Sulfonamide functional head on short-chain perfluorinated substance drives developmental toxicity

iScience. 2022 Jan 18;25(2):103789. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.103789. eCollection 2022 Feb 18.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitously detected in environmental and biological samples and cause adverse health effects. Studies have predominately focused on long-chain PFAS, with far fewer addressing short-chain alternatives. This study leveraged embryonic zebrafish to investigate developmental toxicity of a short-chain series: perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), perfluoropentanoic acid (PFPeA), perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), and 4:2 fluorotelomer sulfonic acid (4:2 FTS). Following static exposures at 8 h postfertilization (hpf) to each chemical (1-100 μM), morphological and behavioral endpoints were assessed at 24 and 120 hpf. Only FBSA induced abnormal morphology, while exposure to all chemicals caused aberrant larval behavior. RNA sequencing at 48 hpf following 47 μM exposures revealed only FBSA significantly disrupted normal gene expression. Measured tissue concentrations were FBSA > PFBS > 4:2 FTS > PFPeA. This study demonstrates functional head groups impact bioactivity and bioconcentration.

Keywords: Chemistry; Developmental biology; Surface chemistry; Toxicology.