ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-150408-11
The Effects of Cocaine on Heart Rate and Electrocardiogram in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Mersereau, E.J., Poitra, S.L., Espinoza, A., Crossley, D.A., Darland, T.
Date: 2015
Source: Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Toxicology & pharmacology : CBP   172-173: 1-6 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Darland, Tristan
Keywords: adrenergic compounds, cocaine, electrocardiogram, heart rate, zebrafish
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Cocaine/toxicity*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors/toxicity*
  • Electrocardiography/drug effects*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian/drug effects
  • Heart Rate/drug effects*
  • Zebrafish
PubMed: 25847362 Full text @ Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C Toxicol. Pharmacol.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been used as a model organism to explore the genetic basis for responsiveness to addictive drugs like cocaine. However, very little is known about how the physiological response to cocaine is mediated in zebrafish. In the present study electrocardiograms (ECG) were recorded from adult zebrafish treated with cocaine. Treatment with cocaine resulted in a bell-shaped dose response curve with a maximal change in heart rate seen using 5mg/L cocaine. Higher doses resulted in a higher percentage of fish showing bradycardia. The cocaine-induced tachycardia was blocked by co-treatment with propranolol, a ß-adrenergic antagonist, but potentiated by co-treatment with phentolamine, a α-adrenergic antagonist. Co-treatment with atropine, a classic cholinergic antagonist, had no effect on cocaine-induced tachycardia. Cocaine treatment of adult fish changed the ECG of treated fish, inducing a dose-dependent increase in QT interval after adjusting for heart rate (QTc), while not affecting the PR or QRS intervals. The acute effects of cocaine on heart rate were examined in 5-day old embryos to see if zebrafish might serve as a suitable model organism to study possible links of embryonic physiological response to subsequent adult behavioral response to the drug. Cocaine treatment of 5-day old zebrafish embryos also resulted in a bell-shaped dose response curve, with maximal tachycardia achieved with 10mg/L. The response in embryonic fish was thus comparable to that in adults and raises the possibility that the effects of embryonic exposure to cocaine on the developing cardiovascular system can be effectively modeled in zebrafish.