Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) induces several behavioural defects in Caenorhabditis elegans that can also be transferred to the next generations

By Manjurul Islam Chowdhury, Tanmoy Sana, Logeshwaran Panneerselvan, Anithadevi Kenday Sivaram, and Mallavarapu Megharaj
November 23, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.132896

Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is a well-known global persistent organic pollutant of grave concern to ecological and human health. Toxicity of PFOS to animals and humans are well studied. Although few studies have reported the behavioral effect of PFOS on nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, it's trans-generational effects were seldom studied. Therefore, we investigated the toxicity of PFOS on several behavioral responses besides bioaccumulation and trans-generational effects in C. elegans. In contrast to the several published studies, we used lower concentrations (0.5-1000 μg/L or 0.001-2.0 μM) that are environmentally relevant and reported to occur close to the contaminated areas. The 48 h median lethal concentration of PFOS was found to be 3.15 μM (1575 μg/L). PFOS (≥0.01 μM) caused severe toxicity to locomotion, and this effect was even transferred to progeny. However, after a few generations, the defect was rectified in the progeny of single-time exposed parent nematodes. Whereas, continuous exposure at 0.001 μM PFOS, no visible defects were observed in the progeny. PFOS (≥0.01 μM) also significantly decreased the brood size in a concentration-dependent manner. Besides, lifespan was affected by the higher concentration of PFOS (≥1.0 μM). These two behavioral endpoints, lifespan and reproduction defects, became less severe in the progeny. Chemotaxis plasticity was also significantly retarded by ≥ 1.0 μM PFOS compared to the control group. Results indicate that PFOS can exert severe neurobehavioral defects that can be transferred from parents to their offspring. The findings of this study have significant implications for the risk assessment of perfluorinated substances in the environment.

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