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The surfactant co-formulant POEA in the glyphosate-based herbicide RangerPro but not glyphosate alone causes necrosis in Caco-2 and HepG2 human cell lines and ER stress in the ToxTracker assay

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Robin Mesnage, Scarlett Ferguson, Inger Brandsma, Nynke Moelijker, Gaonan Zhang, Francesca Mazzacuva, Anna Caldwell, John Halket, Michael N. Antoniou

Original languageEnglish
Article number113380
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
PublishedOct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Robin Mesnage is supported by a grant to Michael Antoniou from the Sustainable Food Alliance (USA) . Inger Brandsma, Nynke Moelijker and Gaonan Zhang are employees of Toxys. Robin Mesnage acts in an expert consulting or advisory capacity with a law firm involved in litigation in the US over glyphosate/Roundup health effects. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors

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The toxicity of co-formulants present in glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) has been widely discussed leading to the European Union banning the polyoxyethylene tallow amine (POEA). We identified the most commonly used POEA, known as POE-15 tallow amine (POE-15), in the widely used US GBH RangerPro. Cytotoxicity assays using human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 and hepatocyte HepG2 cell lines showed that RangerPro and POE-15 are far more cytotoxic than glyphosate alone. RangerPro and POE-15 but not glyphosate caused cell necrosis in both cell lines, and that glyphosate and RangerPro but not POE-15 caused oxidative stress in HepG2 cells. We further tested these pesticide ingredients in the ToxTracker assay, a system used to evaluate a compound's carcinogenic potential, to assess their capability for inducing DNA damage, oxidative stress and an unfolded protein response (endoplasmic reticulum, ER stress). RangerPro and POE-15 but not glyphosate gave rise to ER stress. We conclude that the toxicity resulting from RangerPro exposure is thus multifactorial involving ER stress caused by POE-15 along with oxidative stress caused by glyphosate. Our observations reinforce the need to test both co-formulants and active ingredients of commercial pesticides to inform the enactment of more appropriate regulation and thus better public and environmental protection.

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