In vivo cardiac imaging of adult zebrafish using high frequency ultrasound (45-75 MHz)

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2008 Jan;34(1):31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2007.07.002. Epub 2007 Sep 7.


The zebrafish has emerged as an excellent genetic model organism for studies of cardiovascular development. Optical transparency and external development during embryogenesis allow for visual analysis in the early development. However, to understand the cardiovascular structures and functions beyond the early stage requires a high-resolution, real-time, noninvasive imaging alternative due to the opacity of adult zebrafish. In this research, we report the development of a high frequency ultrasonic system for adult zebrafish cardiac imaging, capable of 75 MHz B-mode imaging at a spatial resolution of 25 microm and 45 MHz pulsed-wave Doppler measurement. The system allows for real-time delineation of detailed cardiac structures, estimation of cardiac dimensions, as well as image-guided Doppler blood flow measurements. In vivo imaging studies showed the identification of the atrium, ventricle, bulbus arteriosus, atrioventricular valve and bulboventricular valve in real-time images, with cardiac measurement at various stages. Doppler waveforms acquired at the ventricle and the bulbus arteriosus demonstrated the utility of this system to study the zebrafish cardiovascular hemodynamics. This high frequency ultrasonic system offers a multitude of opportunities for cardiovascular researchers. In addition, the detection of E-flow and A-flow during the ventricular filling and the appearance of diastolic flow reversal at bulbus arteriosus suggested the functional similarity of zebrafish heart to that of higher vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Echocardiography / instrumentation
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler, Pulsed / instrumentation
  • Echocardiography, Doppler, Pulsed / methods
  • Electronics, Medical
  • Equipment Design
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Microscopy, Acoustic / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Acoustic / methods
  • Models, Animal*
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Transducers
  • Zebrafish / physiology*