Use of the zebrafish larvae as a model to study cigarette smoke condensate toxicity

PLoS One. 2014 Dec 19;9(12):e115305. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115305. eCollection 2014.


The smoking of tobacco continues to be the leading cause of premature death worldwide and is linked to the development of a number of serious illnesses including heart disease, respiratory diseases, stroke and cancer. Currently, cell line based toxicity assays are typically used to gain information on the general toxicity of cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, they provide little information regarding the complex disease-related changes that have been linked to smoking. The ethical concerns and high cost associated with mammalian studies have limited their widespread use for in vivo toxicological studies of tobacco. The zebrafish has emerged as a low-cost, high-throughput, in vivo model in the study of toxicology. In this study, smoke condensates from 2 reference cigarettes and 6 Canadian brands of cigarettes with different design features were assessed for acute, developmental, cardiac, and behavioural toxicity (neurotoxicity) in zebrafish larvae. By making use of this multifaceted approach we have developed an in vivo model with which to compare the toxicity profiles of smoke condensates from cigarettes with different design features. This model system may provide insights into the development of smoking related disease and could provide a cost-effective, high-throughput platform for the future evaluation of tobacco products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canada
  • Cardiotoxicity / genetics
  • Cardiotoxicity / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / genetics
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Toxicogenetics / methods
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / growth & development*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Zebrafish Proteins

Grant support

This work was supported by Health Canada under the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy and the National Research Council Canada. Health Canada contributed to study design, decision to publish and preparation of the manuscript. The National Research Council contributed to study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish and preparation of the manuscript.