Drosophila preparation and longitudinal imaging of heart function in vivo using optical coherence microscopy (OCM)

Jing Men, Jason Jerwick, Penghe Wu, Mingming Chen, Aneesh Alex, Yutao Ma, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Airong Li, Chao Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Longitudinal study of the heartbeat in small animals contributes to understanding structural and functional changes during heart development. Optical coherence microscopy (OCM) has been demonstrated to be capable of imaging small animal hearts with high spatial resolution and ultrahigh imaging speed. The high image contrast and noninvasive properties make OCM ideal for performing longitudinal studies without requiring tissue dissections or staining. Drosophila has been widely used as a model organism in cardiac developmental studies due to its high number of orthologous human disease genes, its similarity of molecular mechanisms and genetic pathways with vertebrates, its short life cycle, and its low culture cost. Here, the experimental protocols are described for the preparation of Drosophila and optical imaging of the heartbeat with a custom OCM system throughout the life cycle of the specimen. By following the steps provided in this report, transverse M-mode and 3D OCM images can be acquired to conduct longitudinal studies of the Drosophila cardiac morphology and function. The en face and axial sectional OCM images and the heart rate (HR) and cardiac activity period (CAP) histograms, were also shown to analyze the heart structural changes and to quantify the heart dynamics during Drosophila metamorphosis, combined with the videos constructed with M-mode images to trace cardiac activity intuitively. Due to the genetic similarity between Drosophila and vertebrates, longitudinal study of heart morphology and dynamics in fruit flies could help reveal the origins of human heart diseases. The protocol here would provide an effective method to perform a wide range of studies to understand the mechanisms of cardiac diseases in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55002
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number118
StatePublished - Dec 12 2016


  • Cardiac activity period
  • Cardiac function
  • Developmental Biology
  • Drosophila
  • Heart morphology
  • Heart rate
  • Issue 118
  • Optical coherence microscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Optical imaging


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