The zebrafish has become a powerful vertebrate model for genetic studies of embryonic development and organogenesis and increasingly for studies in cancer biology. Zebrafish facilitate the performance of reverse and forward genetic approaches, including mutagenesis and small molecule screens. Moreover, several studies report the feasibility of xenotransplanting human cells into zebrafish embryos and adult fish. This model provides a unique opportunity to monitor tumor-induced angiogenesis, invasiveness, and response to a range of treatments in vivo and in real time. Despite the high conservation of gene function between fish and humans, concern remains that potential differences in zebrafish tissue niches and/or missing microenvironmental cues could limit the relevance and translational utility of data obtained from zebrafish human cancer cell xenograft models. Here, we summarize current data on xenotransplantation of human cells into zebrafish, highlighting the advantages and limitations of this model in comparison to classical murine models of xenotransplantation.
© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.