Reactive oxygen species during heart regeneration in zebrafish: Lessons for future clinical therapies

Olivia Helston, Enrique Amaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In humans, myocardial infarction (MI) is associated with irreversible damage to heart tissue, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality in patients. By comparison, the zebrafish (Danio rerio) is capable of repairing damaged and injured hearts by activating a full regenerative response. By studying model organisms that can regenerate loss heart tissue following injury, such as the zebrafish, a greater insight will be gained into the molecular pathways that can induce and sustain a regenerative response following injury. There is hope that such information may lead to new treatments or therapies aimed at stimulating a better regenerative response in humans that have suffered heart attacks. Recent findings in zebrafish have highlighted an important role for sustained elevated levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 ) in the promotion of a regenerative response. Given that elevated levels of H2O2 can be harmful, simply elevating ROS levels directly may not be easy or practical to translate clinically. An alternative approach would be to identify the critical downstream targets of ROS in the promotion of heart regeneration, and then target these clinically using drugs. One such family of potential downstream targets of ROS during heart regeneration are the family of protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), which are known to be exquisitely sensitive to redox regulation and whose inhibition have been linked to the promotion of heart regeneration in zebrafish. In this review, we present an overview of the zebrafish as a model organism for studying cardiac regeneration, including the molecular mechanisms by which cardiac regeneration occurs in response to injury. We then present recent findings linking elevated ROS levels to heart regeneration and their potential downstream targets, the PTPs, including protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and the dual specificity phosphatase 6 (DUSP6) in the promotion of heart regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWound Repair and Regeneration
Early online date20 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021


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