Increasing PON1 Activity to Detoxify Organophosphates (Pesticides/Herbicides)


Many pesticide, herbicides and nerve agents have as their basis the chemical organophosphate.  In addition to pesticides and herbicides, organophosphates are used in solvents and plasticizers.  Commonly used organophosphates have included parathion, malathion, methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, phosmet, fenitrothion, tetrachlorvinphos, azamethiphos, and azinphos-methyl.

Organophophates are not used for residential purposes, but commercially they are sprayed on fruits and vegetables.  They can be absorbed through the lungs or skin or by eating them on food. 

According to the U.S. EPA, organophosphates are very toxic to bees, wildlife and humans.  Organophosphates is considered a neurotoxin and has effects on developing organisms, even from low levels of exposure.  Primarily, organophosphates irreversibly inactivate acetylcholinesterase.

Acetylcholinesterase breaks (hydrolyzes) acetylcholine down into its constituents – choline (which is subsequently utilized in the production of fresh acetylcholine) and acetic acid.  Acetylcholinesterase effectively terminates synaptic transmission.  It is necessary in the process of the neurotransmission of acetylcholine. 

Source:  Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington

Acetylcholinesterase is released from the presynaptic neuron into the synaptic cleft and binds to acetylcholine receptors on the post-synaptic membrane, relaying the signal from the nerve. Acetylcholinesterase, also located on the post-synaptic membrane, terminates the signal transmission by hydrolyzing acetylcholine.

Detoxifying Organophophates from the Body

A special molecule called Serum paraoxonase/arylesterase 1 (PON1) is the enzyme in the body that is responsible for hydrolysing (break down (a compound) by chemical reaction with water) organophosphate pesticides and nerve gasses.

PON1 is one of three known genotypic forms of paraoxonases. Paraoxonases are a group of enzymes consisting of three sub-types that were originally discovered for their involvement in the hydrolysis of organophosphates.  Serum PON1 is secreted mainly by the liver although local synthesis occurs in several tissues and the PON1 protein is found in almost all tissues, but primarily in the liver yet has also been expressed in tissue from the kidney and parts of the colon.

PON1 is also critical for its role as an antioxidant in preventing the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). 

Low levels of PON1 activity in the body can be detrimental to health, especially when there is exposure to organophosphates, which is almost inevitable in our modern day society.

To continuously detoxify organophosphates from the body, you need to make sure that you keep your PON1 activity levels high.

Increasing and Elevating Levels of PON1

There a number of natural substances that increase and elevate PON1 activity in the body.  Generally, PON1 is increased following consumption of polyphenol-rich diets.  1 

Specific polyphenol compounds have been studied for their effectiveness in increasing PON1 activity.  These compounds include:

  • Naringenin   2  
  • Oleic acid (olive oil and sunflower oil)  3 
  • Pomegranate extracts  4  5  6  7
  • Quercetin  8
  • Resveratrol  9
  • Apple Polyphenols (increased PON1 by 23%) 10