Perfluorooctane sulfonates induces neurobehavioral changes and increases dopamine neurotransmitter levels in zebrafish larvae

Luyin Wu, Yao Dang, Li Xia Liang, Yan Chen Gong, Mohammed Zeeshan, Zhengmin Qian, Sarah Dee Geiger, Michael G. Vaughn, Yang Zhou, Qing Qing Li, Chu Chu, Ya Wen Tan, Li Zi Lin, Ru Qing Liu, Li Wen Hu, Bo Yi Yang, Xiao Wen Zeng, Yunjiang Yu, Guang Hui Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It has been reported that exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS) causes behavioral abnormalities in zebrafish larvae, but the possible mechanisms underlying these changes remain unexplored. In this study, zebrafish embryos (2 h postfertilization, 2-hpf) were exposed to PFOS at different concentrations (0, 0.032, 0.32 and 3.2 mg/L) for 120 h. Developmental endpoints and the locomotion behavior of larvae were evaluated. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, dopamine contents, several genes and proteins related to neurodevelopment and dopamine signaling were examined. Our results indicate that increased ROS levels in the zebrafish larvae heads may be causally associated with neurodevelopment damage. Meanwhile, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and alpha1-Tubulin (α1-Tubulin) protein contents were significantly increased, which may be a compensatory mechanism for the impaired central nervous system. PFOS-induced locomotor hyperactivity was observed in the first light phase and dark phase at the 0.32 and 3.2 mg/L of PFOS. Upregulation of dopamine-related genes tyrosine hydroxylase (th) and dopamine transporter (dat) associated with increased dopamine contents in the 3.2 mg/L of PFOS. In addition, protein expression of TH and DAT were noted at the 0.32 and 3.2 mg/L of PFOS concentrations. Our results suggested that PFOS induces neurobehavioral changes in zebrafish larvae, possibly by perturbing a dopamine signaling pathway. In addition, PFOS induced development damage, such as increased malformation rate and shorter body length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134234
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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