Studying the Tumor Microenvironment in Zebrafish

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1329:69-92. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-73119-9_4.


The tumor microenvironment significantly contributes to tumor initiation, progression, neo-angiogenesis, and metastasis, and a better understanding of the role of the different cellular players would facilitate the development of novel therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. Towards this goal, intravital imaging is a powerful method to unravel interaction partners of tumor cells. Among vertebrate model organisms, zebrafish is uniquely suited for in vivo imaging studies. In recent years zebrafish has also become a valuable model in cancer research. In this chapter, we will summarize, how zebrafish has been used to characterize cells of the tumor microenvironment. We will cover both genetically engineered cancer models and xenograft models in zebrafish. The majority of work has been done on the role of innate immune cells and their role during tumor initiation and metastasis, but we will also cover studies focusing on adipocytes, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells. Taken together, we will highlight the versatile use of the zebrafish model for in vivo tumor microenvironment studies.

Keywords: Adipocytes; Cancer; Compound testing; Extracellular vesicles; Fibroblasts; In vivo; Innate immune cells; Live imaging; Macrophages; Metastasis; Microglia; Neo-angiogenesis; Neutrophils; Tumor microenvironment; Tumor proliferation; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment*
  • Zebrafish