Approaches to measuring calcium in zebrafish: focus on neuronal development

Cell Calcium. 2004 May;35(5):393-402. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2004.01.002.


Calcium ions are known to act as important cellular signals during nervous system development. In vitro studies have provided significant information on the role of calcium signals during neuronal development; however, the function of this messenger in nervous system maturation in vivo remains to be established. The zebrafish has emerged as a valuable model for the study of vertebrate embryogenesis. Fertilisation is external and the rapid growth of the transparent embryo, including development of internal organs, can be observed easily making it well suited for imaging studies. The developing nervous system is relatively simple and has been well characterised, allowing individual neurons to be identified. Using the zebrafish model, both intracellular and intercellular calcium signals throughout embryonic development have been characterised. This review summarises technical approaches to measure calcium signals in developing embryonic and larval zebrafish, and includes recent developments that will facilitate the study of calcium signalling in vivo. The application of calcium imaging techniques to investigate the action of this messenger during embryogenesis in intact zebrafish is illustrated by discussion of their contribution to our understanding of neuronal development in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / analysis*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Embryonic Development
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Weights and Measures
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Calcium