Toxic effects of polychlorinated biphenyls on cardiac development in zebrafish

Mengmeng Li, Xuejie Wang, Jingai Zhu, Shasha Zhu, Xiaoshan Hu, Chun Zhu, Xirong Guo, Zhangbin Yu, Shuping Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants that may pose significant health-risks to various organisms including humans. Although the mixed PCB Aroclor 1254 is widespread in the environment, its potential toxic effect on heart development and the mechanism underlying its developmental toxicity have not been previously studied. Here, we used the zebrafish as a toxicogenomic model to examine the effects of Aroclor 1254 on heart development. We found that PCB exposure during zebrafish development induced heart abnormalities including pericardial edema and cardiac looping defects. Further malformations of the zebrafish embryo were observed and death of the larvae occurred in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Our mechanistic studies revealed that abnormalities in the arylhydrocarbon receptor, Wnt and retinoic acid signaling pathways may underlie the effects of PCBs on zebrafish heart development. Interestingly, co-administration of Aroclor 1254 and diethylaminobenzaldehyde, an inhibitor of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase, partially rescued the toxic effects of PCBs on zebrafish heart development. In conclusion, PCBs can induce developmental defects in the zebrafish heart, which may be mediated by abnormal RA signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7973-7983
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Heart
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Signaling pathway
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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