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Taurine modulates acute ethanol-induced social behavioral deficits and fear responses in adult zebrafish

Fontana BD, Stefanello FV, Mezzomo NJ, Müller TE, Quadros VA, Parker MO, Rico EP, Rosemberg DB (2018) J Psychiatr Res.  2018 Sep;104: 176-182. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.08.008. Epub 2018 Aug 3. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Ethanol (EtOH) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant drug that modifies various behavioral domains (i.e., sociability, aggressiveness, and memory) by promoting disinhibition of punished operant behavior and neurochemical changes.

Taurine (TAU) is a β-amino sulfonic acid with pleiotropic roles in the brain. Although exogenous TAU is found in energy drinks and often mixed with alcohol in beverages, the putative risks of mixing TAU and EtOH are poorly explored. Here, we investigated whether TAU modulates social and fear responses by assessing shoaling behavior, preference for conspecifics, and antipredatory behavior of adult zebrafish acutely exposed to EtOH.

Zebrafish shoals (4 fish per shoal) were exposed to water (control), TAU (42, 150, and 400 mg/L), 0.25% (v/v) EtOH alone or in association with TAU for 1 h, and their behaviors were analyzed at different time intervals (0-5 min, 30-35 min, and 55-60 min). The effects of TAU and EtOH were further tested in a social preference test and during exposure to a predator. Both EtOH and TAU co-treated fish showed a higher shoal dispersion, while TAU 400/EtOH group shoal area had a similar profile when compared to control. However, in the social preference test, TAU 400/EtOH impaired the seeking for conspecifics.

Regarding fear-like behaviors, TAU-cotreated fish showed a prominent reduction in risk assessments when compared to EtOH alone. Overall, we demonstrate that TAU modulates EtOH-induced changes in different behavioral domains, suggesting a complex relationship between social and fear-like responses.