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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 8758460, 13 pages
Research Article

Ultrastructural Mapping of the Zebrafish Gastrointestinal System as a Basis for Experimental Drug Studies

1School of Medical Sciences (Discipline of Anatomy and Histology), The Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
3Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis (ACMM), The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
4Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Received 17 March 2016; Accepted 4 May 2016

Academic Editor: Minjun Chen

Copyright © 2016 Delfine Cheng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Research in the field of gastroenterology is increasingly focused on the use of alternative nonrodent model organisms to provide new experimental tools to study chronic diseases. The zebrafish is a particularly valuable experimental platform to explore organ and cell structure-function relationships under relevant biological and pathobiological settings. This is due to its optical transparency and its close-to-human genetic makeup. To-date, the structure-function properties of the GIS of the zebrafish are relatively unexplored and limited to histology and fluorescent microscopy. Occasionally those studies include EM of a given subcellular process but lack the required full histological picture. In this work, we employed a novel combined biomolecular imaging approach in order to cross-correlate 3D ultrastructure over different length scales (optical-, X-ray micro-CT, and high-resolution EM). Our correlated imaging studies and subsequent data modelling provide to our knowledge the first detailed 3D picture of the zebrafish larvae GIS. Our results provide unequivocally a limit of confidence for studying various digestive disorders and drug delivery pathways in the zebrafish.