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Abstract

Fish are the most widely used non-mammalian vertebrates in risk assessment and regulation. Several fish species are recommended for standard testing of chemicals or environmental samples. Among them, zebrafish has special characteristics, which expedite its use as a model organism.
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a small tropical freshwater fish. The development of the zebrafish is very similar to the embryogenesis in higher vertebrates, including humans. Therefore, zebrafish was mainly used in developmental studies in the beginning. Then its potential also in human disease, cancerogenesis, and pharmacological studies was discovered. Furthermore, it is gaining increasing importance in the environmental field, such as in ecotoxicology.
As zebrafish develops from a fertilised egg to an adult outside the female in a transparent egg and the embryos themselves are transparent during the first few days of their lives, their morphology can be easily observed within toxicological studies. The small size of embryos and adult zebrafish greatly reduces costs as it enables the reduction of housing space and husbandry. Furthermore, in toxicological and pharmacological studies, testing can be performed in a miniaturized format, which minimizes the quantities of chemicals to deploy and reduces the volumes of potentially hazardous waste. Additionally, zebrafish embryos are compatible to high-throughput screening procedures in a microplate format. Besides toxicological tests using zebrafish adults, juveniles or embryos, there are also several well characterized cell lines available.
Recently the whole genome of zebrafish has been sequenced, which paved the way for its application in toxicogenomics studies. The measurement of gene expression levels upon exposure to a chemical can both provide information about the mechanism of action of toxicants and form a sort of “genetic signature” from the pattern of gene expression.

Additional information

Authors: BOPP S K, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);MINUZZO M, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);LETTIERI T, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 22598EN (2006), 24 pp. Free of charge
Availability: http://bookshop.europa.eu/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/EU-Bookshop-Site/en_GB/-/EUR/ViewPublication-Start?PublicationKey=LBNA22598 (Catalogue Number: LB-NA-22598-EN-N)
Record Number: 200718888 / Last updated on: 2007-03-01
Category: PUBLICATION
Original language: en
Available languages: en