Making It New Again: Insight Into Liver Development, Regeneration, and Disease From Zebrafish Research

Shuang Wang, Sophie R. Miller, Elke A. Ober, Kirsten C. Sadler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The adult liver of most vertebrates is predominantly comprised of hepatocytes. However, these cells must work in concert with biliary, stellate, vascular, and immune cells to accomplish the vast array of hepatic functions required for physiological homeostasis. Our understanding of liver development was accelerated as zebrafish emerged as an ideal vertebrate system to study embryogenesis. Through work in zebrafish and other models, it is now clear that the cells in the liver develop in a coordinated fashion during embryogenesis through a complex yet incompletely understood set of molecular guidelines. Zebrafish research has uncovered many key players that govern the acquisition of hepatic potential, cell fate, and plasticity. Although rare, some hepatobiliary diseases—especially biliary atresia—are caused by developmental defects; we discuss how research using zebrafish to study liver development has informed our understanding of and approaches to liver disease. The liver can be injured in response to an array of stressors including viral, mechanical/surgical, toxin-induced, immune-mediated, or inborn defects in metabolism. The liver has thus evolved the capacity to efficiently repair and regenerate. We discuss the emerging field of using zebrafish to study liver regeneration and highlight recent advances where zebrafish genetics and imaging approaches have provided novel insights into how cell plasticity contributes to liver regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
ISSN (Print)0070-2153


  • Biliary atresia
  • Biliary development
  • Hepatogenesis
  • Liver development
  • Liver regeneration
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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