Identification of apoptosis and macrophage migration events in paraquat-induced oxidative stress using a zebrafish model

Life Sci. 2016 Jul 15;157:116-124. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2016.06.009. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Aims: Paraquat (PQ) is a pesticide highly toxic to human beings, and a well-known trigger of oxidative stress. Although several animal models of PQ poisoning have been developed, some disadvantages limit their application in vivo. A zebrafish model was used in the present study to better define mechanisms of oxidative stress injury induced by PQ.

Main methods: The toxicity of PQ was evaluated in the AB strain of zebrafish, and apoptosis was assessed by acridine orange staining. Macrophage migration was identified using the TG (zlyz:EGFP) transgenic strain, and angiogenesis was observed using the fli1a-EGFP casper strain. Following the validation of gene changes by zebrafish-based in vivo quantitative real-time PCR, network analysis was performed using the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis software.

Key findings: We first established the LC50 of PQ in the zebrafish model, and then found that robust oxidative stress and antioxidant genes were activated after PQ exposure. Moreover, apoptosis and distinct macrophage activation and migration were identified for the first time in PQ-exposed zebrafish. Utilizing this model, both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways involved in PQ-induced apoptosis were elucidated. We further demonstrated that macrophage migration was specifically induced by PQ, and that Rho family members and JNK-MMP13 signaling participated in this process.

Significance: Zebrafish is a promising tool for investigating the mechanisms of oxidative stress injury induced by PQ, and for screening effective anti-oxidant drugs.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Macrophage migration; Oxidative stress; Paraquat; Zebrafish model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Paraquat / toxicity*
  • Zebrafish


  • Herbicides
  • Paraquat