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Toxicological characterization and screening of neuroactive chemicals and mixtures using zebrafish embryo behavior

  • Despite the significant presence of neuroactive substances in the environment, bioassays that allow to detect diverse groups of neuroactive mechanisms of action are not well developed and not properly integrated into environmental monitoring and chemical regulation. Therefore, there is a need to develop testing methods which are amenable for fast and high-throughput neurotoxicity testing. The overall goal of this thesis work is to develop a test method for the toxicological characterization and screening of neuroactive substances and their mixtures which could be used for prospective and diagnostic hazard assessment. In this thesis, the behavior of zebrafish embryos was explored as a promising tool to distinguish between different neuroactive mechanisms of action. Recently, new behavioral tests have been developed including photomotor response (PMR), locomotor response (LMR) and spontaneous tail coiling (STC) tests. However, the experimental parameters of these tests lack consistency in protocols such as exposure time, imaging time, age of exposure, endpoint parameter etc. To understand how experimental parameters may influence the toxicological interpretation of behavior tests, a systematic review of existing behavioral assays was conducted in Chapter 2. Results show that exposure concentration and exposure duration highly influenced the comparability between different test methods and the spontaneous tail coiling (STC) test was selected for further testing based on its relative higher sensitivity and capacity to detect neuroactive substances (Chapter 2). STC is the first observable motor activity generated by the developing neural network of the embryo which is assumed to occur as a result of the innervation of the muscle by the primary motor neurons. Therefore, STC could be a useful endpoint to detect effect on the muscle innervation and also the on the whole nervous system. Consequently, important parameters of the STC test were optimized and an automated workflow to evaluate the STC with the open access software KNIME® was developed (Chapter 3). To appropriately interpret the observed effect of a single chemical and especially mixture effects, requires the understanding of toxicokinetics and biotransformation. Most importantly, the biotransformation capacity of zebrafish embryos might be limited and this could be a challenge for assessment of chemicals such as organophosphates which require a bioactivation step to effectively inhibit the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme. Therefore, the influence of the potential limited biotransformation on the toxicity pathway of a typical organophosphate, chlorpyrifos, was investigated in Chapter 5. Chlorpyrifos could not inhibit AChE and this was attributed to possible lack of biotransformation in 24 hpf embryos (Chapter 5). Since neuroactive substances occur in the environment as mixtures, it is therefore more realistic to assess their combined effect rather than individually. Therefore, mixture toxicity was predicted using the concentration addition and independent action models. Result shows that mixtures of neuroactive substances with different mechanisms of action but similar effects can be predicted with concentration addition and independent action (Chapter 4). Apart from being able to predict the combined effect of neuroactive substances for prospective risk assessment, it is also important to assess in retrospect the combined neurotoxic effect of environmental samples since neuroactive substances are the largest group of chemicals occurring in the environment. In Chapter 6, the STC test was found to be capable of detecting neurotoxic effects of a wastewater effluent sample. Hence, the STC test is proposed as an effect based tool for monitoring environmental acute and neurotoxic effects. Overall, this thesis shows the utility and versatility of zebrafish embryo behavior testing for screening neuroactive substances and this allows to propose its use for prospective and diagnostic hazard assessment. This will enhance the move away from expensive and demanding animal testing. The information contained in this thesis is of great potential to provide precautionary solutions, not only for the exposure of humans to neuroactive chemicals but for the environment at large.

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Author:Afolarin Ogungbemi
Referee:Ralf Schäfer
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2021/12/17
Date of publication:2021/12/17
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 7
Date of final exam:2021/07/21
Release Date:2021/12/17
Tag:Neuroactive chemicals; Toxicological characterization; Toxicology
GND Keyword:Toxicology
Number of pages:xviii, 208 Seiten
Kumulative Dissertation
Institutes:Fachbereich 7
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG