Kopp, R., Schwerte, T., Egg, M., Sandbichler, A.M., Egger, B., and Pelster, B. (2010) Chronic reduction in cardiac output induces hypoxic signaling in larval zebrafish even at a time when convective oxygen transport is not required. Physiological Genomics. 42(1):8-23.
In the present study, the zebrafish breakdance mutant (bre) was used to assess the role of blood flow in development because it has been previously shown that bre larvae have a chronically reduced cardiac output as a result of ventricular contraction following only every second atrial contraction in addition to an atrial bradycardia. We confirmed a 50% reduction in compared to control fish and further showed blood flow in the caudal part of the dorsal aorta decreased by 80%. Associated with these reductions in blood flow were indications of developmental retardation in bre mutants, specifically delayed hatching, reduced cell proliferation and a transiently decreased growth rate. Surprisingly, an increased red blood cell concentration and an earlier appearance of trunk vessels in bre larvae indicated some compensation to convective oxygen transport, although in previous studies it has been shown that zebrafish larvae at this stage obtain oxygen by bulk diffusion. In bre animals immunohistochemical analyses showed a significant increase in Hif-1alpha (hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha) protein expression, comparable to wildtype (wdt) larvae which were raised under hypoxic conditions. Accordingly, the expression of some hif downstream genes was affected. Furthermore, Affymetrix microarray analyses revealed a large number of genes which were differently expressed comparing control and bre larvae and the number even increased with proceeding development. The results showed that a chronic reduction in blood flow generated hypoxic molecular signals despite partial compensation by increased oxygen carrying capacity and transiently slowed the overall development of zebrafish bre larvae.