Zebrafish embryo toxicity of anaerobic biotransformation products from the insensitive munitions compound 2,4-dinitroanisole

Christopher I. Olivares, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Leif Abrell, Jon Chorover, Michael Simonich, Robert L. Tanguay, Jim A. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


2,4-Dinitroanisole (DNAN) is an emerging insensitive munitions compound that readily undergoes anaerobic nitro-group reduction to 2-methoxy-5-nitroaniline (MENA) and 2,4-diaminoanisole (DAAN), followed by formation of unique azo dimers. Currently there is little knowledge on the ecotoxicity of DNAN (bio)transformation products. In the present study, mortality, development, and behavioral effects of DNAN (bio)transformation products were assessed using zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos. The authors tested individual products, MENA and DAAN, as well as dimer and trimer surrogates. As pure compounds, 3-nitro-4-methoxyaniline and 2,2′-dimethoxy-4,4′-azodianiline caused statistically significant effects, with lowest-observable–adverse effect levels (LOAEL) at 6.4 μM on 1 or 2 developmental endpoints, respectively. The latter had 6 additional statistically significant developmental endpoints with LOAELs of 64 μM. Based on light-to-dark swimming behavioral tests, DAAN (640 μM) caused reduction in swimming, suggestive of neurotoxicity. No statistically significant mortality occurred (≤64 μM) for any of the individual compounds. However, metabolite mixtures formed during different stages of MENA (bio)transformation in soil were characterized using high-resolution mass spectrometry in parallel with zebrafish embryo toxicity assays, which demonstrated statistically significant mortality during the onset of azo-dimer formation. Overall the results indicate that several DNAN (bio)transformation products cause different types of toxicity to zebrafish embryos. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;35:2774–2781.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2774-2781
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • 2,4-Dinitroanisole
  • Azo dimer
  • Biotransformation
  • Developmental toxicity
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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