Tu, S., and Chi, N.C. (2012) Zebrafish models in cardiac development and congenital heart birth defects. Differentiation; research in biological diversity. 84(1):4-16.
The zebrafish has become an ideal vertebrate animal system for investigating cardiac development due to its genetic tractability, external fertilization, early optical clarity and ability to survive without a functional cardiovascular system during development. In particular, recent advances in imaging techniques and the creation of zebrafish transgenics now permit the in vivo analysis of the dynamic cellular events that transpire during cardiac morphogenesis. As a result, the combination of these salient features provides detailed insight as to how specific genes may influence cardiac development at the cellular level. In this review, we will highlight how the zebrafish has been utilized to elucidate not only the underlying mechanisms of cardiac development and human congenital heart diseases (CHDs), but also potential pathways that may modulate cardiac regeneration. Thus, we have organized this review based on the major categories of CHDs—structural heart, functional heart, and vascular/great vessel defects, and will conclude with how the zebrafish may be further used to contribute to our understanding of specific human CHDs in the future.
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