Bioconcentration and developmental neurotoxicity of novel brominated flame retardants, hexabromobenzene and pentabromobenzene in zebrafish


The flame retardants hexabromobenzene (HBB) and pentabromobenzene (PBB) have been extensively used and become ubiquitous pollutants in the aquatic environment and biota, but their potential toxic effects on wildlife remained unknown. In this study, by using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model, the bioconcentration and developmental neurotoxicity were investigated. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to HBB and PBB (0, 30, 100 and 300 μg/L) from 2 until 144 h post-fertilization (hpf). Chemical analysis showed bioconcentrations of both chemicals, while HBB is readily metabolized to PBB in zebrafish larvae. Embryonic exposure to both chemicals did not cause developmental toxicity, but induced locomotor behavioral anomalies in larvae. Molecular docking results indicated that both chemicals could bind to zebrafish acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Furthermore, HBB and PBB significantly inhibited AChE activities, accompanied by increased contents of acetylcholine and decreased choline in larvae. Downregulation of the genes associated with central nervous system (CNS) development (e.g., mbp, α1-tubulin, gfap, shha) as well as the corresponding proteins (e.g., Mbp, α1-Tubulin) was observed, but gap-43 was upregulated at both gene and protein levels. Together, our results indicate that both HBB and PBB exhibit developmental neurotoxicity by affecting various parameters related to CNS development and indications for future toxicological research and risk assessment of the novel brominated flame retardants.

Authors: Xiangping Chen, Wei Guo, Lei Lei, Yongyong Guo, Lihua Yang, Jian Han, Bingsheng Zhou
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2020 Oct 21;268(Pt B):115895. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115895.