Lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in zebrafish and in humans are remarkably similar. Zebrafish express all major nuclear receptors, lipid transporters, apolipoproteins and enzymes involved in lipoprotein metabolism. Unlike mice, zebrafish express cetp and the Cetp activity is detected in zebrafish plasma. Feeding zebrafish a high cholesterol diet, without any genetic intervention, results in significant hypercholesterolemia and robust lipoprotein oxidation, making zebrafish an attractive animal model to study mechanisms relevant to early development of human atherosclerosis. These studies are facilitated by the optical transparency of zebrafish larvae and the availability of transgenic zebrafish expressing fluorescent proteins in endothelial cells and macrophages. Thus, vascular processes can be monitored in live animals. In this review article, we discuss recent advances in using dyslipidemic zebrafish in atherosclerosis-related studies. We also summarize recent work connecting lipid metabolism with regulation of angiogenesis, the work that considerably benefited from using the zebrafish model. These studies uncovered the role of aibp, abca1, abcg1, mtp, apoB, and apoC2 in regulation of angiogenesis in zebrafish and paved the way for future studies in mammals, which may suggest new therapeutic approaches to modulation of excessive or diminished angiogenesis contributing to the pathogenesis of human disease.
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