It is widely believed that damaged axons in the adult mammalian brain have little capacity to regrow, thereby impeding functional recovery after injury. Studies using fixed tissue have suggested that serotonin neurons might be a notable exception, but remain inconclusive. We have employed in vivo two-photon microscopy to produce time-lapse images of serotonin axons in the neocortex of the adult mouse. Serotonin axons undergo massive retrograde degeneration following amphetamine treatment and subsequent slow recovery of axonal density, which is dominated by new growth with little contribution from local sprouting. A stab injury that transects serotonin axons running in the neocortex is followed by local regression of cut serotonin axons and followed by regrowth from cut ends into and across the stab rift zone. Regrowing serotonin axons do not follow the pathways left by degenerated axons. The regrown axons release serotonin and their regrowth is correlated with recovery in behavioral tests.
In the insect antennal lobe different types of local interneurons mediate complex excitatory and inhibitory interactions between the glomerular pathways to structure the spatiotemporal representation of odors. Mass spectrometric and immunohistochemical studies have shown that in local interneurons classical neurotransmitters are likely to colocalize with a variety of substances that can potentially act as cotransmitters or neuromodulators. In the antennal lobe of the cockroach Periplaneta americana, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has been identified as the potential inhibitory transmitter of spiking type I local interneurons, whereas acetylcholine is most likely the excitatory transmitter of nonspiking type IIa1 local interneurons. This study used whole-cell patch clamp recordings combined with single-cell labeling and immunohistochemistry to test if the GABAergic type I local interneurons and the cholinergic type IIa1 local interneurons express allatotropin and tachykinin-related neuropeptides (TKRPs). These are two of the most abundant types of peptides in the insect antennal lobe. GABA-like and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-like immunoreactivity were used as markers for GABAergic and cholinergic neurons, respectively. About 50% of the GABA-like immunoreactive (-lir) spiking type I local interneurons were allatotropin-lir, and ∼ 40% of these neurons were TKRP-lir. About 20% of nonspiking ChAT-lir type IIa1 local interneurons were TKRP-lir. Our results suggest that in subpopulations of GABAergic and cholinergic local interneurons, allatotropin and TKRPs might act as cotransmitters or neuromodulators. To unequivocally assign neurotransmitters, cotransmitters, and neuromodulators to identified classes of antennal lobe neurons is an important step to deepen our understanding of information processing in the insect olfactory system.