Skip to main content

Effects of Low Concentration Benzophenone-3 Exposure on the Sex Ratio and Offspring Development of Zebrafish (Danio rerio)


Benzophenone-3 (BP-3) is an important ultraviolet (UV)-screening agent using in cosmetics, however, the associated environmental pollution and the toxicity to organisms, particularly aquatic organisms, cannot be neglected. In this study, the potential risks posed to zebrafish when exposed to environmental residual concentrations of BP-3 were evaluated. Zebrafish embryos (F0) were exposed to 0, 0.056, 2.3, and 38 μg/L BP-3 until 42 days’ post-fertilization (dpf). The effects of BP-3 on the sex ratio and gene expression of F0 zebrafish were investigated. In the F1 embryos, cumulative hatching rate, body length, and heartbeats were observed. The result showed that F0 and F1 exposure to concentrations of 0.056 and 38 μg/L BP-3 elicited stronger toxicity at 96 hpf than single generation exposures. Overall, our results provide a new understanding on the effects of low BP-3 concentration chronic exposure on sex ratio and offspring developmental toxicity of the F0 zebrafish.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Bluthgen N, Zucchi S, Fent K (2012) Effects of the UV filter benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone) at low concentrations in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 263:184–194

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Burris TP, Solt LA, Wang Y, Crumbley C, Banerjee S, Griffett K, Lundasen T, Hughes T, Kojetin DJ (2013) Nuclear receptors and their selective pharmacologic modulators. Pharmacol Rev 65:710–778

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cao F, Li H, Zhao F, Wu P, Qian L, Huang L, Pang S, Martyniuk CJ, Qiu L (2019) Parental exposure to azoxystrobin causes developmental effects and disrupts gene expression in F1 embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio). Sci Total Environ 646:595–605

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Coronado M, De Haro H, Deng X, Rempel MA, Lavado R, Schlenk D (2008) Estrogenic activity and reproductive effects of the UV-filter oxybenzone (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl-methanone) in fish. Aquat Toxicol 90:182–187

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Fenske M, Segner H (2004) Aromatase modulation alters gonadal differentiation in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio). Aquat Toxicol 67:105–126

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fenske M, van Aerle R, Brack S, Tyler CR, Segner H (2001) Development and validation of a homologous zebrafish (Danio rerio Hamilton–Buchanan) vitellogenin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and its application for studies on estrogenic chemicals. Comp Biochem Physiol C 129:217–232

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Gago-Ferrero P, Diaz-Cruz MS, Barcelo D (2012) An overview of UV-absorbing compounds (organic UV filters) in aquatic biota. Anal Bioanal Chem 404:2597–2610

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Grabicova K, Fedorova G, Burkina V, Steinbach C, Schmidt-Posthaus H, Zlabek V, Kocour Kroupova H, Grabic R, Randak T (2013) Presence of UV filters in surface water and the effects of phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid on rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) following a chronic toxicity test. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 96:41–47

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hinfray N, Palluel O, Turies C, Cousin C, Porcher JM, Brion F (2006) Brain and gonadal aromatase as potential targets of endocrine disrupting chemicals in a model species, the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Environ Toxicol 21:332–337

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hurem S, Gomes T, Brede DA, Lindbo Hansen E, Mutoloki S, Fernandez C, Mothersill C, Salbu B, Kassaye YA, Olsen AK, Oughton D, Alestrom P, Lyche JL (2017) Parental gamma irradiation induces reprotoxic effects accompanied by genomic instability in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos. Environ Res 159:564–578

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. ISO (1996) Water quality-determination of the acute lethal toxicity of substances to a freshwater fish [Brachydanio rerio Hamiltone-Buchanan (Teleostei, Cyprinidae)]. In: part 3: flow-through method 1996.

  12. Kim S, Choi K (2014) Occurrences, toxicities, and ecological risks of benzophenone-3, a common component of organic sunscreen products: a mini-review. Environ Int 70:143–157

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Kim S, Jung D, Kho Y, Choi K (2014) Effects of benzophenone-3 exposure on endocrine disruption and reproduction of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes): a two generation exposure study. Aquat Toxicol 155:244–252

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Kinnberg KL, Petersen GI, Albrektsen M, Minghlani M, Awad SM, Holbech BF, Green JW, Bjerregaard P, Holbech H (2015) Endocrine-disrupting effect of the ultraviolet filter benzophenone-3 in zebrafish, Danio rerio. Environ Toxicol Chem 34:2833–2840

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Kuhl AJ, Manning S, Brouwer M (2005) Brain aromatase in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes): molecular characterization and role in xenoestrogen-induced sex reversal. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 96:67–77

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Meng Q, Yeung K, Kwok ML, Chung CT, Hu XL, Chan KM (2020) Toxic effects and transcriptome analyses of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae exposed to benzophenones. Environ Pollut 265:114857

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Molina-Molina JM, Escande A, Pillon A, Gomez E, Pakdel F, Cavailles V, Olea N, Ait-Aissa S, Balaguer P (2008) Profiling of benzophenone derivatives using fish and human estrogen receptor-specific in vitro bioassays. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 232:384–395

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. OECD(2013) OECD guidelines for the testing of chemicals. In: Section 2: effects on biotic systems test no. 236: fish embryo acute toxicity (FET) test. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris

  19. Pellegrini E, Menuet A, Lethimonier C, Adrio F, Gueguen MM, Tascon C, Anglade I, Pakdel F, Kah O (2005) Relationships between aromatase and estrogen receptors in the brain of teleost fish. Gen Comp Endocrinol 142:60–66

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Rodriguez AS, Sanz MR, Rodriguez JRB (2015) Occurrence of eight UV filters in beaches of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands). An approach to environmental risk assessment. Chemosphere 131:85–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Tao J, Bai C, Chen Y, Zhou H, Liu Y, Shi Q, Pan W, Dong H, Li L, Xu H, Tanguay R, Huang C, Dong Q (2020) Environmental relevant concentrations of benzophenone-3 induced developmental neurotoxicity in zebrafish. Sci Total Environ 721:137686

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Trant JM, Gavasso S, Ackers J, Chung BC, Place AR (2001) Developmental expression of cytochrome P450 aromatase genes (CYP19a and CYP19b) in zebrafish fry (Danio rerio). J Exp Zool 290:475–483

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Tsui MM, Leung HW, Wai TC, Yamashita N, Taniyasu S, Liu W, Lam PK, Murphy MB (2014) Occurrence, distribution and ecological risk assessment of multiple classes of UV filters in surface waters from different countries. Water Res 67:55–65

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Wu MH, Li J, Xu G, Ma LD, Li JJ, Li JS, Tang L (2018) Pollution patterns and underlying relationships of benzophenone-type UV-filters in wastewater treatment plants and their receiving surface water. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 152:98–103

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Zhang H, Yin H, Zhou Z, Chen X, Liu M (2014) Aerobic biodegradability of emerging contaminants BP-3 and BP-4. Environ Prote Chem Indust 34:423–428

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was sponsored by the Major Scientific Research Project of Guangdong Provincial Education Department (No. 2019GDZXM009).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mengyi Xu.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 319 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Xu, M., Zheng, D. & Gong, S. Effects of Low Concentration Benzophenone-3 Exposure on the Sex Ratio and Offspring Development of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 106, 740–746 (2021).

Download citation


  • Benzophenone-3
  • Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
  • Sex ratio
  • Parental exposure
  • F1 embryos