In vivo imaging of calcium dynamics in zebrafish hepatocytes : Hepatology

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Original Articles: Liver Pathobiology

In vivo imaging of calcium dynamics in zebrafish hepatocytes

Pozo‐Morales, Macarena1; Garteizgogeascoa, Inés1; Perazzolo, Camille1; So, Juhoon2; Shin, Donghun2; Singh, Sumeet Pal1

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Hepatology 77(3):p 789-801, March 2023. | DOI: 10.1002/hep.32663
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Background and Aims: 

Hepatocytes were the first cell type for which oscillations of cytoplasmic calcium levels in response to hormones were described. Since then, investigation of calcium dynamics in liver explants and culture has greatly increased our understanding of calcium signaling. A bottleneck, however, exists in observing calcium dynamics in a noninvasive manner because of the optical inaccessibility of the mammalian liver. Here, we aimed to take advantage of the transparency of the zebrafish larvae to image hepatocyte calcium dynamics in vivo at cellular resolution.

Approach and Results: 

We developed a transgenic model expressing a calcium sensor, GCaMP6s, specifically in zebrafish hepatocytes. Using this, we provide a quantitative assessment of intracellular calcium dynamics during multiple contexts, including growth, feeding, ethanol‐induced stress, and cell ablation. Specifically, we show that synchronized calcium oscillations are present in vivo, which are lost upon starvation. Starvation induces lipid accumulation in the liver. Feeding recommences calcium waves in the liver, but in a spatially restricted manner, as well as resolves starvation‐induced hepatic steatosis. By using a genetically encoded scavenger for calcium, we show that dampening of calcium signaling accelerates the accumulation of starvation‐related lipid droplets in the liver. Furthermore, ethanol treatment, as well as cell ablation, induces calcium flux, but with different dynamics. The former causes asynchronous calcium oscillations, whereas the latter leads to a single calcium spike.


We demonstrate the presence of oscillations, waves, and spikes in vivo. Calcium waves are present in response to nutrition and negatively regulate starvation‐induced accumulation of lipid droplets.


Copyright © 2023 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

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