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Ajolote: the Mexican animal that regenerates its brain

Ajolote: the Mexican animal that regenerates its brain

July 18, 2024

In the immensity of biodiversity that exists on the planet we can find unique qualities, such as mammals of the order of monotremats. These animals stand out for retaining reptilian qualities, such as reproduction by eggs, or the fact of having cloaca, a single hole for the exit of the digestive, urinary and reproductive tract. But another example even more shocking is the axolote or Mexican axolotl .

It is an amphibian that has an impressive characteristic: the ability to regenerate parts of your body It is highly effective. They recover easily from an amputated limb and even repair severely damaged vital organs, including the brain, without problems. In matters of months, these wounds disappear totally, without scarring.

The axolotl, eternally young amphibian

The axolotl, or Ambystoma mexicanum, is an amphibian of the order of the caudados (in other words, of the family of the salamanders and newts), which has the peculiarity that retains its larval trait until reaching adulthood, a characteristic known as neoteny. This means that it keeps the dorsal fin that runs throughout its body and presents external gills , which form a crown on his head. By maintaining these qualities, you need to live permanently in the water, unlike other congeners.

That its larval qualities do not disappear does not mean that it can not mature. If an axolotl is subjected to high levels of stress (such as sudden temperature changes), can perform the metamorphosis , becoming a kind of terrestrial salamander, although they are very strange cases.

The regeneration of body parts, a surprising attribute

But what has caught the attention of the scientific community is the axolotl's high ability to regenerate. Possibly it is the largest existing on the planet. In fact, whole portions of the brain can regenerate without leaving sequels. Knowing the cellular mechanisms that are used for the complete repair of damaged tissues, is a mystery that could have applications in current medicine .

Captive animal

The location of this amphibian is very limited, since only currently lives in the Xochimilco lake, in Mexico City . Formerly it extended throughout the region, but the pollution of the water has managed to reduce the number of this species that is very sensitive to environmental changes. It is currently included in the list of animals in danger of extinction and its observation in its natural habitat is very rare.

For this reason, the axolotl is raised in captivity to preserve its existence . The truth is that it has adapted well to this kind of life, without presenting problems to reproduce. Another reason that makes it a good model for laboratory use.

Model organization

Because of its capacity for regeneration, the axolotl is subject to study to discover the cellular mechanisms that are used when developing a lost tissue again, including the repair of vital organs . In addition, they are animals whose bodies accept transplants easily, something unusual.

But it is also a model of embryonic development. This is due to another feature they offer, and that is that their embryo is transparent. Added to its ease of breeding in captivity, the eggs that deposit allow to observe, through a microscope, the development of a new organism in all its splendor.

Their adaptation to the life of captivity has also had an effect on their genetics. The natural skin colors of the axolotl are black and brown , but in aging they have been obtained in different colors, such as yellow and even albinos, in other words, without pigmentation. Possibly, if you have seen any picture of this amphibian, it will have been the last type.

Regenerate tissues in humans

Based on his research, part of the scientific community believes that focusing the studies on discovering how they regenerate their body can be extrapolated to human beings in the future. The knowledge of these cellular mechanisms could help to realize the possibility of recovering a lost limb or combating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

It is not surprising that governments like the United States invest millions in investigating the axolotl, in the hope that it will allow the regeneration of tissues in humans. In your specific case, for the recovery of serious injuries of your soldiers.

So far, the most that has been achieved in terms of regeneration in humans is the recovery of the tip of a finger. There is a long way to get a complete limb repaired, including bone and muscle.

In danger of extinction

In spite of everything said, the axolotl in an animal that is in danger of extinction for living in a very specific area of ​​Central America and for the levels of contamination found in it.Being an aquatic organism, it is very sensitive to the poisoning of these places. To this must be added to its capture and breeding to market it as a domestic pet, and in some cases, to be an ingredient of recipes.

This Incredible Creature Can Regenerate Its Brain, Heart, And Limbs (July 2024).

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