Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Pamela Hunt

Committee Members

Xiaowen Xu

Michael Tierney


Nicotine use is a highly addictive behavior that is becoming worryingly commonplace amongst a sizeable portion of the adolescent population in the United States especially electronic cigarettes have grown in popularity. Electronic cigarettes have also grown in popularity with pregnant women who use them to reduce use of traditional cigarettes during their pregnancies, leading to chronic prenatal exposure. Correlational studies have shown that chronic nicotine exposure in adults can lead to heighted anxiety and fear behaviors that increase the risk for developing psychiatric disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (Kutlu & Gould, 2015). However, the effects of chronic nicotine exposure during development on adult anxiety and fear behaviors are not well-studied. This study aims to create a zebrafish (Danio rerio) model for chronic embryonic exposure, and chronic adolescent exposure to nicotine to better understand the developmental effects of nicotine on adult zebrafishes’ fear and anxiety behavior. 75 zebrafish embryos and 14 adolescent zebrafish were chronically exposed to varying concentrations of nicotine dihydrogen tartrate (3 mM, 30 mM) over a five-day period. When the juvenile zebrafish were mature adults (60 days dpf), their fear and anxiety behaviors were analyzed using the light & dark test and the looming stimulus test respectively. While an embryonic exposure model could not be successfully created due to abnormally high mortality rates, chronic nicotine exposure in adolescent zebrafish showed some significant effect on performance in the light & dark test and observable trends in looming stimulus test performance. These results suggest that an adolescent zebrafish model for chronic nicotine exposure could be used further research on how such exposure can affect fear and anxiety behaviors in adults and for therapy development in response to nicotine-induced psychiatric disorders such as GAD or PTSD.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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