Environmental relevant concentrations of benzophenone-3 induced developmental neurotoxicity in zebrafish

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jun 15;721:137686. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137686. Epub 2020 Mar 3.


Benzophenone-3 (BP3 or oxybenzone) is an organic UV filter that has been widely used in personal care products. Its frequent detection in the environment and humans as well as its structural similarity to estradiol have prompted most research focus on its endocrine effect. However, these effects are usually associated with concentrations 10-100 fold higher than its environmental relevant concentrations. Few studies explore its adverse effects at environmental relevant concentrations. In the present study, we evaluated the developmental neurotoxic (DNT) effects of low concentration BP3 exposure during a sensitive developmental window in zebrafish. Our findings revealed that BP3 exposure at 10 μg/L (0.04 μM) during 6-24 h post fertilization (hpf) led to various DNT effects such as increased spontaneous movement at 21 and 24 hpf, decreased touch response at 27 hpf, heightened hyperactivity in locomotor response at 5 day post fertilization (dpf), decreased shoaling behavior at 11 dpf and decreased mirror attacks at 12 dpf. These effects were accompanied with decreased axonal growth at 27 hpf, decreased cell proliferation and increased cell apoptosis in the head region of larval zebrafish immediately after BP3 exposure at 24 hpf, and increased expression of retinoid X receptor gene rxrgb at 5 dpf. Interestingly, rxrgb knockdown through morpholino injection largely restored most of BP3-induced DNT effects, axonal growth delay, cell proliferation and cell apoptosis, suggesting that BP3-induced DNT effects are likely mediated through the Rxrgb receptor. In considering with recent findings on the endocrine effects of BP3, we conclude that BP3 at environmental relevant concentrations has limited estrogenic effect, but is neurotoxic to developing embryos in zebrafish.

Keywords: Benzophenone-3; Developmental neurotoxicity; Retinoid X receptor; UV filter; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzophenones
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian*
  • Larva
  • Zebrafish*


  • Benzophenones
  • oxybenzone