Observed and predicted embryotoxic and teratogenic effects of organic and inorganic environmental pollutants and their mixtures in zebrafish (Danio rerio)


Risk assessment of chemicals is still primarily focusing on single compound evaluation, even if environmental contamination consists of a mixture of pollutants. The concentration addition (CA) and independent action (IA) models have been developed to predict mixture toxicity. Both models assume no interaction between the components, resulting in an additive mixture effect. In the present study, the embryo toxicity test (OECD TG no. 236) with zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio) was performed to investigate whether the toxicity caused by binary, ternary, and quaternary mixtures of organic (Benzo[a]pyrene, perfluorooctanesulfonate, and 3,3´,4,4´,5-pentachlorobiphenyl 126) and inorganic (arsenate) pollutants can be predicted by CA and IA. The acute toxicity and sub-lethal alterations such as lack of blood circulation were investigated. The models estimated the mixture toxicity well and most of the mixtures were additive. However, the binary mixture of PFOS and PCB126 caused a synergistic effect, with almost a ten-fold difference between the observed and predicted LC50-value. For most of the mixtures, the CA model was better in predicting the mixture toxicity than the IA model, which was not expected due to the chemicals’ different modes of action. In addition, some of the mixtures caused sub-lethal effects not observed in the single compound toxicity tests. The mixture of PFOS and BaP caused a division of the yolk and imbalance was caused by the combination of PFOS and As and the ternary mixture of PFOS, As, and BaP. Interestingly, PFOS was part of all three mixtures causing the mixture specific sub-lethal effects. In conclusion, the present study shows that CA and IA are mostly resulting in good estimations of the risks that mixtures with few components are posing. However, for a more reliable assessment and a better understanding of mixture toxicity, further investigations are required to study the underlying mechanisms.

Authors: Greta Nilén, Osagie S Obamwonyi, Van Liem-Nguyen, Magnus Engwall, Maria Larsson, Steffen H Keiter
; Full Source: Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 2022 Apr 25;248:106175. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2022.106175.