Wu, M., Zuo, Z., Li, B., Huang, L., Chen, M., and Wang, C. (2013) Effects of low-level hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) exposure on cardiac development in zebrafish embryos. Ecotoxicology (London, England). 22(8):1200-7.
Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is one of the most widely used brominated flame retardants. In the present study, zebrafish embryos were exposed to HBCD at the low concentrations of 0, 2, 20 and 200 nM. The results showed HBCD exposure resulted in an increase in heart rate and cardiac arrhythmia after exposure for 72 h, though the survival rate and the whole malformation rate were not significantly affected. These results demonstrated that the heart might be a target of HBCD. Low-level HBCD exposure may not share the same mechanisms as exposure to high concentrations, since no obvious increase of apoptotic cells around the heart was observed in the HBCD-treated groups. It was observed that the expression of Tbx5 and Nkx2.5 was significantly elevated by HBCD treatment in a dose-dependent manner using real-time quantitative PCR, which may be mainly responsible for the alteration of heart rate, given that Tbx5 and Nkx2.5 are two factors regulating ventricle conduction. The mRNA expression of RyR2 and Atp2a2b (SERCA2a) was up-regulated in the exposure group, which may be one of reasons to affect the normal heart rate, since SERCA2a and RyR2 play an important role in calcium ion transport of cadiomyocytes. However, HBCD exposure did not significantly change the expression of Actc1l, Tnnt2, and Myh6, which are mainly muscle contractile genes that play key roles in the formation of cardiac structure. These results were consistent with the lack of effect seen on the other measurements of cardiac function, end diastolic volume, end-systolic volume, stroke volume, and cardiac output.