Multi-and Transgenerational Effects of Developmental Exposure to Environmental Levels of PFAS and PFAS Mixture in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Alex Haimbaugh, Chia Chen Wu, Camille Akemann, Danielle N. Meyer, Mackenzie Connell, Mohammad Abdi, Aicha Khalaf, Destiny Johnson, Tracie R. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are ubiquitous in the environment and are tied to myriad health effects. Despite the phasing out of the manufacturing of two types of PFASs (perfluorosulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)), chemical composition renders them effectively indestructible by ambient environmental processes, where they thus remain in wa-ter. Exposure via water can affect both human and aquatic wildlife. PFASs easily cross the placenta, exposing the fetus at critical windows of development. Little is known about the effects of low-level exposure during this period; even less is known about the potential for multi-and transgenerational effects. We examined the effects of ultra-low, very low, and low-level PFAS exposure (7, 70, and 700 ng/L PFOA; 24, 240, 2400 ng/L PFOS; and stepwise mixtures) from 0–5 days post-fertilization (dpf) on larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) mortality, morphology, behavior and gene expression and fecundity in adult F0 and F1 fish. As expected, environmentally relevant PFAS levels did not affect survival. Morphological abnormalities were not observed until the F1 and F2 generations. Behavior was affected differentially by each chemical and generation. Gene expression was increasingly perturbed in each generation but consistently showed lipid pathway disruption across all generations. Dysreg-ulation of behavior and gene expression is heritable, even in larvae with no direct or indirect expo-sure. This is the first report of the transgenerational effects of PFOA, PFOS, and their mixture in terms of zebrafish behavior and untargeted gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number334
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • epigenetics
  • PFAS
  • PFAS mixtures
  • transgenerational
  • zebrafish


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