Analysis of Lethality and Malformations During Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Development

Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1797:337-363. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7883-0_18.


The versatility offered by zebrafish (Danio rerio) makes it a powerful and an attractive vertebrate model in developmental toxicity and teratogenicity assays. Apart from the newly introduced chemicals as drugs, xenobiotics also induce abnormal developmental abnormalities and congenital malformations in living organisms. Over the recent decades, zebrafish embryo/larva has emerged as a potential tool to test teratogenicity potential of these chemicals. Zebrafish responds to compounds as mammals do as they share similarities in their development, metabolism, physiology, and signaling pathways with that of mammals. The methodology used by the different scientists varies enormously in the zebrafish embryotoxicity test. In this chapter, we present methods to assess lethality and malformations during zebrafish development. We propose two major malformations scoring systems: binomial and relative morphological scoring systems to assess the malformations in zebrafish embryos/larvae. Based on the scoring of the malformations, the test compound can be classified as a teratogen or a nonteratogen and its teratogenic potential is evaluated.

Keywords: Abnormality; Development; Embryotoxicity; Lethality; Malformation; Morphology; Scoring; Teratogenicity; Toxicity; Zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian*
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Phenotype
  • Teratogens
  • Toxicity Tests / methods
  • Zebrafish / abnormalities*
  • Zebrafish / embryology*


  • Teratogens