4 years ago

Chronic exposure to dietary selenomethionine dysregulates the genes involved in serotonergic neurotransmission and alters social and antipredator behaviours in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Anoosha Attaran, Arash Salahinejad, Adam L. Crane, Som Niyogi, Douglas P. Chivers

Publication date: March 2019

Source: Environmental Pollution, Volume 246

Author(s): Anoosha Attaran, Arash Salahinejad, Adam L. Crane, Som Niyogi, Douglas P. Chivers


Selenium (Se) is a metalloid of potential interest from both a toxicological and nutritional perspective, having a range of safe intake. The adverse neuro-behavioural effects of Se have been investigated in both humans and fishes, but little is known about its effects on social behaviours or the serotonergic signaling pathway in the brain. In the present study, we investigated the effects of chorionic dietary exposure to Se (as selenomethionine) at different concentrations (control, 2.1, 11.6 or 31.5 μg/g dry wt.) on antipredator avoidance, shoaling behaviour, and social group preferences in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). In addition, we also measured the expression of important genes in the serotonergic pathway that influence social behaviours. After 60 days of exposure, the highest dose (31.5 μg/g dry wt.) caused the highest level of baseline fear behaviour, with fish swimming lower in the water column and in tighter shoals compared to fish in the other treatments. With high levels of baseline fear, these fish did not significantly intensify fear behaviours in response to predation risk in the form of exposure to chemical alarm cues. When individual fish were given an opportunity to shoal with groups of differing sizes (3 vs. 4 individuals), fish exposed to the high dose spent less time with groups in general, and only control fish showed a significant preference for the larger group. In the zebrafish brain, we found significant upregulation in the mRNA expression of serotonin receptors (htr1aa and htr1b), a transporter (slc6a4a), and tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (tph2), whereas there was a downregulation of the monoamine oxidase (mao) gene. The results of this study suggest that disruption of serotonergic neurotransmission might have been responsible for Se-induced impairment of antipredator and social behaviour in zebrafish.

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