Production of zebrafish cardiospheres and cardiac progenitor cells in vitro and three-dimensional culture of adult zebrafish cardiac tissue in scaffolds

Wendy R Zeng, Siew-Joo Beh, Robert J Bryson-Richardson, Pauline M Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The hearts of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) are capable of complete regeneration in vivo even after major injury, making this species of particular interest for understanding the growth and differentiation processes required for cardiac tissue engineering. To date, little research has been carried out on in vitro culture of adult zebrafish cardiac cells. In this work, progenitor-rich cardiospheres suitable for cardiomyocyte differentiation and myocardial regeneration were produced from adult zebrafish hearts.The cardiospheres contained a mixed population of c-kit+ and Mef2c+ cells; proliferative peripheral cells of possible mesenchymal lineage were also observed. Cellular outgrowth from cardiac explants and cardiospheres was enhanced significantly using conditioned medium harvested from a culture of a rainbow trout cell line, suggesting that fish-specific trophic factors are required for zebrafish cardiac cell expansion. Three-dimensional culture of zebrafish heart cells in fibrous polyglycolic acid (PGA) scaffolds was carried out under dynamic fluid flow conditions. High levels of cell viability and cardiomyocyte differentiation were maintained within the scaffolds. Expression of cardiac troponin T, a marker of differentiated cardiomyocytes, increased during the first 7 days of scaffold culture; after 15 days, premature disintegration of the biodegradable scaffolds led to cell detachment and a decline in differentiation status. This work expands our technical capabilities for three-dimensional zebra fish cardiac cell culture with potential applications in tissue engineering, drug and toxicology screening, and ontogeny research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2142–2148
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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