Subtle morphometric, behavioral and gene expression effects in larval zebrafish exposed to PFHxA, PFHxS and 6:2 FTOH
Recent studies of perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) have focused on the toxicity of long chain PFASs, such as PFOS or PFOA, which have been demonstrated to cause an array of developmental and behavioral effects. However, less is known about low molecular weight PFASs and alternatives. This study examined the morphometric and behavioral effects in zebrafish following developmental exposures of C6 PFASs: perfluorohexanoic acid, PFHxA, perfluorohexane sulfonate, PFHxS, and 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol, 6:2 FTOH. Embryos were exposed to 0.02-20 μM concentrations of these compounds from the high stage (˜3 h post fertilization, hpf) until 120 hpf. Morphometric and gene expression endpoints were examined at 120 hpf. Genes selected for analysis were previously shown to be altered in zebrafish developmentally exposed to PFOS and PFOA. Additionally, exposed larvae were transferred to clean water and reared until 14 days post fertilization, dpf, when behavioral assays were completed and morphometric endpoints examined. While PFHxA was found to be the most acutely toxic at 120 hpf, few morphometric effects were observed. Gene expression was the most sensitive endpoint with significant increased tgfb1a, bdnf, and ap1s1 expression observed with PFHxA exposure. PFHxS exposure produced morphometric effects in the larvae, specifically increased length and yolk sac area at 2 and 20 μM. This phenotype persisted to the 14 dpf time point, where these larvae additionally displayed decreased distance traveled and crosses through the center of the arena of the behavioral assay. Exposure to 6:2 FTOH caused no morphometric effects at 120 hpf, and this compound was the least acutely toxic. However, expression of both tgfb1a and bdnf were increased by greater than 2 fold change at this time point. Effects also persisted to 14 dpf where a significant increase in distance traveled and velocity were observed in the behavioral assay. This study demonstrates effects on behavioral, morphometric and gene expression endpoints with developmental PFHxA, PFHxS, and 6:2 FTOH exposures in zebrafish.