Single and mixture per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances accumulate in developing Northern leopard frog brains and produce complex neurotransmission alterations.
By R M Foguth, T D Hoskins, G C Clark, M Nelson, R W Flynn, C de Perre, J T Hoverman, L S Lee, M S Sepúlveda, and J R Cannon
June 24, 2020
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are present in water and >99% of human serum. They are found in brains of wildlife; however, little is known about effects on the developing brain. To determine the effects of PFAS on brain and cardiac innervation, we conducted an outdoor mesocosm experiment with Northern leopard frog larvae (Rana pipiens) exposed to control, 10 ppb perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), or a PFAS mixture totaling 10 ppb that mimicked aqueous film forming foam-impacted surface water (4 ppb PFOS, 3 ppb perfluorohexane sulfonate, 1.25 ppb perfluorooctanoate, 1.25 ppb perfluorohexanoate, and 0.5 ppb perfluoro-n-pentanoate). Water was spiked with PFAS and 25 larvae (Gosner stage (GS) 25) added to each mesocosm (n = 4 mesocosms per treatment). After 30 days, we harvested eight brains per mesocosm and remaining larvae developed to GS 46 (i.e. metamorphosis) before brains and hearts were collected. Weight, length, GS, and time to metamorphosis were recorded. Brain concentrations of all five PFAS were quantified using LC/MS/MS. Dopamine and metabolites, serotonin and its metabolite, norepinephrine, γ-aminobutyric acid, and glutamate were quantified using High Performance Liquid Chromatography with electrochemical detection while acetylcholine and acetylcholinesterase activity were quantified with the Invitrogen Amplex Red Acetylcholine Assay. PFOS accumulated in the brain time- and dose-dependently. After 30 days, the mixture decreased serotonin while both PFAS treatments decreased glutamate. Interestingly, acetylcholine increased in PFAS treatments at GS 46. This research shows that developmental environmentally relevant exposure to PFAS changes neurotransmitters, especially acetylcholine.