Zebrafish as a Model for Osteoporosis: Functional Validations of Genome-Wide Association Studies

Inbar Ben-Zvi, David Karasik, Cheryl L. Ackert-Bicknell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: GWAS, as a largely correlational analysis, requires in vitro or in vivo validation. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have many advantages for studying the genetics of human diseases. Since gene editing in zebrafish has been highly valuable for studying embryonic skeletal developmental processes that are prenatally or perinatally lethal in mammalian models, we are reviewing pros and cons of this model. Recent Findings: The true power for the use of zebrafish is the ease by which the genome can be edited, especially using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Gene editing, followed by phenotyping, for complex traits such as BMD, is beneficial, but the major physiological differences between the fish and mammals must be considered. Like mammals, zebrafish do have main bone cells; thus, both in vivo stem cell analyses and in vivo imaging are doable. Yet, the “long” bones of fish are peculiar, and their bone cavities do not contain bone marrow. Partial duplication of the zebrafish genome should be taken into account. Summary: Overall, small fish toolkit can provide unmatched opportunities for genetic modifications and morphological investigation as a follow-up to human-first discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-659
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Osteoporosis Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Bone mineral density (BMD)
  • Genome-wide association study (GWAS)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Synteny
  • Zebrafish (Danio rerio)


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