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Humans and other mammals cannot regrow lost limbs or damaged tissues the way some animals can. Specifically, salamanders and other amphibians have amazing regenerating abilities that could provide insight on how different or similar our healing processes are. Axolotl salamanders are a species of salamander that have the ability to regenerate fully functioning limbs, tissues, and sections of spinal cord. Because the central nervous system (CNS) and the rest of the body are separated by the blood-brain barrier, regeneration in these areas can require different cells and processes to facilitate the regeneration processes. While the rest of the body uses white blood cells to defend itself, the CNS uses microglial cells to serve as its main form of immune defense. Microglial cells constantly monitor the CNS for damage and foreign pathogens in order to elicit an immediate response. In regenerating salamander spinal cords, previous research has shown the presence of microglia to be necessary in order for regeneration to occur. In this project, we will be looking at the number of microglial cells present in the spinal cords of axolotl salamanders at varying ages, before and after regeneration has occurred. By amputating sections of tail that have already been fully grown and sections that are in the process of regrowth, in differently aged axolotls, and examining the number of microglial cells present in both cases, we can see if age is a factor to consider in microglial cell response to injury.
Hoogheem, Christian M., "Effects of Age on Microglial Cell Response in Axolotl Salamanders" (2015). Biology Summer Fellows. Paper 10.