The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become a new animal model for cardiac researches. Although it is equipped with a prototypical vertebrate heart, the zebrafish studies for cardiac mutations and genetic control of development can reveal some hints for solving human problems. Despite the simplicity of the zebrafish heart, the objective parameters of cardiac performance are not easily available, except for the morphological description, due to its small size. Because the four components (sinus venosus, atrium, ventricle and bulbus arteriosus) of the zebrafish heart are connected in series, we studied it by applying ultrasonic imaging methods for the vascular system. A total of 20 fishes that were ages of 3 to 4 months were studied. Their mean body weight and height were 562 +/- 173 mg and 4.6 +/- 0.7 cm, respectively. Power angiography and routine Doppler echocardiography were used to evaluate the cardiac performance of zebrafish at 25 degrees C and 15 degrees C. The zebrafish hearts could be easily identified with color Doppler (8.5 MHz) or power angiography (7 MHz). The ventricular filling flow contained two components (E and A-flow). The E-flow velocities were lower than the A-flow velocities at both 25 and 15 degrees C. The cycle length was prolonged (p < 0.05) and the velocities of ventricular filling and bulbus arteriosus decreased significantly at 15 degrees C (p < 0.05). A significant decrease in early diastolic deceleration slope and significant prolongation in early diastolic and late-diastolic deceleration times were found at a lower temperature (15 degrees C). The acceleration:deceleration ratio for early and late diastole also showed a significant difference at 15 degrees C. In conclusion, the cardiac performance of the zebrafish could be approached using commercially available clinical instruments equipped with Doppler echocardiography and power angiography.
Copyright 2002 World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology