In vivo assay of the ethanol-induced embryonic hair cell loss and the protective role of the retinoic and folic acid in zebrafish larvae (Danio rerio)

Yoon Chan Rah, Saemi Park, Soonil Koun, Hae Chul Park, June Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In reference to the auditory manifestation of fetal alcohol syndrome, previous work has preferentially focused on the deviant neural development of the auditory system. Changes in the sensory hair cell, the ultimate sensory organ, were not well understood. In this study, we carried out an in vivo assessment of the embryonic hair cell changes on the lateral line of zebrafish upon exposure to various ethanol concentrations (0.25%, 0.5%, 0.75%, and 1.0%). A significant decrease in the hair cell count was confirmed as the ethanol concentration increased. Long-term observation (up to 240 hours post-fertilization [hpf]) suggested an irreversible hair cell loss with little chance of a simple delayed development. For an underlying biological process, a significant increase of hair cell apoptosis and a significant decrease of cytoplasmic mitochondria were confirmed as the ethanol concentration increased. Co-treatment with retinoic (0.1 nM) or folic (0.1 mM) acid with the same concentrations of ethanol resulted in significant increases in the remaining hair cells, compared to the ethanol-only treatment group, for every ethanol concentration. The retinoic acid provided more effective protection over folic acid, resulting in no significant changes in hair cell counts for every ethanol concentration (except 1.0%), compared with that of the negative control (without chemical treatment). Hair cell counts in every ethanol concentration were significantly lower than those in negative controls without chemical treatment after folic acid co-treatment. In conclusion, gestational ethanol exposure causes developmental sensory hair cell loss. Potential underlying mechanisms include retinoic or folic acid deficiency, and mitochondrial damage with subsequent hair cell apoptosis. Hair cell loss could possibly be prevented by administering either retinoic or folic acid, with retinoic acid supplementation as the preferred treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar


  • Ethanol
  • Folic acid
  • Hair cell
  • Retinoic acid
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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