In contrast to mammals, teleost fish exhibit an enormous potential to produce new neurons in the adult central nervous system and to replace damaged neurons by newly generated ones. In the gymnotiform fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus, on average, 100,000 cells, corresponding to roughly 0.2% of the total population of cells in the adult brain, are in S-phase within any 2-h period. As in all other teleosts examined thus far, many of these cells are produced in specific proliferation zones located at or near the surface of ventricular, paraventricular, and cisternal systems, or in areas that are likely derived from proliferation zones located at ventricular surfaces during embryonic development. The majority of cells born in such proliferation zones migrate within the first few weeks following their generation to specific target areas. In the cerebellum, where approximately 75% of all brain cells are born during adulthood, cells originate from the molecular layers of the corpus cerebelli and the valvula cerebelli partes lateralis and medialis, as well as from the eminentia granularis pars medialis. From these proliferation zones, the young cells migrate to the associated granule cell layers or to the eminentia granularis pars posterior, respectively. In the course of their migration, the young cells appear to be guided by radial glial fibers. Upon arrival at their target region, approximately 50% of the young cerebellar cells undergo apoptosis. The remaining cells survive for the rest of the fish's life, thus contributing to permanent brain growth. At least some cells differentiate into granule cell neurons. The potential to produce new neurons, together with the ability to guide the young cells to their target areas by radial glial fibers and to eliminate damaged cells through apoptosis, also forms the basis for the enormous regenerative capability of the central nervous system of Apteronotus, as demonstrated in the cerebellum and spinal cord. A factor involved in the cerebellar regeneration appears to be somatostatin, as the expression of this neuropeptide is up-regulated in a specific spatio-temporal fashion following mechanical lesions. Besides its involvement in neuronal regeneration adult neurogenesis in Apteronotus, and possibly teleost fish in general, appears to play a role in providing central neurons to match the growing number of sensory and motor elements in the periphery, and to establish the neural substrate to accommodate behavioral plasticity.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel