Diflubenzuron leads to apoptotic cell death through ROS generation and mitochondrial dysfunction in bovine mammary epithelial cells

Woonghee Lee, Garam An, Hahyun Park, Whasun Lim, Gwonhwa Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Pesticides, which are used in agriculture and forestry to eliminate insects, are a major cause of environmental pollution. Among them, diflubenzuron (DFB), 1-(4-chlorophenyl)-3-(2,6-difluorobenzoyl) urea, is a common benzoylurea insecticide that hinders larval development, primarily in Aedes aegypti larvae. Many experts have announced the biological toxicity of DFB in various species. However, the toxicity of benzoylurea pesticides, including DFB, to bovine mammary epithelial cells (MAC-T) is unclear. Therefore, in this study, we confirmed the cytotoxic effects of DFB on the viability and proliferation of MAC-T cells. Additionally, we observed that DFB induced lipid peroxidation through reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, resulting in an increase in transcriptional gene expression related to inflammatory response. Moreover, we demonstrated mitochondrial dysfunction including depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane, perturbation of calcium homeostasis, and, eventually, apoptosis. Furthermore, we identified DFB-triggered signaling pathways related to ROS generation and cell proliferation, as well as their interactions, by treating the cells with pharmacological inhibitors in combination with DFB. DFB attenuated the phosphorylation of AKT, P70S6K, S6, and ERK1/2 and facilitated the phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun. These results show that DFB can induce apoptotic cell death via ROS generation and mitochondrial dysfunction in MAC-T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104893
JournalPesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) (grant number: 2021R1A2C2005841 and 2021R1C1C1009807 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Diflubenzuron
  • MAC-T
  • Mitochondria
  • ROS
  • Signaling pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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