Host Developmental Toxicity of BPA and BPA Alternatives Is Inversely Related to Microbiota Disruption in Zebrafish

Toxicol Sci. 2019 Feb 1;167(2):468-483. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfy261.


Host-associated microbiota can biotransform xenobiotics, mediate health effects of chemical exposure, and play important roles in early development. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a widespread environmental chemical that has been associated with adverse endocrine and neurodevelopmental effects, some of which may be mediated by microbiota. Growing public concern over the safety of BPA has resulted in its replacement with structurally similar alternatives. In this study, we evaluated whether BPA and BPA alternatives alter microbiota and modulate secondary adverse behavioral effects in zebrafish. Zebrafish were developmentally exposed to BPA, Bisphenol AF (BPAF), Bisphenol B (BPB), Bisphenol F (BPF), or Bisphenol S (BPS). At 10 days post fertilization (dpf), toxicity assessments were completed and 16S rRNA gene sequencing was performed to evaluate potential chemical-dependent shifts in microbial community structure and predicted function. A standard light/dark behavioral assay was used to assess locomotor activity. Based on developmental toxicity assessments at 10 dpf, a range of potencies was observed: BPAF > BPB > BPF ∼ BPA > BPS. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequencing data showed significant concentration-dependent disruption of microbial community structure and enrichment of putative microbial functions with exposure to BPS, BPA, or BPF, but not BPB or BPAF. Interestingly, microbial disruption was inversely related to host developmental toxicity and estrogenicity. Exposure to BP analogs did not cause behavioral effects at 10 dpf. Our findings indicate that some BP analogs disrupt host microbiota early in life and demonstrate novel chemical-microbiota interactions that may add important context to current hazard identification strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / chemistry
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Larva / drug effects*
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Zebrafish / growth & development*
  • Zebrafish / microbiology


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • bisphenol A