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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Dec;85(4):752-61. Epub 2006 Dec 29.

Effects of acute and chronic ethanol exposure on the behavior of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto @ Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6.


The zebrafish has been a popular subject of embryology and genetic research for the past three decades. Recently, however, the interest in its neurobiology and behavior has also increased. Nevertheless, compared to other model organisms, e.g., rodents, zebrafish behavior is understudied and very few behavioral paradigms exist for mutation or drug screening purposes. Alcoholism is one of the biggest and costliest diseases whose mechanisms are not well understood. Model organisms such as the zebrafish may be utilized in this line of research. Previously, we investigated the effects of acute ethanol exposure on adult zebrafish using four behavioral paradigms and employing manual quantification methods. Here, we study the effects of chronic ethanol exposure and analyze how it modifies the effects of acute ethanol treatment. We employ a videotracking-based automated quantification method in a predator model paradigm and show that this method is capable of detecting an avoidance reaction that is ameliorated by higher doses of ethanol, a potential anxiolytic effect. Importantly, we also demonstrate that chronic, two week long, exposure to ethanol results in significant adaptation to this substance in adult zebrafish. Overall, our results suggest that zebrafish will be an appropriate subject for high throughput screening applications aimed at the analysis of the mechanisms and pharmacology of acute and chronic ethanol induced changes in the vertebrate brain.

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