3D Finite Element Electrical Model of Larval Zebrafish ECG Signals

James Crowcombe, Sundeep Singh Dhillon, Rhiannon Mary Hurst, Stuart Egginton, Ferenc Müller, Attila Sík, Edward Tarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)


Assessment of heart function in zebrafish larvae using electrocardiography (ECG) is a potentially useful tool in developing cardiac treatments and the assessment of drug therapies. In order to better understand how a measured ECG waveform is related to the structure of the heart, its position within the larva and the position of the electrodes, a 3D model of a 3 days post fertilisation (dpf) larval zebrafish was developed to simulate cardiac electrical activity and investigate the voltage distribution throughout the body. The geometry consisted of two main components; the zebrafish body was modelled as a homogeneous volume, while the heart was split into five distinct regions (sinoatrial region, atrial wall, atrioventricular band, ventricular wall and heart chambers). Similarly, the electrical model consisted of two parts with the body described by Laplace’s equation and the heart using a bidomain ionic model based upon the Fitzhugh-Nagumo equations. Each region of the heart was differentiated by action potential (AP) parameters and activation wave conduction velocities, which were fitted and scaled based on previously published experimental results. ECG measurements in vivo at different electrode recording positions were then compared to the model results. The model was able to simulate action potentials, wave propagation and all the major features (P wave, R wave, T wave) of the ECG, as well as polarity of the peaks observed at each position. This model was based upon our current understanding of the structure of the normal zebrafish larval heart. Further development would enable us to incorporate features associated with the diseased heart and hence assist in the interpretation of larval zebrafish ECGs in these conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0165655
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2016


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