Pipping success and liver mRNA expression in chicken embryos exposed in ovo to C8 and C11 perfluorinated carboxylic acids and C10 perfluorinated sulfonate

Toxicol Lett. 2009 Oct 28;190(2):134-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2009.07.004. Epub 2009 Jul 10.


Several perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that can biomagnify in species at high trophic levels including wild birds. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been detected in wild birds and are known to reduce hatching success of laboratory-exposed chicken embryos at environmentally relevant concentrations. Limited toxicity data are available regarding avian exposure to PFCs of chain lengths greater than C(8), which are of increasing environmental relevance following the recent phase-out of PFOS and PFOA. In this study, linear PFOA, perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUdA) and perfluorodecane sulfonate (PFDS) were injected into the air cell of white leghorn chicken eggs (Gallus gallus domesticus) prior to incubation to determine effects on embryo pipping success. Furthermore, mRNA expression of key genes involved in pathways implicated in PFC toxicity was monitored in liver tissue. PFOA, PFUdA or PFDS had no effect on embryonic pipping success at concentrations up to 10 microg/g. All PFCs accumulated in the liver to concentrations greater than the initial whole-egg concentration as determined by HPLC/MS/MS. Hepatic accumulation was highest for PFOA (4.5 times) compared to PFUdA and PFDS. Cytochrome P450 1A4 and liver fatty acid binding protein mRNA expression increased after exposure to PFUdA but was only statistically significant at 10 microg/g; several orders of magnitude higher than levels found in wild bird eggs. Based on the present results for white leghorn chickens, current environmental concentrations of PFOA, PFUdA and PFDS are unlikely to affect the hatching success of wild birds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / biosynthesis
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Avian Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Avian Proteins / genetics
  • Caprylates / pharmacokinetics
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Carboxylic Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Carboxylic Acids / toxicity*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Fluorocarbons / pharmacokinetics
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Sulfonic Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfonic Acids / toxicity*


  • Avian Proteins
  • Caprylates
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP1A4 protein, Gallus gallus
  • cytochrome P-450 CYP1A5