In addition to the continuous low levels of neurogenesis typical of adult vertebrates to replace damaged chemoreceptor cells, red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) experience an up-regulation of chemoreceptor epithelial cell proliferation on a seasonal basis. Significantly more cell division occurs in late spring than at any other time of the year, and we investigated the fate and life span of these newly generated cells. We used 5-bromo-2′- deoxyuridine (BrdU) immunocytochemical cell birth dating to examine cell proliferation and cell migration in the main olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia of red-backed salamanders collected in late spring who were allowed to survive for one hour or three, four, 25, 28, 42, 49 and 100 days post-injection. We examined new neuron growth in the vomeronasal and olfactory epithelia using antibodies against Growth Associated Protein-43 (GAP-43), a protein whose synthesis is up-regulated during axon growth. We also tracked apoptosis within both types of chemosensory epithelia using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick-end labeling (TUNEL). BrdU-immunoreactive cells were located extensively throughout the vomeronasal epithelia, particularly in the area posterior to the entrance of the nasolacrimal duct, not only after three days of survival, but also all of the longer experimental survival periods as well; BrdU-ir cells within the olfactory epithelia were rarely located after longer survival periods. Salamanders collected in late spring displayed extensive GAP-43 labeling in the vomeronasal epithelia posterior to the entrance of the nasolacrimal duct, indicating a large population of young vomeronasal receptor neurons. Finally, apoptotic cells were evident in this same post-nasolacrimal-duct-area of the vomeronasal organ and in the olfactory epithelium. We suggest that vomeronasal receptor neurons born in late spring function throughout the summer and may be associated with the animals' extensive territoriality during that period.
- Cell proliferation
- Chemosensory epithelium