In-plate toxicometabolomics of single zebrafish embryos

Mol Omics. 2020 Jun 1;16(3):185-194. doi: 10.1039/d0mo00007h. Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Toxicometabolomic studies involving zebrafish embryos have become increasingly popular for linking apical endpoints to biochemical perturbations as part of adverse outcome pathway determination. These experiments involve pooling embryos to generate sufficient biomass for metabolomic measurement, which adds both time and cost. To address this limitation, we developed a high-throughput toxicometabolomic assay involving single zebrafish embryos. Incubation, microscopy, embryo extraction, and instrumental metabolomic analysis were all performed in the same 96-well plate, following acquisition of conventional toxicological endpoints. The total time for the assay (including testing of 6 doses/n = 12 embryos per dose plus positive and negative controls, assessing conventional endpoints, instrumental analysis, data processing and multivariate statistics) is <14 days. Metabolomic perturbations at low dose were linked statistically to those observed at high dose and in the presence of an adverse effect, thereby contextualizing omic data amongst apical endpoints. Overall, this assay enables collection of high resolution metabolomic data in a high throughput manner, suitable for mode of action hypothesis generation in the context of pharmaceutical or toxicological screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Outcome Pathways
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / instrumentation*
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proof of Concept Study
  • Propranolol / toxicity*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Zebrafish


  • Propranolol

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.7m0cfxppz