Effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) on the thyroid status, vitellogenin, and oxidant–antioxidant balance in the Murray River rainbowfish

  • Ana F. MirandaEmail author
  • Charlene Trestrail
  • Sam Lekamge
  • Dayanthi Nugegoda


Perfluorooctanoic acid’s (PFOA) widespread use, presence and persistence in the aquatic environment has led to an increasing number of studies focusing on its toxicological effects. In Australia, PFOA has been detected in the aquatic environment, however its effects on Australian native fauna are unknown. In this study, male Australian native fish Murray River rainbowfish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis) were exposed to four different concentrations of PFOA (0.01, 0.1, 1 and 10 mg L−1). Variations in thyroid hormones (Triiodothyronine (T3)/Thyroxine (T4)) and the presence of vitellogenin were determined in plasma. Oxidative stress responses were evaluated in gills and liver. Exposure of male fish to PFOA resulted in altered T3/T4 ratios and the presence of vitellogenin in the plasma. Activities of catalase (CAT) and glutathione- S-transferase (GST) were significantly increased in the gills and significantly reduced in the liver. Lipid peroxidation was observed in both tissues showing that vital organs could not neutralize the peroxides generated by oxidative stress resulting from exposure to PFOA. In natural populations exposed to PFOA, such hormonal disturbances can have negative effects, notably through altered capacity to respond to changes in environmental conditions.


Perfluorooctanoic acid Australian fish Endocrine disruption Thyroid Oxidative stress 



This work was supported by the College of Science, engineering and Health and the RMIT University School of Science. The authors wish to thank Mr James Oliver for his assistance in fish husbandry.

Author contributions

DN coordinated this project and together with AFM designed the experiments. Exposures were run by AFM and analysis were performed by AFM. Data and statistical analysis were performed by all authors. All authors contributed in writing the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecotoxicology Research Group, School of ScienceRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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