Neurodevelopmental toxicity assessments of alkyl phenanthrene and Dechlorane Plus co-exposure in zebrafish



• Neurotoxicity of 3-MP and DP co-exposure in zebrafish was firstly studied.
• Co-exposure with 3-MP and DP had synergistic effects on neurobehavioral deficits.
• Behavioral anomalies were due to altered neuronal connectivity and muscle function.



Alkyl phenanthrene (A-Phen) and Dechlorane Plus (DP) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants that widely co-exist in the environment. It has been established that both A-Phen and DP elicit neurotoxicity, but the potential interactive toxicity of these contaminants is not well-known. To determine whether a mixture of A-Phen and DP would exhibit interactive effects on neurodevelopment, we co-exposed 3-methylphenanthrene (3-MP), a representative of A-Phen, with DP. Our results illustrated that exposure to 5 or 20 μg/L 3-MP alone or in combination with 60 μg/L DP caused neurobehavioral anomalies in zebrafish. In accordance with the behavioral deficits, 3-MP alone or co-exposed with DP significantly decreased axonal growth of secondary motoneurons, altered intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis and induced cell apoptosis in the muscle of zebrafish. Additionally, 3-MP alone or co-exposed with DP significantly increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the mRNA levels of apoptosis-related genes. These findings indicate that 3-MP alone or co-exposed with DP induces neurobehavioral deficits through the combined effects on neuronal connectivity and muscle function. Chemical analysis revealed significant increases in 3-MP and DP bioaccumulation in zebrafish co-exposed with 3-MP and DP. Elevated bioaccumulation resulting from mixture exposure may represent a significant contribution of the synergistic effects observed in combined chemical exposure.


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