Akshata Nayak

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Carol H. Kim

Second Committee Member

Gregory D. Mayer

Third Committee Member

Stellos Tavantzis


Arsenic is a naturally occurring environmental toxicant whose bioavailable concentrations are increased by human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and metal smelting. Investigating the ecotoxicological effects of arsenic is vital in understanding its deleterious effects on human health. Though studies have been conducted to elicit consequences of long term exposure on the general health of an organism, mechanisms modulating specific immune functions are not well known. The innate immune response is considered to be the chief form of immune defense during embryonic development and is key in initiating the more specific adaptive immune response in jawed vertebrates. The zebrafish model system was chosen to characterize the effects of arsenic exposure on the innate immune response. Whole zebrafish embryos were exposed to 2 ppb and10 ppb arsenic, and several immune response indicators such as respiratory burst response and mRNA expression profiles of antiviral and antibacterial cytokines were measured. Additionally, viral and bacterial loads were analyzed to establish the effects of arsenic exposure on resistance to bacterial and viral infection.