Original Paper

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 196, Issue 5, pp 359-368

First online:

Effect of temperature on spinal cord regeneration in the weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus

  • Ruxandra F. SîrbulescuAffiliated withSchool of Engineering and Science, Jacobs University Bremen
  • , Günther K. H. ZupancAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Northeastern UniversitySchool of Engineering and Science, Jacobs University Bremen Email author 

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Temperature manipulation has been shown to significantly affect recovery after spinal cord injury in various mammalian model systems. Little has been known thus far about the impact of temperature on structural and functional recovery after central nervous system lesions in regeneration-competent, poikilotherm organisms. In the present study, we addressed this aspect using an established model of adult spinal cord regeneration, the weakly electric teleost fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus. We observed an overall beneficial effect of increased temperature on both structural and behavioral recovery after amputation of the caudal spinal cord. Fish kept at 30°C recovered the amplitude of the electric organ discharge at more than twice the rate observed in fish kept at 22°C, within the first 20 days post-injury. This improved recovery was supported by increased cell proliferation and decreased apoptosis levels in fish kept at 30°C. The high temperature appeared to have a direct inhibitory effect on apoptosis and to lead to a compression of the duration of the wave of post-lesion apoptosis. The latter effect was presumably induced through the acceleration of the metabolic rate, a phenomenon also supported by the observation that re-growth of the tail was significantly increased in fish kept at 30°C.


Apoptosis Cell proliferation Electric organ discharge Gliosis Spinal cord injury