DarT: The embryo test with the zebrafish Danio rerio - a general model in ecotoxicology and toxicology

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Roland Nagel


The acute fish test is an animal test whose ecotoxicological relevance is worthy of discussion. The primary aim of protection in ecotoxicology is the population and not the individual. Furthermore the concentration of pollutants in the environment is normally not in the lethal range. Therefore the acute fish test covers solely the situation after chemical spills. Nevertheless, acute fish toxicity data still belong to the base set used for the assessment of chemicals. The embryo test with the zebrafish Danio rerio (DarT) is recommended as a substitute for the acute fish test. For validation an international laboratory comparison test was carried out. A summary of the results is presented in this paper. Based on the promising results of testing chemicals and waste water the test design was validated by the DIN-working group "7.6 Fischei-Test". A normed test guideline for testing waste water with fish is available. The test duration is short (48 h) and within the test different toxicological endpoints can be examined. Endpoints from the embryo test are suitable for QSAR-studies. Besides the use in ecotoxicology the introduction as a toxicological model was investigated. Disturbance of pigmentation and effects on the frequency of heart-beat were examined. A further important application is testing of teratogenic chemicals. Based on the results DarT could be a screening test within preclinical studies.

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Nagel, R. (2002) “DarT: The embryo test with the zebrafish Danio rerio - a general model in ecotoxicology and toxicology”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 19(Supp1), pp. 38–48. Available at: https://altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/2125 (Accessed: 13 August 2022).