Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Physiology and Pharmacology


Thomas Drysdale


Congenital heart defects (CHDs) occur in approximately 1% of live births and the etiology has been associated with disturbances in cardiogenesis. However, the majority of research examining CHDs relies on static morphological data, which does not elucidate how defects alter cardiac function. I used Xenopus laevis embryos to examine the association between CHDs and functional alterations using a novel imaging system that can obtain high- resolution images through a non-invasive procedure. A high-speed video camera and software were used to assess cardiac function, permitting functional characterization of late Xenopus cardiogenesis. Verification of the imaging system’s ability to detect changes in function was confirmed by exposing embryos to well-established agents that alter heart rate. Additionally, significant functional changes were detected following exposure of embryos to small molecules known to disrupt morphogenesis. The imaging system will be a useful alternative to current imaging modalities for elucidating mechanisms underlying CHDs in optically transparent embryos.

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