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Opposing effects of acute and repeated nicotine exposure on boldness in zebrafish

Faculty Advisor




nicotine, neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, nAChRs, zebrafish, Danio rerio, anxiolytic properties, nicotine exposure, opposing effects, different dosing, boldness

Abstract (summary)

Nicotine is an addictive compound that activates neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and causes behavioural effects that vary with dose, schedule of administration, and animal model. In zebrafish (Danio rerio), acute doses of nicotine have been consistently found to have anxiolytic properties, whereas, chronic exposure elicits anxiogenic effects. To date, however, studies on repeated nicotine administration and the effects of nicotine withdrawal have not been well explored using this model. In this study, we administered nicotine with three different dosing regimens: 1. Single exposures of a “high” dose (25, 50, 100, or 400 mg/L) for 3 minutes. 2. Single exposures to a “low” dose (2.5, 5, or 20 mg/L) for one hour. 3. Repeated one-hour exposure to a “low” dose (2.5, 5, or 20 mg/L) for 21 days. The novel object approach test was used to examine boldness based on the tendency of the fish to explore a novel object. Acutely, nicotine significantly increased the time spent approaching the object with both three-minute and one hour durations of exposure, indicating increased boldness. Conversely, after repeated nicotine exposure for 21 days, fish spent less time approaching the object suggesting a decrease in boldness. Distance moved was unaffected one hour after repeated nicotine exposure, yet decreased after a two-day withdrawal period. Our work suggests that nicotine can have opposing effects on boldness that vary based on dosage and schedule of exposure.

Publication Information

Dean, R., Duperreault, E., Newton, D., Krook, J., Ingraham, E., Gallup, J., Franczak, B.C., and Hamilton, T.J. (2020). Opposing effects of acute and repeated nicotine exposure on boldness in zebrafish. Scientific Reports, 10(8570). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65382-6


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Attribution (CC BY)