An In Vitro Comparative Study of the Effects of Tetrabromobisphenol A and Tetrabromobisphenol S on Human Erythrocyte Membranes-Changes in ATP Level, Perturbations in Membrane Fluidity, Alterations in Conformational State and Damage to Proteins

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 31;22(17):9443. doi: 10.3390/ijms22179443.


Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are substances used to reduce the flammability of plastics. Among this group, tetrabormobisphenol A (TBBPA) is currently produced and used on the greatest scale, but due to the emerging reports on its potential toxicity, tetrabromobisphenol S (TBBPS)-a compound with a very similar structure-is used as an alternative. Due to the fact that the compounds in question are found in the environment and in biological samples from living organisms, including humans, and due to the insufficient toxicological knowledge about them, it is necessary to assess their impacts on living organisms and verify the validity of TBBPA replacement by TBBPS. The RBC membrane was chosen as the research model. This is a widely accepted research model for assessing the toxicity of xenobiotics, and it is the first barrier to compounds entering circulation. It was found that TBBPA and TBBPS caused increases in the fluidity of the erythrocyte membrane in their hydrophilic layer, and conformational changes to membrane proteins. They also caused thiol group elevation, an increase in lipid peroxidation (TBBPS only) and decreases in the level of ATP in cells. They also caused changes in the size and shape of RBCs. TBBPA caused changes in the erythrocyte membrane at lower concentrations compared to TBBPS at an occupational exposure level.

Keywords: erythrocyte membrane; erythrocytes; retardants; tetrabromobisphenol A; tetrabromobisphenol S.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects*
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Flame Retardants / toxicity
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fluidity / drug effects
  • Membrane Proteins / drug effects
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / chemistry
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / pharmacology*
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Proteins / pharmacology


  • Flame Retardants
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • Proteins
  • tetrabromobisphenol S
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • tetrabromobisphenol A