Timme-Laragy Publication Selected as NIEHS Extramural Paper of the Month

University of Massachusetts Amherst Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Alicia Timme-Laragy

Alicia Timme-Laragy

April 26, 2021

A new publication from Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Alicia Timme-Laragy has been selected as an extramural paper of the month by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

The article, titled “Developmental exposures to perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) impact embryonic nutrition, pancreatic morphology, and adiposity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio,” appears in the April 2021 issue of the journal Environmental Pollution. Timme-Laragy’s co-authors include first author Karilyn Sant, who conducted the study while a postdoctoral researcher in Timme-Laragy’s lab, as well as UMass Amherst faculty members Gerry Downes (Biology) and Yeonhwa Park (Food Science) and postdoctoral and student researchers Kate Annunziato, Sarah Conlin, Gregory Teicher, Phoebe Chen, and Olivia Venezia.

In the paper, Timme-Laragy and colleagues examine the ways in which early life exposure to environmental contaminant Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) alters zebrafish development. PFOS, which was previously used in consumer surfactants and industrial fire-fighting foams, has been widely implicated in metabolic dysfunction across the lifespan, including diabetes and obesity. However, the contributions of the embryonic environment to metabolic disease remain uncharacterized.

The researchers exposed zebrafish embryos to PFOS from either 1-5 days post fertilization (dpf) or 1-15 dpf. They evaluated fish at different time points up to 30 dpf, or juvenile stage. The researchers looked at concentrations of lipids, triglycerides, protein, cholesterol, and glucose, as well as at pancreatic islet cell shape, body fat, and fish behavior.

Concentrations of saturated fatty acids were increased by PFOS at 4 dpf, and the incidence of aberrant islet morphologies, principal islet areas, and adiposity were increased. The changes persisted in juvenile fish, suggesting PFOS as a contaminant of interest in the developmental origins of diabetes and obesity, according to the authors.