Zebrafish: A Resourceful Vertebrate Model to Investigate Skeletal Disorders

Tonelli, F., Bek, J.W., Besio, R., De Clercq, A., Leoni, L., Salmon, P., Coucke, P.J., Willaert, A., Forlino, A.
Frontiers in endocrinology   11: 489 (Review)
Registered Authors
Coucke, Paul, Willaert, Andy
imaging techniques, microCT analyses, skeletal diseases, skeletal system, x-ray, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Bone Diseases/drug therapy
  • Bone Diseases/genetics
  • Bone Diseases/pathology*
  • Bone Remodeling*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Zebrafish
32849280 Full text @ Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
Animal models are essential tools for addressing fundamental scientific questions about skeletal diseases and for the development of new therapeutic approaches. Traditionally, mice have been the most common model organism in biomedical research, but their use is hampered by several limitations including complex generation, demanding investigation of early developmental stages, regulatory restrictions on breeding, and high maintenance cost. The zebrafish has been used as an efficient alternative vertebrate model for the study of human skeletal diseases, thanks to its easy genetic manipulation, high fecundity, external fertilization, transparency of rapidly developing embryos, and low maintenance cost. Furthermore, zebrafish share similar skeletal cells and ossification types with mammals. In the last decades, the use of both forward and new reverse genetics techniques has resulted in the generation of many mutant lines carrying skeletal phenotypes associated with human diseases. In addition, transgenic lines expressing fluorescent proteins under bone cell- or pathway- specific promoters enable in vivo imaging of differentiation and signaling at the cellular level. Despite the small size of the zebrafish, many traditional techniques for skeletal phenotyping, such as x-ray and microCT imaging and histological approaches, can be applied using the appropriate equipment and custom protocols. The ability of adult zebrafish to remodel skeletal tissues can be exploited as a unique tool to investigate bone formation and repair. Finally, the permeability of embryos to chemicals dissolved in water, together with the availability of large numbers of small-sized animals makes zebrafish a perfect model for high-throughput bone anabolic drug screening. This review aims to discuss the techniques that make zebrafish a powerful model to investigate the molecular and physiological basis of skeletal disorders.
Genes / Markers
Show all Figures
Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes