Using zebrafish larval models to study brain injury, locomotor and neuroinflammatory outcomes following intracerebral haemorrhage.
ABSTRACT: Intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) is a devastating condition with limited treatment options, and current understanding of pathophysiology is incomplete. Spontaneous cerebral bleeding is a characteristic of the human condition that has proven difficult to recapitulate in existing pre-clinical rodent models. Zebrafish larvae are frequently used as vertebrate disease models and are associated with several advantages, including high fecundity, optical translucency and non-protected status prior to 5 days post-fertilisation. Furthermore, other groups have shown that zebrafish larvae can exhibit spontaneous ICH. The aim of this study was to investigate whether such models can be utilised to study the pathological consequences of bleeding in the brain, in the context of pre-clinical ICH research. Here, we compared existing genetic (bubblehead) and chemically inducible (atorvastatin) zebrafish larval models of spontaneous ICH and studied the subsequent disease processes. Through live, non-invasive imaging of transgenic fluorescent reporter lines and behavioural assessment we quantified brain injury, locomotor function and neuroinflammation following ICH. We show that ICH in both zebrafish larval models is comparable in timing, frequency and location. ICH results in increased brain cell death and a persistent locomotor deficit. Additionally, in haemorrhaged larvae we observed a significant increase in macrophage recruitment to the site of injury. Live in vivo imaging allowed us to track active macrophage-based phagocytosis of dying brain cells 24 hours after haemorrhage. Morphological analyses and quantification indicated that an increase in overall macrophage activation occurs in the haemorrhaged brain. Our study shows that in zebrafish larvae, bleeding in the brain induces quantifiable phenotypic outcomes that mimic key features of human ICH. We hope that this methodology will enable the pre-clinical ICH community to adopt the zebrafish larval model as an alternative to rodents, supporting future high throughput drug screening and as a complementary approach to elucidating crucial mechanisms associated with ICH pathophysiology.
Project description:Functional neuroimaging, using genetically-encoded Ca<sup>2+</sup> sensors in larval zebrafish, offers a powerful combination of high spatiotemporal resolution and higher vertebrate relevance for quantitative neuropharmacological profiling. Here we use zebrafish larvae with pan-neuronal expression of GCaMP6s, combined with light sheet microscopy and a novel image processing pipeline, for the 4D profiling of chemoconvulsant action in multiple brain regions. In untreated larvae, regions associated with autonomic functionality, sensory processing and stress-responsiveness, consistently exhibited elevated spontaneous activity. The application of drugs targeting different convulsant mechanisms (4-Aminopyridine, Pentylenetetrazole, Pilocarpine and Strychnine) resulted in distinct spatiotemporal patterns of activity. These activity patterns showed some interesting parallels with what is known of the distribution of their respective molecular targets, but crucially also revealed system-wide neural circuit responses to stimulation or suppression. Drug concentration-response curves of neural activity were identified in a number of anatomically-defined zebrafish brain regions, and in vivo larval electrophysiology, also conducted in 4dpf larvae, provided additional measures of neural activity. Our quantification of network-wide chemoconvulsant drug activity in the whole zebrafish brain illustrates the power of this approach for neuropharmacological profiling in applications ranging from accelerating studies of drug safety and efficacy, to identifying pharmacologically-altered networks in zebrafish models of human neurological disorders.
Project description:Epilepsy is a common disorder of the brain characterized by spontaneous recurrent seizures, which develop gradually during a process called epileptogenesis. The mechanistic processes underlying the changes of brain tissue and networks toward increased seizure susceptibility are not fully understood. In rodents, injection of kainic acid (KA) ultimately leads to the development of spontaneous epileptic seizures, reflecting similar neuropathological characteristics as seen in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Although this model has significantly contributed to increased knowledge of epileptogenesis, it is technically demanding, costly to operate and hence not suitable for high-throughput screening of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Zebrafish, a vertebrate with complementary advantages to rodents, is an established animal model for epilepsy research. Here, we generated a novel KA-induced epilepsy model in zebrafish larvae that we functionally and pharmacologically validated. KA was administered by pericardial injection at an early zebrafish larval stage. The epileptic phenotype induced was examined by quantification of seizure-like behavior using automated video recording, and of epileptiform brain activity measured via local field potential (LFP) recordings. We also assessed GFP-labeled GABAergic and RFP-labeled glutamatergic neurons in double transgenic KA-injected zebrafish larvae, and examined the GABA and glutamate levels in the larval heads by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry detection (LC-MS/MS). Finally, KA-injected larvae were exposed to five commonly used AEDs by immersion for pharmacological characterization of the model. Shortly after injection, KA induced a massive damage and inflammation in the zebrafish brain and seizure-like locomotor behavior. An abnormal reorganization of brain circuits was observed, a decrease in both GABAergic and glutamatergic neuronal population and their associated neurotransmitters. Importantly, these changes were accompanied by spontaneous and continuous epileptiform brain discharges starting after a short latency period, as seen in KA rodent models and reminiscent of human pathology. Three out of five AEDs tested rescued LFP abnormalities but did not affect the seizure-like behavior. Taken together, for the first time we describe a chemically-induced larval zebrafish epilepsy model offering unique insights into studying epileptogenic processes in vivo and suitable for high-throughput AED screening purposes and rapid genetic investigations.
Project description:Zebrafish models of human neuropsychiatric diseases offer opportunities to identify novel therapeutic targets and treatments through phenotype-based genetic or chemical modifier screens. In order to develop an assay to detect rescue of zebrafish models of Parkinsonism, we characterized spontaneous zebrafish larval motor behavior from 3 to 9 days post fertilization in a microtiter plate format suitable for screening, and clarified the role of dopaminergic signaling in its regulation. The proportion of time that larvae spent moving increased progressively between 3 and 9 dpf, whereas their active velocity decreased between 5 and 6 dpf as sporadic burst movements gave way to a more mature beat-and-glide pattern. Spontaneous movement varied between larvae and during the course of recordings as a result of intrinsic larval factors including genetic background. Variability decreased with age, such that small differences between groups of larvae exposed to different experimental conditions could be detected robustly by 6 to 7 dpf. Suppression of endogenous dopaminergic signaling by exposure to MPP(+), haloperidol or chlorpromazine reduced mean velocity by decreasing the frequency with which spontaneous movements were initiated, but did not alter active velocity. The variability of mean velocity assays could be reduced by analyzing groups of larvae for each data point, yielding acceptable screening window coefficients; the sample size required in each group was determined by the magnitude of the motor phenotype in different models. For chlorpromazine exposure, samples of four larvae allowed robust separation of treated and untreated data points (Z=0.42), whereas the milder impairment provoked by MPP(+) necessitated groups of eight larvae in order to provide a useful discovery assay (Z=0.13). Quantification of spontaneous larval movement offers a simple method to determine functional integrity of motor systems, and may be a useful tool to isolate novel molecular modulators of Parkinsonism phenotypes.
Project description:Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are proteolytic zinc-endopeptidases regulated by tissue Inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMPs). We evaluated the potential of MMPs and TIMPs as clinical tools for Intracranial Haemorrhage (ICH). Spontaneous non-traumatic ICH patients were recruited from two hospitals: Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra (CHN?=?29) and Vall d´Hebron (VdH?=?76). Plasmatic levels of MMP-1, -2, -7, -9, -10 and TIMP-1 and their relationship with clinical, radiological and functional variables were evaluated. We further studied the effect of TIMP-1 (0.05-0.2?mg/Kg) in an experimental tail-bleeding model. In CHN, TIMP-1 was associated with admission-hematoma volume and MMP-7 was elevated in patients with deep when compared to lobar hematoma. In VdH, admission-hematoma volume was associated with TIMP-1 and MMP-7. When data from both hospitals were combined, we observed that an increase in 1?ng/ml in TIMP-1 was associated with an increase of 0.14?ml in haemorrhage (combined ??=?0.14, 95% CI?=?0.08-0.21). Likewise, mice receiving TIMP-1 (0.2?mg/Kg) showed a shorter bleeding time (p?<?0.01). Therefore, the association of TIMP-1 with hematoma volume in two independent ICH cohorts suggests its potential as ICH biomarker. Moreover, increased TIMP-1 might not be sufficient to counterbalance MMPs upregulation indicating that TIMP-1 administration might be a beneficial strategy for ICH.
Project description:Zebrafish are an important and expanding experimental system for brain research. We describe a noninvasive electrophysiology technique that can be used in living larvae to measure spontaneous activity in the brain and spinal cord simultaneously. This easy-to-use method uses a commercially available multielectrode array to detect local field potential parameters, and allows for relative coordinated (network) measurements of activity. We demonstrate sensitivity of this system by measuring activity in larvae treated with the antiepileptic drug valproic acid. Valproic acid decreased larval movement and startle response, and decreased spontaneous brain activity. Spinal cord activity did not change after treatment, suggesting valproic acid primarily affects brain function. The observed differences in brain activity, but not spinal cord activity, after valproic acid treatment indicates that brain activity differences are not a secondary effect of decreased startle response and movement. We provide a step-by-step protocol for experiments presented that a novice could easily follow. This electrophysiological method will be useful to the zebrafish neuroscience community.
Project description:Stroke is caused by obstructed blood flow (ischaemia) or unrestricted bleeding in the brain (haemorrhage). Global brain ischaemia occurs after restricted cerebral blood flow e.g. during cardiac arrest. Following ischaemic injury, restoration of blood flow causes ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury which worsens outcome. Secondary injury mechanisms after any stroke are similar, and encompass inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, blood-brain barrier (BBB) damage and apoptosis. We developed a new model of transient global forebrain I/R injury (dual carotid artery ligation; DCAL) and compared the manifestations of this injury with those in a conventional I/R injury model (middle-cerebral artery occlusion; MCAo) and with intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH; collagenase model). MRI revealed that DCAL produced smaller bilateral lesions predominantly localised to the striatum, whereas MCAo produced larger focal corticostriatal lesions. After global forebrain ischaemia mice had worse overall neurological scores, although quantitative locomotor assessment showed MCAo and ICH had significantly worsened mobility. BBB breakdown was highest in the DCAL model while apoptotic activity was highest after ICH. VCAM-1 upregulation was specific to ischaemic models only. Differential transcriptional upregulation of pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines and TLRs was seen in the three models. Our findings offer a unique insight into the similarities and differences in how biological processes are regulated after different types of stroke. They also establish a platform for analysis of therapies such as endothelial protective and anti-inflammatory agents that can be applied to all types of stroke.
Project description:Use of antiplatelet therapy shortly before stroke due to spontaneous primary intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) is associated with higher case fatality in comparison to ICH without prior antithrombotic drug use. The PlAtelet Transfusion in Cerebral Haemorrhage (PATCH) trial aimed to assess the effect of platelet transfusion in patients presenting with ICH while using antiplatelet therapy. The main hypothesis of PATCH was that platelet transfusion would reduce death or dependence by reducing ICH growth.PATCH was a multicentre prospective, randomised, open, blinded endpoint (PROBE) parallel group trial, conducted at 60 hospitals in The Netherlands, Scotland and France. Forty-one sites enrolled 190 patients with spontaneous supratentorial ICH aged ?18 years, who had used antiplatelet therapy for ?7 days preceding ICH, if Glasgow Coma Scale was ?8. Participants were randomised (1:1, with a secure web-based system using permuted blocks, stratified by study centre and type of antiplatelet therapy pre-ICH) to receive either platelet transfusion within 6 hours of symptom onset and 90 minutes of diagnostic brain imaging, or standard care without platelet transfusion. The primary outcome was modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score assessed blind to treatment allocation at 3 months after ICH. Planned secondary outcomes included ICH growth on brain imaging performed approximately 24 hours after randomisation, survival at 3 months, disability at 3 months scored using the Amsterdam Medical Centre linear disability score, heterogeneity of treatment effect on mRS and ICH growth according to presence of the computed tomography angiography spot sign, causes of poor outcome, and cost-effectiveness. Safety outcomes were transfusion reactions, thromboembolic complications, and serious adverse events occurring during hospitalisation. This statistical analysis plan was written without knowledge of the unblinded data.The trial was registered with the Netherlands Trial Register on 29 April 2008 ( NTR1303 ).
Project description:The circadian clock, which evolved to help organisms harmonize physiological responses to external conditions (such as the light/dark cycle, LD), is emerging as an important regulator of the immune response to infection. Gaining a complete understanding of how the circadian clock influences the immune cell response requires animal models that permit direct observation of these processes within an intact host. Here, we investigated the use of larval zebrafish, a powerful live imaging system, as a new model to study the impact of a fundamental zeitgeber, light, on the innate immune cell response to infection. Larvae infected during the light phase of the LD cycle and in constant light condition (LL) demonstrated enhanced survival and bacterial clearance when compared with larvae infected during the dark phase of the LD cycle and in constant dark condition (DD). This increased survival was associated with elevated expression of the zebrafish orthologues of the mammalian pro-inflammatory cytokine genes, Tumour necrosis factor-?, Interleukin-8 and Interferon-?, and increased neutrophil and macrophage recruitment. This study demonstrates for the first time that the larval zebrafish innate immune response to infection is enhanced during light exposure, suggesting that, similar to mammalian systems, the larval zebrafish response to infection is light-regulated.
Project description:Microglia are the resident macrophages of the brain. Over the past decade, our understanding of the function of these cells has significantly improved. Microglia do not only play important roles in the healthy brain but are involved in almost every brain pathology. Gene expression profiling allowed to distinguish microglia from other macrophages and revealed that the full microglia signature can only be observed in vivo. Thus, animal models are irreplaceable to understand the function of these cells. One of the popular models to study microglia is the zebrafish larva. Due to their optical transparency and genetic accessibility, zebrafish larvae have been employed to understand a variety of microglia functions in the living brain. Here, we performed RNA sequencing of larval zebrafish microglia at different developmental time points: 3, 5, and 7?days post fertilization (dpf). Our analysis reveals that larval zebrafish microglia rapidly acquire the core microglia signature and many typical microglia genes are expressed from 3 dpf onwards. The majority of changes in gene expression happened between 3 and 5 dpf, suggesting that differentiation mainly takes place during these days. Furthermore, we compared the larval microglia transcriptome to published data sets of adult zebrafish microglia, mouse microglia, and human microglia. Larval microglia shared a significant number of expressed genes with their adult counterparts in zebrafish as well as with mouse and human microglia. In conclusion, our results show that larval zebrafish microglia mature rapidly and express the core microglia gene signature that seems to be conserved across species.
Project description:The immediate and natural reaction to both infectious challenges and sterile insults (wounds, tissue trauma or crystal deposition) is an acute inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is mediated by activation of the innate immune system largely comprising professional phagocytes (neutrophils and macrophages). Zebrafish (danio rerio) larvae possess many advantages as a model organism, including their genetic tractability and highly conserved innate immune system. Exploiting these attributes and the live imaging potential of optically transparent zebrafish larvae has greatly contributed to our understanding of how neutrophils and macrophages orchestrate the initiation and resolution phases of inflammatory responses. Numerous bacterial and fungal infection models have been successfully established using zebrafish as an animal model and studies investigating neutrophil and macrophage behavior to sterile insults have also provided unique insights. In this review we highlight how examining the larval zebrafish response to specific bacterial and fungal pathogens has uncovered cellular and molecular mechanisms behind a variety of phagocyte responses, from those that protect the host to those that are detrimental. We also describe how modeling sterile inflammation in larval zebrafish has provided an opportunity to dissect signaling pathways that control the recruitment, and fate, of phagocytes at inflammatory sites. Finally, we briefly discuss some current limitations, and opportunities to improve, the zebrafish model system for studying phagocyte biology.