Institute of Anatomy


Developmental Biology and Regeneration

Research interest

In contrast to adult mammals, zebrafish have the capacity to regenerate their hearts upon several types of injury. In the laboratory, we use cryoinjury, to induce a cardiac tissue damage with the aim to mimic the consequences of tissue loss upon myocardial infarction González-Rosa and Mercader, 2012). Upon eliminating up to ¼ of the cardiac ventricle zebrafish are able to regenerate the damaged myocardium and recover cardiac function (González-Rosa et al., 2014). Massive collagen depositions precede the process of cardiac regeneration, revealing that, in contrast to mammals, cardiac fibrosis is reversible in the zebrafish and occurs as an intermediate step during regeneration (González-Rosa et al., 2011). We are interested in understanding the mechanisms through with in the zebrafish, the fibrotic tissue, including extracellular matrix and myofibroblast regress, as this might have implications for the design of antifibrotic strategies in mammals. We are also interested in understanding which are the cells contributing to the fibrotic response.


CNIC Konferenz 2016

Mechanical forces in physiology and disease.
Webseite - Poster


The epicardium, the outer layer covering the myocardium contains precursors contributing to the fibrotic response observed after cryoinjuring the zebrafish heart (González-Rosa et al., 2012). We are interested in analysing the mechanisms of epicardium reestablishment as well as the influence of this layer during the regeneration process.


We are also interested in analysing how the epicardium forms during embryonic development. The epicardium derived from the proepicardium, a cell cluster emerging at the inflow region of the forming heart tube (Peralta et al., 2014). Using live imaging in zebrafish embryos we are studying the mechanisms through which proepicardial cells are emerging from the pericardial wall and attach to the myocardium. We found that proepicardial cells detach from the pericardial wall and are advected around the cardiac ventricle, and subsequently attach to its surface (Peralta et al., 2013). We also found that this process is dependent on the heartbeat. Our current effort is dedicated to understand the underlying mechanosensory pathways as well as the role of extracellular and secreted molecules controlling proepicardium and epicardium formation.

Transient fibrosis resolves via fibroblast inactivation in the regenerating zebrafish heart.
Sánchez-Iranzo et al. 2018
Tbx5a lineage tracing shows cardiomyocyte plasticity during zebrafish heart regeneration.
Sánchez-Iranzo et al. 2018
Interplay between cardiac function and heart development.
Andrés-Delgado & Mercader 2016
Telomerase Is Essential for Zebrafish Heart Regeneration.
Bednarek et al. 2015
Use of Echocardiography Reveals Reestablishment of Ventricular Pumping Efficiency and Partial Ventricular Wall Motion Recovery upon Ventricular Cryoinjury in the Zebrafish.
González-Rosa et al. 2014
Heartbeat-Driven Pericardiac Fluid Forces Contribute to Epicardium Morphogenesis.
Peralta et al. 2013
Pan-epicardial lineage tracing reveals that epicardium derived cells give rise to myofibroblasts and perivascular cells during zebrafish heart regeneration.
González-Rosa et al. 2012
Cryoinjury as a myocardial infarction model for the study of cardiac regeneration in the zebrafish.
González-Rosa et al. 2012
Extensive scar formation and regression during heart regeneration after cryoinjury in zebrafish.
González-Rosa et al. 2011
Elly Tanaka’s passion for exploring animal regeneration.
Mercader N. & Serras F. 2018
Can broken hearts be mended? Ken Poss, a pioneer on heart regeneration research.
Mercader N. & Serras F. 2018
Models to crack the code of organ regeneration.
Mercader N. & Serras F. 2018
High-throughput identification of small molecules that affect human embryonic vascular development.
Vazão et al., 2017
A structural variant in the 5'-flanking region of the TWIST2 gene affects melanocyte development in belted cattle.
Awashti et al., 2017
Analysis of the dynamic co-expression network of heart regeneration in the zebrafish.
Cogliati S. et al, 2016
Analysis of the dynamic co-expression network of heart regeneration in the zebrafish.
Rodius S. et al. 2016
2C-Cas9: a versatile tool for clonal analysis of gene function.
Di Donato et al. 2016
Proepicardial cells go for a swim: how fluid flows guide epicardial progenitors to the heart.
Mercader N. et al. 2013
Heart regeneration: dream or reality?
Mercader N. et al. 2013

We are seeking to recruit a Bioinformatician with expertise in transcriptomics. Please contact for further details.

We are currently looking for enthusiastic undegraduate students interested in performing their Master in science project on cardiac development or heart regeneration in the zebrafish.

Please write an email including a motivation letter and CV to