ABSTRACT: The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has emerged as a popular vertebrate model system for cancer and treatment-related research. Benefits include ease of care, rapid development, optical clarity of embryos, which allows visualization of major organ systems, and opportunities for genetic manipulation. However, specific parameters of radiation sensitivity have not been systematically documented. We investigated the effects of radiation and a radiomodifier on zebrafish viability and embryonic development. Embryos were exposed to gamma-radiation (5, 10, or 20 Gy) at sequential times postfertilization and serially assessed for viability and morphologic abnormalities. As expected, lethality and morphologic perturbations were more pronounced earlier in embryogenesis and with higher radiation doses and were partially reversed by amifostine. The effects of radiation and concurrent treatment with amifostine on the developmental organization of the eye and brain were striking. Radiation resulted in hypocellularity and disorganization of the cellular layers of the retina, effects partially reversed by amifostine, as well as lens opacification. Radiation strikingly reduced the volume of brain, but the volume loss was substantially blocked by amifostine. Increased terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling signal was noted in both the irradiated eye and brain, but reduced by amifostine. Finally, irradiating embryos resulted in caspase activation detectable in 96-well microplates, which was proportional to the number of embryos and radiation dose; the degree of activation was markedly reduced by amifostine. These results together suggest the power and versatility of the zebrafish in assessing the effects of radiation and radiomodifiers on organ and tissue development.
Cancer Research 09/2006; 66(16):8172-81. · 7.86 Impact Factor