Yeh, C.M., Glöck, M., and Ryu, S. (2013) An optimized whole-body cortisol quantification method for assessing stress levels in larval zebrafish. PLoS One. 8(11):e79406.
Glucocorticoids serve important regulatory functions for many physiological processes and are critical mediators of the stress response. The stress response is a set of bodily processes aimed at counteracting a state of threatened homeostasis. Proper stress response is critical for the survival of an animal, however prolonged or abnormal stress response can be detrimental and is implicated in a number of human diseases such as depression and metabolic diseases. To dissect the underlying mechanism of this complex and important response, the zebrafish, Danio rerio offer important advantages such as ease of genetic manipulations and high-throughput behavioral analyses. However, there is a paucity of suitable methods to measure stress level in larval zebrafish. Therefore, an efficient low-cost method to monitor stress hormone levels will greatly facilitate stress research in zebrafish larvae. In this study, we optimized sample collection as well as cortisol extraction methods and developed a home-made ELISA protocol for measuring whole-body cortisol level in zebrafish larvae. Further, using our customized protocols, we characterized the response of larval zebrafish to a variety of stressors. This assay, developed for efficient cortisol quantification, will be useful for systematic and large-scale stress analyses in larval zebrafish.
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