Overcoming a permeability barrier by microinjecting cryoprotectants into zebrafish embryos (Brachydanio rerio)

Cryobiology. 2000 Aug;41(1):25-34. doi: 10.1006/cryo.2000.2261.


The goal of this research was to examine the developmental effects on zebrafish embryos (Brachydanio rerio) when cryoprotectants were directly microinjected into the yolk. Our objectives were to: (i) determine the final concentration of propylene glycol (PG) and dimethyl sulfoxide (Me(2)SO) that the embryos could tolerate without causing teratogenic effects; (ii) determine if the toxicity of Me(2)SO could be reduced by the simultaneous presence of various proportions of amides; and (iii) examine whether this intracellular cryoprotectant incorporation could reduce the cryodamage to the yolk syncytial layer (YSL) after vitrification trials. The rationale for conducting these microinjection experiments was to overcome the permeability barrier of the YSL. Intracellular PG produced better survival than Me(2)SO (P < 0.05). Embryos tolerated both 10- and 30-nl microinjections of PG, yielding final concentrations of 2.3 and 5.0 M within the yolk, resulting in 70 +/- 3 and 35 +/- 4% survival at day 5, respectively. In similar experiments with Me(2)SO, survival was lower than PG at 60 +/- 4 and 14 +/- 4% at 2.4 and 5.2 M. Unlike other cellular systems, the presence of amides, specifically acetamide or formamide, did not reduce the toxicity of Me(2)SO in zebrafish embryos (P > 0.05). During vitrification trials, we estimated a 25% dehydration of the yolk, yielding an effective PG concentration of 5.9 M. However, the incorporation of this vitrifiable concentration of PG was not sufficient to improve the postthaw morphology of the YSL (P > 0.05). Clearly, other factors need to be examined in establishing a successful vitrification protocol for zebrafish embryos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Aquaculture / methods*
  • Blastoderm / drug effects
  • Blastoderm / physiology
  • Blastoderm / ultrastructure
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Cryoprotective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cryoprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Cryoprotective Agents / toxicity
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / administration & dosage*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / toxicity
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects
  • Embryonic Development
  • Female
  • Formamides / pharmacology
  • Giant Cells / physiology
  • Giant Cells / ultrastructure
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Male
  • Microinjections
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects
  • Permeability
  • Zebrafish / embryology*


  • Acetamides
  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Formamides
  • formamide
  • acetamide
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide