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Title (Primary) Transcriptome-wide prediction and measurement of combined effects induced by chemical mixture exposure in zebrafish embryos
Author Schüttler, A.; Jakobs, G.; Fix, J.M.; Krauss, M.; Krüger, J.; Leuthold, D.; Altenburger, R.; Busch, W.
Journal Environmental Health Perspectives
Year 2021
Department BIOTOX; WANA
Volume 129
Issue 4
Page From art. 047006
Language englisch
Topic T9 Healthy Planet


Humans and environmental organisms are constantly exposed to complex mixtures of chemicals. Extending our knowledge about the combined effects of chemicals is thus essential for assessing the potential consequences of these exposures. In this context, comprehensive molecular readouts as retrieved by omics techniques are advancing our understanding of the diversity of effects upon chemical exposure. This is especially true for effects induced by chemical concentrations that do not instantaneously lead to mortality, as is commonly the case for environmental exposures. However, omics profiles induced by chemical exposures have rarely been systematically considered in mixture contexts.


In this study, we aimed to investigate the predictability of chemical mixture effects on the whole-transcriptome scale.


We predicted and measured the toxicogenomic effects of a synthetic mixture on zebrafish embryos. The mixture contained the compounds diuron, diclofenac, and naproxen. To predict concentration- and time-resolved whole-transcriptome responses to the mixture exposure, we adopted the mixture concept of concentration addition. Predictions were based on the transcriptome profiles obtained for the individual mixture components in a previous study. Finally, concentration- and time-resolved mixture exposures and subsequent toxicogenomic measurements were performed and the results were compared with the predictions.


This comparison of the predictions with the observations showed that the concept of concentration addition provided reasonable estimates for the effects induced by the mixture exposure on the whole transcriptome. Although nonadditive effects were observed only occasionally, combined, that is, multicomponent-driven, effects were found for mixture components with anticipated similar, as well as dissimilar, modes of action.


Overall, this study demonstrates that using a concentration- and time-resolved approach, the occurrence and size of combined effects of chemicals may be predicted at the whole-transcriptome scale. This allows improving effect assessment of mixture exposures on the molecular scale that might not only be of relevance in terms of risk assessment but also for pharmacological applications.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Schüttler, A., Jakobs, G., Fix, J.M., Krauss, M., Krüger, J., Leuthold, D., Altenburger, R., Busch, W. (2021):
Transcriptome-wide prediction and measurement of combined effects induced by chemical mixture exposure in zebrafish embryos
Environ. Health Perspect. 129 (4), art. 047006