Passive and Active Microrheology of the Intestinal Fluid of the Larval Zebrafish
The fluids of the intestine serve as a physical barrier to pathogens, a medium for the diffusion of nutrients and metabolites, and an environment for commensal microbes. The rheological properties of intestinal mucus have therefore been the subject of many investigations, thus far limited to in vitro studies due to the difficulty of measurement in the natural context of the gut. This limitation especially hinders our understanding of how the gut microbiota interact with the intestinal space, since examination of this calls not only for in vivo measurement techniques, but for techniques that can be applied to model organisms in which the microbial state of the gut can be controlled. We have addressed this challenge with two complementary approaches. We performed passive microrheological measurements using thermally driven nanoparticles and active microrheology using micron-scale ellipsoidal magnetic microparticles, in both cases using light-sheet fluorescence microscopy to optically access the intestinal bulb of the larval zebrafish, a model vertebrate. We present viscosity measurements in germ-free animals (devoid of gut microbes), animals colonized by a single bacterial species, and conventionally reared animals, and find that in all cases, the mucin-rich intestinal liquid is well described as a Newtonian fluid. Surprisingly, despite known differences in the number of secretory cells in germ-free zebrafish and their conventional counterparts, the fluid viscosity for these two groups is very similar, as measured with either technique. Our study provides, to our knowledge, the first in vivo microrheological measurements of the intestinal space in living animals, and we comment on its implications for timescales of host-microbe interactions in the gut.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30797-X
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