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Relationship: 1034


A descriptive phrase which clearly defines the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream, and which is downstream). More help

Reduced, Anterior swim bladder inflation leads to Reduced, Swimming performance

Upstream event
The causing Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help
Downstream event
The responding Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Deiodinase 2 inhibition leading to increased mortality via reduced anterior swim bladder inflation adjacent Moderate Low Dries Knapen (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome WPHA/WNT Endorsed
Deiodinase 1 inhibition leading to increased mortality via reduced anterior swim bladder inflation adjacent Moderate Low Dries Knapen (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome WPHA/WNT Endorsed
Thyroperoxidase inhibition leading to increased mortality via reduced anterior swim bladder inflation adjacent Moderate Low Dries Knapen (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome WPHA/WNT Endorsed

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER.In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER.  More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
zebrafish Danio rerio High NCBI
fathead minnow Pimephales promelas Low NCBI

Sex Applicability

An indication of the the relevant sex for this KER. More help
Sex Evidence
Unspecific Moderate

Life Stage Applicability

An indication of the the relevant life stage(s) for this KER.  More help
Term Evidence
Larvae High

Key Event Relationship Description

Provides a concise overview of the information given below as well as addressing details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves. More help

Effects on swim bladder inflation can alter swimming performance and buoyancy of fish, which is essential for predator avoidance, energy sparing, migration, reproduction and feeding behaviour, resulting in increased mortality.

Evidence Collection Strategy

Include a description of the approach for identification and assembly of the evidence base for the KER.  For evidence identification, include, for example, a description of the sources and dates of information consulted including expert knowledge, databases searched and associated search terms/strings.  Include also a description of study screening criteria and methodology, study quality assessment considerations, the data extraction strategy and links to any repositories/databases of relevant references.Tabular summaries and links to relevant supporting documentation are encouraged, wherever possible. More help

Evidence Supporting this KER

Addresses the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP setting the stage for overall assessment of the AOP. More help

The weight of evidence supporting a direct linkage between these two KEs, i.e. reduced anterior swim bladder inflation and reduced swimming performance, is weak.

Biological Plausibility
Addresses the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream.  This field can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured.   More help

The anterior chamber of the swim bladder has a function in regulating the buoyancy of fish, by altering the volume of the swim bladder (Roberston et al., 2007). Fish rely on the lipid and gas content in their body to regulate their position within the water column, with the latter being more efficient at increasing body buoyancy. Therefore, fish with functional swim bladders have no problem supporting their body (Brix 2002), while it is highly likely that impaired inflation severely impacts swimming performance. Fish with no functional swim bladder can survive, but are severely disadvantaged, making the likelihood of surviving smaller.

Several studies in zebrafish and fathead minnow showed that a smaller AC was associated with a larger posterior chamber (Nelson et al., 2016; Stinckens et al., 2016; Cavallin et al., 2017, Stinckens et al., 2020) suggesting a possible compensatory mechanism. As shown by Stoyek et al. (2011) however, the AC volume is highly dynamic under normal conditions due to a series of regular corrugations running along the chamber wall, and is in fact the main driver for adjusting buoyancy while the basic PC volume remains largely invariable. Therefore, it is plausible to assume that functionality of the swim bladder is affected when AC inflation is incomplete, even when the PC appears to fully compensate the gas volume of the swim bladder.

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
Addresses inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship including the identification of experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. More help

After exposure to 100 mg/L methimazole, 95% of the zebrafish larvae failed to inflate their anterior chamber at 32 dpf and swimming distance was reduced (Stinckens et al., 2020). On the other hand, there was no effect of impaired anterior chamber inflation on swimming distance in the methimazole exposure of 50 mg/L. Also, inflated but smaller anterior chambers did not result in a decreased swimming performance in this study. A similar result, where non-inflated anterior chambers did not consistently lead to reduced swimming performance, was previously found after exposure to 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (Stinckens et al., 2016). In summary, the precise relationship between these two KEs is not easy to determine and may be different for different chemicals. This is in part due to the complexity of the swim bladder system and the difficulty of distinguishing effects resulting from altered anterior chamber inflation from those resulting from altered posterior chamber inflation. Additionally, swimming capacity can be affected via other processes which may or may not depend on the HPT axis, such as general malformations, decreased cardiorespiratory function, energy metabolism and growth.

As Robertson et al., (2007) reported, the swim bladder only starts regulating buoyancy actively from 32 dpf onward in zebrafish, possibly explaining the lack of effect on swimming capacity in some cases.

The anterior chamber is also important for producing and transducing sound through the Weberian Apparatus (Popper, 1974; Lechner and Ladich, 2008). It is highly plausible that impaired inflation or size of the anterior swim bladder could lead to increased mortality as hearing loss would affect their ability to respond to their surrounding environment, thus impacting ecological relevant endpoints such as predator avoidance or prey seeking (Wisenden et al., 2008; Fay, 2009).

Known modulating factors

This table captures specific information on the MF, its properties, how it affects the KER and respective references.1.) What is the modulating factor? Name the factor for which solid evidence exists that it influences this KER. Examples: age, sex, genotype, diet 2.) Details of this modulating factor. Specify which features of this MF are relevant for this KER. Examples: a specific age range or a specific biological age (defined by...); a specific gene mutation or variant, a specific nutrient (deficit or surplus); a sex-specific homone; a certain threshold value (e.g. serum levels of a chemical above...) 3.) Description of how this modulating factor affects this KER. Describe the provable modification of the KER (also quantitatively, if known). Examples: increase or decrease of the magnitude of effect (by a factor of...); change of the time-course of the effect (onset delay by...); alteration of the probability of the effect; increase or decrease of the sensitivity of the downstream effect (by a factor of...) 4.) Provision of supporting scientific evidence for an effect of this MF on this KER. Give a list of references.  More help
Response-response Relationship
Provides sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs.  More help
Information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). More help
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits. More help

Domain of Applicability

A free-text section of the KER description that the developers can use to explain their rationale for the taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability structured terms. More help

Taxonomic: Importance of proper functioning of the swim bladder for supporting natural swimming behaviour can be plausibly assumed to be generally applicable to fish possessing an anterior chamber. Evidence exists for the role of the posterior chamber in swimming performance comes from a wide variety of freshwater and marine fish species. Evidence for the specific role of the anterior chamber is however less abundant.

Life stage: In zebrafish, the anterior chamber inflates around 21 days post fertilization (dpf) which is during the larval stage. In the fathead minnow, the anterior chamber inflates around 14 dpf, also during the larval stage. Therefore this KER is only applicable to the larval life stage. To what extent fish can survive and swim with partly inflated swim bladders during later life stages is unknown.

Sex: This KER plausibly applicable to both sexes. Sex differences are not often investigated in tests using early life stages of fish. For zebrafish and fathead minnow, it is currently unclear whether sex-related differences are important in determining the magnitude of the changes in this KER. Different fish species have different sex determination and differentiation strategies. Zebrafish do not have identifiable heteromorphic sex chromosomes and sex is determined by multiple genes and influenced by the environment (Nagabhushana and Mishra, 2016). Zebrafish are undifferentiated gonochorists since both sexes initially develop an immature ovary (Maack and Segner, 2003). Immature ovary development progresses until approximately the onset of the third week. Later, in female fish immature ovaries continue to develop further, while male fish undergo transformation of ovaries into testes. Final transformation into testes varies among male individuals, however finishes usually around 6 weeks post fertilization. Since the anterior chamber inflates around 21 days post fertilization in zebrafish, sex differences are expected to play a minor role. Fathead minnow gonad differentiation also occurs during larval development. Fathead minnows utilize a XY sex determination strategy and markers can be used to genotype sex in life stages where the sex is not yet clearly defined morphologically (Olmstead et al., 2011). Ovarian differentiation starts at 10 dph followed by rapid development (Van Aerle et al., 2004). At 25 dph germ cells of all stages up to the primary oocytes stage were present and at 120 dph, vitellogenic oocytes were present. The germ cells (spermatogonia) of the developing testes only entered meiosis around 90–120 dph. Mature testes with spermatozoa are present around 150 dph. Since the anterior chamber inflates around 14 days post fertilization (9 dph) in fathead minnows, sex differences are expected to play a minor role in the current KER.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description. More help

Brix O (2002) The physiology of living in water. In: Hart PJ, Reynolds J (eds) Handbook of Fish Biology and Fisheries, Vol. 1, pp. 70–96. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, USA.

Cavallin, J.E., Ankley, G.T., Blackwell, B.R., Blanksma, C.A., Fay, K.A., Jensen, K.M., Kahl, M.D., Knapen, D., Kosian, P.A., Poole, S.T., Randolph, E.C., Schroeder, A.L., Vergauwen, L., Villeneuve, D.L., 2017. Impaired swim bladder inflation in early life stage fathead minnows exposed to a deiodinase inhibitor, iopanoic acid. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 36, 2942-2952.

Czesny, S.J., Graeb, B.D.S., Dettmersn, J.M., 2005. Ecological consequences of swimbladder noninflation for larval yellow perch. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 134,1011–1020,

Fay, R., 2009. Soundscapes and the sense of hearing of fishes. Integrative Zool. 4,26–32.

Goodsell, D.S., Morris, G.M., Olsen, A.J. 1996. Automated docking of fleixble ligands. Applications of Autodock. J. Mol. Recogonition, 9:1-5.

Lechner, W., Ladich, F., 2008. Size matters: diversity in swimbladders andWeberian ossicles affects hearing in catfishes. J. Exp. Biol. 211, 1681–1689.

Lindsey, B.W., Smith, F.M., Croll, R.P., 2010. From inflation to flotation: contribution of the swimbladder to whole-body density and swimming depth during development of the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Zebrafish 7, 85–96,

Maack, G., Segner, H., 2003. Morphological development of the gonads in zebrafish. Journal of Fish Biology 62, 895-906.

Nagabhushana A, Mishra RK. 2016. Finding clues to the riddle of sex determination in zebrafish. Journal of Biosciences. 41(1):145-155.

Nelson, K., Schroeder, A., Ankley, G., Blackwell, B., Blanksma, C., Degitz, S., Flynn, K., Jensen, K., Johnson, R., Kahl, M., Knapen, D., Kosian, P., Milsk, R., Randolph, E., Saari, T., Stinckens, E., Vergauwen, L., Villeneuve, D., 2016. Impaired anterior swim bladder inflation following exposure to the thyroid peroxidase inhibitor 2-mercaptobenzothiazole part I: Fathead minnow. Aquatic Toxicology 173, 192-203.

Olmstead AW, Villeneuve DL, Ankley GT, Cavallin JE, Lindberg-Livingston A, Wehmas LC, Degitz SJ. 2011. A method for the determination of genetic sex in the fathead minnow, pimephales promelas, to support testing of endocrine-active chemicals. Environmental Science & Technology. 45(7):3090-3095.

Roberston, G.N., McGee, C.A.S., Dumbarton, T.C., Croll, R.P., Smith, F.M., 2007.Development of the swim bladder and its innervation in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. J. Morphol. 268, 967–985,

Stinckens, E., Vergauwen, L., Blackwell, B.R., Anldey, G.T., Villeneuve, D.L., Knapen, D., 2020. Effect of Thyroperoxidase and Deiodinase Inhibition on Anterior Swim Bladder Inflation in the Zebrafish. Environmental Science & Technology 54, 6213-6223.

Stinckens, E., Vergauwen, L., Schroeder, A.L., Maho, W., Blackwell, B., Witter, H.,Blust, R., Ankley, G.T., Covaci, A., Villenueve, D.L., Knapen, D., 2016. Disruption of thyroid hormone balance after 2-mercaptobenzothiazole exposure causes swim bladder inflation impairment—part II: zebrafish. Aquat. Toxicol. 173:204-17.

Stoyek, M.R., Smith, F.M., Croll, R.P., 2011. Effects of altered ambient pressure on the volume and distribution of gas within the swimbladder of the adult zebrafish, Danio rerio. Journal of Experimental Biology 214, 2962-2972.

van Aerle R, Runnalls TJ, Tyler CR. 2004. Ontogeny of gonadal sex development relative to growth in fathead minnow. Journal of Fish Biology. 64(2):355-369.

Wisenden, B.D., Pogatschnik, J., Gibson, D., Bonacci, L., Schumacher, A., Willet, A.,2008. Sound the alarm: learned association of predation risk with novelauditory stimuli by fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and glowlighttetras (Hemigrammus erythrozonus) after single simultaneous pairings withconspecific chemical alarm cues. Environ. Biol. Fish 81, 141–147.

Woolley, L.D., Qin, J.G., 2010. Swimbladder inflation and its implication to theculture of marine finfish larvae. Rev. Aquac. 2, 181–190,