Food coloring is often used as a coloring agent in foods, medicines and cosmetics, and it was reported to have certain carcinogenic and mutagenic effects in living organisms. Investigation of physiological parameters using zebrafish is a promising methodology to understand disease biology and drug toxicity for various drug discovery on humans. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a well-acknowledged model organism with combining assets such as body transparency, small size, low cost of cultivation, and high genetic homology with humans and is used as a specimen tool for the in-vivo throughput screening approach. In addition, recent advances in microfluidics show a promising alternative for zebrafish manipulation in terms of drug administration and extensive imaging capability. This pilot work highlighted the design and development of a microfluidic detection platform for zebrafish larvae through investigating the effects of food coloring on cardiovascular functionality and pectoral fin swing ability. The zebrafish embryos were exposed to the Cochineal Red and Brilliant Blue FCF pigment solution in a concentration of (0.02‰, 0.2‰) cultured in the laboratory from the embryo stage to hatching and development until 9 days post fertilization (d.p.f.). In addition, zebrafish swimming behaviors in terms of pectoral fin beating towards the toxicity screening were further studied by visualizing the induced flow field. It was evidenced that Cochineal Red pigment at a concentration of 0.2‰ not only significantly affected the zebrafish pectoral fin swing behavior, but also significantly increased the heart rate of juvenile fish. The higher concentration of Brilliant Blue FCF pigment (0.2%) increased heart rate during early embryonic stages of zebrafish. However, zebrafish exposed to food coloring did not show any significant changes in cardiac output. The applications of this proposed platform can be further extended towards observing the neurobiological/hydrodynamic behaviors of zebrafish larvae for practical applications in drug tests.
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