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Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Aug;39(5):759-75. doi: 10.1177/0192623311409597. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Normal anatomy and histology of the adult zebrafish.

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Department of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, TNO Quality of Life, Zeist, The Netherlands.


The zebrafish has been shown to be an excellent vertebrate model for studying the roles of specific genes and signaling pathways. The sequencing of its genome and the relative ease with which gene modifications can be performed have led to the creation of numerous human disease models that can be used for testing the potential and the toxicity of new pharmaceutical compounds. Many pharmaceutical companies already use the zebrafish for prescreening purposes. So far, the focus has been on ecotoxicity and the effects on embryonic development, but there is a trend to expand the use of the zebrafish with acute, subchronic, and chronic toxicity studies that are currently still carried out with the more conventional test animals such as rodents. However, before we can fully realize the potential of the zebrafish as an animal model for understanding human development, disease, and toxicology, we must first greatly advance our knowledge of normal zebrafish physiology, anatomy, and histology. To further this knowledge, we describe, in the present article, location and histology of the major zebrafish organ systems with a brief description of their function.

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