Studies on limb and brain cell regeneration in axolotls inform the field of regenerative medicine
Mainly found in an ancient lake in Mexico, axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) have the ability to regenerate after injury. Research groups investigate this from different angles – here one team studies regenerating after amputation. They find that growth of cells and tissues accelerates in the emerging 'tiny limb' (top row), until it reaches a similar size to the slower-growing un-amputated limb (bottom). The growth rate and final size are related to the number of nerves serving the growing tissue. Elsewhere, scientists are studying regenerating axolotl brains. Using spatial transcriptomics they find injury prompts a 'reset' in some stem cells, back to a state similar to those found during development. Following a similar developmental pattern, the cells becoming neurons that connect the regrown tissue to nearby brain areas. Whether probing tissues or shifting focus to genes, future axolotl studies may reveal common ground with our ancient ancestor, guiding new approaches in regenerative medicine.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.