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Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017 Nov 20;8:319. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2017.00319. eCollection 2017.

Lipid Uptake, Metabolism, and Transport in the Larval Zebrafish.

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Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS), Baltimore, MD, United States.
The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States.


The developing zebrafish is a well-established model system for studies of energy metabolism, and is amenable to genetic, physiological, and biochemical approaches. For the first 5 days of life, nutrients are absorbed from its endogenous maternally deposited yolk. At 5 days post-fertilization, the yolk is exhausted and the larva has a functional digestive system including intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and intestinal microbiota. The transparency of the larval zebrafish, and the genetic and physiological similarity of its digestive system to that of mammals make it a promising system in which to address questions of energy homeostasis relevant to human health. For example, apolipoprotein expression and function is similar in zebrafish and mammals, and transgenic animals may be used to examine both the transport of lipid from yolk to body in the embryo, and the trafficking of dietary lipids in the larva. Additionally, despite the identification of many fatty acid and lipid transport proteins expressed by vertebrates, the cell biological processes that mediate the transport of dietary lipids from the intestinal lumen to the interior of enterocytes remain to be elucidated. Genetic tractability and amenability to live imaging and a range of biochemical methods make the larval zebrafish an ideal model in which to address open questions in the field of lipid transport, energy homeostasis, and nutrient metabolism.


comparative physiology; enterocytes; lipid metabolism; lipoproteins; zebrafish

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