Liver cancer is currently the third leading cause of cancer related death worldwide, and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) accounts for 75-90% of all liver cancer cases. With the introduction of effective treatments to prevent and treat hepatitis B/C, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and the more aggressive form know as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are quickly becoming the number one risk factors to develop HCC in modern societies. To better understand the role NASH has on the development of HCC we designed a NASH-associated HCC zebrafish. The optical clarity and genetic tractability of the zebrafish larvae make them an appealing and powerful model to study the liver microenvironment and immune cell composition using non-invasive fluorescent live imaging. This protocol describes how to use a NASH-associated HCC zebrafish model to investigate the effect of cholesterol surplus in the liver microenvironment and its impact on immune cell composition at early stages of the disease. First, we feed HCC larvae (s704Tg), which express hepatocyte-specific activated beta-catenin, with a 10% high cholesterol diet for 8 days to develop a NASH-associated HCC model. Here we describe how to make use of different transgenic lines to evaluate several early malignancy features in the liver by non-invasive confocal microscopy, such as liver area, cell, and nuclear morphology (hepatocytes area, nuclear area, nuclear:cytoplasmic ratio (N:C ratio), nuclear circularity, micronuclei/ nuclear herniation scoring) and angiogenesis. Then, using transgenic lines with tagged immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages, and T cells) we show how to analyze liver immune cell composition in NASH-associated HCC larvae. The described techniques are useful to evaluate liver microenvironment and immune cell composition at early hepatocarcinogenesis stages, but they can also be modified to study such features in other liver disease models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)