Cell proliferation in the central nervous system of an adult semiterrestrial crab


Neurogenesis occurs in adults of most organisms, both vertebrates and invertebrates. In semiterrestrial crabs of the infraorder Brachyura, the deutocerebrum, where neurogenesis occurs, processes the olfactory sensory information from the antennae. The deutocerebrum is composed of a pair of olfactory lobes associated with cell clusters 9 and 10 (Cl 9 and Cl 10), containing proliferating cells. Because the location of the neurogenic niche in brachyuran semiterrestrial crabs has not been defined, here we describe a neurogenic niche in the central olfactory system of the crab Ucides cordatus and report two types of glial cells in the deutocerebrum, based on different markers. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) labeling was used to reveal neuroanatomical aspects of the central olfactory system and the neurogenic niche. The results showed a zone of proliferating neural cells within Cl 10, which also contains III beta-tubulin (Tuj1)+ immature neurons, associated with a structure that has characteristics of the neurogenic niche. For the first time, using two glial markers, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and glutamine synthetase (GS), we identified two types of astrocyte-like cells in different regions of the deutocerebrum. This study adds to the understanding of neurogenesis in a brachyuran semiterrestrial crustacean and encourages comparative studies between crustaceans and vertebrates, including mammals, based on shared aspects of both mechanisms of neurogenesis and regenerative potentials.

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Accessory lobe



Cl 9:

Cluster 9

Cl 10:

Cluster 10




Dorsal-giant neurons


External medulla


Glial fibrillary acidic protein


Glutamine synthetase


Hemiellipsoid body


Internal medulla


5-Hydroxytryptamine (serotonin)




Neuronal nuclei


Olfactory globular tract


Olfactory lobe


Olfactory receptor neurons


Phosphate buffer saline


Phospho-histone H3




Propidium iodide


Terminal medulla


III beta-tubulin


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This study was supported by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).

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Correspondence to Gabriela Hollmann.

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All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures adopted in this study, including the location where the animals were captured, were performed after approval by the National Environmental Committee (Certificate # 14689-1/IBAMA/2008, permission to use the animals # 2440408) and by the Ethics Commission on Research Animals of the Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (protocol DHEICB 005). This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

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Hollmann, G., da Silva, P.G.C., Linden, R. et al. Cell proliferation in the central nervous system of an adult semiterrestrial crab. Cell Tissue Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-021-03413-y

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  • Decapod crustacean
  • Neurogenesis
  • Olfactory lobe
  • Mangrove crab
  • Glial cell