MSD Manual

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Professional Version

Pesticide Potentiating Agent Toxicosis in Animals


Ramesh C. Gupta

, DVM, PhD, DABT, FACT, FACN, Toxicology Department, Breathitt Veterinary Center, Murray State University;

Robin B. Doss

, Breathitt Veterinary Center, Murray State University

Reviewed/Revised Aug 2022 | Modified Nov 2022
Topic Resources

Piperonyl Butoxide

Piperonyl butoxide is used as a potentiator or synergist in many pesticide formulations, including carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, pyrethrins, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and d-limonene. It decreases breakdown of these pesticides in the animal or insect’s body by inhibiting mixed function oxidase (MFO) enzymes and makes the pesticide more toxic to the insect and the host. Animals that are debilitated or have decreased drug-metabolizing capability become more susceptible to the pesticide. However, toxins that must be activated in the body to a toxic form are frequently less toxic when piperonyl butoxide exposure occurs at the same time. This potentiating or synergistic effect has been seen in many species, including cats, dogs, rats, and humans. Both cimetidine, a drug that reduces stomach acid secretion by blocking gastric H2 receptors, and the antimicrobial chloramphenicol have the same effect.


Chemically, sesamex (also called sesoxane) is an organic compound (5-[1-[2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethoxy]ethoxy]-1,3-benzodioxole), which has the chemical formula C15H22O6, with a molecular weight of 298.335.

Sesamex itself is not a pesticide but is commonly used as a potentiator or synergist of pyrethrins and pyrethroids toxicity in insects. Sesamex is not commonly used in pesticide formulations.

Piperonyl Cyclonene and Diallyl Succinate

These compound are rarely used as potentiators or synergists due to their poor efficacy.

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