The first evidence by UB scientists showing carbamates can upset circadian rhythms

Written and posted by: Bhawana Jain

Published on: January 20, 2017

Article Source: University of Buffalo

Abstract: A new study has found to link insecticides with diabetes. According to the study, synthetic chemicals present in some insecticides and garden products can bind to melatonin receptors and increase risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders in people.

Complete article:

Human exposure to different environmental chemicals like insecticides and garden products creates a higher risk for developing various metabolic diseases such as diabetes as the chemicals can bind with proteins or signaling pathways in the endocrine or neuroendocrine system, a study has found.

The research, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology that integrated big-data computation with receptor pharmacology, is the very first evidence provided by scientists that carbamate insecticides found in household and agricultural products adversely affects melatonin receptor signaling, creating a higher risk for metabolic diseases such as diabetes.


This computer-generated image demonstrates how melatonin (in yellow) and carbaryl, (in light turquoise), a commonly used insecticide, bind directly to the same binding region on the human melatonin receptor.
Source Credit: Raj Rajnarayanan, UB

This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health – specifically funded to identify new environmental diabetogens and obesogens.

The research involved generating a database which was called Chem2Risk. The database contains nearly four million chemicals that are reported to have some level of toxicity. From those, after grouping the chemicals in clusters according to their similarity, researchers found several chemicals with the potential to mimic melatonin. Wet-lab experiments confirmed that these chemicals indeed interact with melatonin receptors and have the potential to disrupt melatonin signaling.

The research showed that by interacting with melatonin system, these insecticides could disrupt circadian rhythm and creates higher risk for people to develop diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

The results displayed the necessity to assess environmental chemicals for their ability to disrupt circadian activity, as currently this is not being considered by federal regulators.

Journal Reference:

Marina Popovska-Gorevski, Margarita L. Dubocovich, Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan. Carbamate Insecticides Target Human Melatonin ReceptorsChemical Research in Toxicology, 2017; DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00301