Embryonic exposure to PFAS causes long-term, compound-specific behavioral alterations in zebrafish.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are commonly used as surfactants and coatings for industrial processes and consumer products. These compounds have been increasingly detected in drinking water and human tissue, and concern over their potential effects on health and development is growing. However, relatively little data are available for their potential impacts on neurodevelopment and the degree to which different compounds within this class may differ from one another in their neurotoxicity. The present study examined the neurobehavioral toxicology of two representative compounds in a zebrafish model. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to 0.1-100uM perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or 0.01-1.0uM perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) from 5 to 122 h post-fertilization. These concentrations were below threshold for producing increased lethality or overt dysmorphologies, and PFOA was tolerated at a concentration 100× higher than PFOS. Fish were maintained to adulthood, with behavioral assessments at 6 days, 3 months (adolescence) and 8 months of age (adulthood). Both PFOA and PFOS caused behavioral changes in zebrafish, but PFOS and PFOS produced strikingly different phenotypes. PFOA was associated with increased larval motility in the dark (100uM), and enhanced diving responses in adolescence (100uM) but not adulthood. PFOS was associated with a reversed light-dark response in the larval motility test (0.1-1uM), whereby the fish were more active in the light than the dark. PFOS also caused time-dependent changes in locomotor activity in the novel tank test during adolescence (0.1-1.0uM) and an overall pattern of hypoactivity in adulthood at the lowest concentration (0.01uM). Additionally, the lowest concentration of PFOS (0.01uM) reduced acoustic startle magnitude in adolescence, but not adulthood. These data suggest that PFOS and PFOA both produce neurobehavioral toxicity, but these effects are quite distinct from one another.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hawkey, AB; Mead, M; Natarajan, S; Gondal, A; Jarrett, O; Levin, ED

Published Date

  • 2023

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 /

Start / End Page

  • 107165 -

PubMed ID

  • 36801483

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC10198882

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-9738

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ntt.2023.107165


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States