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The adult human heart cannot repair itself after injury and, instead, forms a permanent fibrotic scar that impairs cardiac function and can lead to incurable heart failure. The zebrafish, amongst other organisms, has been extensively studied for its innate capacity to repair its heart after injury. Understanding the signals that govern successful regeneration in models such as the zebrafish will lead to the development of effective therapies that can stimulate endogenous repair in humans. To date, many studies have investigated cardiac regeneration using a reverse genetics candidate gene approach. However, this approach is limited in its ability to unbiasedly identify novel genes and signalling pathways that are essential to successful regeneration. In contrast, drawing comparisons between different models of regeneration enables unbiased screens to be performed, identifying signals that have not previously been linked to regeneration. Here, we will review in detail what has been learnt from the comparative approach, highlighting the techniques used and how these studies have influenced the field. We will also discuss what further comparisons would enhance our knowledge of successful regeneration and scarring. Finally, we focus on the Astyanax mexicanus, an intraspecies comparative fish model that holds great promise for revealing the secrets of the regenerating heart.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cardiovasc Dev Dis

Publication Date





Astyanax mexicanus, comparative approach, heart, interorgan, regeneration, scarring, teleost fish, zebrafish