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Zebrafish: a Model to Study Vascular Elastic Fibers


International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Zebrafish is a freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family (called Cyprinidae) of the order  Cypriniformes.

Many extensible tissues such as skin, lungs, and blood vessels require elasticity to function properly.

Elastic energy stored during a stretching phase is provided by elastic fibers, which are mostly composed of elastin and fibrillin-rich microfibrils.

The lack of elastic fibers leads to a weakening of the vessel wall with an increased risk to develop cardiovascular defects.

Nowdays some of the most recognised examples are: stenosis, aneurysms, and dissections.

The development of new therapeutic molecules involves preliminary tests in animal models that recapitulate the disease and whose response to drugs should be as close as possible to that of humans.

Due to its superior in vivo imaging possibilities and the broad tool kit for forward and reverse genetics, the zebrafish has become an important model organism to study human pathologies.

Moreover, it is particularly adapted to large scale studies, making it an attractive model in particular for the first steps of investigations.

In this review, we discuss the relevance of the zebrafish model for the study of elastic fiber-related vascular pathologies. We evidence zebrafish as a compelling alternative to conventional mouse models


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