Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Hematol. 2014 Aug;42(8):684-96. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2014.05.002. Epub 2014 May 9.

Oceans of opportunity: exploring vertebrate hematopoiesis in zebrafish.

Author information

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, MA, USA. Electronic address:


Exploitation of the zebrafish model in hematology research has surged in recent years, becoming one of the most useful and tractable systems for understanding regulation of hematopoietic development, homeostasis, and malignancy. Despite the evolutionary distance between zebrafish and humans, remarkable genetic and phenotypic conservation in the hematopoietic system has enabled significant advancements in our understanding of blood stem and progenitor cell biology. The strengths of zebrafish in hematology research lie in the ability to perform real-time in vivo observations of hematopoietic stem, progenitor, and effector cell emergence, expansion, and function, as well as the ease with which novel genetic and chemical modifiers of specific hematopoietic processes or cell types can be identified and characterized. Further, myriad transgenic lines have been developed including fluorescent reporter systems to aid in the visualization and quantification of specified cell types of interest and cell-lineage relationships, as well as effector lines that can be used to implement a wide range of experimental manipulations. As our understanding of the complex nature of blood stem and progenitor cell biology during development, in response to infection or injury, or in the setting of hematologic malignancy continues to deepen, zebrafish will remain essential for exploring the spatiotemporal organization and integration of these fundamental processes, as well as the identification of efficacious small molecule modifiers of hematopoietic activity. In this review, we discuss the biology of the zebrafish hematopoietic system, including similarities and differences from mammals, and highlight important tools currently utilized in zebrafish embryos and adults to enhance our understanding of vertebrate hematology, with emphasis on findings that have impacted our understanding of the onset or treatment of human hematologic disorders and disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center