Toxicological, gene expression and histopathological evaluations of environmentally realistic concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers PBDE- 47, PBDE-99 and PBDE-209 on zebrafish embryos.Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2019; 183:109566EE
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are brominated flame retardants. Biomonitoring studies have shown widespread presence of PBDEs in humans and their accumulation in food chain cause concern to human health, especially for foetus and infant development. The early-life stages are generally considered more sensitive to exposure to toxic compounds than juvenile or adults. For this reason the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the three most environmentally relevant BDE (BDE- 47, 99 and 209) on zebrafish embryos. The fish embryo toxicity (FET) OECD tests on zebrafish were performed followed by histopathogical examination to assess morphological changes. The gene expression of the thyroid stimulating hormone β (Tshβ), the transport proteins transthyretin (Ttr) and thyroxine-binding globulin (Tbg) as well as the enzyme iodothyronine deiodinase 1 (Dio1) was also assessed by Real-time PCR. BDE-47 and BDE-99 showed an increase of the severity of the effects at the lower concentrations while for the BDE-209 the effects were higher to the high concentrations. Although all compounds did not show any acute toxicity for none of the concentrations tested, they reported interesting sub-acute lesions, including yolk and pericardial edema, tail and head malformation, reduced and extremely reduced heart beat rate, blood stasis and spinal curvature, with the highest percentage recorded for BDE-209. Cardiac edema, damage of eye structure and hydrocephaly were confirmed also by histophatological examination. Furthermore, a toxic and dose-dependent liver vacuolization in BDE-209 was observed in all experimental groups. Although no statistically significant difference in gene expression was observed, BDE-209 up-regulated only Dio1 while the other congeners induced Tshβ, Ttr, Tbg and Dio1. Overall, this research highlighted that exposure to BDE-47, BDE-99 and BDE-209 at realistic concentrations caused lethal and sub-lethal alterations and impaired genes involved in thyroid hormones homeostasis leading to abnormal development of zebrafish embryos.