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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2011 Nov-Dec;33(6):658-67. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Behavioral and physiological effects of acute ketamine exposure in adult zebrafish.

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Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Program, Tulane Neurophenotyping Platform, Zebrafish Neuroscience Research Consortium, Tulane University Medical School,1430 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, LA 70112, USA


Ketamine is a non-competitive glutamatergic antagonist used to induce sedation and analgesia. In sub-anesthetic doses, it induces hyperlocomotion, impairs memory and evokes stereotypic circling in rodents. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) emerged as a promising new animal model to screen the effects of psychotropic compounds. Here, we investigated the effects of sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine on anxiety, locomotion, habituation and social behavior of adult zebrafish. Acute 20-min exposure to 20 and 40 mg/L (but not 2 mg/L) of ketamine reduced anxiety, impaired intra-session habituation, evoked circular swimming and disrupted zebrafish shoaling. Additionally, ketamine reduced whole-body cortisol levels and elevated brain c-fos expression in zebrafish. Our findings demonstrate the sensitivity of zebrafish to behavioral and physiological effects of sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine, further supporting the utility of this species as a model for neuropharmacological research, including testing ketamine and related drugs.

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