Regeneration of starfish radial nerve cord restores animal mobility and unveils a new coelomocyte population

Filipe Magalhães, Claúdia Andrade, Beatriz Simões, Fredi Brigham, Ruben Valente, Pedro Martinez, José Rino, Michela Sugni, Ana Varela Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The potential to regenerate a damaged body part is expressed to a different extent in animals. Echinoderms, in particular starfish, are known for their outstanding regenerating potential. Differently, humans have restricted abilities to restore organ systems being dependent on limited sources of stem cells. In particular, the potential to regenerate the central nervous system is extremely limited, explaining the lack of natural mechanisms that could overcome the development of neurodegenerative diseases and the occurrence of trauma. Therefore, understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of regeneration in starfish could help the development of new therapeutic approaches in humans. In this study, we tackle the problem of starfish central nervous system regeneration by examining the external and internal anatomical and behavioral traits, the dynamics of coelomocyte populations, and neuronal tissue architecture after radial nerve cord (RNC) partial ablation. We noticed that the removal of part of RNC generated several anatomic anomalies and induced behavioral modifications (injured arm could not be used anymore to lead the starfish movement). Those alterations seem to be related to defense mechanisms and protection of the wound. In particular, histology showed that tissue patterns during regeneration resemble those described in holothurians and in starfish arm tip regeneration. Flow cytometry coupled with imaging flow cytometry unveiled a new coelomocyte population during the late phase of the regeneration process. Morphotypes of these and previously characterized coelomocyte populations were described based on IFC data. Further studies of this new coelomocyte population might provide insights on their involvement in radial nerve cord regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Coelomocytes
  • Echinoderm
  • Flow cytometry/imaging flow cytometry
  • Marthasterias glacialis
  • Nerve regeneration


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