Perfluorobutanesulfonic Acid Disrupts Pancreatic Organogenesis and Regulation of Lipid Metabolism in the Zebrafish, Danio rerio

Toxicol Sci. 2019 Jan 1;167(1):258-268. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfy237.


Following the phase-out of highly persistent perfluorosulfonates in the United States from non-stick and stain-resistant products in the early 2000s, perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) has replaced these compounds as a primary surfactant. Measurements of PFBS in environmental and human samples have been rising in recent years, raising concerns about potential negative health effects. We previously found that embryonic exposures to a related compound, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), decreased pancreas length and insulin-producing islet area in zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio). The objective of this study was to compare the effects of PFBS exposures on pancreatic organogenesis with our previous PFOS findings. Dechorionated zebrafish embryos from two different transgenic fish lines (Tg[insulin:GFP], Tg[ptf1a:GFP]) were exposed to 0 (0.01% DMSO), 16, or 32 µM PFBS daily beginning at 1 day post fertilization (dpf) until 4 and 7 dpf when they were examined using fluorescent microscopy for islet area and morphology, and exocrine pancreas length. PFBS-exposed embryos had significantly increased caudal fin deformities, delayed swim bladder inflation, and impaired yolk utilization. Incidence of fish with significantly stunted growth and truncated exocrine pancreas length was significantly increased, although these two effects occurred independently. Islet morphology revealed an increased incidence of severely hypomorphic islets (areas lower than the 1st percentile of controls) and an elevated occurrence of fragmented islets. RNA-Seq data (4 dpf) also identify disruptions in regulation of lipid homeostasis. Overall, this work demonstrates that PFBS exposure can perturb embryonic development, energy homeostasis, and pancreatic organogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Organogenesis / drug effects*
  • Pancreas / drug effects*
  • Pancreas / embryology
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Sulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Zebrafish*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • perfluorobutanesulfonic acid