Lead has been utilized throughout history and is widely distributed and mobilized globally. Although lead in the environment has been somewhat mitigated, the nature of lead and its extensive uses in the past prohibit it from being completely absent from our environment and exposure to lead is still a public health concern. Most studies regarding lead toxicity have focused on the brain. However, little is found in the literature on the effects of lead in other tissues. Here, we utilize the zebrafish model system to investigate effects of lead exposure during early developmental time windows at 24, 48 and 72 hours post fertilization in the body. We analyze whole body, notochord and somatic muscle changes, vascular changes of the body, as well as motor neuron alterations. We find lead exposure induces a curved body phenotype with concomitant changes in somite length, decreased notochord staining and abnormal muscle staining using live and in situ approaches. Furthermore, altered vasculature within the somatic regions, loss and/or alternations of motor neuron extension both dorsally and ventrally from the spinal cord, loss of Rohon-Beard sensory neurons, and increased areas of apoptosis were found. We conclude that lead is developmentally toxic to other areas of the developing embryo, not just the brain.
Roy, N.M., DeWolf, S. & Carneiro, B. (2015). Evaluation of the developmental toxicity of lead in the Danio rerio body. Aquatic Toxicology, 158,138-148. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2014.10.026