Fipronil is a phenylpyrazole insecticide that may selectively inhibit gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors in insects. Although fipronil is the most widely used insecticide in aquatic environments, few studies have evaluated its neurotoxicity for the sensory and motor systems of aquatic vertebrates. We assessed the effects of acute fipronil exposure on the survival rate, number of hair cells of lateral lines, and neurotoxicity for zebrafish (Danio rerio). In addition, heat maps and the speed and distance of the swimming trajectory were compared between zebrafish subjected to the sham and fipronil treatments. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were conducted separately to compare expressions of oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and neurotoxicity related proteins in the brain tissue between adult zebrafish with sham and fipronil treatments. Our results indicated that the survival rates and the speed and distance of the swimming trajectory significantly decreased for adult zebrafish exposed to fipronil. The results also suggested that the number of hair cells of lateral lines significantly reduced for zebrafish embryos exposed to fipronil. In histopathology and Western blotting tests, substantial oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis were observed in the brain tissue of adult zebrafish exposed to fipronil. Our results revealed that fipronil toxicity may impair sensory and motor systems in zebrafish because of damage to lateral hair cells and brain tissue through oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis, which in turn result in a significantly reduced survival rate and impaired locomotion. The behavioral responses of zebrafish exposed to fipronil toxicity should be determined for better understanding the reliability of behavioral biomarkers in the risk assessment of environmental toxicology.
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