Effects of Estrogen, Nitric Oxide, and Dopamine on Behavioral Locomotor Activities in the Embryonic Zebrafish: A Pharmacological Study

Toxics. 2016 Sep 26;4(4):24. doi: 10.3390/toxics4040024.


Nitric oxide (NO) has been shown to affect motor function. Specifically, NO has been shown to act through regulation of dopamine (DA) release, transporter function, and the elicitation of neuroprotection/neurodegeneration of neurons. Recently, zebrafish have been proposed to be a new model for the study of various types of motor dysfunctions, since neurotoxin damage to their nigrostriatal-like neurons exhibit motor anomalies similar to those of mammalian models and human patients. Results from this study demonstrate that when NO synthesis is inhibited in zebrafish, using a neuronal NO synthase inhibitor (nNOSI), a condition called 'listless' occurs, where the fish lack swimming abilities, are rigid, and have difficulty maintaining balance. Additionally, co-treatment with either NO or estrogen (E2), an upstream regulator of NO synthase, can rescue fish from the 'listless' phenotype caused by exposure to the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6 OHDA). In turn, NO deprived zebrafish were rescued from the 'listless' phenotype when co-treated with L-DOPA, a precursor to DA. Interestingly, the longer fish are exposed to a 6 OHDA + nNOSI co-treatment, the slower the recovery after washout, compared to a single treatment of each. Most significantly, NO involvement in the motor homeostasis of the embryonic zebrafish was shown to be expressed through the NO-cGMP-dependent pathway, and response to nNOSI treatments is developmentally regulated. In conclusion, these results indicate that there is a link between E2, NO, and DA systems that regulate motor functions in the embryonic zebrafish.

Keywords: 6-hydroxydopamine neuronal toxicity; dopamine; estrogen; motor dysfunction; nitric oxide; zebrafish.