Zebrafish and Toxicology

Why use zebrafish in toxicology research?

Historically, toxicology research has relied on observation and correlation to link environmental exposure to physiological effects. Advantages of zebrafish for toxicology research include:

  • Embryos are transparent and develop outside of the mother, allowing scientists to visualize the cellular and molecular effects of chemicals in vivo at high resolution, even at the level of single cells
  • Recent advances in genetic engineering allow scientists to identify the genes and signalling molecules activated by a particular environmental insult. This makes it possible to rapidly identify the receptor to which an environmental toxicant binds
  • The small size and high fecundity allow scientists to perform exposures on thousands of embryos simultaneously
  • Zebrafish are vertebrates and have many of the same genes and organ systems as humans, making them very relevant for understanding toxicant hazards