Heart on a plate: histological and functional assessment of isolated adult zebrafish hearts maintained in culture

Pieperhoff, S., Wilson, K.S., Baily, J., de Mora, K., Maqsood, S., Vass, S., Taylor, J., Del-Pozo, J., MacRae, C.A., Mullins, J.J., Denvir, M.A.
PLoS One   9: e96771 (Journal)
Registered Authors
MacRae, Calum A.
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Cardiotonic Agents/pharmacology
  • Heart/anatomy & histology
  • Heart/drug effects
  • Heart/physiology*
  • Heart Rate/drug effects
  • Heart Rate/physiology*
  • Isoproterenol/pharmacology
  • Myocardial Contraction/drug effects
  • Myocardial Contraction/physiology*
  • Myocardium/metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques/methods*
  • Zebrafish/physiology*
24824845 Full text @ PLoS One

The zebrafish is increasingly used for cardiovascular genetic and functional studies. We present a novel protocol to maintain and monitor whole isolated beating adult zebrafish hearts in culture for long-term experiments. Excised whole adult zebrafish hearts were transferred directly into culture dishes containing optimized L-15 Leibovitz growth medium and maintained for 5 days. Hearts were assessed daily using video-edge analysis of ventricle function using low power microscopy images. High-throughput histology techniques were used to assess changes in myocardial architecture and cell viability. Mean spontaneous Heart rate (HR, min1) declined significantly between day 0 and day 1 in culture (96.7±19.5 to 45.2±8.2 min1, mean±SD, p = 0.001), and thereafter declined more slowly to 27.6±7.2 min1 on day 5. Ventricle wall motion amplitude (WMA) did not change until day 4 in culture (day 0, 46.7±13.0 μm vs day 4, 16.9±1.9 μm, p = 0.08). Contraction velocity (CV) declined between day 0 and day 3 (35.6±14.8 vs 15.2±5.3 μms1, respectively, p = 0.012) while relaxation velocity (RV) declined quite rapidly (day 0, 72.5±11.9 vs day 1, 29.5±5.8 μms1, p = 0.03). HR and WMA responded consistently to isoproterenol from day 0 to day 5 in culture while CV and RV showed less consistent responses to beta-agonist. Cellular architecture and cross-striation pattern of cardiomyocytes remained unchanged up to day 3 in culture and thereafter showed significant deterioration with loss of striation pattern, pyknotic nuclei and cell swelling. Apoptotic markers within the myocardium became increasingly frequent by day 3 in culture. Whole adult zebrafish hearts can be maintained in culture-medium for up to 3 days. However, after day-3 there is significant deterioration in ventricle function and heart rate accompanied by significant histological changes consistent with cell death and loss of cardiomyocyte cell integrity. Further studies are needed to assess whether this preparation can be optimised for longer term survival.

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