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Brain Behav Evol. 2000 Jun;56(1):1-13.

Seasonal cell proliferation in the chemosensory epithelium and brain of red-backed salamanders, Plethodon cinereus.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA 19426, USA. edawley@ursinus.edu


The chemosensory epithelium of vertebrates retains the ability to produce new receptor neurons throughout life, presumably as a mechanism to replace aging or damaged receptors. We examined cell division in the main olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) because previous studies had shown that the volume of sensory epithelia changes seasonally. Cell division was compared throughout the year by injecting salamanders once with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU), which is incorporated into the DNA of cells during DNA synthesis, and sacrificing them one hour after injection. We used immunocytochemistry to locate cells that had arisen from cell division since BrdU injection and compared the number of labeled cells per area among animals. Animals collected in May had significantly more labeled nuclei than animals collected in any other month. However, proliferation rates among the other months were not significantly different and were quite low. Labeled nuclei also were found around the cerebral ventricles of salamanders collected in May, but rarely in any other month, although other tissues in the head often were heavily labeled. Cell proliferation appears to be up-regulated in the chemosensory epithelia and in the telencephalon during May, and we hypothesize that new receptors, and perhaps their interneurons in the telencephalon, are being generated in anticipation of seasonal events that are mediated by chemoreception.

Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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