Simultaneous Calcium Imaging and Glucose Stimulation in Living Zebrafish to Investigate In Vivo beta-Cell Function

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



The pancreatic beta-cells sustain systemic glucose homeostasis by producing and secreting insulin according to the blood glucose levels. Defects in beta-cell function are associated with hyperglycemia that can lead to diabetes. During the process of insulin secretion, beta-cells experience an influx of Ca2+. Thus, imaging the glucose-stimulated Ca2+ influx using genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) provides an avenue to studying beta-cell function. Previously, studies showed that isolated zebrafish islets expressing GCaMP6s exhibit significant Ca2+ activity upon stimulation with defined glucose concentrations. However, it is paramount to study how beta-cells respond to glucose not in isolation, but in their native environment, where they are systemically connected, vascularized, and densely innervated. To this end, the study leveraged the optical transparency of the zebrafish larvae at early stages of development to illuminate beta-cell activity in vivo. Here, a detailed protocol for Ca2+ imaging and glucose stimulation to investigate beta-cell function in vivo is presented. This technique allows to monitor the coordinated Ca2+ dynamics in beta-cells with single-cell resolution. Additionally, this method can be applied to work with any injectable solution such as small molecules or peptides. Altogether, the protocol illustrates the potential of the zebrafish model to investigate islet coordination in vivo and to characterize how environmental and genetic components might affect beta-cell function.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62347
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

External IDs

PubMed 34633379
Scopus 85118199201


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Ca2+ dynamics, Islets

Library keywords