Adult zebrafish are capable of anatomical and functional recovery following severe spinal cord injury. Axon growth, glial bridging and adult neurogenesis are hallmarks of cellular regeneration during spinal cord repair. However, the correlation between these cellular regenerative processes and functional recovery remains to be elucidated. Whereas the majority of established functional regeneration metrics measure swim capacity, we hypothesize that gait quality is more directly related to neurological health. Here, we performed a longitudinal swim tracking study for 60 individual zebrafish spanning 8 weeks of spinal cord regeneration. Multiple swim parameters as well as axonal and glial bridging were integrated. We established rostral compensation as a new gait quality metric that highly correlates with functional recovery. Tensor component analysis of longitudinal data supports a correspondence between functional recovery trajectories and neurological outcomes. Moreover, our studies predicted and validated that a subset of functional regeneration parameters measured 1 to 2 weeks post-injury is sufficient to predict the regenerative outcomes of individual animals at 8 weeks post-injury. Our findings established new functional regeneration parameters and generated a comprehensive correlative database between various functional and cellular regeneration outputs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1155754
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023


  • functional recovery
  • spinal cord injury
  • spinal cord regeneration
  • swim assay
  • zebrafish


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