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Toxicol Sci. 2010 Jun;115(2):391-400. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq066. Epub 2010 Mar 3.

The role of Nrf2 and MAPK pathways in PFOS-induced oxidative stress in zebrafish embryos.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, China.


Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is a persistent organic pollutant and causes oxidative stress, apoptosis, and developmental toxicity in zebrafish embryos. In the present study, we examined nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)- and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs)-mediated oxidative stress pathways in zebrafish embryos upon exposure to PFOS. Four-hour postfertilization (hpf) zebrafish embryos were exposed to 0.2, 0.4, and 1.0 mg/l PFOS until 96 hpf. PFOS enhanced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in a concentration-dependent manner. Activity of antioxidative enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase, was significantly induced in zebrafish larvae in all PFOS-treated groups relative to the control. Exposure to 1.0 mg/l PFOS significantly increased malondialdehyde production in zebrafish larvae. The Nrf2 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) gene expressions were both significantly upregulated compared with the control group. For MAPKs, we investigated gene expression profiles of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), c-Jun NH (2)-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38. The ERK gene expression levels were unchanged, whereas JNK and p38 gene expressions were significantly upregulated, which could be linked to PFOS-induced cell apoptosis in zebrafish larvae. In addition, we found that coexposure with sulforaphane, an Nrf2 activator, could significantly protect against PFOS-induced ROS generation, whereas inhibition of MAPKs did not exhibit significant effects on PFOS-induced HO-1 gene expression and ROS production. Furthermore, we showed that morpholino-mediated knockdown of Nrf2 reduced PFOS-induced HO-1 gene expression. These findings demonstrate that Nrf2 is protective against PFOS-induced oxidative stress in zebrafish larvae.

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