Developmental exposure to a human relevant mixture of endocrine disruptors alters metabolism and adipogenesis in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Chemosphere. 2020 Jan:238:124584. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124584. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals has been suggested to contribute to the ongoing globally increasing obesity trend. The complex chemical mixtures that humans and wildlife are exposed to include a number of compounds that may have obesogenic properties. In this study we examined a mixture consisting of phthalate-monoesters, triclosan, and perfluorinated compounds. The mixture was designed within the EDC-MixRisk project based on serum levels of the compounds in pregnant women of a Swedish mother-child cohort. The compounds were negatively associated with birth weight of the children. We assessed whether developmental exposure to this mixture in combination with a calorie-rich diet affected metabolic rate, blood lipids, adipogenesis and lipid storage, and the whole-body level of neutral lipids in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Wildtype zebrafish were exposed to the mixture from 3 h post fertilization to 5, 14 or 17 days post fertilization (dpf) at water concentrations corresponding to 1, 10, 20, or 100 times the geometrical mean of the serum concentration (hsc) in the women. Exposure to the mixture at 20 times hsc lowered metabolic rate at 2-5 dpf, and increased the number of adipocytes and the amount of visceral adipose tissue at 14 and 17 dpf respectively. Also, mRNA expression of fatty acid binding protein 11a was increased at 17 dpf by 10 and 20 times hsc of the mixture. This study shows that a human-relevant mixture of environmental pollutants affects metabolic rate, adipogenesis and lipid storage in young zebrafish fed a calorie-rich diet, thus demonstrating its potential to disrupt metabolism.

Keywords: Adipogenesis; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Metabolism; Mixtures; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Birth Weight / drug effects
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / toxicity
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Triclosan / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Fabp11b protein, zebrafish
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Triclosan
  • phthalic acid