Zebrafish larvae behavior models as a tool for drug screenings and pre-clinical trials: a review

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To discover new molecules or review the biological activity and toxicity of therapeutic substances, drug development, and research relies on robust biological systems to obtain reliable results. Phenotype-based screenings can transpose the organism’s compensatory pathways by adopting multi-target strategies for treating complex diseases, and zebrafish emerged as an important model for biomedical research and drug screenings. Zebrafish’s clear correlation between neuro-anatomical and physiological features and behavior is very similar to that verified in mammals, enabling the construction of reliable and relevant experimental models for neurological disorders research. Zebrafish presents highly conserved physiological pathways that are found in higher vertebrates, including mammals, along with a robust behavioral repertoire. Moreover, it is very sensitive to pharmacological/environmental manipulations, and these behavioral phenotypes are detected in both larvae and adults. These advantages align with the 3Rs concept and qualify the zebrafish as a powerful tool for drug screenings and pre-clinical trials. This review highlights important behavioral domains studied in zebrafish larvae and their neurotransmitter systems and summarizes currently used techniques to evaluate and quantify zebrafish larvae behavior in laboratory studies.
Rosa JGS, Lima C, Lopes-Ferreira M. Zebrafish larvae behavior models as a tool for drug screenings and pre-clinical trials: a review. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022 June;23(12):6647. doi:10.3390/ijms23126647.
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