Heart performance determination by visualization in larval fishes: Influence of alternative models for heart shape and volume

Prescilla Perrichon, Martin Grosell, Warren W. Burggren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Understanding cardiac function in developing larval fishes is crucial for assessing their physiological condition and overall health. Cardiac output measurements in transparent fish larvae and other vertebrates have long been made by analyzing videos of the beating heart, and modeling this structure using a conventional simple prolate spheroid shape model. However, the larval fish heart changes shape during early development and subsequent maturation, but no consideration has been made of the effect of different heart geometries on cardiac output estimation. The present study assessed the validity of three different heart models (the "standard" prolate spheroid model as well as a cylinder and cone tip + cylinder model) applied to digital images of complete cardiac cycles in larval mahi-mahi and red drum. The inherent error of each model was determined to allow for more precise calculation of stroke volume and cardiac output. The conventional prolate spheroid and cone tip + cylinder models yielded significantly different stroke volume values at 56 hpf in red drum and from 56 to 104 hpf in mahi. End-diastolic and stroke volumes modeled by just a simple cylinder shape were 30-50% higher compared to the conventional prolate spheroid. However, when these values of stroke volume multiplied by heart rate to calculate cardiac output, no significant differences between models emerged because of considerable variability in heart rate. Essentially, the conventional prolate spheroid shape model provides the simplest measurement with lowest variability of stroke volume and cardiac output. However, assessment of heart function-especially if stroke volume is the focus of the study-should consider larval heart shape, with different models being applied on a species-by-species and developmental stage-by-stage basis for best estimation of cardiac output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number464
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017


  • Cardiac output
  • Heart shape modeling
  • Larval fish
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Red drum
  • Stroke volume
  • Ventricular volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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