Effects of single exposure and binary mixtures of ultraviolet filters octocrylene and 2-ethylhexyl 4-(dimethylamino) benzoate on gene expression in the freshwater insect Chironomus riparius

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Dec;25(35):35501-35514. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-3516-7. Epub 2018 Oct 22.


Ultraviolet filters are used extensively in the production of many personal care and industrial products. These products can inadvertently pollute the environment through recreational activities. They have been associated with endocrine disruption in vertebrates but their effects in invertebrates are poorly understood. Chironomus riparius is a species of the dipteran order, with aquatic larvae that are frequently used in toxicity tests. Previously, we showed that octocrylene (OC) and 2-ethylhexyl 4-(dimethylamino) benzoate (OD-PABA) differentially affected the mRNA levels of the ecdysone receptor and Hsp70 genes. For a better understanding of their mode of action, transcriptional activity by real-time PCR was analyzed in fourth instar larvae exposed to OC, OD-PABA, or a binary mixture of both. We studied 16 genes related to the endocrine system, stress, the immune system, and biotransformation mechanisms to elucidate the putative interactions between these compounds. No response was observed for the genes involved in biotransformation, suggesting that enzymes other than cytochromes P450 and glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) could get involved in transformation of these compounds. Similarly, no response was observed for endocrine-related genes while the stress gene HYOU1 was inhibited by OD-PABA, suggesting an effect in response to hypoxia. In addition, no significant interactions were observed following exposure to a binary mixture of these compounds. Overall, the results suggest a weak, acute response in different metabolic pathways and a lack of interaction between the compounds. Finally, new genes are identified in this organism, opening the possibility to analyze new cellular pathways as targets of toxicants.

Keywords: Binary mixture; Biotransformation; Chironomus riparius; Endocrine disruptors; Endocrine system; Invertebrate; Stress; UV filters.

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Chironomidae / drug effects*
  • Chironomidae / genetics
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine System / drug effects
  • Fresh Water / chemistry
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / genetics
  • Sunscreening Agents / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • para-Aminobenzoates / toxicity*


  • Acrylates
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • para-Aminobenzoates
  • octocrylene
  • padimate-O