Skip to page navigation menu Skip entire header
Brown University
Skip 13 subheader links

Agent Orange: Evidence of Role in Neurotoxicity


Agent Orange, a synthetic dioxin-containing toxin used as an herbicide during the Vietnam War, is principally composed of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). The most widely recognized adverse heath effects of Agent Orange exposures include teratogenesis in the offspring and carcinogenesis in military personnel and inhabitants of sprayed territories. Growing evidence that herbicides and pesticides contribute to chronic diseases including neurodegeneration, raises concern that Agent Orange exposures may increase the risk for later development of peripheral or central nervous system (CNS) degeneration. This research reviews published data on the main systemic effects, and the prevalence rates, relative risks, characteristics, and correlates of Agent Orange-associated peripheral neuropathy. Furthermore, this research investigates the potential contributions of Agent Orange exposures to neurological diseases, using an in vitro model to examine dose-dependent effects of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T on human CNS neuronal mitochondrial function and viability. The critical findings from the review were that relatively high levels of Agent Orange exposure increase risk of developing peripheral neuropathy either alone or as a co-factor complication of diabetes mellitus. The main findings from the experimental model were that both major constituents in Agent Orange exert neurotoxic effects that variably compromise mitochondrial function and/or viability of human CNS neuronal cells, and therefore could potentially have a pathogenic role in neurodegeneration. However, given the protracted intervals between the Agent Orange exposures and disease emergence, additional research is needed to identify mechanistic correlates of the related neurological disorders, including lifestyle co-factors.


Goel, Anuva, Tong, Ming, and de la Monte, Suzanne M., "Agent Orange: Evidence of Role in Neurotoxicity" (2020). Summer Research Symposium. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.


Has Parts:

  • Agent Orange: Evidence of Role in Neurotoxicity
    • Type: Video
    • Order:
    • View
  • Agent Orange: Evidence of Role in Neurotoxicity
    • Type: Stream
    • Order:
    • View


  • Summer Research Symposium

    Each year, Brown University showcases the research of its undergraduates at the Summer Research Symposium. More than half of the student-researchers are UTRA recipients, while others receive funding from a variety of Brown-administered and national programs and fellowships and go …