Fipronil recognition by the FA1 site of human serum albumin

Daniele Toti, Paolo Ascenzi, Loris Leboffe, Fabio Polticelli, Viviana Trezza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Fipronil is a broad-spectrum pesticide widely used in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. Because fipronil can cause a variety of toxic effects in animals and humans, its use is authorized as a pesticide in veterinary medicinal products for pets, but not for the treatment of livestock animals whose products are intended for consumption. Recently, however, the presence of fipronil residues has been detected in the eggs and meat of layer hens from farms located in different European countries. Given the relevance of fipronil toxicity for human health, it is important to gain information concerning its fate in the human body, including its binding mode to human serum albumin (HSA), the most abundant protein in plasma. Here, the inhibition of heme-Fe(III) binding to the fatty acid site 1 (FA1) of HSA by fipronil is reported. Docking simulations support functional data, indicating that the FA1 site is the preferential cleft for fipronil recognition by HSA. The affinity of fipronil for HSA (Kf = 1.9 × 10−6 M, at pH 7.3, and 20.0°C) may be relevant in vivo. Indeed, HSA could play a pivotal role in fipronil transport and scavenging, thus reducing the pesticide-free plasmatic levels, with consequent reduced systemic toxicity. In turn, fipronil binding to the FA1 site of HSA could impair the recognition of endogenous and exogenous molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2713-e2731
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Molecular Recognition
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Chickens
  • Fatty Acids
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Pesticides
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pyrazoles
  • Serum Albumin, Human
  • fipronil binding
  • human serum albumin
  • inhibition of warfarin binding
  • molecular docking


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