8:8 Perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acid affects neurobehavioral development, thyroid disruption, and DNA methylation in developing zebrafish

Sujin Kim, Kevin M. Stroski, Grace Killeen, Cynthia Smitherman, Matt F. Simcik, Bryan W. Brooks

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28 Scopus citations


Recent studies have reported potential neurotoxicity and epigenetic alteration associated with exposure to several per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). However, such information is limited to a few compounds (e.g., perfluorooctane sulfonate), primarily based on rodent experiments, and the underlying toxicological mechanism(s) for many PFAS in the environment remain poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated 8:8 perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acid (8:8 PFPiA), an under-studied PFAS with high persistency in the environment and biota, using the zebrafish model. We exposed zebrafish embryos (<4 hpf) to various concentrations of 8:8 PFPiA (0, 0.0116, 0.112, 0.343, 1.34, 5.79 μM) for 144 h. Although there was no significant change in survival, hatchability and malformations, zebrafish locomotor speed at 120 h significantly decreased in dark photoperiod. At 144 h, several genes related to thyroid hormones that are essential for neurodevelopment, including corticotropin releasing hormone b (crhb), iodothyronine deiodinase 3a (dio3a), thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (tshr) and nkx2 homeobox1 (nkx 2.1), were up-regulated by 8:8 PFPiA at 5.79 μM. 8:8 PFPiA also significantly down-regulated a neurodevelopmental gene, elav like neuron-specific RNA binding protein (elavl3), at 1.34 and 5.79 μM; in addition, one oxidative stress gene was slightly but significantly up-regulated. Further, global DNA methylation was significantly decreased at higher treatment levels, identifying effects of 8:8 PFPiA on epigenetic regulation. However, promoter DNA methylation of selected genes (dio3, tshr, nkx2.1) were not statistically altered, though dio3 methylation showed a decreasing trend with 8:8 PFPiA exposure. Our results specifically advance an understanding of molecular toxicology of PFPiA and more broadly present an approach to define diverse responses during animal alternative assessments of PFASs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number139600
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Sep 20 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF-2019R1A6A3A03031711 ) grant to SJ with additional support from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program ( W912HQ19C0050 ) to BWB and MS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Behavior
  • Epigenetics
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
  • Perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acids (PFPiA)
  • Thyroid disruption


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