Wilkins, B.J., and Pack, M. (2013) Zebrafish models of human liver development and disease. Comprehensive Physiology. 3(3):1213-1230.
The liver performs a large number of essential synthetic and regulatory functions that are acquired during fetal development and persist throughout life. Their disruption underlies a diverse group of heritable and acquired diseases that affect both pediatric and adult patients. Although experimental analyses used to study liver development and disease are typically performed in cell culture models or rodents, the zebrafish is increasingly used to complement discoveries made in these systems. Forward and reverse genetic analyses over the past two decades have shown that the molecular program for liver development is largely conserved between zebrafish and mammals, and that the zebrafish can be used to model heritable human liver disorders. Recent work has demonstrated that zebrafish can also be used to study the mechanistic basis of acquired liver diseases. Here, we provide a comprehensive summary of how the zebrafish has contributed to our understanding of human liver development and disease.