Metabolomic assessment of arsenite toxicity and novel biomarker discovery in early development of zebrafish embryos

Szu Yuan Wu, Nam Nhut Phan, Shih Hsin Ho, Yu Heng Lai, Chih Hung Tsai, Chung Han Yang, Han Gang Yu, Jung Chieh Wang, Pung Ling Huang, Yen Chang Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Arsenic poisoning commonly occurs through exposure to water contaminated with arsenic and causes long-term symptoms. Of all the arsenic derivatives, arsenite is the one of the most toxic compounds. However, the toxicity of arsenite during developmental stages is still unclear. Objective: In this study, we performed a metabolomic analysis of arsenite responses in embryonic zebrafish. Materials and methods: Embryonic zebrafish were used as an animal model in this study. They were exposed to sodium arsenite under different concentrations (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 5.0 mg/L) in 24 h, 48 h and 72 h post fertilization. Changes in morphology were observed through a light microscope. Changes in metabolomics were identified using an ultraperformance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight system. Results: The IC50 range was 0.75 ± 0.25 mg/L. Compared with the control group, the embryonic lethality rate decreased to 33.3% under 1.0 mg/L of arsenite treatment, whereas it decreased to 20.0% under 2.0 mg/L of arsenite treatment. Numerous body axis curvatures were also observed under treatment with 2.0 and 5.0 mg/L of arsenic. Pericardium and yolk sac edema were randomly discovered and found to worsen over time. Moreover, the 10 metabolites with the highest variable importance in projection score were identified as potential biomarkers for arsenic exposure. Conclusion: Arsenic exposure not only leads to a change in the morphology of embryonic zebrafish but also disturbs the metabolism of zebrafish in early developmental stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology Letters
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2018


  • Embryonic zebrafish
  • Metabolomic analysis
  • Sodium arsenite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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