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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2017, Article ID 8283075, 8 pages
Research Article

Evaluation of the Hair Cell Regeneration in Zebrafish Larvae by Measuring and Quantifying the Startle Responses

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, South University of Science and Technology of China, Guangdong, China
2Research Service, VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, Loma Linda, CA 92357, USA
3Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Hanbing Zhong; nc.ude.ctsus@bhgnohz, Hongzhe Li; vog.av@il.ehzgnoh, and Fangyi Chen; nc.ude.ctsus@yfnehc

Received 9 September 2016; Revised 10 November 2016; Accepted 5 December 2016; Published 29 January 2017

Academic Editor: Renjie Chai

Copyright © 2017 Changquan Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The zebrafish has become an established model organism for the study of hearing and balance systems in the past two decades. The classical approach to examine hair cells is to use dye to conduct selective staining, which shows the number and morphology of hair cells but does not reveal their function. Startle response is a behavior closely related to the auditory function of hair cells; therefore it can be used to measure the function of hair cells. In this study, we developed a device to measure the startle response of zebrafish larvae. By applying various levels of stimulus, it showed that the system can discern a 10 dB difference. The hair cell in zebrafish can regenerate after damage due to noise exposure or drug treatment. With this device, we measured the startle response of zebrafish larvae during and after drug treatment. The results show a similar trend to the classical hair cell staining method. The startle response was reduced with drug treatment and recovered after removal of the drug. Together it demonstrated the capability of this behavioral assay in evaluating the hair cell functions of fish larvae and its potential as a high-throughput screening tool for auditory-related gene and drug discovery.