Parental Exposure to Perfluorobutanesulfonate Impairs Offspring Development through Inheritance of Paternal Methylome

Lianguo Chen, Mirabelle M.P. Tsui, Chenyan Hu, Teng Wan, Doris W.T. Au, James C.W. Lam, Paul K.S. Lam, Bingsheng Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Perfluorobutanesulfonate (PFBS), an environmental pollutant of emerging concern, significantly impairs offspring development and overall health after parental exposure. However, the true inducer of offspring developmental defects among the complexity of parental influences remains unknown. In the present study, marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma) were exposed to environmentally realistic concentrations of PFBS (0, 1, 3, and 10 μg/L) for an entire life cycle. By mixing and mating control and exposed medaka (male or female), a crossbreeding strategy was employed to produce offspring eggs from various crossbreeds, with the aim of differentiating the maternal and paternal influences. Measurements of swimming performance in larval offspring showed that larvae of exposed male parents swam hyperactively in comparison to the control larvae. Contrasting trends in PFBS transfer and maternal factor transfer (e.g., proteins and lipids) to that of swimming behavior eliminated these two factors as major inducers of offspring developmental impairment. Inheritance of the exposed paternal methylome marks in offspring may be partially responsible for abnormal swimming behavior, although different toxic mechanisms may be involved depending on the exposure concentration. Overall, these findings suggest that inheritance of epigenetic modifications implicates a long-lasting threat of PFBS to the fitness and sustainability of fish populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12018-12025
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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