Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) induces craniofacial defects during embryonic development in zebrafish

  • Tanner Jergensen
  • Danielle Cusmano
  • Nicole M. RoyEmail author


Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) is commonly added to make plastics softer and more pliable and is found in a variety of consumer and industrial products. Alarmingly high levels of DBP have been detected in water and sediment as DBP leaches from products. These levels are concerning and have led the Environmental Protection Agency to label DBP as a priority environmental pollutant and the European Commission to label DBP as a priority substance. Given the ubiquitous presence of DBP globally and continuous exposure to DBP, studies on the developmental toxicity of DBP are needed. The endocrine disrupting effects of DBP are well documented, but developmental toxicity of DBP during critical developmental time windows is understudied. Here, we investigate the developmental effects of DBP exposure during early development. We find defects in craniofacial development including a decrease in overall cranial size in DBP treated embryos, but the intraocular distance was increased compared to controls. Further investigation of jawbone development demonstrated loss of and disorganization of cartilage development. Defects in vascular innervation and neuronal patterning were also noted. Here we conclude that exposure to DBP during crucial time windows of embryonic development is toxic to craniofacial development.


Zebrafish Toxicity Di-n-butyl phthalate Craniofacial development 



The Lawson Lab (University of Massachusetts Medical Center) kindly provided the Tg(fli1:EGFP) transgenic line.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologySacred Heart UniversityFairfieldUSA

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