We make use of multi-modal optical imaging techniques to perform the functional mapping of zebrafish larvae physiological and pathological brain activity. In particular, we adopt an acute epilepsy zebrafish model to investigate aberrant neuronal activity underlying seizure onset and propagation, a typical sign of this widespread neurological disorder. Exploiting the multi-scale features of single-photon widefield imaging and two-photon whole-brain light-sheet imaging, we use transgenic zebrafish larvae expressing in all neurons the calcium indicator GCaMP6s to identify neuronal signatures that drive a healthy brain into a pathological one. Moreover, owing to their small size, we use zebrafish larvae in high-throughput optical drug screening assays to test molecules for their novel putative antiepileptic effect.
We also develop behavioural assays to test and perturb prototypical larval responses and correlate them with neuronal activity measured by two-photon fluorescence of GCaMP6s. An array of assays is being developed and tested based on locomotor larval behaviours, visual and acoustic stimuli which produce robust responses both in terms of motor outcome and as neuronal activity.
Francesco Vanzi, Group Leader
Giuseppe de Vito