Excess imidacloprid exposure causes the heart tube malformation of chick embryos

Lin-Rui Gao, Shuai Li, Jing Zhang, Chang Liang, En-Ni Chen, Shi-Yao Zhang, Manli Chuai, Yongping Bao, Guang Wang, Xuesong Yang

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As a neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid is widely used to control sucking insects on agricultural planting and fleas on domestic animals. However, the extent to which imidacloprid exposure has an influence on cardiogensis in early embryogenesis is still poorly understood. In vertebrates, the heart is the first organ to be formed. In this study to address whether or not imidacloprid exposure affects early heart development, the early chick embryo has been used as an experimental model because of the accessibility of chick embryo at its early developmental stage. The results demonstrate that exposure of the early chick embryo to imidacloprid caused malformation of heart tube. Furthermore,the data reveal that down-regulation of GATA4, Nkx2.5 and BMP4 and up-regulation of Wnt3a led to aberrant cardiomyocyte differentiation. In addition, imidacloprid exposure interfered with basement membrane (BM) breakdown, E-cadherin/Laminin expression and mesoderm formation during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in gastrula chick embryos. Finally, the DiI-labeled cell migration trajectory indicated that imidacloprid restricted the cell migration of cardiac progenitors to primary heart field in gastrula chick embryos. A similar observation was also obtained from the cell migration assay of scratch wounds in vitro. Additionally, imidacloprid exposure negatively affected the cytoskeleton structure and expression of corresponding adhesion molecules. Taken together, these results reveal that the improper EMT, cardiac progenitor migration and differentiation are responsible for imidacloprid exposure-induced malformation of heart tube during chick embryo development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9078–9088
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number47
Early online date28 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • Imidacloprid
  • chick embryo
  • heart tube
  • EMT
  • cardiac progenitor migration
  • differentiation

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