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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2018 Oct;37(10):2530-2541. doi: 10.1002/etc.4212. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Development of cardiovascular and neurodevelopmental metrics as sublethal endpoints for the Fish embryo toxicity test.

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Department of Biology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.


The fathead minnow fish embryo toxicity (FET) test has been proposed as a more humane alternative to current toxicity testing methods as younger organisms are thought to experience less distress during toxicant exposure. However, the FET test protocol does not include endpoints that allow for the prediction of sublethal adverse outcomes, limiting its utility relative to other test types. Researchers have proposed the development of sublethal endpoints for the FET test to increase its utility. The present study 1) developed methods for previously unmeasured sublethal metrics in fathead minnows (i.e., spontaneous contraction frequency and heart rate) and 2) investigated the responsiveness of several sublethal endpoints related to growth (wet wt, length, and growth-related gene expression), neurodevelopment (spontaneous contraction frequency, eye size, and neurodevelopmental gene expression), and cardiovascular function and development (pericardial area, heart rate, and cardiovascular system-related gene expression) as additional FET test metrics using the model toxicant 3,4-dichloroaniline. Of the growth, neurological, and cardiovascular endpoints measured, length, eye size, and pericardial area were found to be more responsive than the other endpoints evaluated. Future studies linking alterations in these endpoints to longer-term adverse impacts are needed to fully evaluate the predictive power of these metrics in chemical and whole-effluent toxicity testing. Environ Toxicol Chem 2018;37:2530-2541.


Animal alternatives; Developmental toxicity; Growth; Hazard/risk assessment; Neurotoxicity; Pericardial edema

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