The process of de novo vessel formation, called angiogenesis, is essential for tumor progression and spreading. Targeting of molecular pathways involved in such tumor angiogenetic processes by using specific drugs or inhibitors is important for developing new anticancer therapies. Drug discovery remains to be the main focus for biomedical research and represents the essence of antiangiogenesis cancer research. To pursue these molecular and pharmacological goals, researchers need to use animal models that facilitate the elucidation of tumor angiogenesis mechanisms and the testing of antiangiogenic therapies. The past few years have seen the zebrafish system emerge as a valid model organism to study developmental angiogenesis and, more recently, as an alternative vertebrate model for cancer research. In this review, we will discuss why the zebrafish model system has the advantage of being a vertebrate model equipped with easy and powerful transgenesis as well as imaging tools to investigate not only physiological angiogenesis but also tumor angiogenesis. We will also highlight the potential of zebrafish for identifying antitumor angiogenesis drugs to block tumor development and progression. We foresee the zebrafish model as an important system that can possibly complement well-established mouse models in cancer research to generate novel insights into the molecular mechanism of the tumor angiogenesis.
Keywords: angiogenesis inhibitors; drug screening; fluorescent imaging; pathological neovascularization; zebrafish.
© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.