The mammalian heart is incapable of significant regeneration following an acute injury such as myocardial infarction(1). By contrast, urodele amphibians and teleost fish retain a remarkable capacity for cardiac regeneration with little or no scarring throughout life(2,3). It is not known why only some non-mammalian vertebrates can recreate a complete organ from remnant tissues(4,5). To understand the molecular and cellular differences between regenerative responses in different species, we need to use similar approaches for inducing acute injuries. In mammals, the most frequently used model to study cardiac repair has been acute ischemia after a ligation of the coronary artery or tissue destruction after cryoinjury(6,7). The cardiac regeneration in newts and zebrafish has been predominantly studied after a partial resection of the ventricular apex(2,3). Recently, several groups have established the cryoinjury technique in adult zebrafish(8-10). This method has a great potential because it allows a comparative discussion of the results obtained from the mammalian and non-mammalian species. Here, we present a method to induce a reproducible disc-shaped infarct of the zebrafish ventricle by cryoinjury. This injury model is based on rapid freezing-thawing tissue, which results in massive cell death of about 20% of cardiomyocytes of the ventricular wall. First, a small incision was made through the chest with iridectomy scissors to access the heart. The ventricular wall was directly frozen by applying for 23-25 seconds a stainless steel cryoprobe precooled in liquid nitrogen. To stop the freezing of the heart, fish water at room temperature was dropped on the tip of the cryoprobe. The procedure is well tolerated by animals, with a survival rate of 95%. To characterize the regenerative process, the hearts were collected and fixed at different days after cryoinjury. Subsequently, the specimen were embedded for cryosectioning. The slides with sections were processed for histological analysis, in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence. This undertaking enhances our understanding of the factors that are required for the regenerative plasticity in the zebrafish, and provide new insights into the machinery of cardiac regeneration. A conceptual and molecular understanding of heart regeneration in zebrafish will impact both developmental biology and regenerative medicine.
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