Using zebrafish (Danio rerio) models to understand the critical role of social interactions in mental health and wellbeing

Barbara D. Fontana, Talise E. Müller, Madeleine Cleal, Murilo S. De Abreu, William H.J. Norton, Konstantin A. Demin, Tamara G. Amstislavskaya, Elena V. Petersen, Allan V. Kalueff, Matthew O. Parker, Denis B. Rosemberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social behavior represents a beneficial interaction between conspecifics that is critical for maintaining health and wellbeing. Dysfunctional or poor social interaction are associated with increased risk of physical (e.g., vascular) and psychiatric disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression and substance abuse). Although the impact of negative and positive social interactions is well-studied, their underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Zebrafish have well-characterized social behavior phenotypes, high genetic homology with humans, relative experimental simplicity and the potential for high-throughput screens. Here, we discuss the use of zebrafish as a candidate model organism for studying the mechanisms underlying social interactions, as well as potential impacts of social isolation on human health and wellbeing. Overall, the growing utility of zebrafish models may improve our understanding of how the presence and absence of social interactions can differently modulate molecular and physiological biomarkers, as well as other behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101993
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
Early online date10 Jan 2021
Publication statusEarly online - 10 Jan 2021


  • anxiety
  • depression
  • social interactions
  • social isolation
  • translational models
  • zebrafish


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