The effects of strontium on skeletal development in zebrafish embryo

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2013 Oct;27(4):375-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


The strontium is an alkaline earth metal found in nature as trace element. Chemically similar to calcium, it is known to be involved in the human bone mineral metabolism. The strontium ranelate has been approved in therapy as drug with both anti-resorption and anabolic effects on bone tissues. Since few data in vivo are available, we used Danio rerio as animal model to evaluate the effects of strontium on skeletal development. First, toxicity assay performed on zebrafish embryos estimated the LC50 around 6mM. Since several zebrafish bones are formed from cartilage mineralization, we evaluated whether strontium affects cartilage development during embryogenesis. Strontium does not perturb the development of the cartilage tissues before the endochondral osteogenesis takes place. About the mineralization process, we evidentiated an increase of vertebral mineralization respect to controls at lower strontium concentrations whereas higher concentration inhibited mineral deposition in dose dependent fashion. Our results evidentiated, in addition, that the calcium/strontium rate but not the absolute level of strontium modulates the mineralization process during embryonic osteogenesis. Zebrafish represents an excellent animal model to study the role of micronutrients in the development of the tissues/organs because the ions are not absorbed by intestine but assumed by skin diffusion.

Keywords: Bone; Embryo; Mineralization; Strontium; Zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / embryology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Strontium / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / growth & development*


  • Strontium