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J Morphol. 2007 Nov;268(11):967-85.

Development of the swimbladder and its innervation in the zebrafish, Danio rerio.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 1X5 Canada.


Many teleosts including zebrafish, Danio rerio, actively regulate buoyancy with a gas-filled swimbladder, the volume of which is controlled by autonomic reflexes acting on vascular, muscular, and secretory effectors. In this study, we investigated the morphological development of the zebrafish swimbladder together with its effectors and innervation. The swimbladder first formed as a single chamber, which inflated at 1-3 days posthatching (dph), 3.5-4 mm body length. Lateral nerves were already present as demonstrated by the antibody zn-12, and blood vessels had formed in parallel on the cranial aspect to supply blood to anastomotic capillary loops as demonstrated by Tie-2 antibody staining. Neuropeptide Y-(NPY-) like immunoreactive (LIR) fibers appeared early in the single-chambered stage, and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-LIR fibers and cell bodies developed by 10 dph (5 mm). By 18 dph (6 mm), the anterior chamber formed by evagination from the cranial end of the original chamber; both chambers then enlarged with the ductus communicans forming a constriction between them. The parallel blood vessels developed into an arteriovenous rete on the cranial aspect of the posterior chamber and this region was innervated by zn-12-reactive fibers. Tyrosine hydroxylase- (TH-), NPY-, and VIP-LIR fibers also innervated this area and the lateral posterior chamber. Innervation of the early anterior chamber was also demonstrated by VIP-LIR fibers. By 25-30 dph (8-9 mm), a band of smooth muscle formed in the lateral wall of the posterior chamber. Although gas in the swimbladder increased buoyancy of young larvae just after first inflation, our results suggest that active control of the swimbladder may not occur until after the formation of the two chambers and subsequent development and maturation of vasculature, musculature and innervation of these structures at about 28-30 dph.

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