The role of receptor-mediated activities of 4- and 5-ring unsubstituted and methylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in developmental toxicity

Jing Fang*, Danlei Wang, Nynke I. Kramer, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens, Peter J. Boogaard, Lenny Kamelia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study evaluated the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), estrogen receptor-α (ER-α), and retinoic acid receptor (RAR) mediated activities of nine 4- and 5-ring unsubstituted and monomethylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using a series of Chemical-Activated LUciferase gene eXpression (CALUX) assays. The potential role of these aforementioned receptors in relation to the developmental toxicity of these PAHs was further assessed in the zebrafish embryotoxicity test (ZET). The results show that all nine tested PAHs were AhR agonists, benz[a]anthracene (BaA) and 8-methyl-benz[a]anthracene (8-MeBaA) were ER-α agonists, and none of the tested PAHs induced ER-α antagonistic or RAR (ant)agonistic activities. In the AhR CALUX assay, all the methylated PAHs showed higher potency (lower EC50) in activating the AhR than their respective unsubstituted PAHs, implying that the addition of a methyl substituent on the aromatic ring of PAHs could enhance their AhR-mediated activities. Co-exposure of zebrafish embryos with each individual PAH and an AhR antagonist (CH223191) counteracted the observed developmental retardations and embryo lethality to a certain extent, except for 8-methyl-benzo[a]pyrene (8-MeBaP). Co-exposure of zebrafish embryos with either of the two estrogenic PAHs (i.e., BaA and 8-MeBaA) and an ER-α antagonist (fulvestrant) neutralized embryo lethality induced by 50 μM BaA and the developmental retardations induced by 15 μM 8-MeBaA. Altogether, our findings suggest that the observed developmental retardations in zebrafish embryos by the PAH tested may partially be AhR- and/or ER-α-mediated, whereas the RAR seems not to be relevant for the PAH-induced developmental toxicity in the ZET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-861
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Volume43
Issue number6
Early online date30 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Keywords

  • aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • developmental toxicity
  • estrogen receptor-α
  • methylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • retinoic acid receptor
  • zebrafish embryotoxicity test

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