Kinetics of glucocorticoid exposure in developing zebrafish: A tracer study


In the current study the dynamics of glucocorticoid uptake by zebrafish chorionated embryos from the surrounding medium were studied, using 2.5 μM cortisol or dexamethasone solutions complemented with their tritiated variant. We measured the uptake of radioactive cortisol by embryos during a 1 h submersion. Interestingly, the signal in chorionated embryos was 85% (exposure: 1–2 hpf) or 78% (exposure: 48–49 hpf) of the signal present in an equal volume medium. By comparing embryos measured without chorion, we found that 18–20% of the radioactivity present in chorionated embryos is actually bound to the chorion or located in the perivitelline space. Consequently, embryonic tissue contains radioactivity levels of 60% of a similar volume of medium after 1 h incubation. During early developmental stages (1–48 hpf) exposure of more than 24 h in cortisol was needed to achieve radioactivity levels similar to an equal volume of medium within the embryonic tissue and more than 48 h for dexamethasone. In glucocorticoid-free medium, radioactivity dropped rapidly below 10% for both glucocorticoids, suggesting that the major portion of the embryonic radioactivity was a result of simple diffusion. During later developmental stages (48–96 hpf) initial uptake dynamics were similar, but showed a decrease of tissue radioactivity to 20% of an equal volume of medium after hatching, probably due to development and activation of the hypothalamic pituitary interrenal axis. Uptake is dependent on the developmental stage of the embryo. Furthermore, the presence of the chorion during exposure should be taken into account even when small lipophilic molecules are being tested.