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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 350750, 10 pages
Research Article

Full Anatomical Recovery of the Dopaminergic System after a Complete Spinal Cord Injury in Lampreys

Department of Cell Biology and Ecology, CIBUS, Faculty of Biology, University of Santiago de Compostela, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Received 25 December 2014; Revised 18 February 2015; Accepted 2 March 2015

Academic Editor: Naweed I. Syed

Copyright © 2015 Blanca Fernández-López et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Following a spinal injury, lampreys at first are paralyzed below the level of transection. However, they recover locomotion after several weeks, and this is accompanied by the regeneration of descending axons from the brain and the production of new neurons in the spinal cord. Here, we aimed to analyse the changes in the dopaminergic system of the sea lamprey after a complete spinal transection by studying the changes in dopaminergic cell numbers and dopaminergic innervation in the spinal cord. Changes in the expression of the D2 receptor were also studied. We report the full anatomical regeneration of the dopaminergic system after an initial decrease in the number of dopaminergic cells and fibres. Numbers of dopaminergic cells were recovered rostrally and caudally to the site of injury. Quantification of dopaminergic profiles revealed the full recovery of the dopaminergic innervation of the spinal cord rostral and caudal to the site of injury. Interestingly, no changes in the expression of the D2 receptor were observed at time points in which a reduced dopaminergic innervation of the spinal cord was observed. Our observations reveal that in lampreys a spinal cord injury is followed by the full anatomical recovery of the dopaminergic system.