Hexabromocyclododecane-induced developmental toxicity and apoptosis in zebrafish embryos

Jun DENG, Liqin YU, Chunsheng LIU, Ke YU, Xiongjie SHI, Leo W. Y. YEUNG, Paul K. S. LAM, Shiu Sun Rudolf WU, Bingsheng ZHOU

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248 Citations (Scopus)


Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is widely used as a brominated flame retardant, and has been detected in the aquatic environment, wild animals, and humans. However, details of the environmental health risk of HBCD are not well known. In this study, zebrafish embryos were used to assess the developmental toxicity of the chemical. Four-hour post-fertilization (hpf) zebrafish embryos were exposed to various concentrations of HBCD (0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, and 1.0 mg L⁻¹) until 96 h. Exposure to 0.1, 0.5, and 1.0 mg L⁻¹ HBCD significantly increased the malformation rate and reduced survival in the 0.5 and 1.0 mg L⁻¹ HBCD exposure groups. Acridine orange (AO) staining showed that HBCD exposure resulted in cell apoptosis. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) was significantly induced at exposures of 0.1, 0.5, and 1.0 mg L⁻¹ HBCD. To test the apoptotic pathway, several genes related to cell apoptosis, such as p53, Puma, Apaf-1, caspase-9, and caspase-3, were examined using real-time PCR. The expression patterns of these genes were up-regulated to some extent. Two anti-apoptotic genes, Mdm2 (antagonist of p53) and Bcl-2 (inhibitor of Bax), were down-regulated, and the activity of capspase-9 and caspase-3 was significantly increased. The overall results demonstrate that waterborne HBCD is able to produce oxidative stress and induce apoptosis through the involvement of caspases in zebrafish embryos. The results also indicate that zebrafish embryos can serve as a reliable model for the developmental toxicity of HBCD. Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 04 Jun 2009


Deng, J., Yu, L., Liu, C., Yu, K., Shi, X., Yeung, L. W. Y., . . . Zhou, B. (2009). Hexabromocyclododecane-induced developmental toxicity and apoptosis in zebrafish embryos. Aquatic Toxicology, 93(1), 29-36. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2009.03.001


  • HBCD
  • Developmental toxicity
  • Apoptosis
  • Zebrafish embryo
  • Gene expression


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