Hagedorn, M., Kleinhans, F.W., Freitas, R., Liu, J., Hsu, E.W., Wildt, D.E., and Rall, W.F. (1997) Water distribution and permeability of zebrafish embryos, Brachydanio rerio. The Journal of experimental zoology. 278(6):356-371.
Teleost embryos have not been successfully cryopreserved. To formulate successful cryopreservation protocols, the distribution and cellular permeability to water must be understood. In this paper, the zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio) was used as a model for basic studies of the distribution to permeability to water. These embryos are a complex multi-compartmental system composed of two membrane-limited compartments, a large yolk (surrounded by the yolk syncytial layer) and differentiating blastoderm cells (each surrounded by a plasma membrane). Due to the complexity of this system, a variety of techniques, including magnetic resonance microscopy and electron spin resonance, was used to measure the water in these compartments. Cellular water was distributed unequally in each compartment. At the 6-somite stage, the percent water (V/V) was distributed as follows: total in embryo = 74%, total in yolk = 42%, and total in blastoderm = 82%. A one-compartment model was used to analyze kinetic, osmotic shrinkage data and determine a phenomenological water permeability parameter, Lp, assuming intracellular isosmotic compartments of either 40 or 300 mosm. This analysis revealed that the membrane permeability changed (P < 0.05) during development. During the 75% epiboly to 3-somite stage, the mean membrane permeability remained constant (Lp = 0.022 +/- 0.002 micron x min-1atm-1 [mean +/- S.E.M.] assuming isosmotic is 40 mosm or Lp = 0.049 +/- 0.008 micron x min-1atm-1 assuming isosmotic is 300 mosm). However, at the 6-somite stage, Lp increased twofold (Lp = 0.040 +/- 0.004 micron x min-1atm-1 assuming isosmotic is 40 mosm or Lp = 0.100 +/- 0.017 micron x min-1atm-1 assuming isosmotic is 300 mosm). Therefore, the low permeability of the zebrafish embryo coupled with its large size (and consequent low area to volume ratio) led to a very slow osmotic response that should be considered before formulating cryopreservation protocols.