Zebrafish Corneal Wound Healing: From Abrasion to Wound Closure Imaging Analysis

J Vis Exp. 2022 Mar 1:(181). doi: 10.3791/63605.


As the transparent surface of the eye, the cornea is instrumental for clear sight. Due to its location, this tissue is prone to environmental insults. Indeed, the eye injuries most frequently encountered clinically are those to the cornea. While corneal wound healing has been extensively studied in small mammals (i.e., mice, rats, and rabbits), corneal physiology studies have neglected other species, including zebrafish, despite zebrafish being a classic research model. This report describes a method of performing a corneal abrasion on zebrafish. The wound is performed in vivo on anesthetized fish using an ocular burr. This method allows for a reproducible epithelial wound, leaving the rest of the eye intact. After abrasion, wound closure is monitored over the course of 3 h, after which the wound is reepithelialized. By using scanning electron microscopy, followed by image processing, the epithelial cell shape, and apical protrusions can be investigated to study the various steps during corneal epithelial wound closure. The characteristics of the zebrafish model permit study of the epithelial tissue physiology and the collective behavior of the epithelial cells when the tissue is challenged. Furthermore, the use of a model deprived of the influence of the tear film can produce new answers regarding corneal response to stress. Finally, this model also allows the delineation of the cellular and molecular events involved in any epithelial tissue subjected to a physical wound. This method can be applied to the evaluation of drug effectiveness in preclinical testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cornea
  • Corneal Injuries*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium, Corneal*
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Wound Healing / physiology
  • Zebrafish