Studying CNS effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine using zebrafish models

Dongmei Wang, Guojun Hu, Jingtao Wang, Dongni Yan, Mengyao Wang, Long En Yang, Nazar Serikuly, Erik Alpyshov, Konstantin A. Demin, David S. Galstyan, Tamara G. Amstislavskaya, Murilo S. de Abreu*, Allan V. Kalueff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Although Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a millennia-long history of treating human brain disorders, its complex multi-target mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. Animal models are currently widely used to probe the effects of various TCMs on brain and behavior. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has recently emerged as a novel vertebrate model organism for neuroscience research, and is increasingly applied for CNS drug screening and development. Aim of the study: As zebrafish models are only beginning to be applied to studying TCM, we aim to provide a comprehensive review of the TCM effects on brain and behavior in this fish model species. Materials and methods: A comprehensive search of published literature was conducted using biomedical databases (Web of Science, Pubmed, Sciencedirect, Google Scholar and China National Knowledge Internet, CNKI), with key search words zebrafish, brain, Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbs, CNS, behavior. Results: We recognize the developing utility of zebrafish for studying TCM, as well as outline the existing model limitations, problems and challenges, as well as future directions of research in this field. Conclusions: We demonstrate the growing value of zebrafish models for studying TCM, aiming to improve our understanding of TCM’ therapeutic mechanisms and potential in treating brain disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113383
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain
  • CNS effects
  • Drug screening
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Zebrafish


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