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Ultrastructural effects of cisplatin on the inner ear and lateral line system of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae


Department of Biology and Evolution, University of Ferrara, St Borsari 46, 44121 Ferrara, Italy.



Zebrafish, Danio rerio, has been a prominent model vertebrate for the study of chemical toxicity and human disease. Zebrafish hair cells (HCs) show significant structural, functional and molecular similarities to the mammalian inner ear HCs. We examined the effects of cisplatin, an anti-cancer drug, on HCs of the inner ear and on HCs and support cells (SCs) of neuromasts in zebrafish using transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Forty-five zebrafish larvae, 12 days post-fertilization, were assessed: 15 unexposed controls, 15 exposed to 10 µm cisplatin solution, and 15 exposed to 50 µm cisplatin solution. Hair cells in the cristae and maculae of the inner ear and of neuromasts were extremely sensitive to cisplatin. The drug was associated with vacuolization and the presence of myelinoid bodies in HC cytoplasm and with a condensation of the nuclear chromatin. The predominant pattern of injury was widespread degeneration of mitochondria, which appeared swollen and less electron-dense with disorganized or reduced cristae. Severity of damage seemed to be concentration-dependent, and the inner ear suffered more damage than the lateral line. Alterations similar to those in HCs were also observed in SCs of the neuromasts. Scanning electron microscopy showed loss of kinocilia in neuromasts of fish exposed to the higher concentration of cisplatin. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.