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IBD Zebrafish Larvae Model

Intestinal inflammatory disease (IBD) affect more than 3.5 million people worldwide, and refers to different clinical entities, but mainly to ulcerative colitis which is a mucosal inflammation involving the rectum and colon and Crohn’s disease which can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, but is most common in the colon and terminal ileum. The common element is that both undergo a chronic inflammatory process, alternating phases of activity (acute attack) and phases of latency (remission).

It is assumed that the origin of IBD has some genetic predisposition, which together with some external triggers (infectious or dietary), causes the development of the disease. Even emotional factors such as stress or mood can favor the onset of illness or acute attacks.

From Ikan Biotech we have developed a Chemically induced enterocolitis model in zebrafish larvae. The most commonly used in vivo models to study IBD are based on murine models of chemically induced enterocolitis. However, in the recent years, new models of enterocolitis using zebrafish have arisen. Its external and fast development, transparency and its easy manipulation and maintenance, position them as an attractive and cheaper model compared to mice. Moreover, zebrafish genetic homology with humans is around 87%, including a similar gut structure and conserved immune genes and cells. The microbiota also contains many of the same phyla as typical mammalian microbiota. All this features make zebrafish a suitable model to investigate basic processes underlying intestinal inflammation and new therapeutic approaches.

This IBD model was presented with a scientific poster it the 3rd Ghent Gut Inflammation Group Meeting by our research Fernando Cartón-Garcia last week in Ghent (13-14 June). The Poster had a great reception and aroused the interest of a great number of attendees.

The  scientific poster described the work performed at Ikan Biotech to  establish a chemically induced enterocolitis model in zebrafish larvae. As a brief summary of it, the larvae show a dose-dependent upregulation of some pro-inflammatory cytokines and a histological analysis of the larvae reflects intestinal structural alterations, with expanded gut lumen, disappearance villi and mucus accumulation. Moreover, Ikan Biotech has performed a functional analysis of the endocytic mid-intestine to examine perturbation of this intestinal segment following enterocolitis. Interestingly, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisolone and 5-asa, commonly used to treat IBD patients, have been shown to ameliorate enterocolitis in zebrafish larvae.

Overall, these results show this model as suitable in vivo model to study intestinal inflammation. The responsiveness to anti-inflammatory medication together with the robust phenotype observed makes this model an attractive platform for the screening of chemical or genetic modifiers of enterocolitis in vivo, as well as the evaluation of food supplements and probiotics.

Coming next:  study of the complex mechanism of the obesity disease with zebrafish model.