Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are used to reduce the flammability of plastics, textiles, and electronics. BFRs vary in their chemical properties and structures, and it is expected that these differences alter their biological interactions and toxicity. Zebrafish were used as the model organism for assessing the toxicity of nine structurally-diverse BFRs. In addition to monitoring for overt toxicity, the rate of spontaneous movement, and acetylcholinesterase and glutathione-S
-transferase (GST) activities were assessed following exposure. The toxicities of BFRs tested can be ranked by LC50 as tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) < 4,4′-isopropylidenebis[2-(2,6-dibromophenoxyl)ethanol] (TBBPA-OHEE) < Pentabromochlorocyclohexane (PBCH) < 2-ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) < hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) < hexabromobenzene (HBB) < Tetrabromophthalic anhydride (PHT4). No adverse effect was observed in di(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) or dibromoneopentyl glycol (DBNPG)-treated embryos. The rate of spontaneous movement was decreased in a concentration-dependent manner following exposure to four of the nine compounds. GST activity was elevated following treatment with PBCH, TBBPA, HBCD, and HBB. The results indicate that exposure to several BFRs may activate an antioxidant response and alter behavior during early development. Some of the BFRs, such as TBBPA and TBBPA-OHEE, induced adverse effects at concentrations lower than chemicals that are currently banned. These results suggest that zebrafish are sensitive to exposure to BFRs and can be used as a comparative screening model, as well as to determine alterations in behavior following exposure and probe mechanisms of action.
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