Axolot: the Mexican animal that regenerates its brain

In the vastness of biodiversity on the planet, we can find unique qualities, such as mammals of the order of monotremes. These animals are distinguished by the retention of reptilian qualities, such as reproduction through eggs, or having a sewer, a single hole for the exit of the digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts. But another even more shocking example is axolotl or mexican axolotl.

It is an amphibian which has an impressive characteristic: the ability to regenerate parts of your body it is very effective. They easily recover from an amputated limb and even easily repair severely damaged vital organs, including the brain. In a few months, these injuries disappear completely without leaving a scar.

The axolotl, eternally young amphibian

Axolot, or axolot, is an amphibian of the order Caudates (in other words, of the family of salamanders and newts), which has the peculiarity of retaining its larval form firing until it arrives at the adulthood, a characteristic known as neotenia. This means that it maintains the dorsal fin all over the body and has external gills, Which form a crown on the head. By retaining these qualities, you must live permanently in the water, unlike other congeners.

The fact that its larval qualities do not disappear does not mean that it cannot mature. If an axolotl is under high stress levels (such as sudden changes in temperature), can perform a metamorphosis, Become a species of terrestrial salamander, although this is a very rare occurrence.

Regeneration of body parts, an amazing attribute

But what has most caught the attention of the scientific community is the great regenerative capacity – which the axolot possesses. Perhaps the biggest on the planet. In fact, entire portions of the brain can regenerate without leaving any damage. Knowing the cellular mechanisms used for the complete repair of damaged tissue is a mystery that could have applications in current medicine.

Captive animal

The location of this amphibian is very limited because he currently only lives in Lake Xochimilco, in Mexico City. Previously, it spread throughout the region, but water pollution has managed to reduce the number of this species, which is very sensitive to environmental changes. It is currently listed as endangered and its sighting in its natural habitat is highly unusual.

For this reason, the axolotl it is bred in captivity to preserve its existence. The truth is, she has adapted well to this kind of life, with no problems reproducing. Another reason that makes it a good model for laboratory use.

Model organisms

Due to its regenerative capacity, axolotl is being studied to discover the cellular mechanisms used to re-develop lost tissue, including repair of vital organs. In addition, these are animals whose bodies easily accept transplants, which is unusual.

But it is also a model of embryonic development. This is due to another feature they offer, namely that their embryo is transparent. Added to their ease of reproduction in captivity, the eggs they lay make it possible to observe, under the microscope, the development of a new organism in all its splendor.

Their adaptation to captive life has also had an effect on their genetics. The natural colors of the axolotl skin are black and brownBut during aging, they were obtained in different colors, like yellow and even albino, that is, without pigmentation. Maybe if you’ve seen photos of this amphibian, it must be the last type.

Regenerate tissues in humans

Based on his research, part of the scientific community believes that focusing studies on finding out how they regenerate their bodies can be extrapolated to humans in the future. Knowledge of these cellular mechanisms could help make the possibility of recovering a lost limb or fighting neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease a reality.

It’s no surprise that governments like the United States are investing millions in axolotl research, in the hopes that it will allow tissue regeneration in humans. In his particular case, for the recovery of the serious injuries of his soldiers.

So far, the maximum that has been achieved in human regeneration is fingertip recovery. There is a long way to go to repair an entire limb, including bones and muscles.

In danger

Despite all that has been said, axolotl in an endangered animal to live in a very specific area of ​​Central America and the pollution levels found there. Being an aquatic organism, it is very sensitive to the intoxication of these places. To this must be added to its capture and breeding to market it as a pet, and in some cases, to be an ingredient in recipes.

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