Baker, T.R., Peterson, R.E., and Heideman, W. (2013) Early dioxin exposure causes toxic effects in adult zebrafish. Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology. 135(1):241-50.
The acute effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) exposure have been well documented in many vertebrate species. However, less is known about the consequences
in adulthood from sublethal exposure during development. To address this, we exposed zebrafish to sublethal levels of TCDD
(1 h; 50 pg/ml), either in early embryogenesis (day 0) or during sexual determination (3 and 7 weeks), and assessed the effects
later in adulthood. We found that exposure during embryogenesis produced few effects on the adults themselves, but did affect
the offspring of these fish: malformations and increased mortality were observed in the subsequent generation. Zebrafish exposed
during sexual development showed defects as adults in the cranial and axial skeleton. This was most clearly manifested as
scoliosis caused by malformation of individual vertebrae. These fish also showed defects in reproduction, producing fewer
eggs with lower fertilization success. Both males and females were affected, with males contributing to the decrease in egg
release from the females, and exposed females contributing to fertilization failure. TCDD exposure at 3 and 7 weeks produced
feminization of the population. Surprisingly, part of this was due to the appearance of fish with clearly female bodies, yet
carrying testes in place of ovaries. Our results show that exposures that produce little if any impact during development
cause can cause severe consequences during adulthood, and present a model for studying this process.
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