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Heather Prior, Amber Tuininga, Michelle Nguyen, Katelyn Wheaton, Rachel Tuininga; Evaluation of induced cataracts in adult zebrafish shows effects on visually-induced behaviors and lens regeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):2655.
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This study was designed to evaluate a simple method for induction of cataracts in zebrafish. As an important model organism, zebrafish offer opportunities to investigate basic as well as medical research questions in the field of cataractogenesis. Their ability to spontaneously recover from cataracts in particular may provide insights into the genetic and biochemical properties of the lens which facilitate its regeneration. Our studies used optokinetic response (OKR), an open field test for color perception, and a set of observations of healing over time to assess fish with induced cataracts.
Adult zebrafish were subjected to intraocular injection of 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce cataracts. Starting at 24 hours post-injection, fish were anesthetized daily and later weekly for regular observation of cataract severity. The fish were also assessed for visual behaviors. For OKR analysis, fish were immobilized and placed within a rotating drum of alternately colored stripes, and eye movements were recorded with a video camera. For color perception, fish were placed into a circular test chamber with seven differentially-colored sectors and movements were recorded by video camera for 10 minutes. The data was analyzed to determine the relative time that the fish spent in each sector. Fish were analyzed both prior to and after cataract induction at various time points.
Using a scoring scale of 1 to 4, observations showed consistent reduction of cataract severity over time, with noticeable improvement by 21 days post-injection. OKR analysis of fish with cataracts, however, showed only slight improvement during the same time period. Fish with cataracts showed altered color preferences in the open field tests. Time spent in the darker colors decreased from 43% pre-cataract to 34% post-cataract, and time in the warmer colors increased from 36% pre-cataract to 49% post-cataract.
These results demonstrate that a simple method can effectively generate cataracts in adult zebrafish with measureable effects on visually-induced behaviors such as OKR and open-field color preference. In addition, preliminary assessment of lens healing after cataract induction suggests that zebrafish may provide an excellent model for lens regeneration after physical or biochemical insult.
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