Rapid neurobehavioral analysis of Pfiesteria piscicida effects in juvenile and adult rats.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The estuarine dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida is known to kill fish and has been associated with neurocognitive deficits in humans. We have developed a rat model to demonstrate that exposure to Pfiesteria causes significant learning impairments. This has been repeatedly seen as a choice accuracy impairment during radial-arm maze learning. Pfiesteria-induced effects were also seen in a locomotor activity test in the figure-8 apparatus. The current studies used the short-term radial-arm maze acquisition, the figure-8 activity test, and the functional observational battery (FOB) to assess Pfiesteria-induced neurobehavioral effects in adult and juvenile rats. In study 1, the neurobehavioral potency of three different Pfiesteria cultures (Pf 113, Pf 728, and Pf Vandermere) was assessed. Ninety-six (12 per group) adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were injected subcutaneously with a single dose of Pfiesteria taken from aquarium-cultured Pfiesteria (35,600 or 106,800 Pfiesteria cells per kilogram of rat body weight). One control group (N = 12) was injected with saline and one (N = 12) with aquarium water not containing Pfiesteria. All three of the Pfiesteria samples (p < 0.05) impaired choice accuracy over the first six sessions of training. At the time of the radial-arm maze choice accuracy impairment, no overt Pfiesteria-related effects were seen using an FOB, indicating that the Pfiesteria-induced choice accuracy deficit was not due to generalized debilitation. In the figure-8 apparatus, Pfiesteria treatment caused a significant decrease in mean locomotor activity. In study 2, the neurobehavioral effects of the Pf 728 sample type were assessed in juvenile rats. Twenty-four day-old male and female rats were injected with 35,600 or 106,800 Pf-728 Pfiesteria cells per kilogram of rat body weight. As with adult females, the juvenile rats showed a significant impairment in radial-arm maze choice accuracy. No changes in locomotor activity or the FOB were detected in the juvenile rats. Furthermore, there were no differences between male and female rats in the Pfiesteria-induced choice accuracy impairment. Pfiesteria effects on choice accuracy in the radial-arm maze in rats constitute a critical component of the model of Pfiesteria toxicity, because the hallmark of Pfiesteria toxicity in humans is cognitive dysfunction. Our finding that analysis of the first six sessions of radial-arm maze testing is sufficient for determining the effect means that this test will be useful as a rapid screen for identifying the critical neurotoxin(s) of Pfiesteria in future studies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Levin, ED; Rezvani, AH; Christopher, NC; Glasgow, HB; Deamer-Melia, NJ; Burkholder, JM; Moser, VC; Jensen, K

Published Date

  • 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 533 - 540

PubMed ID

  • 10974591

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0892-0362

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0892-0362(00)00080-5


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States