Open access
Research Article
6 September 2012

Early Zebrafish Embryogenesis Is Susceptible to Developmental TDCPP Exposure

Publication: Environmental Health Perspectives
Volume 120, Issue 11
Pages 1585 - 1591


Background: Chlorinated phosphate esters (CPEs) are widely used as additive flame retardants for low-density polyurethane foams and have frequently been detected at elevated concentrations within indoor environmental media.
Objectives: To begin characterizing the potential toxicity of CPEs on early vertebrate development, we examined the developmental toxicity of four CPEs used in polyurethane foam: tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP), tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP), and 2,2-bis(chloromethyl)propane-1,3-diyl tetrakis(2-chlorethyl) bis(phosphate) (V6).
Methods: Using zebrafish as a model for vertebrate embryogenesis, we first screened the potential teratogenic effects of TDCPP, TCEP, TCPP, and V6 using a developmental toxicity assay. Based on these results, we focused on identification of susceptible windows of developmental TDCPP exposure as well as evaluation of uptake and elimination of TDCPP and bis(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (BDCPP, the primary metabolite) within whole embryos. Finally, because TDCPP-specific genotoxicity assays have, for the most part, been negative in vivo and because zygotic genome remethylation is a key biological event during cleavage, we investigated whether TDCPP altered the status of zygotic genome methylation during early zebrafish embryogenesis.
Results: Overall, our findings suggest that the cleavage period during zebrafish embryogenesis is susceptible to TDCPP-induced delays in remethylation of the zygotic genome, a mechanism that may be associated with enhanced developmental toxicity following initiation of TDCPP exposure at the start of cleavage.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that further research is needed to better understand the effects of a widely used and detected CPE within susceptible windows of early vertebrate development.

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Information & Authors


Published In

Environmental Health Perspectives
Volume 120Issue 11November 2012
Pages: 1585 - 1591
PubMed: 23017583


Received: 6 April 2012
Accepted: 6 September 2012
Published online: 6 September 2012


  1. cleavage
  2. DNA methylation
  3. embryogenesis
  4. flame retardant
  5. TDCPP
  6. zebrafish



Sean P. McGee
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Ellen M. Cooper
Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Heather M. Stapleton
Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
David C. Volz
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA


Address correspondence to D. Volz, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29208 USA. Telephone: (803) 777-0218. Fax: (803) 777-3391. E-mail: [email protected]

Competing Interests

The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

Funding Information

H.M.S. and E.M.C. were funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R01ESO16099).

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