Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Zebrafish and its heart regeneration capacity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Zebrafish

Mains level: Not Much

Indian scientists have used the Zebrafish model and identified its genes that can promote heart regeneration.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to India’s Biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith Barbet, Gray-chinned minivet and White-throated redstart are-

(a) Birds

(b) Primates

(c) Reptiles

(d) Amphibians


  • Zebrafish is a small (2-3 cm long) freshwater fish found in the tropical and subtropical regions.
  • The fish is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams.
  • The fish become adults at three months and survive 2-3 years in a laboratory condition.
  • Its unique characteristics lie in its transparency during its embryonic stages, allowing observing all organs, including beating heart and blood circulation.

Ability to heal their heart

  • The ability of Zebrafish to heal their heart after injury makes them an attractive model to investigate mechanisms governing the regenerative process.
  • Researchers worldwide are actively working to understand the mechanism behind the heart regeneration in Zebrafish for the last two decades.
  • Years of efforts have helped them identify the cellular communication network factor 2a (ccn2a), a gene that can promote heart regeneration by enhancing cardiomyocyte proliferation.
  • They have also observed that this gene resolves the transient collagenous fibrotic scar resulting in faster regeneration.

Significance for humans

  • Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of deaths globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organisation.
  • Humans cannot regenerate their hearts upon myocardial damage and a person who suffered a heart attack cannot functionally heal the damaged heart muscle, resulting in reduced pumping efficiency.
  • While on the other hand, this unique fish has the full potential to regenerate its heart and restore its function after injury.
  • Till now, there is no treatment available to restore the damaged heart function in humans. Hence scientists have sought to decode the heart regeneration processes using this model animal.

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