[MARMAM] New publication: Toothed Whales Have Black Neurons in the Blue Spot

Simona Sacchini simona.sacchini at ulpgc.es
Wed Oct 26 01:49:12 PDT 2022

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are happy to share our new open-access publication in Veterinary Sciences.
Sacchini, S.; Fernández, A.; Mompeó, B.; Ramírez, R.; Arbelo, M.; Holgersen, U.; Quesada-Canales, O.; Castro-Alonso, A.; Andrada, M. Toothed Whales Have Black Neurons in the Blue Spot. Vet. Sci. 2022, 9, 525.
The paper is available here: https://www.mdpi.com/2306-7381/9/10/525

Neuromelanin (NM) is a dark polymer pigment that is located mostly in the human substantia nigra, and in the locus ceruleus, referred to as “the blue spot”. NM increases linearly with age, and has been described mainly in the human brain; however, it also occurs in the neurons of monkeys, horses, giraffes, cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, rats, and even in frogs. While in most of these mammals NM shows the histochemical and ultrastructural features typical of lipofuscins, human NM is confined within cytoplasmic organelles that are surrounded by a double membrane, suggesting an autophagic origin. In a study on the morphology of the locus ceruleus of the family Delphinidae, the presence of a variable quantity of NM in the interior of locus ceruleus neurons was observed for the first time; meanwhile, nothing is known about its ultrastructure and composition. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated in two toothed whales—an Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis; family Delphinidae) and a Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris; family Ziphiidae)—the presence of melanin granules associated with lipid droplets and membranes that were very similar to that of human NM. The relationship between NM and neuronal vulnerability must be studied in depth, and cetaceans may offer a new natural-spontaneous comparative model for the study of NM and its implication in neurodegenerative diseases.

These findinings widen the knowledge about neuromelanin in the toothed whales, described for the first time in our previous work on the locus coeruelus complex:
Sacchini, S., Arbelo, M., Bombardi, C. et al. Locus coeruleus complex of the family Delphinidae. Sci Rep 8, 5486 (2018), available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23827-z
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at: simona.sacchini at ulpgc.es

All the best,

Simona Sacchini
Centro Atlántico de Investigación de Cetáceos
Instituto Universitario de Sanidad Animal y Seguridad Alimentaria
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Simona Sacchini
Profesora Contratada Doctora
Departamento de Morfología - Anatomía y Embriología Humana
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
tel. 928451477
simona.sacchini at ulpgc.es
ORCID 0000-0001-6493-1275
35016 · LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA · SPAIN      [Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria]
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