Transparent zebrafish help scientists follow unfolding heart diseaseMarch 6th, 2009 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS
Washington, March 6 (IANS) Fish are helping researchers understand how heart disease unfolds, potentially opening the way to new drugs to slow disease and prevent heart attacks.
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) scientists at its School of Medicine have done to zebrafish in the lab exactly what many people still do to themselves - added excess cholesterol to their diet.
Because the species are transparent, researchers were able to see - literally - the development of plaques in their blood vessels. The study was led by Yury I. Miller, associate professor of medicine at UCSD.
“The use of this transparent zebrafish model is a promising method to screen for new drugs and cardiovascular imaging agents,” said Miller.
Atherosclerosis is a process of thickening and hardening of the artery walls as a result of fat deposits and inflammation. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include high levels of “bad” cholesterol, high blood pressure (or hypertension), smoking, diabetes and a family history of the disease - all of which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Extreme hyperlipidemia, or the presence of excess fat and cholesterol molecules in the bloodstream, has been induced in mice and rabbits in the past, but microscopic examination of plaque build-up was only possible post-mortem.
Miller and colleagues fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD) to zebrafish, supplementing the HCD with a red fluorescent lipid.
“Because zebrafish are transparent for the first 30 days of life, we can see in the living fish that the blood vessels glow green, while the fat deposits in vascular plaques are red,” said Miller.
He added that, interestingly, the zebrafish on a high-cholesterol diet did grow little fat fish stomachs, according to an UCSD release.
These findings are scheduled for publication in the April issue of Circulation Research, published by the American Heart Association.
- Tangerines help prevent obesity, protect against heart disease - Apr 07, 2011
- High fat diet damages arteries earlier than suspected - Apr 04, 2012
- Clogged arteries can also cause clouded thinking - Jul 22, 2011
- Vaccines for heart attacks to be ready within 5 years - Apr 01, 2012
- Exposure to chemical may cause heart disease: Study - Sep 05, 2012
- Eating Egg Yolks is as 'bad as Smoking' - Aug 15, 2012
- Potential target for treatment of obesity-related diseases identified - Apr 15, 2010
- Targeting fatty acids in immune cells may cut atherosclerosis risk - Jul 24, 2010
- Low-carb, low-fat and Mediterranean diets 'reverse atherosclerosis in fat people' - Mar 02, 2010
- Social stress makes you fat - Aug 06, 2009
- Gastric bypass surgery 'can help lower cholesterol' - Jun 26, 2010
- Ill-effect of high-fat meal linked to belly fat - Feb 18, 2011
- Experts wary of Lancet's study on good cholesterol - Jun 14, 2012
- Gene linked to high cholesterol in blood found - Sep 16, 2010
- Intake of egg yolks can block arteries: Study - Aug 14, 2012
Tags: american heart association, artery walls, atherosclerosis, california san diego, cardiovascular imaging, circulation research, excess cholesterol, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol diet, hyperlipidemia, living fish, microscopic examination, new drugs, promising method, risk factors, school of medicine, stomachs, ucsd scientists, university of california san diego