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The larval zebrafish is emerging as a useful model to assess neurobehavioral toxicity. A variety of behavioral assays have been developed to characterize normal behavior and the acute and chronic effects of a variety of compounds. To date, such behavioral assays have been limited to relatively simple behavioral measures (e.g., swimming activity in a single well). The present experiment describes methodology to assess exploratory behavior in 5 days-post-fertilization (5 dpf) larval zebrafish using a six-chamber, complex well-plate. In addition, the effect of acute nicotine exposure on exploratory activity in this complex environment was examined. Five dpf TU strain larvae were studied. Larvae were treated with either 0, 16.25μM or 48.25μM nicotine and were observed for 15 minutes. General Locomotor Activity, Zone Preference, Thigmotaxis (outer zone preference), Thigmotaxis Path Type, Chamber Transitions, and Latency to enter the Center Zone were measured using a Noldus tracking system. These results demonstrate (1) the utility of this novel testing methodology, (2) that a low and high dose of nicotine increased exploratory behavior in a complex environment and (3) dose-dependent behavioral changes due to nicotine treatment, suggesting altered control of a specific type of exploratory behavior as compared to a general increase in behavioral activation. These results while inconsistent with the current literature on anxiety-driven behavior in other animal models may be explained by the intrinsic properties of larval zebrafish behavioral phenotypes and molecular and cellular differences in nicotinic receptor function.
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Chen, Brandon, "Effects of Acute Nicotine on Larval Zebrafish Exploratory Behavior in a Complex Environment" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 125.
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