Glyphosate-based herbicides link to kidney, liver damage at ultra-low doses

More evidence of Roundup’s link to kidney, liver damage

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Long-term exposure to tiny amounts of Roundup—thousands of times lower than what is permitted in U.S. drinking water—may lead to serious problems in the liver and kidneys, according to a new study.

2015 Study Abstract

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are the major pesticides used worldwide. Converging evidence suggests that GBH, such as Roundup, pose a particular health risk to liver and kidneys although low environmentally relevant doses have not been examined. To address this issue, a 2-year study in rats administering 0.1 ppb Roundup (50 ng/L glyphosate equivalent) via drinking water (giving a daily intake of 4 ng/kg bw/day of glyphosate) was conducted. A marked increased incidence of anatomorphological and blood/urine biochemical changes was indicative of liver and kidney structure and functional pathology. In order to confirm these findings we have conducted a transcriptome microarray analysis of the liver and kidneys from these same animals.

The expression of 4224 and 4447 transcript clusters (a group of probes corresponding to a known or putative gene) were found to be altered respectively in liver and kidney (p < 0.01, q < 0.08). Changes in gene expression varied from −3.5 to 3.7 fold in liver and from −4.3 to 5.3 in kidneys. Among the 1319 transcript clusters whose expression was altered in both tissues, ontological enrichment in 3 functional categories among 868 genes were found. First, genes involved in mRNA splicing and small nucleolar RNA were mostly upregulated, suggesting disruption of normal spliceosome activity. Electron microscopic analysis of hepatocytes confirmed nucleolar structural disruption. Second, genes controlling chromatin structure (especially histone-lysine N-methyltransferases) were mostly upregulated. Third, genes related to respiratory chain complex I and the tricarboxylic acid cycle were mostly downregulated. Pathway analysis suggests a modulation of the mTOR and phosphatidylinositol signalling pathways. Gene disturbances associated with the chronic administration of ultra-low dose Roundup reflect a liver and kidney lipotoxic condition and increased cellular growth that may be linked with regeneration in response to toxic effects causing damage to tissues. Observed alterations in gene expression were consistent with fibrosis, necrosis, phospholipidosis, mitochondrial membrane dysfunction and ischemia, which correlate with and thus confirm observations of pathology made at an anatomical, histological and biochemical level.

Our results suggest that chronic exposure to a GBH in an established laboratory animal toxicity model system at an ultra-low, environmental dose can result in liver and kidney damage with potential significant health implications for animal and human populations.

Sources and More Information
  • More evidence of Roundup’s link to kidney, liver damage, environmentalhealthnews, August 28, 2015.
  • Transcriptome profile analysis reflects rat liver and kidney damage following chronic ultra-low dose Roundup exposure, BioMed Central Ltd, Environmental Health, 2015, 14:70 doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0056-1.

6 thoughts on “Glyphosate-based herbicides link to kidney, liver damage at ultra-low doses”

      1. I see a problem with the structure of this study. Glyphosate in the environment breaks down very quickly — within 24-48 hours by most estimates. The likelihood of it lingering in rainwater long enough to reach the human water supply is extremely low, if not non-existent. Daily low-level exposure such as was artificially created in this study would not actually happen in real life unless one were to anoint oneself with Round-Up daily. I’m all for good science, and glad to see this was published in a halfway credible journal — but as always, when we look at studies like this, we have to think carefully about whether the results are truly relevant, or just SOUND ominous. As always, the dose makes the poison.

        1. I don’t think it’s just the dose Karen but also the “exact target” and specific time frame. For example when pregnant women and fetus are exposed, there are or can be – depending upon products involved – irreversible side effects which are sometimes – depending upon products involved – transmittable to several generations.

          What we need is not better studies, but safe medical and chemical products – all included – which do not create the need for researches and studies, I think.
          With thanks for bringing your perspective to this blog.

  1. There also appears to have been no control group in this study, which is worrisome. If you have nothing to compare your dosed animals to, your results are always in question. There is no way to know if similar findings might turn up in the rats which were dosed with nothing.

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