Induction of hyperglycaemia in zebrafish (Danio rerio) leads to morphological changes in the retina

Acta Diabetol. 2007 Sep;44(3):157-63. doi: 10.1007/s00592-007-0257-3. Epub 2007 Aug 26.


Diabetes affects over 16 million Americans yearly, resulting in hyperglycaemia and microvascular complications, including retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy. Animal models have been developed to examine the immunological aspects of type 1 diabetes and the pathogenic mechanisms associated with diabetic retinopathy, but the methods of diabetes induction raise concerns regarding these models. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been used extensively to study developmental processes and mutant zebrafish strains have been used to examine vision disease present in humans. In this paper, we have induced hyperglycaemia in zebrafish by alternately immersing the fish in glucose solution or water. Eyes from untreated fish or fish exposed to alternating glucose/water solutions for 28 days were dissected, sectioned and stained to visualise cell bodies in the retina. In untreated fish retinas, the inner plexiform layer (IPL) and inner nuclear layer (INL) were approximately the same thickness, whereas in fish repeatedly exposed to glucose solutions the IPL was approximately 55% the thickness of the INL. Both the IPL and INL were significantly reduced in retinas of treated fish, compared to untreated fish, similar to that seen in other animal models of diabetes and in diabetic patients. These results suggest that zebrafish may be used as an animal model in which to study diabetic retinopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hyperglycemia / pathology*
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Vision Disorders / blood
  • Vision Disorders / pathology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Zebrafish


  • Blood Glucose