The teleost fish embryo is particularly sensitive to petroleum hydrocarbons (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs) at two distinct stages of development. The first is early during cleavage stages when PAHs alter normal signaling associated with establishment of the dorsal-ventral axis. This disruption involves the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and results in hyperdorsalized embryos that do not survive to hatching. The second, more sensitive period is during heart development, when oil and PAHs cause abnormal development of the heart as well as cardiac edema and arrhythmia. Even at extremely low levels (ng/L), PAHs cause subtle edema and altered contractility and heart rate, which impair swimming performance. Some PAHs are extremely phototoxic, such that exposures to trace concentrations result in severe membrane damage and mortality in sunlight. The developing fish embryo is a sensitive indicator of petroleum constituents in the environment, and healthy populations of fish likely require limited PAH exposure during development.
Annual Review of Animal Biosciences – Annual Reviews
Published: Feb 8, 2017