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Cocktail effect of low dose pesticide mixture in food : gender-related metabolic disturbances

Results published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Male mice liver - steatosis
© Inra
Male mice exposed to pesticides gain weight and become diabetic. Female mice are protected from these effects but exhibit other metabolic disturbances.

The originality of the study conducted by researchers at INRA and INSERM in Toulouse lies in the choice of experimental conditions: a cocktail of six pesticides tested, the mode of exposure of mice by food, selected doses (equivalent to the acceptable daily intake for humans) and the duration of the study (1 year).

  • Various parameters were studied (body weight, glucose tolerance, blood and urine analysis, liver metabolism) to evaluate the consequences of exposure to this low-dose pesticide cocktail on metabolic homeostasis.
  • The results obtained show that the mixture of pesticides induces significant metabolic disorders in all animals but different according to gender (sexual dimorphism). Males have diabetes, an accumulation of fat in the liver (steatosis), and significant overweight. Females show hepatic disturbances (oxidative stress) and a change in gut microbiota activity.
foie male normal
Foie male steatose

Male mouse liver not exposed to pesticides

Male mouse liver with lipid accumulation after being exposed to pesticides for one year

Differences in response between males and females would be linked to gender-specific pesticides detoxification capabilities, which would lead to the activation of distinct molecular mechanisms in the liver.


See the full press release on the national INRA website (In French)



This work was carried out within the framework of the NEWPOM project ("Pesticides in apple orchards, from exposure measurement to impact assessment") co-financed by the Occitanie Region and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).