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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Toxicokinetics of Perfluorinated Alkyl Acids Influences Their Toxic Potency in the Zebrafish Embryo (Danio rerio)

Vogs, Carolina; Johanson, Gunnar; Naslund, Markus; Wulff, Sascha; Sjodin, Marcus; Hellstrandh, Magnus; Lindberg, Johan; Wincent, Emma


Perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAA) are highly persistent and bioaccumulative and have been associated with several adverse health effects. The chemical structure mainly differs in two ways: the length of the hydrophobic alkyl chain and the type of hydrophilic end group. Little is known how the chemical structure affects the toxicokinetics (TK) in different organisms. We studied the TK of four PFAA (PFOS, PFHxS, PFOA, and PFBA) with different chain lengths (4-8 carbons) and functional groups (sulfonic and carboxylic acid) in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo. The time courses of the external (ambient water) and internal concentrations were determined at three exposure concentrations from 2 up to 120 h postfertilization (hpf). Three of the four PFAA showed a biphasic uptake pattern with slow uptake before hatching (around 48 hpf) and faster uptake thereafter. A two-compartment TK model adequately described the biphasic uptake pattern, suggesting that the chorion functions as an uptake barrier until 48 hpf. The bioconcentration factors (BCF) determined at 120 hpf varied widely between PFAA with averages of approximately 4000 (PFOS), 200 (PFHxS), 50 (PFOA), and 0.8 (PFBA) L kg dry weight(-1), suggesting that both the alkyl chain length and the functional group influence the TK. The differences in toxic potency were reduced by 3 orders of magnitude when comparing internal effect concentrations instead of effective external concentrations.

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2019, volume: 53, number: 7, pages: 3898-3907

Authors' information

Karolinska Institute
Johanson, Gunnar
Karolinska Institutet
Naslund, Markus
Karolinska Institutet
Wulff, Sascha
Karolinska Institutet
Sjödin, Marcus
Karolinska Institute
Hellstrandh, Magnus
Swedish Toxicol Sci Res Ctr Swetox
Lindberg, Johan
Swedish Toxicol Sci Res Ctr Swetox
Wincent, Emma
Karolinska Institutet

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

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