Fluoride Action Network


Fish embryos are increasingly being utilized in aquatic toxicity testing, as evidenced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s approval of the fish embryo acute toxicity (FET) test. However, the FET test only allows for the estimation of acute toxicity, whereas other test methods such as the larval growth and survival (LGS) test allow for the estimation of both acute and chronic toxicity. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that the FET test is less sensitive than other test methods for some neurotoxic compounds. To address these limitations, efforts to identify sublethal endpoints that increase FET test sensitivity and allow for the prediction of sublethal adverse effects have begun. As such, the objectives of the current study were 1) to compare estimated LC50 values from the FET and LGS test for three known neurotoxicants: fluoride (F), nickel (Ni), and cadmium (Cd) and 2) to evaluate the responsiveness of potential sublethal endpoints for the FET test related to growth (i.e., wet weight and snout-vent length), neurological development (i.e., spontaneous contraction frequency and eye size), and cardiovascular function (i.e., heart rate and pericardial area). The calculated LC50 values from the F and Cd FET test were significantly higher than those from the LGS test, demonstrating that the FET test is less sensitive than the LGS test for neurotoxic compounds. Only Cd exposure resulted in alterations in any of the sublethal endpoints investigated. Embryos/eleutheroembryos exposed to Cd displayed alterations in length, eye size, and pericardial area at concentrations five-fold less than the estimated LC50 value, suggesting that for Cd the inclusion of these sublethal endpoints would improve the sensitivity of the FET test. Overall, these results provide evidence that for some neurotoxicants, the inclusion of sublehtal endpoints may improve the utility of the FET test; however, further research utilizing a broader range of neurotoxicants with differing mechanisms of action, is needed to fully establish such endpoints in the context of routine FET test.