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Your Environment. Your Health.

Early Life Exposure to PFOS Alters Zebrafish Development

Alicia Timme-Laragy, Ph.D., Karilyn Sant, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, San Diego State University
R01ES025748, R01ES028201, F32ES028085, K01ES031640

Exposure to perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) early in development can alter metabolic programming and pancreas development in zebrafish, according to a new NIEHS-funded study. The changes persisted in juvenile fish, suggesting PFOS as a contaminant of interest in the developmental origins of diabetes and obesity, according to the authors.

Researchers exposed zebrafish embryos to PFOS from either 1-5 days post fertilization (dpf) or 1-15 dpf. They evaluated fish at different time points up to 30 dpf, or juvenile stage. The researchers looked at concentrations of lipids, triglycerides, protein, cholesterol, and glucose, as well as at pancreatic islet cell shape, body fat, and fish behavior. They also measured the expression of different forms of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), a pathway involved in nutrient metabolism and storage.

Comparing exposed with nonexposed fish, the team did not observe any differences in levels of protein, cholesterol, triglycerides, or glucose. However, in exposed fish they found higher concentrations of certain saturated fatty acids and lower PPAR gene expression. The team reported more abnormal pancreatic islet cells and increased body fat in both 15 dpf and juvenile PFOS-exposed fish compared with unexposed fish. The researchers did not observe any difference in behavior.

According to the authors, these data suggest that PFOS exposures early in development can disrupt metabolic programming and result in changes that persist later in life.

Citation: Sant KE, Annunziato K, Conlin S, Teicher G, Chen P, Venezia O, Downes GB, Park Y, Timme-Laragy AR. 2021. Developmental exposures to perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) impact embryonic nutrition, pancreatic morphology, and adiposity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Environ Pollut 275:116644.

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