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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Sensitivity and Reproducibility of the Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Embryo Test for the Screening of Waste Water Quality and for Testing the Toxicity of Chemical

Franz Lahnsteiner

The sensitivity of the zebrafish embryo test, a test proposed for routine waste water control, was compared with the acute fish toxicity test, in the determination of six types of waste water and ten different chemicals. The waste water was sampled from the following industrial processes: paper and cardboard production, hide tanning, metal galvanisation, carcass treatment and utilisation, and sewage treatment. The chemicals tested were: dimethylacetamide, dimethylsulphoxide, cadmium chloride, cyclohexane, hydroquinone, mercuric chloride, nickel chloride, nonylphenol, resmethrin and sodium nitrite. For many of the test substances, the zebrafish embryo test and the acute fish toxicity test results showed high correlations. However, there were certain environmentally-relevant substances for which the results of the zebrafish embryo test and the acute fish toxicity test differed significantly, up to 10,000-fold (Hg2+ > 150-fold difference; NO2 – > 300-fold; Cd2+ > 200-fold; resmethrin > 10,000-fold). For the investigated waste water samples and chemicals, the survival rate of the zebrafish embryos showed high variations between different egg samples, within the range of the EC50 concentration. Subsequently, 5–6 parallel assays were deemed to be the appropriate number necessary for the precise evaluation of the toxicity of the test substances. Also, it was found that the sensitivities of different ontogenetic stages to chemical exposure differed greatly. During the first 12 hours after fertilisation (4-cell stage to the 5-somite stage), the embryos reacted most sensitively to test substance exposure, whereas the later ontogenetic stages showed only slight or no response, indicating that the test is most sensitive during the first 24 hours post-fertilisation.

Full text pdf 36(3), 299–311