Maternal exposure to organophosphate flame retardants alters locomotor and anxiety-like behavior in male and female adult offspring

K. R. Wiersielis, S. Adams, A. Yasrebi, K. Conde, T. A. Roepke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals found in our environment that interrupt typical endocrine function. Some flame retardants (FRs) are EDCs as shown in their interaction with steroid and nuclear receptors. Humans are consistently exposed to flame retardants as they are used in everyday items such as plastics, clothing, toys, and electronics. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers were used as the major FR until 2004, when they were replaced by organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs). Previous research in rodent models utilizing a commercial flame retardant mixture containing OPFRs reported alterations in anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze (EPM) for rodents perinatally exposed to OPFRs. In the present study we utilize wild-type mice maternally exposed (gestational day 7 to postnatal day 14) to either an OPFR mixture of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl), triphenyl phosphate, and tricresyl phosphate or a sesame seed oil vehicle. These mice were evaluated for anxiety-like behavior in adulthood on the open field test (OFT) and the light/dark box (LDB) as well as the EPM. Outcomes from the OFT and LDB indicate that males and females maternally exposed to OPFRs exhibit altered locomotor activity. Results of the EPM were sex-specific as we did not observe an effect in females; however, effects in males differed depending on exposure condition. Males maternally exposed to OPFRs exhibited an anxiolytic-like phenotype in contrast to their vehicle counterparts. This effect in perinatally OPFR-exposed males was not due to alterations in locomotor activity. Our research illustrates that there are sex- and exposure-dependent effects of perinatal OPFR exposure on adult locomotor and anxiety-like behaviors in a mouse model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104759
JournalHormones and Behavior
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Anxiety
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Maternal exposure
  • Organophosphate flame retardants
  • Sex differences


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