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The adult zebrafish is a well-established model for studying heart regeneration, but due to its tissue opaqueness, repair has been primarily assessed using destructive histology, precluding repeated investigations of the same animal. We present a high-resolution, non-invasive in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method incorporating a miniature respiratory and anaesthetic perfusion set-up for live adult zebrafish, allowing for visualization of scar formation and heart regeneration in the same animal over time at an isotropic 31 µm voxel resolution. To test the method, we compared well and poorly healing cardiac ventricles using a transgenic fish model that exhibits heat-shock (HS) inducible impaired heart regeneration. HS-treated groups revealed persistent scar tissue for 10 weeks, while control groups were healed after 4 weeks. Application of the advanced MRI technique allowed clear discrimination of levels of repair following cryo- and resection injury for several months. It further provides a novel tool for in vivo time-lapse imaging of adult fish for non-cardiac studies, as the method can be readily applied to image wound healing in other injured or diseased tissues, or to monitor tissue changes over time, thus expanding the range of questions that can be addressed in adult zebrafish and other small aquatic species.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Rep

Publication Date





2917 - 2917