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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2007 Jul;67(3):349-60. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Long-term exposure of European flounder (Platichthys flesus) to the flame-retardants tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

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Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80158, 3508 TD Utrecht NL, The Netherlands.


Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are widely used flame retardants that have increasingly been found as contaminants in the aquatic environment. In the present study, European flounder (Platichthys flesus) were chronically exposed to TBBPA; (105 days) and HBCD (78 days), in a wide range including environmentally relevant concentrations. TBBPA was administered via the water, whereas HBCD was administered in food and sediment, or in sediment alone. Chemical analysis of muscle showed an average increase in internal concentrations of approximately two orders of magnitude for both compounds tested. Animals exposed to HBCD via sediment alone (8000 microg/g total organic carbon, TOC) showed a proportional increase of alpha-HBCD in muscle compared to animals exposed via food and sediment. In both studies, exposure to the test compounds did not affect general health and toxicity parameters (behavior, survival, growth rate, relative liver and gonad weight). Hepatic microsomal enzyme activities (TBBPA: EROD; HBCD: EROD, PROD, and BROD) were not induced by any of the tested chemicals. Aromatase activity in male gonads showed a mild increase with rising TBBPA levels. There were no morphological and immunohistochemical indications for increased production of the yolk precursor protein vitellogenin (VTG) in animals exposed to TBBPA and HBCD; immunochemical analysis of plasma VTG levels showed no dose response in animals exposed to TBBPA. In animals exposed to TBBPA, levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxin (T(4)) increased with internal concentrations of the test compound, possibly indicating competition of TBBPA for plasma protein binding. Triiodothyronin (T(3)) levels were not affected and histology showed no signs of altered thyroid gland activity. Other organs investigated (liver, gills, kidney, skin, and gonads) revealed no histological changes related to TBBPA or HBCD exposure. Overall, the present results indicate limited endocrine effects of these widely used flame retardants in a test species representative of European estuaries at environmentally relevant exposure levels and at internal levels up to 4300 ng TBBPA/g wet weight, and 446 microg HBCD/g lipid weight in flounder muscle.

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