Zebrafish as a model for infectious disease and immune function

Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2008 Oct;25(4):341-50. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2008.05.005. Epub 2008 May 21.


The zebrafish, Danio rerio, has come to the forefront of biomedical research as a powerful model for the study of development, neurobiology, and genetics of humans. In recent years, use of the zebrafish system has extended into studies in behaviour, immunology and toxicology, retaining the concept that it will serve as a model for human disease. As one of the most thoroughly studied teleosts, with a wealth of genetic and genomic information available, the zebrafish is now being considered as a model for pathogen studies in finfishes. Its genome is currently being sequenced and annotated, and gene microarrays and insertional mutants are commercially available. The use of gene-specific knockdown of translation through morpholino oligonucleotides is widespread. As a result, several laboratories have developed bacterial and viral disease models with the zebrafish to study immune responses to infection. Although many of the zebrafish pathogen models were developed to address human infectious disease, the results of these studies should provide important clues for the development of effective vaccines and prophylactic measures against bacterial and viral pathogens in economically important fishes. In this review, the capabilities and potential of the zebrafish model system will be discussed and an overview of information on zebrafish infectious disease models will be presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fish Diseases* / immunology
  • Fish Diseases* / microbiology
  • Fish Diseases* / virology
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Zebrafish / immunology*