Liquid crystal monomers disrupt photoreceptor patterning of zebrafish larvae via thyroid hormone signaling

Environ Int. 2024 Jun:188:108747. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2024.108747. Epub 2024 May 13.


Liquid crystal monomers (LCMs) are the raw material for liquid crystal displays, and their use is steadily increasing in electronic products. Recently, LCMs have been reported to be novel endocrine disrupting chemicals, however, the mechanisms underlying their potential for thyroid hormone disruption and visual toxicity are not well understood. In this study, six widely used fluorinated LCMs (FLCMs) were selected to determine putative mechanisms underlying FLCM-induced toxicity to the zebrafish thyroid and visual systems. Exposure to FLCMs caused damage to retinal structures and reduced cell density of ganglion cell layer, inner nuclear layer, and photoreceptor layer approximately 12.6-46.1%. Exposure to FLCMs also disrupted thyroid hormone levels and perturbed the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis by affecting key enzymes and protein in zebrafish larvae. A thyroid hormone-dependent GH3 cell viability assay supported the hypothesis that FLCMs act as thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals. It was also determined that FLCMs containing aliphatic ring structures may have a higher potential for T3 antagonism compared to FLCMs without an aliphatic ring. Molecular docking in silico suggested that FLCMs may affect biological functions of thyroxine binding globulin, membrane receptor integrin, and thyroid receptor beta. Lastly, the visual motor response of zebrafish in red- and green-light was significantly inhibited following exposure to FLCMs. Taken together, we demonstrate that FLCMs can act as thyroid hormone disruptors to induce visual dysfunction in zebrafish via several molecular mechanisms.

Keywords: Liquid crystal monomer; Molecular docking; T3-related cell-based assay; Thyroid hormone signaling; Visual impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors* / toxicity
  • Larva* / drug effects
  • Liquid Crystals* / chemistry
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Thyroid Hormones* / metabolism
  • Zebrafish*


  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Endocrine Disruptors