Brief Electrical Stimulation Triggers an Effective Regeneration of Leech CNS.eNeuro. 2020 May/Jun; 7(3)E
The search for therapeutic strategies to promote neuronal regeneration following injuries toward functional recovery is of great importance. Brief low-frequency electrical stimulation (ES) has been reported as a useful method to improve neuronal regeneration in different animal models; however, the effect of ES on single neuron behavior has not been shown. Here, we study the effect of brief ES on neuronal regeneration of the CNS of adult medicinal leeches. Studying the regeneration of selected sets of identified neurons allow us to quantify the ES effect per cell type at the single-cell level. Chains of the CNS that were subjected to cut injury were observed for 3 d, and the spontaneous regeneration was compared with the electrically stimulated injured chains. We show that the ES improves the efficiency of regeneration of Retzius cells, as larger masses of the total branching tree traverse the injury site with better directed growth with no effect on the average branching tree length. No antero-posterior polarity was found along regeneration within the leech CNS. Moreover, the microglial cell distribution was examined revealing more microglial cells in proximity to the stimulation site compared with non-stimulated. Our results lay a foundation for future ES-based neuroregenerative therapies.