Systematic developmental toxicity assessment of a structurally diverse library of PFAS in zebrafish

J Hazard Mater. 2022 Jun 5;431:128615. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128615. Epub 2022 Mar 2.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of widely used chemicals with limited human health effects data relative to the diversity of structures manufactured. To help fill this data gap, an extensive in vivo developmental toxicity screen was performed on 139 PFAS provided by the US EPA. Dechorionated embryonic zebrafish were exposed to 10 nominal water concentrations of PFAS (0.015-100 µM) from 6 to 120 h post-fertilization (hpf). The embryos were assayed for embryonic photomotor response (EPR), larval photomotor response (LPR), and 13 morphological endpoints. A total of 49 PFAS (35%) were bioactive in one or more assays (11 altered EPR, 25 altered LPR, and 31 altered morphology). Perfluorooctanesulfonamide (FOSA) was the only structure that was bioactive in all 3 assays, while Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) was the most potent teratogen. Low PFAS volatility was associated with developmental toxicity (p < 0.01), but no association was detected between bioactivity and five other physicochemical parameters. The bioactive PFAS were enriched for 6 supergroup chemotypes. The results illustrate the power of a multi-dimensional in vivo platform to assess the developmental (neuro)toxicity of diverse PFAS and in the acceleration of PFAS safety research.

Keywords: Abnormal behavior; Developmental toxicity; PFAS; Structure-activity relationship; Zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorocarbons* / analysis
  • Larva
  • Teratogens
  • Zebrafish*


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Teratogens