Transcriptomic analysis reveals potential mechanisms of toxicity in a combined exposure to dibutyl phthalate and diisobutyl phthalate in zebrafish (Danio rerio) ovary


Phthalate esters (PAEs), which are notable plasticisers, can be prolific contaminants in aquatic environments, and have been shown to induce reproductive toxicity. However, the studies concerning their toxicity towards aquatic species are based on individual chemicals, and the combined toxicity of PAEs to aquatic organisms remains unclear. The aim of this study was to explore the potential toxicity mechanisms associated with combined exposure to dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP) in adult female zebrafish ovaries. Zebrafish were exposed to DBP, DiBP and their mixtures for 30 days, and their effects on ovarian histology, plasma sex hormones and ovarian transcriptomics were investigated. Plasma oestradiol (E2) levels were significantly decreased by 38.9% in the DBP-1133 exposure group and 41.0% in the DiBP-1038 exposure group. The percentage of late/mature oocytes was also significantly decreased by 17.3% under DBP-1133 exposure and 16.2% under DiBP-1038 exposure, while that under combined exposure was not significantly affected. Nevertheless, transcriptome sequencing revealed 2564 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in zebrafish ovaries after exposure to the mixtures. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analysis showed that the DEGs were involved in the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, GnRH, progesterone-mediated oocyte maturation, oocyte meiosis and steroid hormone biosynthesis signalling pathways. These results revealed that combined exposure exerts potential reproductive toxicity at the molecular level.

Authors: Chen H, Feng W, Chen K, Qiu X, Xu H, Mao G, Zhao T, Ding Y, Wu X.
; Full Source: Aquatic Toxicology. 2019 Aug 29; 216:105290. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2019.105290. [Epub ahead of print]