As part of the development of a rapid in vivo screen for prioritization of toxic chemicals, we have begun to characterize the locomotor activity of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae by assessing the acute effects of prototypic drugs that act on the central nervous system. Initially, we chose ethanol, d-amphetamine, and cocaine, which are known, in mammals, to increase locomotion at low doses and decrease locomotion at higher doses. Wild-type larvae were individually maintained in 96-well microtiter plates at 26 degrees C, under a 14:10 h light:dark cycle, with lights on at 0830 h. At 6 days post-fertilization, ethanol (1-4% v/v), d-amphetamine sulfate (0.1-20.0 microM) or cocaine hydrochloride (0.2-50.0 microM) were administered to the larvae by immersion. Beginning 20 min into the exposure, locomotion was assessed for each animal for 70 min using 10-minute, alternating light (visible light) and dark (infrared light) periods. Low concentrations of ethanol and d-amphetamine increased activity, while higher concentrations of all three drugs decreased activity. Because ethanol effects occurred predominately during the light periods, whereas the d-amphetamine and cocaine effects occurred during the dark periods, alternating lighting conditions proved to be advantageous. These results indicate that zebrafish larvae are sensitive to neuroactive drugs, and their locomotor response is similar to that of mammals.
Published by Elsevier Inc.