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Spontaneous regeneration of cholecystokinergic reticulospinal axons after a complete spinal cord injury in sea lampreys.

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González-Llera, Laura 
Santos-Durán, Gabriel N 
Sobrido-Cameán, Daniel 
Núñez-González, Carmen 
Pérez-Fernández, Juan 


In contrast to humans, lampreys spontaneously recover their swimming capacity after a complete spinal cord injury (SCI). This recovery process involves the regeneration of descending axons. Spontaneous axon regeneration in lampreys has been mainly studied in giant descending neurons. However, the regeneration of neurochemically distinct descending neuronal populations with small-caliber axons, as those found in mammals, has been less studied. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a regulatory neuropeptide found in the brain and spinal cord that modulates several processes such as satiety, or locomotion. CCK shows high evolutionary conservation and is present in all vertebrate species. Work in lampreys has shown that all CCKergic spinal cord axons originate in a single neuronal population located in the caudal rhombencephalon. Here, we investigate the spontaneous regeneration of CCKergic descending axons in larval lampreys following a complete SCI. Using anti-CCK-8 immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy and lightning adaptive deconvolution, we demonstrate the partial regeneration of CCKergic axons (81% of the number of axonal profiles seen in controls) 10 weeks after the injury. Our data also revealed a preference for regeneration of CCKergic axons in lateral spinal cord regions. Regenerated CCKergic axons exhibit colocalization with synaptic vesicle marker SV2, indicative of functional synaptic connections. We also extracted swimming dynamics in injured animals by using DeepLabCut. Interestingly, the degree of CCKergic reinnervation correlated with improved swimming performance in injured animals, suggesting a potential role in locomotor recovery. These findings open avenues for further exploration into the role of specific neuropeptidergic systems in post-SCI spinal locomotor networks.



Axonal regeneration, Cholecystokinin, Lampreys, Locomotor performance, Spinal cord injury, Synaptic vesicles

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Comput Struct Biotechnol J

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Elsevier BV