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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2009 Jul;195(7):699-714. doi: 10.1007/s00359-009-0445-4. Epub 2009 May 10.

Structural and functional regeneration after spinal cord injury in the weakly electric teleost fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus.

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School of Engineering and Science, Jacobs University Bremen, P.O. Box 750 561, 28725, Bremen, Germany.


In contrast to mammals, teleost fish exhibit an enormous potential to regenerate adult spinal cord tissue after injury. However, the mechanisms mediating this ability are largely unknown. Here, we analyzed the major processes underlying structural and functional regeneration after amputation of the caudal portion of the spinal cord in Apteronotus leptorhynchus, a weakly electric teleost. After a transient wave of apoptotic cell death, cell proliferation started to increase 5 days after the lesion and persisted at high levels for at least 50 days. New cells differentiated into neurons, glia, and ependymal cells. Retrograde tract tracing revealed axonal re-growth and innervation of the regenerate. Functional regeneration was demonstrated by recovery of the amplitude of the electric organ discharge, a behavior generated by spinal motoneurons. Computer simulations indicated that the observed rates of apoptotic cell death and cell proliferation can adequately explain the re-growth of the spinal cord.

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