Automated Zebrafish cardiovascular screening


Reduced aggrecan expression affects cardiac outflow tract development in zebrafish and is associated with bicuspid aortic valve disease in humans

International Journal of Cardiology



Hemodynamic forces have been known for a long time to regulate cardiogenic processes such as cardiac valve development. During embryonic development in vertebrates, the outflow tract (OFT) adjacent to the ventricle comes under increasing hemodynamic load as cardiogenesis proceeds. Consequently, extracellular matrix components are produced in this region as the cardiac cushions form which will eventually give rise to the aortic valves. The proteoglycan AGGRECAN is a key component of the aortic valves and is frequently found to be deregulated in a variety of aortic valve diseases. Here we demonstrate that aggrecan expression in the OFT of developing zebrafish embryos is hemodynamically dependent, a process presumably mediated by mechanosensitive channels. Furthermore, knockdown or knockout of aggrecan leads to failure of the OFT to develop resulting in stenosis. Based on these findings we analysed the expression of AGGRECAN in human bicuspid aortic valves (BAV). We found that in type 0 BAV there was a significant reduction in the expression of AGGRECAN. Our data indicate that aggrecan is required for OFT development and when its expression is reduced this is associated with BAV in humans.

Advanced blood flow assessment in Zebrafish via experimental digital particle image velocimetry and computational fluid dynamics modeling





• Zebrafish is an emerging vertebrate model for cardiovascular research.
• Easy genetic manipulation and embryonic transparency are among its advantages.
• DPIV enables in vivo imaging of blood flow in Zebrafish embryos.
• CFD modeling provides detailed analysis of mechanobiological forces.
• In this review paper, the methods are explained and latest findings are summarized



Over the past few decades, Zebrafish has become a widely used vertebrate model for cardiovascular research. Easy genetic manipulation, low cost, high fecundity, embryonic transparency, and ability to survive in the early stages of development without active circulation are among the advantages of Zebrafish. Cardiac malformations can be induced through genetic manipulations for elucidating the influence of mechanobiological stimuli on the development and progress of the cardiovascular diseases. For this purpose, a reliable in vivo assessment of cardiac function and disturbed hemodynamics is required. Therefore, it is necessary to accurately determine the complex blood flow patterns and associated hemodynamic shear stresses within the developing heart and cardiovascular system. In the traditional approach, brightfield microscopy is used to track the motion of cells in two-dimensions (2D). However, with the development of advanced modalities such as light-sheet fluorescent microscopy, it is now possible to perform 4D (three-dimensional space + time) imaging of Zebrafish embryo and larvae. The integration of digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) provide an opportunity for detailed investigations using in vivo images. In this review, DPIV and CFD methods are explained for blood flow assessment, and recent relevant research findings from Zebrafish studies are summarized.


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