Table of Contents
ISRN Toxicology
Volume 2012, Article ID 232461, 9 pages
Research Article

In Vitro Effects of Herbicides and Insecticides on Human Breast Cells

Department of Biology, Millikin University, 1184 West Main Street, Decatur, IL 62522, USA

Received 14 August 2012; Accepted 11 September 2012

Academic Editors: G. C. Jagetia and T. E. Stoker

Copyright © 2012 Jessica D. Rich et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Numerous studies have indicated that the pesticides and herbicides used in agricultural processes in the United States and Europe may have detrimental effects upon human health. Many of these compounds have been indicated as potential endocrine and reproductive disruptors, although the studies have examined supraphysiological levels well above the US EPA safe levels for drinking water and have often examined these effects in “model” cell lines such as Chinese hamster ovary cells. We have now examined the cytotoxicity of more environmentally relevant concentrations of four herbicides, acetochlor, atrazine, cyanazine, and simazine, and two insecticides, chlorpyrifos and resmethrin, in three human breast cell lines. Interestingly, cytotoxicity was not observed in the estrogen-dependent MCF-7 mammary epithelial carcinoma cells; rather increases in cell viability were seen for some of the compounds at select concentrations. These results vary greatly from what was observed in the estrogen independent MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and the non-cancerous MCF-10A breast cells. This gives insight into how different tumors may respond to pesticide exposure and allows us to make more accurate conclusions about the potential cytotoxicity or, at times, stimulatory actions of these pesticides.