Modafinil decreases anxiety-like behaviour in zebrafish

PeerJ. 2017 Feb 14;5:e2994. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2994. eCollection 2017.


Modafinil (2-((diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl)acetamide), a selective dopamine and norepinephrine transporter inhibitor, is most commonly prescribed for narcolepsy but has gained recent interest for treating a variety of disorders. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are becoming a model of choice for pharmacological and behavioural research. To investigate the behavioural effects of modafinil on anxiety, we administered doses of 0, 2, 20, and 200 mg/L for 30 minutes then tested zebrafish in the novel approach test. In this test, the fish was placed into a circular arena with a novel object in the center and motion-tracking software was used to quantify the time the fish spent in the outer area of the arena (thigmotaxis zone), middle third of the arena (transition zone) and center of the arena, as well as total distance traveled, immobility and meandering. Modafinil caused a decrease in time spent in the thigmotaxis zone and increased time spent in the transition zone across all doses. Modafinil did not significantly alter the time spent in the center zone (near the novel object), the distance moved, meandering, or the duration of time spent immobile. We also validated this test as a measure of anxiety with the administration of ethanol (1%) which decreased time spent in the thigmotaxis zone and increased time spent in the transition zone. These results suggest that modafinil decreases anxiety-like behaviour in zebrafish.

Keywords: Anxiety; Ethanol; Locomotor activity; Modafinil; Novel approach test; Zebrafish.

Grant support

This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC Discovery grant to TJH) grant number 04843. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.