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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 145 No. 5152 (2015)

In vivo imaging of cardiac development and function in zebrafish using light sheet microscopy

  • Michael Weber
  • Jan Huisken
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2015;145:w14227


Detailed studies of heart development and function are crucial for our understanding of cardiac failures and pave the way for better diagnostics and treatment. However, the constant motion and close incorporation into the cardiovascular system prevent in vivo studies of the living, unperturbed heart. The complementary strengths of the zebrafish model and light sheet microscopy provide a useful platform to fill this gap. High-resolution images of the embryonic vertebrate heart are now recorded from within the living animal: deep inside the unperturbed heart we can follow cardiac contractions and measure action potentials and calcium transients. Three-dimensional reconstructions of the entire beating heart with cellular resolution give new insights into its ever-changing morphology and facilitate studies into how individual cells form the complex cardiac network. In addition, cardiac dynamics and robustness are now examined with targeted optical manipulation. Overall, the combination of zebrafish and light sheet microscopy represents a promising addition for cardiac research and opens the door to a better understanding of heart function and development.

Key words: light sheet microscopy; zebrafish; in vivo imaging; embryonic heart; optical mapping; optogenetics


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