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A Multiscale-Multiphysics Model for Axon Pathfinding Simulation, the Example of the Olfactory System

G. Naldi1 G. Aletti1 P. Causin1
1Dipartimento di Matematica ‘F. Enriques’, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy

Axon morphology with the complete model, (a) initial domain; (b) example of a final bundle; (c) the homophilic attraction between axons is turbed off; (d) axon morphology when chemical cues are turned off.

In the developing embryo, neurons form connections by projecting axons to appropriate target areas. The projection process includes neurite elongation, resulting from the assembly of new cytoskeletal material at the free end of the axon, a complex cascade of steering decisions, driven by biomechanical properties of the surrounding environment and by signals in it. In this work we focus on the early development of the olfactory nerve. In particular, we discuss a mathematical and numerical multiscale framework aimed at obtaining a description of the morphological organization of the axons at the first steps of the olfactory system formation. Axon guidance, diffusible cues, and extracellular mechanics are considered. We also discuss possible applications and generalizations with difficulties in the computational approach.

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