Metabolomics Reveal That Octocrylene Accumulates in Pocillopora damicornis Tissues as Fatty Acid Conjugates and Triggers Coral Cell Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Anal Chem. 2019 Jan 2;91(1):990-995. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b04187. Epub 2018 Dec 18.


Octocrylene (OC) is an ingredient used in many sunscreens and cosmetics worldwide. Our group evaluated the toxicity of OC in corals. Adult Pocillopora damicornis coral was treated with OC at concentrations of 5, 50, 300, and 1000 μg/L. Most polyps were closed at concentrations of 300 μg/L and higher. Further, metabolomic profiling provided crucial information regarding OC accumulation in coral tissues and OC toxicity. First, we demonstrated that OC was transformed into fatty acid conjugates via oxidation of the ethylhexyl chain, yielding very lipophilic OC analogues that accumulate in coral tissues. Second, the differential analysis of coral profiles revealed higher levels of 15 acylcarnitines, suggesting abnormal fatty acid metabolism related to mitochondrial dysfunction. The formation of OC analogues suggests that OC concentrations measured in the environment, and organisms may have been largely underestimated. Overall, these results call for an in-depth evaluation of OC toxicity and the reevaluation of the actual OC accumulation rate in the ocean's food chain, including OC-fatty acid conjugates.

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / analysis
  • Acrylates / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / chemistry*
  • Anthozoa / cytology*
  • Anthozoa / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Metabolomics*
  • Mitochondria / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Acrylates
  • Fatty Acids
  • octocrylene