Ammonia exposure impairs lateral-line hair cells and mechanotransduction in zebrafish embryos

Li Yih Lin, Jie An Zheng, Shun Chih Huang, Giun Yi Hung, Jiun Lin Horng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Ammonia (including NH3 and NH4+) is a major pollutant of freshwater environments. However, the toxic effects of ammonia on the early stages of fish are not fully understood, and little is known about the effects on the sensory system. In this study, we hypothesized that ammonia exposure can cause adverse effects on embryonic development and impair the lateral line system of fish. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to high-ammonia water (10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 mM NH4Cl; pH 7.0) for 96 h (0–96 h post-fertilization). The body length, heart rate, and otic vesicle size had significantly decreased with ≥15 mM NH4Cl, while the number and function of lateral-line hair cells had decreased with ≥10 mM NH4Cl. The mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channel-mediated Ca2+ influx was measured with a scanning ion-selective microelectrode technique to reveal the function of hair cells. We found that NH4+ (≥5 mM NH4Cl) entered hair cells and suppressed the Ca2+ influx of hair cells. Neomycin and La3+ (MET channel blockers) suppressed NH4+ influx, suggesting that NH4+ enters hair cells via MET channels in hair bundles. In conclusion, this study showed that ammonia exposure (≥10 mM NH4Cl) can cause adverse effects in zebrafish embryos, and lateral-line hair cells are sensitive to ammonia exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127170
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Ammonia
  • Ca influx
  • Hair cell
  • Lateral line
  • MET channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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