Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the primary cause of mortality worldwide. It is a complex disease with genetic and environmental risk factor contributions. Reports in human and mammalian models elucidate age-associated changes in cardiac function. The diverse mechanisms involved in cardiac diseases remain at the center of the research interest to identify novel strategies for prevention and therapy. Zebrafish (Danio rerio
) have emerged as a valuable vertebrate model to study cardiovascular development over the last few decades. The facile genetic manipulation via forward and reverse genetic approaches combined with noninvasive, high-resolution imaging and phenotype-based screening has provided new insights to molecular pathways that orchestrate cardiac development. Zebrafish can recapitulate human cardiac pathophysiology due to gene and regulatory pathways conservation, similar heart rate and cardiac morphology and function. Thus, generations of zebrafish models utilize the functional analysis of genes involved in CAD, which are derived from large-scale human population analysis. Here, we highlight recent studies conducted on cardiovascular research focusing on the benefits of the combination of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with functional genomic analysis in zebrafish. We further summarize the knowledge obtained from zebrafish studies that have demonstrated the architecture of the fundamental mechanisms underlying heart development, homeostasis and regeneration at the cellular and molecular levels.
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