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J Morphol. 2012 Feb;273(2):211-25. doi: 10.1002/jmor.11019. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Spinal cord regeneration in a tail autotomizing urodele.

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Department of Biology, Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania 19426, USA.


Adult urodele amphibians possess extensive regenerative abilities, including lens, jaws, limbs, and tails. In this study, we examined the cellular events and time course of spinal cord regeneration in a species, Plethodon cinereus, that has the ability to autotomize its tail as an antipredator strategy. We propose that this species may have enhanced regenerative abilities as further coadaptations with this antipredator strategy. We examined the expression of nestin, vimentin, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) after autotomy as markers of neural precursor cells and astroglia; we also traced the appearance of new neurons using 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine/neuronal nuclei (BrdU/NeuN) double labeling. As expected, the regenerating ependymal tube was a major source of new neurons; however, the spinal cord cranial to the plane of autotomy showed significant mitotic activity, more extensive than what is reported for other urodeles that cannot autotomize their tails. In addition, this species shows upregulation of nestin, vimentin, and GFAP within days after tail autotomy; further, this expression is upregulated within the spinal cord cranial to the plane of autotomy, not just within the extending ependymal tube, as reported in other urodeles. We suggest that enhanced survival of the spinal cord cranial to autotomy allows this portion to participate in the enhanced recovery and regeneration of the spinal cord.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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