We studied the profile of permethrin resistance in populations of head lice infesting children 6–12 yr old in schools and their homes in and around Buenos Aires, Argentina. Five permethrin-resistant populations with different levels of resistance were collected: Hogar Loyola (HL), Republica de Turquia (RT), Hogar Mitre (HM), Guardia de Honor (GH), and Ricardo Guiraldes (RG). One susceptible population, Bandera Argentina (BA), also was collected. Their level of resistance was evaluated, and results showed resistance ratios of 13 for HL, 16 for RT, 22 for HM, 61 for GH, and 69 for RG. To elucidate the possible involvement of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system in conferring permethrin resistance, ethoxycoumarin-O-deethylase (ECOD) activity was measured in abdomens of individual third instars and adults by using a fluorometric assay. The ECOD activity was lower in the susceptible BA population (4.7 ng per louse) than in the resistant ones (13.7 ng per louse for RG, 12.3 ng per louse for GH, 8.6 ng per louse for RT, and 8.2 ng per louse for HL). ECOD activity was significantly correlated with the level of resistance in the field populations (r = 0.97, P = 0.0009), suggesting a role for cytochrome monooxygenase P450 system in permethrin resistance by head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis De Geer.
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