Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) scientists determine central nervous system regeneration with ZEISS microscopes
Spontaneous recovery from spinal cord injury is almost unheard of in humans and other mammals, but many vertebrates fare better. The eel-like lamprey, for instance, can fully regenerate its spinal cord even after it’s been severed – within three months the lamprey is swimming, burrowing, and flipping around again, as if nothing had happened.
In a new study, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) scientists report that lampreys recover and regenerate just as impressively after a second complete spinal cord injury at the same location. The study opens up a new path for identifying pro-regenerative molecules and potential therapeutic targets for human spinal cord injury.
We’ve determined that central nervous system (CNS) regeneration in lampreys is resilient and robust after multiple injuries. The regeneration is nearly identical to the first time, both anatomically and functionally.
Jennifer Morgan, senior author and Director of the MBL’s Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering
Morgan’s lab has been focusing on the descending neurons, which originate in the brain and send motor signals down to the spinal cord. Some of these descending neurons regenerate after CNS injury in lamprey, while others die.
Using ZEISS Axio Imager M2 and ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16 stereo microscopes, as well as a ZEISS LSM confocal microscope, we were able to visualize the regenerating neurons in great detail. This allowed us to describe and quantify the regenerating neurons, thus enabling the major results of the study.