Specificity of time- and dose-dependent morphological endpoints in the fish embryo acute toxicity (FET) test for substances with diverse modes of action: the search for a “fingerprint”

Rebecca von Hellfeld* (Corresponding Author), Pauline Pannetier, Thomas Braunbeck* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fish embryo acute toxicity (FET) test with the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo according to OECD TG 236 was originally developed as an alternative test method for acute fish toxicity testing according to, e.g., OECD TG 203. Given the versatility of the protocol, however, the FET test has found application beyond acute toxicity testing as a common tool in environmental hazard and risk assessment. Whereas the standard OECD guideline is restricted to four core endpoints (coagulation as well as lack of somite formation, heartbeat, and tail detachment) for simple, rapid assessment of acute toxicity, further endpoints can easily be integrated into the FET test protocol. This has led to the hypothesis that an extended FET test might allow for the identification of different classes of toxicants via a “fingerprint” of morphological observations. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated a set of 18 compounds with highly diverse modes of action with respect to acute and sublethal endpoints. Especially at higher concentrations, most observations proved toxicant-unspecific. With decreasing concentrations, however, observations declined in number, but gained in specificity. Specific observations may at best be made at test concentrations ≤ EC10. The existence of a “fingerprint” based on morphological observations in the FET is, therefore, highly unlikely in the range of acute toxicity, but cannot be excluded for experiments at sublethal concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16176-16192
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume29
Early online date13 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 681002 (GA, art. 38.1.2). The raw data for valproic acid, acrylamide, and colchicine were provided by Katharina Brotzmann, Annika Batel, and Ann-Kathrin Lörracher, respectively. Range-finding experiments were previously also conducted by Susanna Mieck, Dr. Lisa Hanslik, and Dr. Florian Zindler. Thanks are due to Jonathan Griffiths and Christoph Gade for carefully editing parts of the manuscript.

Funding
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the grand agreement No 681002.

Data Availability Statement

Data availability: Original datasets of the current study and analyses generated are available in the BioStudies repository (https://wwwdev.ebi.ac.
uk/biostudies/EU-ToxRisk/).

Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary
material available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-16354-4.

Keywords

  • fish embryo toxicity test
  • zebrafish
  • Danio rerio
  • OECD TG 236
  • acute toxicity
  • sublethal toxicity
  • specificity
  • sensitivity

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