Systems analysis of the liver transcriptome in adult male zebrafish exposed to the non-ionic surfactant nonylphenol

Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2019 Jan 15;271:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.10.016. Epub 2018 Oct 25.


Nonylphenol (NP) arises from the environmental degradation of nonylphenol ethoxylates. It is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant and has been detected at levels up to 167 nM in rivers in the United States. NP is an endocrine disruptor (ED) that can act as an agonist for estrogen receptors. The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework defines an adverse outcome as the causal result of a series of molecular initiating events (MIEs) and key events (KEs) that lead to altered phenotypes. This study examined the liver transcriptome after a 21 day exposure to NP and 17β-estradiol (E2) by exploiting the zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a systems toxicology model. The goal of this study was to tease out non-estrogenic genomic signatures associated with NP exposure using DNA microarray and RNA sequencing. Our experimental design included E2 as a positive and potent estrogenic control in order to effectively compare and contrast the 2 compounds. This approach allowed us to identify hepatic transcriptomic perturbations that could serve as MIEs for adverse health outcomes in response to NP. Our results revealed that exposure to NP was associated with differential expression (DE) of genes associated with the development of steatosis, disruption of metabolism, altered immune response, and metabolism of reactive oxygen species, further highlighting NP as a chemical of emerging concern (CEC).

Keywords: 17β-Estradiol; Microarray; Nonylphenol; RNA sequencing; Zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Surface-Active Agents / toxicity*
  • Systems Analysis*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Insulin
  • Phenols
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • nonylphenol