To understand inflammation and immunity, we need to understand the biology of the neutrophil. Whereas these cells can readily be extracted from peripheral blood, their short lifespan makes genetic manipulations impractical. Murine knockout models have been highly informative, and new imaging techniques are allowing neutrophils to be seen during inflammation in vivo for the first time. However, there is a place for a new model of neutrophil biology, which readily permits imaging of individual neutrophils during inflammation in vivo, combined with the ease of genetic and chemical manipulation. The zebrafish has long been the model of choice for the developmental biology community, and the availability of genomic resources and tools for gene manipulation makes this an attractive model. Zebrafish innate immunity shares many features with mammalian systems, including neutrophils with morphological, biochemical, and functional features, also shared with mammalian neutrophils. Transgenic zebrafish with neutrophils specifically labeled with fluorescent proteins have been generated, and this advance has led to the adoption of zebrafish, alongside existing models, by a number of groups around the world. The use of these models has underpinned a number of key advances in the field, including the identification of a tissue gradient of hydrogen peroxide for neutrophil recruitment following tissue injury and direct evidence for reverse migration as a regulatable mechanism of inflammation resolution. In this review, we discuss the importance of zebrafish models in neutrophil biology and describe how the understanding of neutrophil biology has been advanced by the use of these models.
Keywords: immunity; inflammation; model organism.