Effects of Phthalates on Zebrafish Embryonic Development

Student Author(s)

Jessica Guillaume
Ryan Skowronek

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Tyler Schwend

Document Type


Event Date



Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), common plasticizers found in many consumer, medical, and building products, are ubiquitous environmental toxicants. Routine exposure to phthalates is unavoidable, posing a significant health threat to humans and animals. Recent epidemiological studies suggest a causal relationship between early-life phthalate exposure and neurobehavioral deficits, thus raising concerns about the potential toxic effects of phthalates during early development. The objective of our research is to utilize the zebrafish embryo as a model system to identify the developmental consequences of phthalate exposure. The aim of our current study is to determine the effects of developmental phthalate exposure on larval teratology at the phenotypic level (hatch-rate, touch response, mortality and structural malformations to the brain, spine, or craniofacial regions). To date, BBP and DBP have proven lethal at high concentrations, while DEHP had no effect on mortality. Exposure to sublethal levels of BBP and DBP resulted in developmental defects, which will be further investigated through craniofacial staining and characterization of structural malfunctions.

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