Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Ellen Dawley

Committee Member

Dale Cameron

Committee Member

Jennifer King

Department Chair

Ellen Dawley

Project Description

The central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the spinal cord and brain, is complex and needs to be better understood. To gain insight, a single cellular population, the microglial cells, are described in the healthy and injured spinal cord tissue of a regenerative animal model, Ambystoma mexicanum (axolotl). Spinal cord injury (SCI) was induced by amputation of axolotl tail tissue, then the microglia were characterized on a cellular and molecular level. Cellular characterization indicated that microglia respond to injury by increasing cell density and shifting from a ramified to amoeboid morphology. In the days following SCI, microglia significantly increase their density 4 days post injury (P = 0.0010), and exhibit significant increases in the percentage of amoeboid microglia at 2, 4, and 7 days post injury (P = 0.0446, P = 0.0021, and P = 0.0312; 2, 4, and 7 dpi, respectively). Data obtained from this temporal-spatial analysis of the microglial cell population indicate that the cell population is activated for 7 to 10 days following SCI. Further study on the molecular level was pursued, but no formal experimentation to characterize microglia based on cytokine production was completed. Ultimately, the work presented here aims to provide insight regarding the ideal conditions which create a pro-regenerative environment.