A colour preference technique to evaluate acrylamide induced toxicity in zebra-fish

Laibing Jia, Rakesh Kotapati Raghupathy, Aishah Albalawi, Zhenkai Zhao, James Reilly, Qing Xiao, Xinhua Shu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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The zebrafish has become a commonly used vertebrate model for toxicity assessment,

of particular relevance to the study of toxic effects on the visual system because of the structural similarities shared by zebrafish and human retinae. In this article we present a colour preference-based technique that, by assessing the functionality of photoreceptors, can be used to evaluate the effects of toxicity on behaviour. A digital camera was used to record the locomotor behaviour of individual zebrafish swimming in a water tank consisting of two compartments separated by an opaque perforated wall through which the fish could pass. The colour of the lighting in each compartment could be altered independently (producing distinct but connected environments of white, red or blue) to allow association of the zebrafish's swimming behaviour with its colour preference. The functionality of the photoreceptors was evaluated based on the ability of the zebrafish to sense the different colours and to swim between the compartments. The zebrafish tracking was carried out using our algorithm developed with MATLAB. We found that zebrafish preferred blue illumination to white, and white illumination to red. Acute treatment with acrylamide (2 mM for 36 h) resulted in a marked reduction in locomotion and a concomitant loss of colour-preferential swimming behaviour. Histopathological examination of acrylamide-treated zebrafish eyes showed that acrylamide exposure had caused retinal damage. The colour preference tracking technique has applications in the assessment of neurodegenerative disorders, as a method for preclinical appraisal of drug efficacy and for behavioural evaluation of toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology and Pharmacology
Early online date19 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2017


  • zebrafish
  • vision
  • colour preference
  • photoreceptors
  • acrylamide
  • toxicity
  • retinae
  • behaviour
  • locomotion
  • neurodegenerative disorders


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