Quantifying Liver Size in Larval Zebrafish using Brightfield Microscopy

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

In several transgenic zebrafish models of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), hepatomegaly can be observed during early larval stages. Quantifying larval liver size in zebrafish HCC models provides a means to rapidly assess the effects of drugs and other manipulations on an oncogene-related phenotype. Here we show how to fix zebrafish larvae, dissect the tissues surrounding the liver, photograph livers using bright-field microscopy, measure liver area, and analyze results. This protocol enables rapid, precise quantification of liver size. As this method involves measuring liver area, it may underestimate differences in liver volume, and complementary methodologies are required to differentiate between changes in cell size and changes in cell number. The dissection technique described herein is an excellent tool to visualize the liver, gut, and pancreas in their natural positions for myriad downstream applications including immunofluorescence staining and in situ hybridization. The described strategy for quantifying larval liver size is applicable to many aspects of liver development and regeneration.