Zebrafish Liver Disease Models

Zebrafish Liver Disease Models

The liver is the largest gland in the body and plays an important role in maintaining normal homeostasis. Metabolically, the liver is the major site for detoxification, glycogen storage, and production of lipids, serum proteins, and hormones. It also generates bile that is crucial for digestion and absorption of fat and vitamins in the small intestine. Currently, liver disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality around the world. A better understanding of the mechanisms causing chronic liver diseases is critical for improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Although experimental analyses used to study liver development and diseases are generally performed in cell culture models or rodents, the zebrafish is progressively used to complement discoveries made in these systems.

Zebrafish form a functional liver by just 4 days post fertilization. In spite of some architectural differences, the zebrafish liver includes a highly similar parenchymal and non-parenchymal cell inventory as the mammalian liver. Besides, cells in zebrafish livers perform many of the same functions as their mammalian counterparts, including bile secretion, insulin responsiveness, glycogen and lipid storage, xenobiotic and ammonia metabolism, and secretion of serum proteins. Taking advantage of the transparent larva and the accessibility to genetic manipulation, researchers have generated transgenic fluorescent reporter strains to mark individual liver cell types, allowing real-time tracking of their morphology and behaviors during development and injury. Currently, zebrafish have been used in translational research modeling various liver diseases such as drug-induced acute liver failure, cholestasis, alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, and cancer.

Comparative anatomy of zebrafish and human livers.

Figure 1. Comparative anatomy of zebrafish and human livers.

Zebrafish Models of Liver Diseases

Creative Biogene, a zebrafish preclinical contract research organization, offers a suite of zebrafish liver disease models that be used to understand the molecular and cellular basis of the disease, assess the functional role of human genetic variations, and screen potential compounds for liver disease therapy. We can conduct high throughput forward genetic screens and chemical screens in zebrafish to identify new therapeutic targets and treatments. To date, Creative Biogene has developed a variety of zebrafish liver disease model, including but not limited to:

  • Neonatal cholestasis model
  • Polycystic liver disease model
  • Alcoholic liver disease model
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease model
  • Viral hepatitis model
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma model
  • Liver regeneration model


  • Easily monitoring the development and function of the liver
  • Large-scale mutagenesis
  • Transgenic models available
  • High-throughput genetic and drug screening

With extensive experience in zebrafish research, our scientists can help you choose the right model and experimental design to achieve your research and development goals.


  • Pham D H, et al. Using zebrafish to model liver diseases-Where do we stand?. Current pathobiology reports, 2017, 5(2): 207-221.
  • Wilkins B J, Pack M. Zebrafish models of human liver development and disease. Comprehensive Physiology, 2013, 3(3): 1213-1230.
  • Goessling W, Sadler K C. Zebrafish: an important tool for liver disease research. Gastroenterology, 2015, 149(6): 1361-1377.
  • Shwartz A, et al. Macrophages in zebrafish models of liver diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 2019, 10: 2840.
  • Lin J N, et al. Development of an animal model for alcoholic liver disease in zebrafish. Zebrafish, 2015, 12(4): 271-280.

For research use only. Not intended for any clinical use.

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