Early life stage exposure to environmental chemicals may play a role in obesity by altering adipogenesis; however, robust in vivo methods to quantify these effects are lacking. The goal of this study was to analyze the effects of developmental exposure to chemicals on adipogenesis in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). We used label-free Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) microscopy for the first time to image zebrafish adipogenesis at 15 days post fertilization (dpf) and compared standard feed conditions (StF) to a high fat diet (HFD) or high glucose diet (HGD). We also exposed zebrafish embryos to a non-toxic concentration of tributyltin (TBT, 1 nM) or Tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl)phosphate (TDCiPP, 0.5 µM) from 0-6 dpf and reared larvae to 15 dpf under StF. Potential molecular mechanisms of altered adipogenesis were examined by qPCR. Diet-dependent modulation of adipogenesis was observed, with HFD resulting in a threefold increase in larvae with adipocytes, compared to StF and HGD. Developmental exposure to TBT but not TDCiPP significantly increased adipocyte differentiation. The expression of adipogenic genes such as pparda, lxr and lepa was altered in response to HFD or chemicals. This study shows that SRS microscopy can be successfully applied to zebrafish to visualize and quantify adipogenesis, and is a powerful approach for identifying obesogenic chemicals in vivo.
Keywords: SRS imaging; TBT; TDCiPP; adipocyte; endocrinology; obesity; obesogen; toxicology; zebrafish.