Developmental and behavioral effects of embryonic exposure to the polybrominated diphenylether mixture DE-71 in the killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus).
Exposures to penta polybrominated diphenylether (PeBDE) cause neurobehavioral toxicity in developing mice and rats. As levels of these ubiquitous contaminants are increasing in the environment, this raises concern that wildlife may also suffer such effects, with consequences for their ability to catch prey and avoid predators. PeBDE levels in wild-caught fish have been steadily escalating over the past fifteen years. To our knowledge, behavioral consequences of piscine embryonic exposure to PeBDE has not yet been studied. The objectives of this investigation were to characterize effects on development in an environmentally relevant fish model, and test for latent behavioral effects following cessation of exposure. Embryos from the estuarine minnow, Fundulus heteroclitus, were exposed from day 0-7 post fertilization to the industrial PeBDE mixture, DE-71 (0.001 to 100 microg l(-1)). Embryos were assayed for hatching success, development, and microsomal enzyme cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) activity, which was determined by analysis of in ovo ethoxy-resorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activation in embryos. Larval fish were assayed for predation ability, activity level, and fright response to a simulated predator. Juvenile fish were assayed for learning ability in a three-chambered fish maze. No induction of embryonic EROD activity was observed, nor was a high dose of DE-71 able to inhibit EROD activity induced by beta-naphthoflavone. No deformities were detected, but a subtle developmental asymmetry with respect to tail curvature direction was observed, and a hatching delay of up to 4.5 days was noted. Behavioral test results suggest that embryonic exposure to DE-71 may alter activity level, fright response, predation rates, and learning ability in subsequent life stages.
Timme-Laragy, AR; Levin, ED; Di Giulio, RT
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