The increased diffusion of the so-called novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and their continuous change in structure andconceivably activity has led to the need of a rapid screening method to detect their biological effects as early as possible after their appearance in the market. This problem is very felt in forensic pathology and toxicology, so the preclinical study is fundamental in the approach to clinical and autopsy cases of difficult interpretation intoxication. Zebrafish is a high-throughput suitable model to rapidly hypothesize potential aversive or beneficial effects of novel molecules. In the present study, we measured and compared the behavioral responses to two novel neuroactive drugs, namely APINAC, a new cannabimimetic drug, and methiopropamine (MPA), a methamphetamine-like compound, on zebrafish larvae (ZL) and adult mice. By using an innovative statistical approach (general additive models), it was found that the spontaneous locomotor activity was impaired by the two drugs in both species: the disruption extent varied in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. Sensorimotor function was also altered: i) the visual object response was reduced in mice treated with APINAC, whereas it was not after exposure to MPA; ii) the visual placing responses were reduced after treatment with both NPS in mice. Furthermore, the visual motor response detected in ZL showed a reduction after treatment with APINAC during light-dark and dark-light transition. The same pattern was found in the MPA exposed groups only at the dark-light transition, while at the transition from light to dark, the individuals showed an increased response. In conclusion, the present study highlighted the impairment of spontaneous motor and sensorimotor behavior induced by MPA and APINAC administration in both species, thus confirming the usefulness of ZL as a model for a rapid behavioural-based drug screening.
Potential of the zebrafish model for the forensic toxicology screening of NPS: A comparative study of the effects of APINAC and methiopropamine on the behavior of zebrafish larvae and mice / Morbiato, E.; Bilel, S.; Tirri, M.; Arfe, R.; Fantinati, A.; Savchuk, S.; Appolonova, S.; Frisoni, P.; Tagliaro, F.; Neri, M.; Grignolio, S.; Bertolucci, C.; Marti, M.. - In: NEUROTOXICOLOGY. - ISSN 0161-813X. - 78:(2020), pp. 36-46. [10.1016/j.neuro.2020.02.003]