ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-210302-15
In vivo Imaging of Fully Active Brain Tissue in Awake Zebrafish Larvae and Juveniles by Skull and Skin Removal
Schramm, P., Hetsch, F., Meier, J.C., Köster, R.W.
Date: 2021
Source: Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE   (168): (Journal)
Registered Authors: Köster, Reinhard W.
Keywords: none
MeSH Terms:
  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Brain/blood supply
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain/growth & development*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Larva/physiology
  • Neurons/physiology
  • Skin/diagnostic imaging*
  • Skull/diagnostic imaging*
  • Wakefulness/physiology
  • Zebrafish/growth & development*
PubMed: 33645565 Full text @ J. Vis. Exp.
Understanding the ephemeral changes that occur during brain development and maturation requires detailed high-resolution imaging in space and time at cellular and subcellular resolution. Advances in molecular and imaging technologies have allowed us to gain numerous detailed insights into cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain development in the transparent zebrafish embryo. Recently, processes of refinement of neuronal connectivity that occur at later larval stages several weeks after fertilization, which are for example control of social behavior, decision making or motivation-driven behavior, have moved into focus of research. At these stages, pigmentation of the zebrafish skin interferes with light penetration into brain tissue, and solutions for embryonic stages, e.g., pharmacological inhibition of pigmentation, are not feasible anymore. Therefore, a minimally invasive surgical solution for microscopy access to the brain of awake zebrafish is provided that is derived from electrophysiological approaches. In teleosts, skin and soft skull cartilage can be carefully removed by micro-peeling these layers, exposing underlying neurons and axonal tracts without damage. This allows for recording neuronal morphology, including synaptic structures and their molecular contents, and the observation of physiological changes such as Ca2+ transients or intracellular transport events. In addition, interrogation of these processes by means of pharmacological inhibition or optogenetic manipulation is feasible. This brain exposure approach provides information about structural and physiological changes in neurons as well as the correlation and interdependence of these events in live brain tissue in the range of minutes or hours. The technique is suitable for in vivo brain imaging of zebrafish larvae up to 30 days post fertilization, the latest developmental stage tested so far. It, thus, provides access to such important questions as synaptic refinement and scaling, axonal and dendritic transport, synaptic targeting of cytoskeletal cargo or local activity-dependent expression. Therefore, a broad use for this mounting and imaging approach can be anticipated.