Rapid Zebrafish Behavioral Profiling Assay Accelerates the Identification of Environmental Neurodevelopmental Toxicants

EMAnalysis A rapid zebrafish profilling assay for neurodevelopmental toxicant identificationAbstract


Rapid and cost-effective in vivo assays to screen potential environmental neurodevelopmental toxicants are necessary to address the limitations of in vitro platforms, such as the inability to fully recapitulate the developmental and physiological processes of whole organisms. In the present study, a rapid zebrafish behavioral profiling assay was developed to characterize the neurodevelopmental effects of environmental substances by quantitatively evaluating multiple spontaneous movement features of zebrafish embryos. This video analysis-based assay automatically segmented every embryo and thus was able to accurately quantify spontaneous movement features, including frequency, duration, intensity, interval, and the number of continuous movements. When tested with eight environmental substances known to be neurodevelopmental toxicants, such as chlorpyrifos and bisphenol A, the assay successfully captured frequency alterations that were well-documented in previous studies while also providing additional information. Using an optimized procedure, we further assessed 132 potential neurotoxins that spanned a wide range of molecular targets, many of which were previously detected in environmental waterbodies. The distinct altered behavioral barcodes indicated that the spontaneous movement was impacted by diverse neuroactive substances, and the effects could be effectively evaluated with the developed assay. The web-based tool, named EMAnalysis, is further provided at http://www.envh.sjtu.edu.cn/zebrafish_contraction.jsp. Thus, this assay provides an efficient platform to accelerate the pace of neurotoxic environmental contaminant discoveries.


Link to the publication : https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.0c06949