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Some principles of regeneration in mammalian systems.


This article presents some general principles underlying regenerative phenomena in vertebrates, starting with the epimorphic regeneration of the amphibian limb and continuing with tissue and organ regeneration in mammals. Epimorphic regeneration following limb amputation involves wound healing, followed shortly by a phase of dedifferentiation that leads to the formation of a regeneration blastema. Up to the point of blastema formation, dedifferentiation is guided by unique regenerative pathways, but the overall developmental controls underlying limb formation from the blastema generally recapitulate those of embryonic limb development. Damaged mammalian tissues do not form a blastema. At the cellular level, differentiation follows a pattern close to that seen in the embryo, but at the level of the tissue and organ, regeneration is strongly influenced by conditions inherent in the local environment. In some mammalian systems, such as the liver, parenchymal cells contribute progeny to the regenerate. In others, e.g., skeletal muscle and bone, tissue-specific progenitor cells constitute the main source of regenerating cells. The substrate on which regeneration occurs plays a very important role in determining the course of regeneration. Epimorphic regeneration usually produces an exact replica of the structure that was lost, but in mammalian tissue regeneration the form of the regenerate is largely determined by the mechanical environment acting on the regenerating tissue, and it is normally an imperfect replica of the original. In organ hypertophy, such as that occurring after hepatic resection, the remaining liver mass enlarges, but there is no attempt to restore the original form.