Comparability of behavioural assays using zebrafish larvae to assess neurotoxicity

J.B. Legradi*, N. el Abdellaoui, M. van Pomeren, J. Legler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Testing of compounds for neurotoxicity has become increasingly important in recent years. It has been shown that neurological disorders like autism may be related to chemical exposures, which may play a crucial role in the progression of these diseases. Special attention has been be given to the substances causing developmental neurotoxicity as the developing nervous system is more vulnerable to impacts by chemicals than the adult nervous system. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a well-established model species in developmental biology and an emerging model in behavioural and neurological studies. Zebrafish larvae display numerous behavioural patterns highly similar to rodents and humans. Their physical characteristics make them well suited for automated high-throughput screening. In the last years, the number of behavioural studies conducted with zebrafish larvae has increased notably. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of behavioural assays commonly used to test substances for developmental neurotoxicity. Literature from 1995 to 2014 was reviewed and focussed on assays performed with zebrafish larvae younger than 7 days post fertilization (dpf). The behavioural tests were scrutinized, and parameters describing the different experimental setups were defined. In the next step, we investigated if differences in the experimental parameters alter the outcome of the test. In order to test the comparability of behavioural assays, we analysed several studies using ethanol, valproate and pentylenetetrazole as model substances. Based on our findings, we provide recommendations which could help improve future behavioural studies performed with zebrafish larvae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16277-16289
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research International
Issue number21
Early online date18 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Behaviour
  • Development
  • Larvae
  • Light/dark
  • Locomotor
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Photomotor
  • Review
  • Zebrafish


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparability of behavioural assays using zebrafish larvae to assess neurotoxicity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this