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Applying sunscreens on earthworms: Molecular response of Eisenia fetida after direct contact with an organic UV filter

Novo, M., Muñiz-González, A.B., Trigo, D., Casquero, S., Martínez Guitarte, J.L.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.676 pp. 97-104
Eisenia fetida, UV filters, aquatic invertebrates, benzophenones, earthworms, ecdysone receptor, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, energy metabolism, epigenetics, filters, food packaging, genes, genotoxicity, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, risk, soil, stress response, sunscreens, superoxide dismutase, vertebrates, wastewater treatment
The use of organic Ultraviolet (UV) filters has increased in the last years, either in sunscreens, other cosmetics, or even food packaging. These filters may end up in soil and water since the Wastewater Treatment Plants may not successfully remove them. Among them, benzophenones are known to act as endocrine disruptors. However, most of the studies are directed towards vertebrates and aquatic invertebrates, while there is a lack of information on the molecular mechanisms affected by these compounds on soil dwelling invertebrates. Here, we study the impact of direct acute (48 h) contact of 4-hydroxybenzophenone (4-OHBP) at two sublethal concentrations (0.02 and 0.2 mg/mL) on gene expression of the earthworm Eisenia fetida. Investigated genes were involved in endocrine pathways, stress response, detoxification mechanisms, genotoxicity, energy metabolism and epigenetics. Three of them were identified for the first time in earthworms. Our results suggest that exposure to 4-OHBP affected endocrine pathways, causing an increase in the Ecdysone receptor gene (EcR) expression. Moreover, the UV filter induced changes in the CuZn superoxide dismutase gene (CuZn SOD), indicating an effect in the stress response. Finally, significant changes were detected for glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene (GAPDH) expression, indicating that energy metabolism is influenced by the 4-OHBP and highlighting the risks of using GAPDH as an internal reference for Real Time PCR.