Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the world’s most common cancers and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, causing more than 50,000 estimated deaths each year. Several risk factors are highly associated with CRC, including being overweight, eating a diet high in red meat and over-processed meat, having a history of inflammatory bowel disease, and smoking. Previous zebrafish studies have demonstrated that multiple oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes can be regulated through genetic or epigenetic alterations. Zebrafish research has also revealed that the activation of carcinogenesis-associated signal pathways plays an important role in CRC. The biology of cancer, intestinal disorders caused by carcinogens, and the morphological patterns of tumors have been found to be highly similar between zebrafish and humans. Therefore, the zebrafish has become an important animal model for translational medical research. Several zebrafish models have been developed to elucidate the characteristics of gastrointestinal diseases. This review article focuses on zebrafish models that have been used to study human intestinal disorders and tumors, including models involving mutant and transgenic fish. We also report on xenograft models and chemically-induced enterocolitis. This review demonstrates that excellent zebrafish models can provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal diseases and help facilitate the evaluation of novel anti-tumor drugs.
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