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Widespread abuse of benzodiazepine agonists, the most commonly prescribed anxiety-reducing medications, has created a massive unmet need for drugs that target specific anxiety disorders, while mitigating the potential for abuse. The development of a model of anxiety in larval zebrafish would greatly increase the throughput of conventional behavioral tests, while remaining a valid model of human anxiety. An animal’s natural preference for the edge of its environments (thigmotaxis) has been proven to be a valid measure of anxiety in humans, rodents, and fish. When the skin of a zebrafish is broken, a substance is released into the water that induces avoidance in nearby fish. The larval zebrafish model has potential as a high-throughput screening tool using this alarm substance; however, it is unclear when fish develop sensitivity to the substance. In this study, two known components of the natural substance were administered to larval zebrafish, and change in their edge preference was analyzed. Preliminary results indicate no effect of dosage on change in thigmotaxis, suggesting larvae might not be sensitive to the substance at this developmental stage. This study provides the first evidence of the effects of administration of alarm substance and opens multiple paths of future research.
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van Horne, Griffin C., "The Optimization of the Synthetic Alarm Substance to Develop a High-Throughput Screening Tool for Potential Anxiety-Reducing Substances" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 95.