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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 817341, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/817341
Review Article

Think Small: Zebrafish as a Model System of Human Pathology

1Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
2Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Received 9 January 2012; Accepted 12 March 2012

Academic Editor: Andrea Vecchione

Copyright © 2012 J. R. Goldsmith and Christian Jobin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

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.