Acidified water promotes silver-induced toxicity in zebrafish embryos

Jiun Lin Horng, Geng Xin Kung, Li Yih Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Freshwater acidification is a global environmental challenge, yet the effects of acidic water on fish resistance to toxic Ag+ remain an unexplored area. To address this knowledge gap, zebrafish embryos were exposed to different concentrations (0 (control), 0.1, and 0.25 mg/L) of AgNO3 under pH 5 or 7 for 7 days. Notably, AgNO3 at 0.25 mg/L resulted in 100 % mortality in both pH conditions, while AgNO3 at 0.1 mg/L resulted in higher mortality at pH 5 (85 %) compared to pH 7 (20 %), indicating that acidic water enhanced Ag+ toxicity. Several parameters, including body length, inner ear (otic vesicle and otolith) and yolk sac areas, lateral line hair cell number and morphology, the number of ionocytes (H+-ATP-rich cells and Na+/K+-ATP-rich cells), and ion contents (Ag+, Na+, and Ca2+) were assessed at 96 h (day 4) to investigate individual and combined effects of Ag+ and acid on embryos. Acid alone did not significantly alter most parameters, but it decreased the yolk sac area and increased the ionocyte number. Conversely, Ag+ alone caused reductions in most parameters, including body length, the inner ear area, hair cell number, and ionocyte number. Combining acid and Ag+ resulted in greater suppression of the otolith area, hair cell number, and Na+/Ca2+ contents. In conclusion, acidification of freshwater poses a potential risk to fish embryo viability by increasing their susceptibility to silver toxicity, specifically affecting sensory function and ion regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106865
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Acidosis
  • Gill
  • Heavy metal
  • Ion regulation
  • pH regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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