Skip to main content

International 3Rs Prize now open for applications. £30k prize (£2k personal award) for outstanding science with demonstrable 3Rs impacts.

NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
PhD Studentship

Using zebrafish for pre-clinical brain haemorrhage research

Zebrafish embryo

At a glance

Award date
October 2016 - September 2019
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Stuart Allan
University of Manchester


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR

Application abstract

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Intracerebral haemorrhage accounts for 10-15% of strokes and has the worst outcomes, with a one month case-fatality of 40% and disability in most survivors. Apart from acute and chronic blood pressure lowering, there are no treatments to prevent intracerebral haemorrhage or improve outcomes once haemorrhage occurs. Rodent models of stroke have been critical in providing insights into stroke pathophysiology. However, despite many novel therapies showing benefit in ischaemic stroke models, none have translated to an effective clinical treatment. Continuing to use this approach for intracerebral haemorrhage research may be ethically flawed. Nevertheless, there remains a great need for new treatments and it is essential to continue to interrogate disease pathophysiology in stroke using alternative models.

The use of zebrafish (Danio rerio) is becoming an increasingly favoured approach to investigate disease pathogenesis. Perhaps the most important characteristic of the zebrafish model is the transparency of embryonic development, allowing for the visualisation of internal organogenesis. Importantly, in the UK, zebrafish larvae up to the age of five days post-fertilisation are not classified as a protected species under the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. We have generated novel genetic and chemically-induced zebrafish embryo/larvae models of stroke. In addition to brain haemorrhage, these models exhibit increased transcription of several innate immune genes, including interleukin-1 (IL-1) and interferon signature genes. This project aims to further investigate how the innate immune system and cerebrovasculature interact in the context of experimental brain haemorrhage in zebrafish. Our long term vision is to establish the use of zebrafish embryos/larvae as a model of brain haemorrhage, providing an ethically more acceptable, rapid throughput system for pre-clinical drug development in the future.



  1. Crilly S et al. (2022). Zebrafish drug screening identifies candidate therapies for neuroprotection after spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage. Disease Models and Mechanisms 15(3): e049227. doi: 10.1242/dmm.049227
  2. Crilly S et al. (2021). RNA-Seq Dataset From Isolated Leukocytes Following Spontaneous Intracerebral Hemorrhage in Zebrafish Larvae. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 15: e660732. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2021.660732
  3. Crilly S et al. (2019). Using Zebrafish Larvae to Study the Pathological Consequences of Hemorrhagic Stroke. Journal of Visualized Experiments 148:e59716. doi: 10.3791/59716
  4. Crilly S et al. (2018). Using zebrafish larval models to study brain injury, locomotor and neuroinflammatory outcomes following intracerebral haemorrhage [version 2; peer review: 2 approved]. F1000Research 7:1617. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16473.2