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Zebrafish heart myofibrils

The micromechanical capabilities that zebrafish hearts possess make them good models for the studies of motility, regeneration, and inherited human diseases.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition where the left ventricle of the heart is enlarged and weakened. The heart is not able to adapt to changes in size and shape correctly and cannot pump blood properly. DCM is a leading cause of heart failure and a serious complication of some anti-tumour drugs.

In order to increase understanding of DCM, the zebrafish heart was studied using a 4D imaging technique in vivo. The zebrafish which were used in this study expressed a green fluorescent protein which bound to actin in heart muscle fibres. Visualising the heart muscle fibres enabled the clarification of heart muscle structure. It also helped clarify cellular signalling pathways and remodelling factors which play a key role in the architecture of heart muscle fibres.

In particular, the study enabled the study of the mechanism of DCM in response to anti-tumour therapies. This has potentially important implications for prevention and treatment of DCM.

This image was made in response to research by Didier Stainier.