Preclinical Molecular Signatures of Spinal Cord Functional Restoration: Optimizing the Metamorphic Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) Model in Regenerative Medicine

Demircan T., Haclbektaşoǧlu H., Sibai M., Fesçioǧlu E. C., Altuntaş E., ÖZTÜRK G., ...More

OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology, vol.24, no.6, pp.370-378, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1089/omi.2020.0024
  • Journal Name: OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.370-378
  • Keywords: regenerative medicine, neuroscience, spinal cord injury, metamorphic axolotl, biomarkers, preclinical models
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Regenerative medicine offers hope for patients with diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. Urodele amphibians such as axolotl display an exceptional regenerative capacity and are considered as essential preclinical model organisms in neurology and regenerative medicine research. Earlier studies have suggested that the limb regeneration ability of this salamander notably decreases with induction of metamorphosis by thyroid hormones. Metamorphic axolotl requires further validation as a negative control in preclinical regenerative medicine research, not to mention the study of molecular substrates of its regenerative abilities. In this study, we report new observations on the effect of experimentally induced metamorphosis on spinal cord regeneration in axolotl. Surprisingly, we found that metamorphic animals were successful to functionally restore the spinal cord after an experimentally induced injury. To discern the molecular signatures of spinal cord regeneration, we performed transcriptomics analyses at 1-and 7-days postinjury (dpi) for both spinal cord injury (SCI)-induced (experimental) and laminectomy (sham) groups. We observed 119 and 989 differentially expressed genes at 1-and 7-dpi, respectively, while the corresponding mouse orthologous genes were enriched in junction-, immune system-, and extracellular matrix-related pathways. Taken together, our findings challenge the prior notions of limited regenerative ability of metamorphic axolotl which exhibited successful spinal cord regeneration in our experience. Moreover, we report on molecular signatures that can potentially explain the mechanistic substrates of the regenerative capacity of the metamorphic axolotl. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on molecular responses to SCI and functional restoration in metamorphic axolotls. These new findings advance our understanding of spinal cord regeneration, and may thus help optimize the future use of axolotl as a preclinical model in regenerative medicine and integrative biology fields.