Distribution and marketing of chemicals require appropriate labelling of health, physical and environmental hazards according to the United Nations global harmonisation system (GHS). Labelling for (human) acute toxicity categories is based on experimental findings usually obtained by oral, dermal or inhalative exposure of rodents. There is a strong societal demand for replacing animal experiments conducted for safety assessment of chemicals. Fish embryos are considered as alternative to animal testing and are proposed as predictive model both for environmental and human health effects. Therefore, we tested whether LC50s of the fish embryo acute toxicity test would allow effectively predicting of acute mammalian toxicity categories. A database of published fish embryo LC50 containing 641 compounds was established. For these compounds corresponding rat oral LD50 were identified resulting in 364 compounds for which both fish embryo LC50 and rat LD50 was available. Only a weak correlation of fish embryo LC50 and rat oral LD50 was obtained. Fish embryos were also not able to effectively predict GHS oral acute toxicity categories. We concluded that due to fundamental exposure protocol differences (single oral dose versus water-borne exposure) a reverse dosimetry approach is needed to explore the predictive capacity of fish embryos.
Fish embryos are widely used as an alternative model to study toxicity in vertebrates. Due to their complexity, embryos are believed to more resemble an adult organism than in vitro cellular models. However, concerns have been raised with respect to the embryo's metabolic capacity. We recently identified allyl alcohol, an industrial chemical, to be several orders of magnitude less toxic to zebrafish embryo than to adult zebrafish (embryo LC50?=?478 mg/L vs. fish LC50?=?0.28 mg/L). Reports on mammals have indicated that allyl alcohol requires activation by alcohol dehydrogenases (Adh) to form the highly reactive and toxic metabolite acrolein, which shows similar toxicity in zebrafish embryos and adults. To identify if a limited metabolic capacity of embryos indeed can explain the low allyl alcohol sensitivity of zebrafish embryos, we compared the mRNA expression levels of Adh isoenzymes (adh5, adh8a, adh8b and adhfe1) during embryo development to that in adult fish. The greatest difference between embryo and adult fish was found for adh8a and adh8b expression. Therefore, we hypothesized that these genes might be required for allyl alcohol activation. Microinjection of adh8a, but not adh8b mRNA led to a significant increase of allyl alcohol toxicity in embryos similar to levels reported for adults (LC50?=?0.42 mg/L in adh8a mRNA-injected embryos). Furthermore, GC/MS analysis of adh8a-injected embryos indicated a significant decline of internal allyl alcohol concentrations from 0.23-58 ng/embryo to levels below the limit of detection (< 4.6 µg/L). Injection of neither adh8b nor gfp mRNA had an impact on internal allyl alcohol levels supporting that the increased allyl alcohol toxicity was mediated by an increase in its metabolization. These results underline the necessity to critically consider metabolic activation in the zebrafish embryo. As demonstrated here, mRNA injection is one useful approach to study the role of candidate enzymes involved in metabolization.
Tests with vertebrates are an integral part of environmental hazard identification and risk assessment of chemicals, plant protection products, pharmaceuticals, biocides, feed additives and effluents. These tests raise ethical and economic concerns and are considered as inappropriate for assessing all of the substances and effluents that require regulatory testing. Hence, there is a strong demand for replacement, reduction and refinement strategies and methods. However, until now alternative approaches have only rarely been used in regulatory settings. This review provides an overview on current regulations of chemicals and the requirements for animal tests in environmental hazard and risk assessment. It aims to highlight the potential areas for alternative approaches in environmental hazard identification and risk assessment. Perspectives and limitations of alternative approaches to animal tests using vertebrates in environmental toxicology, i.e. mainly fish and amphibians, are discussed. Free access to existing (proprietary) animal test data, availability of validated alternative methods and a practical implementation of conceptual approaches such as the Adverse Outcome Pathways and Integrated Testing Strategies were identified as major requirements towards the successful development and implementation of alternative approaches. Although this article focusses on European regulations, its considerations and conclusions are of global relevance.
In mammals, ABCB1 constitutes a cellular "first line of defense" against a wide array of chemicals and drugs conferring cellular multidrug or multixenobiotic resistance (MDR/MXR). We tested the hypothesis that an ABCB1 ortholog serves as protection for the sensitive developmental processes in zebrafish embryos against adverse compounds dissolved in the water.
Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors are widely used as pesticides and drugs. Their primary effect is the overstimulation of cholinergic receptors which results in an improper muscular function. During vertebrate embryonic development nerve activity and intracellular downstream events are critical for the regulation of muscle fiber formation. Whether AChE inhibitors and related neurotoxic compounds also provoke specific changes in gene transcription patterns during vertebrate development that allow them to establish a mechanistic link useful for identification of developmental toxicity pathways has, however, yet not been investigated. Therefore we examined the transcriptomic response of a known AChE inhibitor, the organophosphate azinphos-methyl (APM), in zebrafish embryos and compared the response with two non-AChE inhibiting unspecific control compounds, 1,4-dimethoxybenzene (DMB) and 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP). A highly specific cluster of APM induced gene transcripts was identified and a subset of strongly regulated genes was analyzed in more detail. The small heat shock protein hspb11 was found to be the most sensitive induced gene in response to AChE inhibitors. Comparison of expression in wildtype, ache and sop(fixe) mutant embryos revealed that hspb11 expression was dependent on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) activity. Furthermore, modulators of intracellular calcium levels within the whole embryo led to a transcriptional up-regulation of hspb11 which suggests that elevated intracellular calcium levels may regulate the expression of this gene. During early zebrafish development, hspb11 was specifically expressed in muscle pioneer cells and Hspb11 morpholino-knockdown resulted in effects on slow muscle myosin organization. Our findings imply that a comparative toxicogenomic approach and functional analysis can lead to the identification of molecular mechanisms and specific marker genes for potential neurotoxic compounds.
In mammals, the Wilms tumor suppressor gene, Wt1, encodes a transcription factor critical for development of the urogenital system. In teleost fish, however, two wt1 genes have been identified. In medaka wt1a is expressed in the lateral plate mesoderm during early embryogenesis. Later in development, wt1a is additionally expressed in the somatic cells of the gonadal primordium. We show here for the first time that in teleosts wt1 gene expression is observed during gonad development. Wt1b is expressed later during embryogenesis and is not expressed in the gonadal primordium. Analysis of morpholino knockdown experiments revealed functions of wt1 genes in pronephros development. Unexpectedly, by down-regulating Wt1a protein we observed wt1b expression during embryogenesis in the wildtype wt1a expression domains including somatic cells of the gonadal primordium. Interestingly, neither wt1a nor wt1b morphants showed effects on the gonad development, whereas the double knockdown of wt1a and wt1b displayed strong influences on the number of primordial germ cell (PGC) during gonad development. Our results indicate that medaka wt1 co-orthologs show genetic redundancy in PGC maintenance or survival through responsive backup circuits. This provides first evidence for a conditional co-regulation of these genes within a transcriptional network.
The molecular responses of two small molecules, SANT-2 and GANT-61, potentially interfering with the sonic hedgehog pathway (Shh) have been studied in zebrafish embryos by microarray analysis. For both compounds and the positive reference cyclopamine previous reporter gene assays for the transcription factor Gli1 have indicated an inhibition of the hedgehog signaling pathway. In zebrafish embryos a typical phenotype (cyclopia) associated with Shh interference was only observed for cyclopamine. Furthermore, only cyclopamine led to the repression of genes specifically associated with hedgehog signaling and confirmed published microarray data. In contrast to these data hspb11 was additionally identified as the most pronounced down-regulated genes for exposure to cyclopamine. No or different effects on gene expression patterns were provoked by SANT-2 or GANT-61, respectively. Reasons for the discrepancies between cellular reporter and the zebrafish embryo assay and potential implications for the identification of compounds interfering with specific developmental pathways are discussed.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.