Acute Developmental Toxicity of Panax notoginseng in Zebrafish Larvae

Chin J Integr Med. 2022 Jan 27. doi: 10.1007/s11655-022-3302-8. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To evaluate toxicity of raw extract of Panax notoginseng (rPN) and decocted extract of PN (dPN) by a toxicological assay using zebrafish larvae, and explore the mechanism by RNA sequencing assay.

Methods: Zebrafish larvae was used to evaluate acute toxicity of PN in two forms: rPN and dPN. Three doses (0.5, 1.5, and 5.0 µ g/mL) of dPN were used to treat zebrafishes for evaluating the developmental toxicity. Behavior abnormalities, body weight, body length and number of vertebral roots were used as specific phenotypic endpoints. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) assay was applied to clarify the mechanism of acute toxicity, followed by real time PCR (qPCR) for verification. High performance liquid chromatography analysis was performed to determine the chemoprofile of this herb.

Results: The acute toxicity result showed that rPN exerted higher acute toxicity than dPN in inducing death of larval zebrafishes (P<0.01). After daily oral intake for 21 days, dPN at doses of 0.5, 1.5 and 5.0 µ g/mL decreased the body weight, body length, and vertebral number of larval zebrafishes, indicating developmental toxicity of dPN. No other adverse outcome was observed during the experimental period. RNA-seq data revealed 38 genes differentially expressed in dPN-treated zebrafishes, of which carboxypeptidase A1 (cpa1) and opioid growth factor receptor-like 2 (ogfrl2) were identified as functional genes in regulating body development of zebrafishes. qPCR data showed that dPN significantly down-regulated the mRNA expressions of cpa1 and ogfrl2 (both P<0.01), verifying cpa1 and ogfrl2 as target genes for dPN.

Conclusion: This report uncovers the developmental toxicity of dPN, suggesting potential risk of its clinical application in children.

Keywords: Panax notoginseng; RNA sequencing; developmental toxicity; zebrafish larvae.