Zebrafish PrePulse Inhibition & Sensorimotor Gating / PPI


ZebraBox & ZebraLab Publication (more)


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Measuring Larval Zebrafish Behavior: Locomotion, Thigmotaxis, and Startle


Zebrafish Behavior and locomotion

Larval zebrafish are genetically tractable, easy to manipulate, and can be generated in large numbers. Their small size also makes them ideal for high-throughput screens for genes or pharmacological compounds that affect behavior. Thus, larval zebrafish are an ideal model system to investigate locomotion and locomotion-based behaviors such as thigmotaxis and startle. In this chapter, I present methods to measure locomotion, thigmotaxis, and response to a startle stimulus in larval zebrafish.f

Optopharmacology with Zebrabox

pub med



OptoGluNAM4.1, a negative allosteric modulator (NAM) of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGlu4) contains a reactive group that covalently binds to the receptor and a blue-light-activated, fast-relaxing azobenzene group that allows reversible receptor activity photocontrol in vitro and in vivo. OptoGluNAM4.1 induces light-dependent behavior in zebrafish and reverses the activity of the mGlu4 agonist LSP4-2022 in a mice model of chronic pain, defining a photopharmacological tool to better elucidate the physiological roles of the mGlu4 receptor in the nervous system.


Effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles exposure on parkinsonism in zebrafish larvae and PC12

Science Direct



Nanomaterials hold significant potential for industrial and biomedical application these years. Therefore, the relationship between nanoparticles and neurodegenerative disease is of enormous interest. In this contribution, zebrafish embryos and PC12 cell lines were selected for studying neurotoxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs). After exposure of different concentrations of TiO2 NPs to embryos from fertilization to 96 hpf, the hatching time of zebrafish was decreased, accompanied by an increase in malformation rate. However, no significant increases in mortality relative to control were observed. These results indicated that TiO2 NPs exposure hold a risk for premature of zebrafish embryos, but not fatal. The further investigation confirmed that TiO2 NPs could accumulate in the brain of zebrafish larvae, resulting in reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and cell death of hypothalamus. Meanwhile, q-PCR analysis showed that TiO2 NPs exposure increased the pink1, parkin, α-syn and uchl1 gene expression, which are related with the formation of Lewy bodies. We also observed loss of dopaminergic neurons in zebrafish and in vitro. These remarkable hallmarks are all linked to these Parkinson's disease (PD) symptoms. Our results indicate that TiO2NPs exposure induces neurotoxicity in vivo and in vitro, which poses a significant risk factor for the development of PD.



Pharmacological Validation of the Prepulse Inhibition of Startle Response in Larval Zebrafish using a Commercial Automated System and Software

Jove Neuroscience



While there is an abundance of commercial and standardized automated systems and software for performing the prepulse inhibition (PPI) assay in rodents, to the best of our knowledge, all PPI assays performed in the zebrafish have, until now, been done using custom made systems which were only available to individual groups. This has thereby presented challenges, particularly with regard to issues of data reproducibility and standardization. In the present work, we generated a protocol that utilizes commercially available automated systems to pharmacologically validate the PPI assay in larval zebrafish. Consistent with published findings, we were able to replicate the results of apomorphine, haloperidol and ketamine on the PPI response of 6 days post-fertilization zebrafish larvae.


Link to the publication :


Impacts of high dose 3.5 GHz cellphone radiofrequency on zebrafish embryonic development

Plos One



The rapid deployment of 5G spectrum by the telecommunication industry is intended to promote better connectivity and data integration among various industries. However, since exposures to radio frequency radiations (RFR) >2.4 GHz are still uncommon, concerns about their potential health impacts are ongoing. In this study, we used the embryonic zebrafish model to assess the impacts of a 3.5 GHz RFR on biology- a frequency typically used by 5G-enabled cell phones and lies within the 4G and 5G bandwidth. We established a plate-based exposure setup for RFRs, exposed developing zebrafish to 3.5 GHz RFR, specific absorption rate (SAR) ≈ 8.27 W/Kg from 6 h post fertilization (hpf) to 48 hpf, and measured a battery of morphological and behavioral endpoints at 120 hpf. Our results revealed no significant impacts on mortality, morphology or photomotor response and a modest inhibition of startle response suggesting some levels of sensorimotor disruptions. This suggests that the cell phone radiations at low GHz-level frequencies are likely benign, with subtle sensorimotor effects. Through this assessment, we have established a robust setup for zebrafish RFR exposures readily amenable to testing various powers and frequencies. Future developmental exposure studies in zebrafish will evaluate a wider portion of the radio frequency spectrum to discover the bioactive regions, the potential molecular targets of RFR and the potential long-term effects on adult behavior.


Link to the publication : 


Zebrafish Larvae Carrying a Splice Variant Mutation in cacna1d: A New Model for Schizophrenia-Like Behaviours?

Molecular Neurobiology



Persons with certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CACNA1D gene (encoding voltage-gated calcium channel subunit alpha 1-D) have increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and autism. The molecular consequences of SNPs on gene expression and protein function are not well understood. Thus, the use of animal models to determine genotype-phenotype correlations is critical to understanding disease pathogenesis. Here, we describe the behavioural changes in larval zebrafish carrying an essential splice site mutation (sa17298) in cacna1da. Heterozygous mutation resulted in 50% reduction of splice variants 201 and 202 (haploinsufficiency), while homozygosity increased transcript levels of variant 201 above wild type (WT; gain-of-function, GOF). Due to low homozygote viability, we focused primarily on performing the phenotypic analysis on heterozygotes. Indeed, cacna1dasa17298/WT larvae displayed hyperlocomotion—a behaviour characterised in zebrafish as a surrogate phenotype for epilepsy, anxiety or psychosis-like behaviour. Follow-up tests ruled out anxiety or seizures, however, as neither thigmotaxis defects nor epileptiform-like discharges in larval brains were observed. We therefore focused on testing for potential “psychosis-like” behaviour by assaying cacna1dasa17298/WT larval locomotor activity under constant light, during light-dark transition and in startle response to dark flashes. Furthermore, exposure of larvae to the antipsychotics, risperidone and haloperidol reversed cacna1da-induced hyperactivity to WT levels while valproate decreased but did not reverse hyperactivity. Together, these findings demonstrate that cacna1da haploinsufficiency induces behaviours in larval zebrafish analogous to those observed in rodent models of psychosis. Future studies on homozygous mutants will determine how cacna1d GOF alters behaviour in this context.


Link to the publication :


A model-based quantification of startle reflex habituation in larval zebrafish

Nature Scientific Report



Zebrafish is an established animal model for the reproduction and study of neurobiological pathogenesis of human neurological conditions. The ‘startle reflex’ in zebrafish larvae is an evolutionarily preserved defence response, manifesting as a quick body-bend in reaction to sudden sensory stimuli. Changes in startle reflex habituation characterise several neuropsychiatric disorders and hence represent an informative index of neurophysiological health. This study aimed at establishing a simple and reliable experimental protocol for the quantification of startle reflex response and habituation. The fish were stimulated with 20 repeated pulses of specific vibratory frequency, acoustic intensity/power, light-intensity and interstimulus-interval, in three separate studies. The cumulative distance travelled, namely the sum of the distance travelled (mm) during all 20 stimuli, was computed as a group-level description for all the experimental conditions in each study. Additionally, by the use of bootstrapping, the data was fitted to a model of habituation with a first-order exponential representing the decay of locomotor distance travelled over repeated stimulation. Our results suggest that startle habituation is a stereotypic first-order process with a decay constant ranging from 1 to 2 stimuli. Habituation memory lasts no more than 5 min, as manifested by the locomotor activity recovering to baseline levels. We further observed significant effects of vibratory frequency, acoustic intensity/power and interstimulus-interval on the amplitude, offset, decay constant and cumulative distance travelled. Instead, the intensity of the flashed light did not contribute to significant behavioural variations. The findings provide novel insights as to the influence of different stimuli parameters on the startle reflex habituation and constitute a helpful reference framework for further investigation.


Link to the publication : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-79923-6

Developmental Hazard of Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals and Protective Effect of TEMPOL in Zebrafish Model



Abstract: Environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) can be detected in ambient PM2.5, ciga-rette smoke, and soils and are formed through combustion and thermal processing of organic ma-terials. The hazards of EPFRs are largely unknown. In this study, we assess the developmental tox-icity of EPFRs and the ability of TEMPOL (4-Hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl) to pro-tect against such hazards using zebrafish embryos. Particles containing EPFRs were acquired by dosing dichlorobenzene (DCB) vapor on the Cab-o-sil/5% CuO particles at 230 °C in vacuo (referred to as DCB-230). The particles were suspended in ultrapure water to make 1 mg/mL of stock solution from which series dilution was undertaken to obtain 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, and 100 μg/mL final test solutions, which were then placed in individual wells with a 4 h postfertilization (hpf) zebrafish embryo. Plates were run in duplicate to obtain a sample size of 24 animals per concentration; 12 embryos were exposed per concentration per plate. Statistical analysis of the morphology endpoints was performed. We investigated overt toxicity responses to DCB-230 in a 22-endpoint battery that included developing zebrafish from 24–120 hpf. Exposure to concentrations greater than 60 μg/mL of DCB-230 induced high mortality in the developmental zebrafish model. Exposure to EPFRs in-duced developmental hazards that were closely related to the concentrations of free radicals and EPFRs. The potential protective effects of TEMPOL against EPFRs’ toxicity in zebrafish were inves-tigated. Exposure to EPFRs plus TEMPOL shifted the concentration to an induced 50% adverse ef-fect (EC50), from 23.6 to 30.8 μg/mL, which verifies TEMPOL’s protective effect against EPFRs in the early phase of zebrafish development.


Link tot he publication : https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Xia_Guan2/publication/348549661_Developmental_Hazard_of_Environmentally_Persistent_Free_Radicals_and_Protective_Effect_of_TEMPOL_in_Zebrafish_Model/links/60032830299bf140889ebdc6/Developmental-Hazard-of-Environmentally-Persistent-Free-Radicals-and-Protective-Effect-of-TEMPOL-in-Zebrafish-Model.pdf