JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Think small: zebrafish as a model system of human pathology

J R Goldsmith, Christian Jobin
Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology 2012, 2012: 817341
22701308
Although human pathologies have mostly been modeled using higher mammal systems such as mice, the lower vertebrate zebrafish has gained tremendous attention as a model system. The advantages of zebrafish over classical vertebrate models are multifactorial and include high genetic and organ system homology to humans, high fecundity, external fertilization, ease of genetic manipulation, and transparency through early adulthood that enables powerful imaging modalities. This paper focuses on four areas of human pathology that were developed and/or advanced significantly in zebrafish in the last decade. These areas are (1) wound healing/restitution, (2) gastrointestinal diseases, (3) microbe-host interactions, and (4) genetic diseases and drug screens. Important biological processes and pathologies explored include wound-healing responses, pancreatic cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and mycobacterium infection. The utility of zebrafish in screening for novel genes important in various pathologies such as polycystic kidney disease is also discussed.

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