Zebrafish and mouse models for anxiety evaluation – A comparative study with xanthotoxin as a model compound


• Xanthotoxin modifies anxiety-related behavior in two animal models: zebrafish and mice.
• Xanthotoxin exerted reversed U-shape effect on anxiety behaviors in both models.
• The predictive power of zebrafish for behavioral research of natural compounds was proven.


The ever-present trend for introducing new drugs of natural origin with anxiolytic properties meets healthcare needs of the population, whose almost 34 % struggles with anxiety-related disorders. At the same time, animal assays that could serve as fast and reliable models of anxiety-like behaviors are of great interest to scientists. Thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the utility of the zebrafish model for assessing the influence of natural compounds on anxiety in comparison with the well-known mouse model. Secondly, this study is also the first attempt to investigate the influence of a naturally occurring metabolite, i.e. xanthotoxin, on anxiety-related behaviors. The anxiety level in zebrafish was assessed by measuring thigmotaxis, a specific animal behavior to move closer to the boundaries of an open area and to avoid its center. In mice, the elevated plus maze test was chosen to study anxiety-related behaviors. Our results show that xanthotoxin exerted reversed U-shape effect on anxiety behaviors in both models. The similar pattern of xanthotoxin-induced anxiety-related behaviors in both animal models not only confirms the pharmacological properties of xanthotoxin but also proves the predictive power of the zebrafish model for behavioral research of natural compounds.


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