fruchey, Catherine A Lesyna, Erik A Johnson, Douglas M Cerasoli, John H McDonough, C Linn Cadieux
Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods 2018, 28 (8): 563-572
Mice and other rodents are typically utilized for chemical warfare nerve agent research. Rodents have large amounts of carboxylesterase in their blood, while humans do not. Carboxylesterase nonspecifically binds to and detoxifies nerve agent. The presence of this natural bioscavenger makes mice and other rodents poor models for studies identifying therapeutics to treat humans exposed to nerve agents. To obviate this problem, a serum carboxylesterase knockout (Es1 KO) mouse was created. In this study, Es1 KO and wild type (WT) mice were assessed for differences in gene expression, nerve agent (soman; GD) median lethal dose (MLD) values, and behavior prior to and following nerve agent exposure. No expression differences were detected between Es1 KO and WT mice in more than 34 000 mouse genes tested. There was a significant difference between Es1 KO and WT mice in MLD values, as the MLD for GD-exposed WT mice was significantly higher than the MLD for GD-exposed Es1 KO mice. Behavioral assessments of Es1 KO and WT mice included an open field test, a zero maze, a Barnes maze, and a sucrose preference test (SPT). While sex differences were observed in various measures of these tests, overall, Es1 KO mice behaved similarly to WT mice. The two genotypes also showed virtually identical neuropathological changes following GD exposure. Es1 KO mice appear to have an enhanced susceptibility to GD toxicity while retaining all other behavioral and physiological responses to this nerve agent, making the Es1 KO mouse a more human-like model for nerve agent research.


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