Sodium perchlorate induces non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in developing stickleback

Environ Pollut. 2019 Aug;251:390-399. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.05.001. Epub 2019 May 2.


Perchlorate is a pervasive, water-soluble contaminant that competitively inhibits the sodium/iodide symporter, reducing the available iodide for thyroid hormone synthesis. Insufficient iodide uptake can lead to hypothyroidism and metabolic syndromes. Because metabolism, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are tightly linked, we hypothesized that perchlorate would act as an obesogen and cause NAFLD via accumulation of lipids in liver of developing threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We performed an upshift/downshift exposure regime (clean water to perchlorate treated water or perchlorate treated water to clean water) on stickleback embryos at two concentrations (30 mg/L and 100 mg/L) plus the control (0 mg/L) over the course of 305 days. Adult stickleback were euthanized, H&E stained and analyzed for liver morphology. Specifically, we counted the number of lipid droplets, and measured the area of each droplet and the total lipid area of a representative section of liver. We found that perchlorate treated fish had more and larger lipid droplets, and a larger percentage of lipid in their liver than control fish. These data indicate that perchlorate causes NAFLD and hepatic steatosis in stickleback at concentrations commonly found at contaminated sites. These data also indicate the potential of perchlorate to act as an obesogen. Future studies should investigate the obesogenic capacity of perchlorate by examining organ specific lipid accumulation and whether perchlorate induces these effects at concentrations commonly found in drinking water. Work is also needed to determine the mechanisms by which perchlorate induces lipid accumulation.

Keywords: Endocrine disruption; Environmental obesogen; Lipid accumulation; Liver; Sodium perchlorate.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Lipid Droplets / drug effects
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / chemically induced*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Perchlorates / toxicity*
  • Smegmamorpha / growth & development
  • Smegmamorpha / metabolism*
  • Sodium Compounds / toxicity*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Perchlorates
  • Sodium Compounds
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • sodium perchlorate