Ethalfluralin induces developmental toxicity in zebrafish via oxidative stress and inflammation

Taeyeon Hong, Hahyun Park, Garam An, Gwonhwa Song, Whasun Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Ethalfluralin, of dinitroaniline herbicide family, is an effective weed controller. Following residue detection in herbicide-treated fields, ethalfluralin was reported to interfere with early stages of implantation in some vertebrate species. However, the role of ethalfluralin in the development of zebrafish embryos has not been elucidated yet. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the morphological and physiological changes that occur in the embryonic development of zebrafish due to ethalfluralin exposure. Results indicated that ethalfluralin decreased survival rate along with reduction in the hatching ratio and heartbeat. It was observed to cause edema in the heart and yolk sac, and apoptosis in the anterior region of the developing zebrafish larvae; as visualized through acridine orange and TUNEL staining. In addition, ethalfluralin increased the expression of the apoptosis-associated genes including tp53, cyc1, casp8, casp9, and casp3. The Seahorse Mito Stress analysis revealed that ethalfluralin slightly reduced mitochondrial respiration in live zebrafish embryos. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was also observed to be elevated in zebrafish larvae in response to ethalfluralin. Treatment with ethalfluralin decreased blood vessel formation in brain and intestine in flk1 transgenic zebrafish embryos. The decrease in angiogenesis related gene expression was specifically observed in vegfc, flt1, and kdrl, and in the intestinal vasculature related genes apoa4a, aqp3, fabp2, and vil1. Moreover, an increase in inflammatory genes such as cox2a, cox2b, cxcl-c1c, il8, mcl1a, mcl1b, and nf-κb was observed using real-time PCR analysis. Collectively, these results indicate that oxidative stress generated by exposure to ethalfluralin induced ROS generation, apoptosis, inflammation and anti-angiogenic effects, and therefore, ethalfluralin may be toxic to the development of zebrafish embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Article number158780
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Apoptosis
  • Embryo
  • Ethalfluralin
  • Oxidative stress
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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