Massarsky, A., Prasad, G.L., Di Giulio, R.T. (2017) Total particulate matter from cigarette smoke disrupts vascular development in zebrafish brain (Danio rerio). Toxicology and applied pharmacology. 339:85-96.
Several studies have demonstrated zebrafish as a useful high-throughput in-vivo model to study the effects of cigarette smoke on early development. It has been shown previously that exposure of zebrafish to cigarette smoke total particulate matter (TPM) leads to several adverse physiological aberrations, including heart deformities and improper angiogenesis. Consequently, this study investigated the effects of TPM on cardiovascular development in zebrafish that were exposed to increasing concentrations of TPM based upon nicotine content from 6h post fertilization (hpf) up to 72hpf. We show that TPM exposure in wild-type embryos led to a dose-dependent increase in fluorescence, especially in the yolk and head regions, suggesting bioaccumulation of cyclic compounds in TPM, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Similarly, the incidence of cranial hemorrhage, pericardial edema, and string heart was increased with TPM exposure in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, TPM exposure in transgenic (Flk1:eGFP) zebrafish showed a decrease in vascular abundance in the brain, but the transcript abundance of key angiogenic genes Tie-2, Angpt1, Notch3, and Flk1 remained largely unchanged and that of Vegf actually increased with TPM. The study also investigated aspects of a proposed crosstalk between the activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway and subsequent inhibition of the Wnt signaling pathway, resulting in cardiac malformations. In an effort to reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular malformations, larvae were co-treated with CHIR99021 (CHIR), which should promote Wnt signaling. However, co-treatment with CHIR did not significantly affect the TPM-induced cardiovascular toxicity. Overall, results from this study demonstrate that exposure to TPM leads to several cardiovascular deformities and disrupted vascular development in the brain, and that these effects are associated with downregulation of Wnt signaling.